I’m taking nature of religion class. One of the assignments was to define religion and this is what I wrote.
I don’t think any single definition is going to cover something as organic and invasive as religion. Don’t dock points yet this is not a cop-out. The two definitions provided and most of the definitions I have found felt like they were either oversimplified or exclusionary. You could often tell there was a bias between the inside and outside perspectives. Some of the definitions seemed almost hostile. Because of this, I wanted to find a definition that was at least sympathetic to the other side.
David Friedrich Strass, “It’s something that humans have invented to comfort themselves in highly valuable and important ways that deserve our selective references.” During his time The Church was losing its footing to science. Many people were shifting their perspective of the Bible from literalism to allegory. Many people were abandoning their faith. I found this in a video discussing why we still have religion in the age of science. The link is in the references.
Half of this definition is subjective and an outsider’s perspective. With a highly contested emotionally charged subject it’s more important sometimes to be compassionate than technically correct. After all, the connotation of a definition is going to affect or reflect our deeper understanding of the word. Insiders are still outside of other religions. People don’t just shape their identities, but also their whole sense of reality on what they have been taught to believe by their religion.
On to the definition part of the definition. Which I’m aware could also be applied to roller coaster construction. The reason I chose this definition is that it does not center on the idea of “the True” or God/s or even morality. While these are very important concepts to the field they don’t apply to Luciferianism, Left Hand Occultism, or some new-age religions.
All three of these have rituals. There are plenty of other practitioners to tell you what you’re doing wrong. On the other hand, morality is totally on the individual. Most of them are lovely people, but that is a choice they have made. They have paths of transformation some of which are intentionally profane. Gods, angels, and demons may be considered more powerful, but not necessarily higher or more evolved.
“What is Religion?” A video by Religion for Breakfast provided an interesting concept of religion but not necessarily a definition. The video argues that religion is a subjective and contested term. There are concepts and parts that most religions share, but any one or two-word line definition is going to fall short.
If that’s true then how do we decide something is a religion? The analogy I’m going to use is based on the psychiatric diagnostic process. I’m not doing this to imply that religion is a mental illness, but if this still gets under your skin you may want to examine your thoughts on mental illness.
In the DSM-5 each disorder has a list of signs and symptoms. Signs are something others or outsiders can see. Symptoms are something only the person being evaluated or insider can perceive. To be diagnosed a certain number of signs and symptoms have to be present.
If applied to religion the signs and symptoms might include things like a strict moral code, a path of transformation, a concept of sanctity, and so on. That would allow us to explore predominate concepts while including religions that may be missing one or two. Lusifarianisum can meet the criteria while roller coaster construction won’t.
Safe travel and much profit to ya!