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Defining Religion Essay

1092 words - 4 pages

The Ways to Study and Define Religion Many influential thinkers have difficulty in defining religion. Definitions are sometimes too narrow by defining religion in terms of their beliefs or culture and often exclude other cultures religious beliefs. ?Religion is something we have a sense of, but can not easily pin down and define with precision. It is hard enough to define one religion, but to arrive at a definition suitable for all religions is much more difficult? (Earhart 5).If asked to define religion sometimes would depend on who asked the question. Different disciplines approach the meaning of religion from their own perspective. ?Existential, psychological, theological, and philosophical approaches tend to be more Idealistic?. Psychological approach views religion as self-fulfillment or self-realization. Philosophical defines religion as the nature of human existence and the reality of truth of religious realization? (Earhart 5).Religion can also be defined by what culture we live in, ?Social science approaches this area with more concern on the actual conditions of religion, focusing especially on the social circumstances that shape and influence religion. Sociologists want to know how social factors such as age, gender, income and occupation influence religious commitment? (Earhart 5). Another approach to define religion is that of the Anthropological. ?A propitiation or conciliation of powers superior to man which are believed to direct and control the course of nature and human life? (Frazer 57-58).I would try and define religion as a way to find meaning in the world by using a system of beliefs, attitudes, emotions and behavior. I believe this would encompass the meaning of religion for any person whether they believe in the spiritual, sacred or non-spiritual types of religion. I may not understand why one-person believes the way they do about religion, but who am I to say their beliefs are wrong. What if mine are? So it is important to keep an open mind when it comes to defining religion and respect others beliefs or non-beliefs. Now that we have defined religion we are faced with the task of how to study religion. ?The study of religions and ideologies can be called worldview analysis. In this we try to depict the history and nature of the symbols and beliefs that have helped form the structure of human consciousness and society? (Smart 2). There are several ways in which to study religion such as biographically where ?we could focus on the lives of the great founders, teachers, and prophets of those religions. We could learn much about the origins of religions and the historical events of those times along with cultures of the early followers. All of this may be of great interest, but we would not learn about the ways that the beliefs and practices from these early times have evolved into those of the present? (Commentary).Another way to study religion would be on the scriptures. This would be a difficult task ?because the writings...

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