I have a particular reason for asking and will share it if I get some responses. Thanks in advance.

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A tuff one, maybe harder than defining god. Believe in god is the first thing that comes to mind but then scientology wouldn't count so i'll blunty cheat and go with wikipedia definition


"Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values."

"An organized system of beliefs and rituals centering on a supernatural being or beings"


American Heritage Dictionary (2007)


It's not just the personal beliefs...it's the public behavior too.  The private and the public...at the individual level and the group membership level.  When we talk about religion, I think it's also important to stress the emotional connections that believers have to religious ritual, song, and prayer. 

I just consider it a set of beliefs that someone strictly adheres to. It's true that most religions contain beliefs in the supernatural, but there are also enough people who replace religion with political or other ideologies, ignoring contrary evidence, believing the ideology is the one answer of how to save the world, and spouting pre-packaged beliefs to save them the trouble of thinking and those pesky grey areas.

Faith means never worrying about those pesky doubts and inconsistencies! 


The segment of the faithful that worry me the most are the ones that encourage apocalyptic visions of our future....like 'bring it on' since the world isn't worth saving, it's time to prepare for the 'End Times'.  It's a militaristic 'good v evil' and 'us v them' perspective with a warrior mentality...and they think they can uncover the 'revealed truth' of god by means of signs and messages...conveniently decoded by them, of course, the 'chosen ones'.

Religion is a cultural phenomenon, the earliest of which came about as ways to answer questions we, at the time, had no clue in solving for answers through rational means. It has, over the ages, also come to mean any kind of ritualistic behavior, whether or not there are supernatural elements involved. Like other words in our lexicon, it can have layered meanings, of which the main definition will vary according to context.

A broad definition: An interrelated set of behaviors, activities, rituals and beliefs shared by a group or groups of people.  The beliefs generally involve an encompassing worldview, including cosmological and moral / ethical worldviews.  

Religion usually involves some belief in supernatural phenomena and beings, and claims to establish a relationship to them.  Religion may also be secular, that is, lacking in deities and other supernatural beliefs.

@George:  I don't see how religion can be secular...please elaborate.  If it lacks deities/supernaturalism...I wouldn't define it as religion.  But I'd like to hear your reasoning.

@mojo: Institutions which have many of the trappings of religion, but don't have a deity.  An example is the Ethical Humanist movement, which is part of religious humanism.  

Here in Philadelphia we have the Philadelphia Ethical Society, which is essentially an atheist church (they don't call it that), complete with hymnals, pews and a talks given by leaders.

The Society is an affiliate of the American Ethical Union.

Perhaps "secular" religion isn't the best word - "nontheist religion" would be more accurate.

@George: Okay...it just seems to stretch the term to include just about any institution if it's defined as having the 'trappings of religion' or being 'quasi-religious'....I think I fall under the category of secular humanist but I still wouldn't call myself 'religious'....I am not affiliated with a religious or quasi-religious organization in any formal way.

I don't see how it's a stretch.  I've attended these services and they are definitely "religious".

Secular humanists tend to say they have a 'life stance', as opposed to a 'religion'.  Which is fine, but it just strikes me as euphemistic.

But if you even reject the term 'quasi-religious', which is about as mild as you can get, I'm curious why you object to the term so strongly.

This is just my opinion but I think of religion as having a supernatural element....monotheistic, polytheistic....theistic at some level.  The program used in AA is quasi-religious because it asks its adherents to look to a 'higher power, if not directly to god.


The way I think about it,  the 'life stance' of the secular humanist can be a 'philosophy' or a 'worldview' and not be religious in any way...no deity required.   No membership required.  No formal doctrine either.  If we're going to call it religious, it would be of the weakest possible strength on the spectrum of 'most to least' religious.

Hello folks, thanks for sharing. I would like to say I agree with all of you, but there are three ideas I would like to consider further.


One is conveyed by what Pop Rock Girl said; "ignoring contrary evidence".


The second is by Nerdlass when she said; "Like other words in our lexicon, it can have layered meanings, of which the main definition will vary according to context." I think she means the word religion is ambiguous.


The third is by George when he said; "Religion may also be secular, that is, lacking in deities and other supernatural beliefs."


The reason I ask is to see if your definitions could be applied to Philosophy. I do not know if it does, but if you are so inclined, you can decide for yourself.




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