Definition of religion

S.A.M.

uniquely dreadful
Valued Senior Member
How do you define religion? Is it possible for an atheist to be religious?
 
atheist does not believe in such thing as God. Religion is faith in a belief. Atheist has faith, just not faith in a concept of God.

Buddhism.
 
religion (n.):

1. A strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny.
2. An institution to express belief in a divine power.

Note: there are also some looser usages of the word "religion", as in statements of the type "Baseball is my religion", where the level of devotion is compared implicitly to devotion to a divine power.
 
How do you define religion?
without consulting any text on the subject i venture the following:
religion is a way you life your life. a quick and dirty description to be sure.
Is it possible for an atheist to be religious?
in the above context? yes. it also has nothing to do with a god either.
 
I think I disagree with the definition.

I have religious practice...which is essentially just a practice to view the world in a specific way, to understand the variables in front of me in a specific manner. I have some degree of faith in assuming it's the correct way to do so...however scientists have the same faith in previous scientists.
My viewpoint has been verified by millions (billions) of people over the years as being correct, it's my practice to achieve the perfect clarity of it. Those same billions have ensured that it's a worthwhile endeavor.

In fact there's no word in Hebrew that really means "Religion", like it does in English. There's "avoda" which means your practice or in some cases worship or in others service. Everyone has an avoda by definition of the word.

So for those of us whose religious language doesn't have a word like "religion", while our religion says things only exist if they're in the vocabulary of the language...do we have a "religion"?

Therefore from a Jewish perspective...if Religion = Avoda (which is the only translation I can think of), then Atheists do have a Religion.


Note: For those who know modern Hebrew and say well what about דת. It's a non-religious word...I assume its root is Aramaic not Hebrew.
 
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I think I disagree with the definition.
really?
i remember when i stopped smoking i religiously thought about lit cigerettes in my ashtrays for months.

the word religion can be applied to any act that is performed verbatim over a long period of time.
 
really?
i remember when i stopped smoking i religiously thought about lit cigerettes in my ashtrays for months.

the word religion can be applied to any act that is performed verbatim over a long period of time.

We agree, neither of our definitions are in the one provided by James R. other than the "Note" section. My fundamental disagreement is my usage of it is not "Lose", rather it's equally if not more proper.
 
religion (n.): 1. A strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny. 2. An institution to express belief in a divine power.
This is a well-stated consensus of the definitions in the major dictionaries. They all include belief in a supernatural power. Only one (Random House) is a little looser:
  • A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
So if you go with Random House, then an atheist like me could be religious because I "believe" in the scientific method, although it's a reasoned belief and not an irrational faith, and I "believe" in its fundamental premise that the natural universe is a closed system not subject to meddling by supernatural creatures, which again is a reasoned belief because no account of supernatural creatures has ever been verified, and "two beliefs" make a "set." But you won't find many Americans who go by the Random House definition. In America, religion involves at least one god.
Note: there are also some looser usages of the word "religion", as in statements of the type "Baseball is my religion", where the level of devotion is compared implicitly to devotion to a divine power.
This common use of the word "religion" as a metaphor is in the dictionary too, but it's surely not what Sam was asking about. It's like when the doctor asks the geezer, "Are you taking your medications?" and he answers, "Yes, I take them religiously." And after the doctor walks away he says quietly to himself, "Every Sunday."
Without consulting any text on the subject I venture the following: Religion is a way you life your life.
I think you should have consulted a text.:) That's way too loose. If we take the Random House definition and religion isn't necessarily about gods, it's still about all the things the gods allegedly do.
 
fraggle said:
This is a well-stated consensus of the definitions in the major dictionaries. They all include belief in a supernatural power.
The problem is they go on to define things as "religions" that do not necessarily include such belief.

Taoism, Confucianism, Animism, Buddhism, whatever you want to call the Navajo type, and so forth, all include sects or factions that do not believe in what is normally meant by a "supernatural power".

So we have a problem with the dictionaries.
 
The problem is they go on to define things as "religions" that do not necessarily include such belief.
Hmm. I'm having trouble finding any definition of the adjective "religious" that is not based on the noun "religion."
Taoism, Confucianism, Animism, Buddhism, whatever you want to call the Navajo type, and so forth, all include sects or factions that do not believe in what is normally meant by a "supernatural power".
Animism centers on a belief in the soul, which is a supernatural phenomenon, so it qualifies. I'm not familiar with the Navajo beliefs despite having lived in Arizona for many years. As for the others, I'm not entirely comfortable calling them religions for that very reason. But I've met people who insist that they do indeed have a supernatural component and that therefore qualifies them as religions.
 
fraggle said:
Animism centers on a belief in the soul, which is a supernatural phenomenon, so it qualifies.
Not necessarily, in more sophisticated "essential nature or entity" , or "natural spirit", animistic beliefs - and even if "supernatural", often in the sense of ghosts or spirits. Are people who believe in ghosts, and talk to them, therefore religious?

Do all people who believe in souls believe in a supernatural entity? I think I do, and don't, for example.

It is possible to miss the soul by underestimating the natural world, as well as by denying the supernatural one, no?

fraggle said:
As for the others, I'm not entirely comfortable calling them religions for that very reason.
You might not be, but the dictionary is.

We have conflicting definitions. In such cases, the dictionary does not settle matters.
 
All the Buddhists I know of consider the worship of Buddha to be a necessary element of Buddhism. In fact, I don't know any Buddhist who does not have a Buddha icon.

Devotion is an important part of the practice of most Buddhists.[87] Devotional practices include bowing, offerings, pilgrimage, chanting. In Pure Land Buddhism, devotion to the Buddha Amitabha is the main practice. In Nichiren Buddhism, devotion to the Lotus Sutra is the main practice.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_devotion

I am also not familiar personally with the Navajo beliefs, but their practice of their beliefs as described, does not say atheism to me
 
A Morphological analysis:

Prefix: {re}, that means "much"; "many"
Root: {lig} < {leg} = that means "gather" - same root as "legion", "legionaire"
Suffix:{on} = means "action"

Interesting to notice that {lig} may also mean "to read". In most of the religious rituals, there's always someone reading something, hehehe...

Another meaning , taken from "The Devil's dictionary" by Ambrose Bierce:

RELIGION, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the
nature of the Unknowable.
"What is your religion my son?" inquired the Archbishop of Rheims.
"Pardon, monseigneur," replied Rochebriant; "I am ashamed of it."
"Then why do you not become an atheist?"
"Impossible! I should be ashamed of atheism."
"In that case, monsieur, you should join the Protestants."

:)

cheers
 
Root: {lig} < {leg} = that means "gather" - same root as "legion", "legionaire" Interesting to notice that {lig} may also mean "to read".
Not quite right. The lig- with an I comes from ligare, "to bind," as in "ligament." "To read" is legere with an E, as in "legible." Latin has its share of homonyms (the Romans themselves made fun of the fact that bella means both "war" and "beautiful") and there's another verb legere meaning "to choose," and that's where "legion" comes from.
 
How do you define religion?
So many possible ways. Plate Tectonics. Constant Size Earth. Hot Convecting Mantle. Elastic Rebound. Biogenic Origin of Hydrocarbons. Relativity. Black Holes. Neutron Stars. Accelerated Expansion of the Universe.

* * * * NOTE FROM THE MODERATOR * * * *

Is this supposed to be a joke? If not, please do a better job of relating it to the topic of the thread.
 
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All the Buddhists I know of consider the worship of Buddha to be a necessary element of Buddhism.

That's funny because most of the Buddhists I know make it a point to say that not only is worship of the Buddha is not only not necessary, but it is contradictory to what Siddhartha taught - and I agree with them.

I suppose it would be prudent to discuss whether a religion is defined and restricted by its texts or its adherents.
If a sect calling itself Christian explicitly practices a religion which directly contradicts Jesus' teachings, is it a Christian religion?
If a sect which purports to follow a specific text and its followers do not abide by its own rules, are they validly following the religion?
Is it the rules or the practice that defines a religion and its practices?
 
So many possible ways. Plate Tectonics. Constant Size Earth. Hot Convecting Mantle. Elastic Rebound. Biogenic Origin of Hydrocarbons. Relativity. Black Holes. Neutron Stars. Accelerated Expansion of the Universe.

* * * * NOTE FROM THE MODERATOR * * * *

Is this supposed to be a joke? If not, please do a better job of relating it to the topic of the thread.
I'm not joking.

"Religion has prevailed! Science has become religion!" -- Halton C. Arp, astrophysicist, 2000

"Science...has adopted the methods of religion." -- Halton C. Arp, astrophysicist, 2000

"The most harmful aspect of what science has become is the deliberate attempt to hide evidence that contradicts the current paradigm." -- Halton C. Arp, astrophysicst, 2000

"The tradition of 'peer review' of articles published in professional journals has degenerated into almost total censorship." -- Halton C. Arp, astrophysicist, 2000

"After all, to get the whole universe totally wrong in the face of clear evidence for over 75 years merits monumental embarrassment and should induce a modicum of humility." -- Halton C. Arp, astrophysicist, 2000

Arp, H., What Has Science Come to?, Journal of Scientific Exploration, Volume 14, Number 3, Pages 447-454, 2000
 
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