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How do we define a Religion?
Posted: 17 September 2007 02:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Baloo, in reference to “I know it when I see it”:  I guess it depends on one’s motivation for it.  It could be a cop-out, or it could just be a wise-ass comment.  In this case it was the latter.  I was indicating that I think there’s general (maybe sloppy) agreement on what is and isn’t a religion such that we can have productive and meaningful discussions at that level.  I’m not certain that much is to be gained by trying to be hyper-precise in its definition.

I missed the point of your question, “What would you think about a non-theoist that claimed the right to equal protection under the law for his own beliefs?  Can a single person do so, or does it require an organized group of individuals?”

Does this have anything to do with the original question, and if so, are you suggesting that one of the characteristics of a religion may have to be acceptance by an organized group of individuals?

Occam

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Posted: 17 September 2007 03:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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“Religion is as religion does.” - Forest Gump

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Posted: 17 September 2007 10:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Occam - 17 September 2007 02:12 PM

Baloo, in reference to “I know it when I see it”:  I guess it depends on one’s motivation for it.  It could be a cop-out, or it could just be a wise-ass comment.  In this case it was the latter.  I was indicating that I think there’s general (maybe sloppy) agreement on what is and isn’t a religion such that we can have productive and meaningful discussions at that level.  I’m not certain that much is to be gained by trying to be hyper-precise in its definition.

Understood. 

Occam - 17 September 2007 02:12 PM

I missed the point of your question, “What would you think about a non-theoist that claimed the right to equal protection under the law for his own beliefs?  Can a single person do so, or does it require an organized group of individuals?”

This was in reference to your statement:

Occam - 16 September 2007 08:08 PM

I get annoyed when theists claim that lack of religion is therefore a religion, that is, a non-theist’s belief that there is no god is a religious belief.  Hogwash.

I can understand that a non-theist would not want to have their beliefs defined by someone else, the question was directed at probing additional conditions that you might consider….

Occam - 16 September 2007 08:08 PM

Does this have anything to do with the original question, and if so, are you suggesting that one of the characteristics of a religion may have to be acceptance by an organized group of individuals?

I guess I have kind of wandered a bit off-topic….

I guess my main concern is that I’m not sure what people mean when they use the term ‘Religion’.  Often it seems like it gets used for a number of meanings that may of may not be the same concept.  Personally, I tend to liken Religion to having much the same influence of a Culture, as in the example Japanese Culture.  I might extend the the example to ‘Organized Religion’ to the ‘Japanese Government’ (pre-democracy)  Both have rules that people may or may not agree with entirely, both are value systems that people are born into, both have vested interest in continuing to survive, etc, etc.

That’s not to say that this analogy totally works.

In any case, any thoughts, I’d love to hear…

-baloo

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Posted: 17 September 2007 10:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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My definition might be fairly incomplete, but I see a religion as any set of beliefs that venerate something, be it metaphysical or a cow, etc., that does not seem to justify respect in the eyes of others.  I don’t see that it has to be similar to a culture, although it can be, and I don’t see that it has to involve more than one person.

Occam

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Posted: 17 September 2007 11:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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HERE is a thread on this topic from a while back. and from that thread,

Clear definitions are nice, but absolutes without exceptions are rare in human affairs, and attempts to create them usually cause more trouble than they’re worht, IMHO. I might loosely say a religion is a system of beliefs in which the supernatural figures prominently and which claims to be both descriptive of reality and proscriptive for how people should behave.

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Posted: 18 September 2007 02:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Occam - 17 September 2007 10:22 PM

My definition might be fairly incomplete, but I see a religion as any set of beliefs that venerate something, be it metaphysical or a cow, etc., that does not seem to justify respect in the eyes of others.  I don’t see that it has to be similar to a culture, although it can be, and I don’t see that it has to involve more than one person.

Occam

This makes a lot of sense.  And explains why non-theistic beliefs may not be religion, as long as they don’t venerate something that doesn’t warrant it…

Thank you!

-baloo

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Posted: 18 September 2007 02:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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truthaddict - 17 September 2007 03:51 PM

“Religion is as religion does.” - Forest Gump

And….....

-baloo

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Posted: 18 September 2007 02:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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mckenzievmd - 17 September 2007 11:08 PM

HERE is a thread on this topic from a while back. and from that thread,

Clear definitions are nice, but absolutes without exceptions are rare in human affairs, and attempts to create them usually cause more trouble than they’re worht, IMHO. I might loosely say a religion is a system of beliefs in which the supernatural figures prominently and which claims to be both descriptive of reality and proscriptive for how people should behave.

This would also explain why Atheism, at least Atheism that included disbelief in the supernatural, would not be classified as a religion.

It does open the question to how you would classify ‘a system of beliefs based on experience and which claims to be both descriptive of reality and proscriptive for how people should behave’ say, ‘rule based utilitarianism’...  A philosophy maybe? 

That said, I wonder how Atheists would react to having their beliefs classified as a ‘philosophy’?

-baloo

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Posted: 18 September 2007 07:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Occam - 17 September 2007 10:22 PM

My definition might be fairly incomplete, but I see a religion as any set of beliefs that venerate something, be it metaphysical or a cow, etc., that does not seem to justify respect in the eyes of others.  I don’t see that it has to be similar to a culture, although it can be, and I don’t see that it has to involve more than one person.

Hmmm ... I think that’s probably too broad a definition. What about sports teams? They are venerated locally but do not seem to justify respect by others outside their area. Local artwork, painting, music, architecture is often also venerated by small groups but not by outsiders.

Most definitions of religion that I’ve seen do make reference at some level to an aspect of the supernatural. Quasi-religious belief systems that do not involve supernatural beliefs (for example, some versions of Buddhism or Confucianism) are usually referred to as “philosophies” rather than religions.

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Posted: 18 September 2007 07:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Baloo - 18 September 2007 02:23 AM

I wonder how Atheists would react to having their beliefs classified as a ‘philosophy’?

Personally, I wouldn’t have any problem with it. I think it is a sort of philosophical point of view.

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Posted: 18 September 2007 08:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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dougsmith - 18 September 2007 07:24 AM
Baloo - 18 September 2007 02:23 AM

I wonder how Atheists would react to having their beliefs classified as a ‘philosophy’?

Personally, I wouldn’t have any problem with it. I think it is a sort of philosophical point of view.

No, its a religion and we worship No God for which we will get No Reward in our Non-Afterlife. In fact, our currency - once we get our homeland by expelling some pathetic group of natives and subjugating them to some apartheid system or extirmination - will say “In No God We Trust” and our Pledge of No Allegiance will say “One Nation Under No God…”

but seriously, of course its a philosophy. what else would it be?

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Posted: 18 September 2007 01:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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I have, so far, been remarkably successful at telling the difference between goats & turtles.  I also don’t find it beneficial or rewarding to analyze goats to see if they could be turtles.  In my experience you can usually find an accurate definition for your thoughts without relying on “20% of this belief” as your definition.  Just because you believe in the golden rule, doesn’t necessarily mean you are a Christian.  As far as defining religions go, I think this website has done an effective job at distinguishing which side of the fence various popular religious beliefs stand.  It is a short quiz that gives you a percentage match for all religions.  I was a 100% Secular Humanist and a 90% match for Unitarianism.  Interesting enough, they included secular humanism as a religion.  Please let us know what you get – I bet a majority of you will have a similar result as me.

http://www.selectsmart.com/RELIGION/

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Posted: 18 September 2007 07:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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1.  Doug, that’s why I said my definition may be fairly incomplete - I didn’t add all the qualifications and caveats.

2.  Retrospy, that website is fairly old.  The Unitarian denomination has rapidly become more theistic in the last ten years.  You would probably only be 60% unitarian now.

3.  I’m very sensitive to inconsistencies in other people so I crack up when I find one in myself.  I’ve argued strongly in other threads against theism and all the words associated with it.  I was quite annoyed when someone attempted to characterize my non-beliefs as religious.  This morning, at my teeth cleaning, my dentist asked if I had been flossing.  I answered, “Religiously.”  -  tongue laugh   gack!!

Occam

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Posted: 18 September 2007 08:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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So you floss your teeth in silent revery? Or while chanting a mantra or prayer? Or only on Christmas and Easter? grin I love language, and how words change. If I was a little more evil, I might start a thread debating “Words Prohibited to Atheists”

How about a 10 Commandments style list?

Thou shalt not claim to be an atheist and yet utter the words: “Bless you” when someone sneezes; “Damn-it!” when you stub your toe; “Go the Hell!” when someone tells you to vote Republican, or any other religion-tainted word. Nah, I guess some people might not get it wink

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Posted: 18 September 2007 09:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Brennen:

If I was a little more evil

  Ah, the conditional rather than the subjunctive.  So, Brennen.  Does that mean you could be evil in some circumstances?  LOL

You have a point about religious words as expletives.  I guess I’ll just have to change so that I use only words to do with the excretory and urogenital system and functions.  shock

Occam

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