Religion_general definitions

Religion_general definitions - RELIGION GENERAL DEFINITION...

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RELIGION GENERAL DEFINITION AND CHARACTERISTICS EXAMINATION OF DEFINITIONS A survey of existing definitions reveals many different interpretations. "Religion is the belief in an ever living God, that is, in a Divine Mind and Will ruling the Universe and holding moral relations with mankind."—James Martineau "Religion is the recognition that all things are manifestations of a Power which transcends our knowledge."—Herbert Spencer "Religion is rather the attempt to express the complete reality of goodness through every aspect of our being."—F. H. Bradley "Religion is ethics heightened, enkindled, lit up by feeling."—Matthew Arnold "It seems to me that it [religion] may best be described as an emotion resting on a conviction of a harmony between ourselves and the universe at large."—J. M. E. McTaggart "Religion is, in truth, that pure and reverential disposition or frame of mind which we call piety."—C. P. Tiele "A man's religion is the expression of his ultimate attitude to the universe, the summed- up meaning and purport of his whole consciousness of things."—Edward Caird "To be religious is to effect in some way and in some measure a vital adjustment (however tentative and incomplete) to whatever is reacted to or regarded implicitly or explicitly as worthy of serious and ulterior concern."—Vergilius Ferm If we take these definitions as attempts to state necessary and sufficient conditions for something to be a religion, it is not difficult to show that none of them is adequate. With respect to necessary conditions, consider Martineau's definition. It is clear that such a belief does not have to be present in a religion. No polytheistic religion recognizes a single divine ruler of the universe; and there are religions, such as Hinayana Buddhism, in which beliefs in personal deities play no role at all. Bradley and Arnold identify religion with morality, but there are primitive societies in which there is no real connection between the ritual system, with its associated beliefs in supernatural beings, and the moral code. The latter is based solely on tribal precedent and is not thought of as either originating with or sanctioned by the gods. If, as would commonly be done, we call the former the religion of the culture, we have a religion without morality. 1
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As for McTaggart and Tiele, it seems likely that if we specify "piety" or "feeling of harmony" sufficiently to give them a clear and unambiguous meaning, we will be able to find acknowledged religions in which they do not play an important role. It would seem that we could avoid this only by construing "piety," for example, to cover any state of feeling that arises in connection with religious activities. It does seem plausible to regard some of the definitions as stating necessary conditions, as in Caird and Ferm. However, it is doubtful that these are sufficient conditions. Ferm's overcarefully worded statement would seem to admit any attitude with respect to
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This test prep was uploaded on 04/19/2008 for the course COMP STD 367 taught by Professor Maymind during the Spring '08 term at Ohio State.

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Religion_general definitions - RELIGION GENERAL DEFINITION...

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