Saturday, July 18, 2009

Definitions of Religion

In another comment thread, there was a short discussion about the definition of the word religion. Many fundamentalist denominations deny that what they practice is a religion. The churches that I attended when I was a child denies religiosity as well.

What is this denial of religion all about? Are these churches trying to distance themselves from the negative image that religiosity has? I think so. They don't want to be labeled as a religion, so they just redefine what religion means. Makes sense to me.

Heres what wikipedia says about religion:
A religion is an organized approach to human spirituality which usually encompasses a set of narratives, symbols, beliefs and practices, often with a supernatural or transcendent quality, that give meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life through reference to a higher power, God or gods, or ultimate truth. It may be expressed through prayer, ritual, meditation, music and art, among other things. It may focus on specific supernatural, metaphysical, and moral claims about reality (the cosmos and human nature) which may yield a set of religious laws, ethics, and a particular lifestyle. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and religious experience.


I linked to a few examples of the practices that fundamentalists do that qualify them to be a religion by the above definition.

Yes, fundamentalism is a religion by most accepted definitions of the word. Denying that your particular group is a religion doesn't help the discussion along. The fundie definition of religion (those who are not "us") makes no sense outside of their group. As a matter of fact, a fundie group might even call another fundie group "religious" while the latter one also calls the former one "religious".

So, if you want to have a meaningful discussion, please use the definition above. If your group fits that description, please don't deny it.

9 comments:

ethinethin said...

I've never heard of fundies denying that they're religious. I guess they might say something like "I'm not religious, I follow the true calling" or something like that. Every religion is "the one true religion" depending on who you ask.

I really dislike when they insinuate that I "believe in God, even though I don't acknowledge it" and make claims like "there's no such thing as atheists". They're just delusional and have never questioned their beliefs.

Robert Madewell said...

"I've never heard of fundies denying that they're religious. I guess they might say something like 'I'm not religious, I follow the true calling' or something like that."

Exactly like that. It's always those other people who are religious. "We're not religious, we're true christians".

Here's the comment denying religiosity.

Anonymous said...

Many Christians have wanted to distance themselves from the term "religious" because so much wrong has been done in the name of "religion." Religious is not a bad word. It's not specific enough to automatically mean "Christian," but certainly Christianity is a religion.

Robert Madewell said...

I agree anonymous, religion is not a bad word. I also agree that the word doesn't mean christianity exclusively.

However, what the commentor did was to redefine the word to mean every belief system but her own, then was offended when I refused to use her definition of the word.

I wasn't likening her religion to the inquisition era catholic church or the terroristic muslims. However, that quickness to offense does not impress me that her religion is any better than any other. That easily offended mindset is one of many things that led me away from religion.

Chris McGinnis said...

Agreed. I think we, as Christians, must admit that our religion and our churches are full of hypocrites. Doesn't nullify the value, as most supermarkets are full of hypocrites too, but we still shop there. But we should at least be honest about it.

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said...

Gravitation Force is the Ultimate Creator, this paper I presented at the 1st Int. Conf. on Revival of Traditional Yoga, held at The Lonavla Yoga Institute (India), Lonavla, Pune in 2006. The Abstract of this paper is given below:

The Universe includes everything that exists. In the Universe there are billions and billions of stars. These stars are distributed in the space in huge clusters. They are held together by gravitation and are known as galaxies. Sun is also a star. Various members of the solar system are bound to it by gravitation force. Gravitation force is the ultimate cause of birth and death of galaxy, star and planets etc. Gravitation can be considered as the cause of various forms of animate and inanimate existence. Human form is superior to all other forms. Withdrawal of gravitational wave from some plane of action is called the death of that form. It can be assumed that gravitation force is ultimate creator. Source of it is ‘God’. Gravitational Field is the supreme soul (consciousness) and its innumerable points of action may be called as individual soul (consciousness). It acts through body and mind. Body is physical entity. Mind can be defined as the function of autonomic nervous system. Electromagnetic waves are its agents through which it works. This can be realized through the practice of meditation and yoga under qualified meditation instruction. This can remove misunderstanding between science and religion and amongst various religions. This is the gist of all religious teachings – past, present and future.

AND

‘In Scientific Terminology Source of Gravitational Wave is God’ I have presented this paper at the 2nd World Congress on Vedic Sciences held at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi on February 9-11, 2007. The Abstract of this paper is given below:

For Centuries, antagonism remained between science and religion. Science and spirituality require to be fused. An integrated philisophy is to be developed. It is written in the scriptures that entire creation is being maintained only through love or force of attraction. In Persian it is known as quvat-i-jaziba. It is on account of this force that the entire creation, which come into existence through the combination of small particles and atoms, is being maintained and sustained. The creation or universe includes everything that exists. In the universe there are billions and billions of stars. They are held together by gravitation and are known as galaxies. Sun is also a star. Various members of the solar system are bound to it by gravitation force. Gravitation force is the ultimate cause of birth and death of a galaxy, star and planet etc. and various forms of animate and inanimate existence. Gravitation force is the ultimate creator, sustainer and destroyer of the universe. These are the three attributes of God. Providence has located within the human body a spiritual faculty. When this faculty is developed like physical and mental faculties we find that Truth-the goal of science and God-the goal of religion are one and the same thing.

GCT said...

Um, gravity isn't what holds atoms together.

Anonymous said...

Somebody's trying to build a bridge to nowhere.

Robert Madewell said...

"Electromagnetic waves are its agents through which it works."

No, Electromagnetism and gravity are two separate forces.

"It is on account of this force that the entire creation, which come into existence through the combination of small particles and atoms, is being maintained and sustained."

GCT pointed out that gravity does not hold the atoms together. I agree. There are three forces at work in an atom. Electromagnetism, the strong force, and the weak force.

"Gravitation force is the ultimate creator, sustainer and destroyer of the universe. These are the three attributes of God."

Try telling a Jehovah's Witness that gravity is God. I'd love to see his face.