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Defining Your Religion

To ponder, while sinking your toes in the hot sand:

What is the definition of the word RELIGION?

…no, don’t go with the definition they’ve got in the printed in the big-bound dictionary. Share the definition as you think the word is actually used, or ought to be used.

How can you tell the difference between something that’s religious, and something that isn’t?

4 comments to Defining Your Religion

  • Jim

    To my mind, a religion is a social organization, the activities of which are focused around a set of beliefs about the universe that are faith-based (which is to say, not empirically grounded).

  • Could a religion be based upon a process of non-rational contemplation, rather than a set of particular beliefs?

    • Jim

      I wouldn’t necessarily say so. Some religions are irrational. But religious thought can have its own internally consistent rationality: witness deliberations about the number of rings of Hell, the existence of purgatory, the various ranks of angels and how many of them could fit on the head of a pin. The Vatican has constructed a vast rational and (often) internally consistent religious bureaucracy. The underpinnings of even internally consistent rational systems of religion are disconnected with observable reality. The antiempirical approach is I think common to religion.

  • We all want to believe we know the truth. Science and Religion both claim it, but they go about finding it in quite different ways. Religion is introspective, but often its tenets are dictated from authority. Dictated beliefs work particularly well for children, who can be imprinted for life with ideas that are unbelievable. Religion, as Republicans know, IS politically useful.

    Science, on the other hand, painstakingly looks at evidence, discusses issues in peer-reviewed journals, tests repeatedly. The result is we have learned a lot in the last 2000 years. We are the first generations to see the earth photographs from space.

    Now that we know that the earth is fragile, and that we have plundered it severely, we should be careful that it remains habitable. The ‘religious’ among us are mostly in denial and, with massive corporate backing, are keen to continue as usual.

    Things that can’t last, won’t. We may go the way of the dinosaurs if we don’t grow up and face facts.

    Other notes about religion at http://www.seconnecticut.com/religion.htm

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