What Defines a Religion?

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Bowser, May 31, 2018.

  1. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=religion meaning&t=h_&ia=web

    If I were to raise my bowl of oatmeal in thanks every morning before breakfast, would that be considered a religious ritual? Exactly what constitutes a "religion"? Must it be a whole slurry of activity and beliefs, or can it be something very simple as mentioned above?
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  3. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

    To each his own?
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  5. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

    Ed Zachery! Each person makes up their own religion, cherry-picking among the available material. If the material is only from one of the established Religions the person's religion will resemble that one to a great extent.

    If a person decides that another religion's pieces-parts are more fun/interesting/promising then those parts are blended into the personal set. If there are then too many parts some things have to go.

    Nothing new here.
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  7. billvon Valued Senior Member

    If you are thanking your wife for making it? No.
    If you are just generally thankful? No.
    If you are showing fealty to a supernatural being by raising your bowl? Yes.
    Worship of a supernatural power.
  8. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    When you have a point of orthapraxy (practices) intersecting orthodoxy (philosophy) you have a religion. For the sake of convenience, this is usually arrived at the point of scripture.

    Another way to look at it is in terms of three things : establishing the ontoligical relationships between things (from God to the living entity and everything and anything in between), the course of action on the basis of the understanding of such relationships, and the ultimate goal of accepting such a course of action.
  9. Capracus Valued Senior Member

    Pretty much sums it up.
  10. Hapsburg Hellenistic polytheist Valued Senior Member

    Religion is the confluence of a worldview or set of beliefs, a set of rituals or practices, and a community. In most religions, the complex of beliefs and practices serve to contextualize the community within its own traditions and customs, to create a lens through which that group connects with what Mircea Elide calls it "the sacred"-- something numinous, something that stands outside of and above the profane or everyday.
    Sacred things don't necessarily have to be supernatural. Consider the example of American civil religion: it clearly considers the Constitution to be sacred; that sacred thing is seen the origin of certain foundational ideas in the American belief system, like liberty or democracy; the American community interacts with those ideas through certain rituals, such as participation in elections or celebrating public holidays. Nary a supernatural thing about it.
    But, of course, some religions do have supernatural things in it. Probably the majority of religions do. But it's not part of what defines religion as a concept.
  11. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

    I want to comment on the above, but I'm at a loss for words.
  12. billvon Valued Senior Member

    That is a common expression of religion. But religions do not need have community; a single adherent is enough to consider his belief a religion.
    Agreed. But that's not religion, any more than a bowling club is a religion. Sure, they have a pretty common set of beliefs (that bowling is worthwhile, that 2 for 1 beer night is important) they have rituals and practices (regular games and tournaments) and a community - but they are not a religion. Without the supernatural, there is no religion.
  13. Hapsburg Hellenistic polytheist Valued Senior Member

    When you get to an individual level, I'd call it simple a belief, or a practice, or a cult (in the anthropological sense). Religion requires an aspect of community.
    Now, that community can be small, it can be large, it can be tight-knight, it can be loose. A few people online with a common set of ideas and practices can be a religious community. A household can be a religious community. Without that aspect, it's just one person's opinions and customs.

    I disagree. Civil religion illustrates that you don't need the supernatural to be a religion.
    And there are other examples of religion that don't believe in deity or the supernatural.

    The sacred-profane dichotomy is pretty well-established as a concept in the anthropology of religion. Emile Durkheim conceived it, and Eliade refined it.
  14. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Those words may well also apply. Cults, for example, can be religious or secular. Religious cults are defined by a cult with a specific supernatural belief.
    Nope. You can have a religion of one person. You can have a religion of _zero_ people - there are plenty of ancient religions that have not stopped being religions merely because people stopped believing, or switched to more contemporary religions.
    Yep. And if there is a supernatural aspect to those opinions and customs, then it's a religious opinion/custom.

    For example -

    "I always take my shoes off when I go inside" - custom
    "I always take my shoes off when I go inside because I fear God's wrath" - religious custom
    If a civil religion does not contain aspects of the supernatural or superhuman, then it is not a civil religion - it is merely a civil association.

    For example, your local chamber of commerce is not a religion. If it started requiring all business owners to pray to Vishnu, then it would become a religious organization. If it started requiring all businesses to paint their storefronts a certain way, that would not make it a religious organization.
    Name one.
    Xelasnave.1947 likes this.
  15. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Is TAOism a religion or a philosophy?
  16. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Well, both, of course. Most religions have philosophies associated with them.

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