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definitions - Religion

religion (n.)

1.a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny"he lost his faith but not his morality"

2.an institution to express belief in a divine power"he was raised in the Baptist religion" "a member of his own faith contradicted him"

Religion (n.)

1.(MeSH)A set of beliefs concerning the nature, cause, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency. It usually involves devotional and ritual observances and often a moral code for the conduct of human affairs. (Random House Collegiate Dictionary, rev. ed.)

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Merriam Webster

ReligionRe*li"gion (r�*lĭj"ŭn), n. [F., from L. religio; cf. religens pious, revering the gods, Gr. 'ale`gein to heed, have a care. Cf. Neglect.]
1. The outward act or form by which men indicate their recognition of the existence of a god or of gods having power over their destiny, to whom obedience, service, and honor are due; the feeling or expression of human love, fear, or awe of some superhuman and overruling power, whether by profession of belief, by observance of rites and ceremonies, or by the conduct of life; a system of faith and worship; a manifestation of piety; as, ethical religions; monotheistic religions; natural religion; revealed religion; the religion of the Jews; the religion of idol worshipers.

An orderly life so far as others are able to observe us is now and then produced by prudential motives or by dint of habit; but without seriousness there can be no religious principle at the bottom, no course of conduct from religious motives; in a word, there can be no religion. Paley.

Religion [was] not, as too often now, used as equivalent for godliness; but . . . it expressed the outer form and embodiment which the inward spirit of a true or a false devotion assumed. Trench.

Religions, by which are meant the modes of divine worship proper to different tribes, nations, or communities, and based on the belief held in common by the members of them severally. . . . There is no living religion without something like a doctrine. On the other hand, a doctrine, however elaborate, does not constitute a religion. C. P. Tiele (Encyc. Brit.).

Religion . . . means the conscious relation between man and God, and the expression of that relation in human conduct. J. Köstlin (Schaff-Herzog Encyc.)

After the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. Acts xxvi. 5.

The image of a brute, adorned
With gay religions full of pomp and gold.
Milton.

2. Specifically, conformity in faith and life to the precepts inculcated in the Bible, respecting the conduct of life and duty toward God and man; the Christian faith and practice. This definition is from the 1913 Webster, which was edited by Noah Porter, a theologian. His bias toward the Christion religion is evident not only in this definition, but in others as well as in the choice of quations or illustrative phrases. Caveat lector. - PJC

Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Washington.

Religion will attend you . . . as a pleasant and useful companion in every proper place, and every temperate occupation of life. Buckminster.

3. (R. C. Ch.) A monastic or religious order subject to a regulated mode of life; the religious state; as, to enter religion. Trench.

A good man was there of religion. Chaucer.

4. Strictness of fidelity in conforming to any practice, as if it were an enjoined rule of conduct. [R.]

Those parts of pleading which in ancient times might perhaps be material, but at this time are become only mere styles and forms, are still continued with much religion. Sir M. Hale.

Religion, as distinguished from theology, is subjective, designating the feelings and acts of men which relate to God; while theology is objective, and denotes those ideas which man entertains respecting the God whom he worships, especially his systematized views of God. As distinguished from morality, religion denotes the influences and motives to human duty which are found in the character and will of God, while morality describes the duties to man, to which true religion always influences. As distinguished from piety, religion is a high sense of moral obligation and spirit of reverence or worship which affect the heart of man with respect to the Deity, while piety, which first expressed the feelings of a child toward a parent, is used for that filial sentiment of veneration and love which we owe to the Father of all. As distinguished from sanctity, religion is the means by which sanctity is achieved, sanctity denoting primarily that purity of heart and life which results from habitual communion with God, and a sense of his continual presence.

Natural religion, a religion based upon the evidences of a God and his qualities, which is supplied by natural phenomena. See Natural theology, under Natural. -- Religion of humanity, a name sometimes given to a religion founded upon positivism as a philosophical basis. -- Revealed religion, that which is based upon direct communication of God's will to mankind; especially, the Christian religion, based on the revelations recorded in the Old and New Testaments.

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synonyms - Religion

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-Abyss (religion) • Academy for Jewish Religion • African traditional religion • Alt.religion.kibology • Alt.religion.scientology • Ammon (Egyptian religion) • Ancient Egyptian religion • Anglo-Saxon religion • Anthropology of religion • Aryan religion • Aspects of the Religion • Association of Religion Data Archives • Assyrian Religion • Ayyavazhi religion • Aztec religion • Bad Religion • Bahá'í Faith and the unity of religion • Bektashism and folk religion • Blackfoot religion • Bon religion • Bonn Agreement (religion) • Brahmo religion • Canaanite religion • Cardinal (religion) • Cattle in religion • Censorship by religion • Chapter (religion) • China (Religion) • Civil religion • Comparative religion • Composition of the United States Supreme Court by religion • Confessionalism (religion) • Connexion (religion) • Conservator (religion) • Crow religion • Curia (religion) • Dance in mythology and religion • Dialogues concerning Natural Religion • Dike (Greek religion and mythology) • Dione (Greek religion and mythology) • Earlham School of Religion • Earth religion • Eastern religion • Egyptian religion • Ethics in religion • Ethnic religion • Etruscan religion • Everready (The Religion) • Freedom From Religion Foundation • Freedom of religion in Afghanistan • Freedom of religion in Canada • Freedom of religion in Colombia • Freedom of religion in France • Freedom of religion in Georgia • Freedom of religion in Italy • Freedom of religion in Mauritania • Freedom of religion in Saudi Arabia • Freedom of religion in Sri Lanka • Freedom of religion in Sudan • Freedom of religion in the People's Republic of China • Freedom of religion in the Philippines • French Wars of Religion • Gallo-Roman religion • Generator (Bad Religion album) • Graduate programs in religion • Greco-Roman religion • Gujarat Freedom of Religion Bill • Herbert Berg (religion) • His Religion and Hers • Historical Vedic religion • History of religion in the Netherlands • Independent (religion) • Institute for Works of Religion • Institutes of the Christian Religion • Isis (Egyptian religion) • Jain religion • Jedi religion • Jungian interpretation of religion • Juno (Roman religion and mythology) • Larvae (Roman religion) • List of Jews in religion • Longhouse Religion • Magic (religion and superstition) • Magic and religion • Maya religion • Mercury (Roman religion) • Mesopotamian religion • Mock religion • Moor religion • My Religion • My Religion (song) • Māori religion • Natural religion • Nauruan indigenous religion • New World Religion • No Control (Bad Religion album) • Old Norse Religion • Origins of religion • Outline of religion • Paleo-Balkanic religion • Parody religion • Persecution of religion in ancient Rome • Philosophy and religion in Star Wars • Philosophy of religion • Prehistoric religion • Priest (religion) • Primate (religion) • Proto-Indo-Iranian religion • Provincial (religion) • Provost (religion) • Psychology Attacks of Religion • Raelian religion • Relationship between religion and science • Religion and abortion • Religion and agriculture • Religion and capital punishment • Religion and drugs • Religion and homosexuality • Religion and mental illness • Religion and mythology • Religion and schizotypy • Religion and social issues • Religion and the Internet • Religion as mental illness • Religion in Albania • Religion in America • Religion in Asia • Religion in Australia • Religion in Azerbaijan • Religion in Bolivia • Religion in Carthage • Religion in Denmark • Religion in France • Religion in Futurama • Religion in Hong Kong • Religion in Iceland • Religion in Iraq • Religion in Ireland • Religion in Israel • Religion in Japan • Religion in Jersey • Religion in Korea • Religion in London • Religion in Luxembourg • Religion in Mexico • Religion in Moldova • Religion in Nazi Germany • Religion in Nepal • Religion in Nigeria • Religion in North Korea • Religion in Northern Ireland • Religion in Papua New Guinea • Religion in Portugal • Religion in Russia • Religion in Seychelles • Religion in Spain • Religion in Sri Lanka • Religion in Sudan • Religion in Taiwan • Religion in The Simpsons • Religion in Trinidad and Tobago • Religion in Vietnam • Religion in Vojvodina • Religion in ancient Greece • Religion in ancient Rome • Religion in national symbols • Religion in the Philippines • Religion of Belgium • Religion of the Yellow Stick • Religions et religion • Renewal (religion) • Revival of Religion • Role of women in religion • Roman religion • Ryukyuan religion • Slavery and religion • Society, Religion and Technology Project • Sociology of Religion (book) • Sociology of religion • Sol (Roman religion) • State religion • Stranger than Fiction (Bad Religion album) • Subud and religion • The Chemical Religion • The Institute on Religion and Democracy • The Life and Religion of Mohammed • Transcendence (religion) • True Religion • Türkisch-Islamische Union der Anstalt für Religion • Türkisch-Islamische Union der Anstalt für Religion e.V. • UFO religion • Universalist religion • Vaccination and religion • Vegetarianism and religion • War of Religion • Western religion • Wolves in folklore, religion and mythology • Wyandot religion • Zoroastrian religion

analogical dictionary




religion (n.)


Wikipedia

Religion

                   
  Symbols representing some world religions, from left to right:
row 1: Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism
row 2: Islam, Buddhism, Shinto
row 3: Sikhism, Bahá'í Faith, Jainism
Religions by country
Religion Portal  

Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values.[1] Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature.

The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with faith or belief system, but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect[citation needed]. Many religions have organized behaviors, clergy, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural), and/or scriptures. The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture. However, there are examples of religions for which some or many of these aspects of structure, belief, or practices are absent.

The development of religion has taken different forms in different cultures. Some religions place an emphasis on belief, while others emphasize practice. Some religions focus on the subjective experience of the religious individual, while others consider the activities of the religious community to be most important. Some religions claim to be universal, believing their laws and cosmology to be binding for everyone, while others are intended to be practiced only by a closely defined or localized group. In many places religion has been associated with public institutions such as education, hospitals, the family, government, and political hierarchies. Anthropologists John Monoghan and Peter Just state that, "it seems apparent that one thing religion or belief helps us do is deal with problems of human life that are significant, persistent, and intolerable. One important way in which religious beliefs accomplish this is by providing a set of ideas about how and why the world is put together that allows people to accommodate anxieties and deal with misfortune."[2]

Some academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories: world religions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths; indigenous religions, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and new religious movements, which refers to recently developed faiths.[3] One modern academic theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to the Abrahamic religions as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings,[4] and thus religion, as a concept, has been applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures that are not based upon such systems, or in which these systems are a substantially simpler construct.

Contents

Etymology

Religion (from O.Fr. religion "religious community," from L. religionem (nom. religio) "respect for what is sacred, reverence for the gods,"[5] "obligation, the bond between man and the gods"[6]) is derived from the Latin religiō, the ultimate origins of which are obscure. One possibility is derivation from a reduplicated *le-ligare, an interpretation traced to Cicero connecting lego "read", i.e. re (again) + lego in the sense of "choose", "go over again" or "consider carefully". Modern scholars such as Tom Harpur and Joseph Campbell favor the derivation from ligare "bind, connect", probably from a prefixed re-ligare, i.e. re (again) + ligare or "to reconnect," which was made prominent by St. Augustine, following the interpretation of Lactantius.[7][8] The medieval usage alternates with order in designating bonded communities like those of monastic orders: "we hear of the 'religion' of the Golden Fleece, of a knight 'of the religion of Avys'".[9]

According to the philologist Max Müller, the root of the English word "religion", the Latin religio, was originally used to mean only "reverence for God or the gods, careful pondering of divine things, piety" (which Cicero further derived to mean "diligence").[10][11] Max Müller characterized many other cultures around the world, including Egypt, Persia, and India, as having a similar power structure at this point in history. What is called ancient religion today, they would have only called "law".[12]

Many languages have words that can be translated as "religion", but they may use them in a very different way, and some have no word for religion at all. For example, the Sanskrit word dharma, sometimes translated as "religion", also means law. Throughout classical South Asia, the study of law consisted of concepts such as penance through piety and ceremonial as well as practical traditions. Medieval Japan at first had a similar union between "imperial law" and universal or "Buddha law", but these later became independent sources of power.[13][14]

There is no precise equivalent of "religion" in Hebrew, and Judaism does not distinguish clearly between religious, national, racial, or ethnic identities.[15] One of its central concepts is "halakha", sometimes translated as "law"", which guides religious practice and belief and many aspects of daily life.

The use of other terms, such as obedience to God or Islam are likewise grounded in particular histories and vocabularies.[16]

  Major denominations and religions of the world

Origins

There are a number of theories regarding the origins of religion. According to anthropologists John Monaghan and Peter Just,

Many of the great world religions appear to have begun as revitalization movements of some sort, as the vision of a charismatic prophet fires the imaginations of people seeking a more comprehensive answer to their problems than they feel is provided by everyday beliefs. Charismatic individuals have emerged at many times and places in the world. It seems that the key to long-term success – and many movements come and go with little long-term effect – has relatively little to do with the prophets, who appear with surprising regularity, but more to do with the development of a group of supporters who are able to institutionalize the movement.[17]

Religious movements

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the academic practice of comparative religion divided religious belief into philosophically defined categories called "world religions." However, some recent scholarship has argued that not all types of religion are necessarily separated by mutually exclusive philosophies, and furthermore that the utility of ascribing a practice to a certain philosophy, or even calling a given practice religious, rather than cultural, political, or social in nature, is limited.[18][19][20] The current state of psychological study about the nature of religiousness suggests that it is better to refer to religion as a largely invariant phenomenon that should be distinguished from cultural norms (i.e. "religions").[21] The list of religious movements given here is therefore an attempt to summarize the most important regional and philosophical influences on local communities, but it is by no means a complete description of every religious community, nor does it explain the most important elements of individual religiousness.

The four largest religious groups by population, estimated to account for between 5 and 7 billion people, are Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism (with the relative numbers for Buddhism and Hinduism dependent on the extent of syncretism).

Four largest religions Adherents in 2000[22]  % of world population[22] Article
Christianity 2.0 billion 33% Christianity by country
Islam 1.2 billion 19.6% Islam by country
Hinduism 811 million 13.4% Hinduism by country
Buddhism 360 million 5.9% Buddhism by country
  The patriarch Abraham (by József Molnár)
There are other smaller groups, such as Jehovah's Witnesses and the Latter Day Saint movement, whose inclusion in Christianity is sometimes disputed.
  Muslims praying around Kaaba, the most sacred site in Islam
  • Islam refers to the religion taught by the Islamic prophet Muhammad, a major political and religious figure of the 7th century CE. Islam is the dominant religion of northern Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. As with Christianity, there is no single orthodoxy in Islam but a multitude of traditions which are generally categorized as Sunni and Shia, although there are other minor groups as well. Wahhabi is the dominant Muslim schools of thought in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. There are also several Islamic republics, including Iran, which is run by a Shia Supreme Leader.
  • The Bahá'í Faith was founded in the 19th century in Iran and since then has spread worldwide. It teaches unity of all religious philosophies and accepts all of the prophets of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as well as additional prophets including its founder Bahá'u'lláh.
  • Smaller regional Abrahamic groups, including Samaritanism (primarily in Israel and the West Bank), the Rastafari movement (primarily in Jamaica), and Druze (primarily in Syria and Lebanon).
  Hindu statue of Rama in Kalaram Temple (India)
  Zoroastrian Fire Temple
  Incense burner in China
  A Modern-style Unitarian Universalist sanctuary
  • A variety of new religious movements still practiced today have been founded in many other countries besides Japan and the United States, including:
    • Shinshūkyō is a general category for a wide variety of religious movements founded in Japan since the 19th century. These movements share almost nothing in common except the place of their founding. The largest religious movements centered in Japan include Soka Gakkai, Tenrikyo, and Seicho-No-Ie among hundreds of smaller groups.
    • Cao Đài is a syncretistic, monotheistic religion, established in Vietnam in 1926.
    • Unitarian Universalism is a religion characterized by support for a "free and responsible search for truth and meaning," and has no accepted creed or theology.
    • Scientology teaches that people are immortal beings who have forgotten their true nature. Its method of spiritual rehabilitation is a type of counseling known as auditing, in which practitioners aim to consciously re-experience painful or traumatic events in their past in order to free themselves of their limiting effects.
    • Eckankar is a religion with the purpose of making God an everyday reality in one's life.

Sociological classifications of religious movements suggest that within any given religious group, a community can resemble various types of structures, including "churches", "denominations", "sects", "cults", and "institutions".

  The Hindu population of South Asia comprises about 2,000 castes.[28] According to some Hindu literature, there are 330 million (including local and regional) Hindu deities.[29]

Types of religion

History of religions
founding figures

Anthropology
Comparative religion
Development
Neurotheology / God gene
Origins
Psychology

Prehistoric
Ancient Near East
 · Ancient Egypt
 · Semitic
Indo-European
 · Vedic Hinduism
 · Greco-Roman
 · Celtic  · Germanic
Axial Age
 · Vedanta  · Shramana
 · Dharma  · Tao
 · Hellenism
 · Monism  · Dualism
 · Monotheism
Christianization
Islamization
Renaissance · Reformation
Age of Reason
New religious movements
 · Great Awakening
 · Fundamentalism
 · New Age
Postmodernism

Abrahamic
 · Judaism
 · Christianity
 · Islam
 · Bahá'í Faith
Indic
 · Hinduism
 · Buddhism
 · Jainism
 · Sikhism
 · Ayyavazhi
 · Taoism
Neopagan
 · Wicca

Some scholars classify religions as either universal religions that seek worldwide acceptance and actively look for new converts, or ethnic religions that are identified with a particular ethnic group and do not seek converts.[30] Others reject the distinction, pointing out that all religious practices, whatever their philosophical origin, are ethnic because they come from a particular culture.[31][32][33]

Issues in religion

Interfaith cooperation

Because religion continues to be recognized in Western thought as a universal impulse, many religious practitioners have aimed to band together in interfaith dialogue, cooperation, and religious peacebuilding. The first major dialogue was the Parliament of the World's Religions at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, which remains notable even today both in affirming "universal values" and recognition of the diversity of practices among different cultures. The 20th century has been especially fruitful in use of interfaith dialogue as a means of solving ethnic, political, or even religious conflict, with Christian-Jewish reconciliation representing a complete reverse in the attitudes of many Christian communities towards Jews.

Recent interfaith initiatives include "A Common Word", launched in 2007 and focused on bringing Muslim and Christian leaders together,[34] the "C1 World Dialogue",[35] the "Common Ground" initiative between Islam and Buddhism,[36] and a United Nations sponsored "World Interfaith Harmony Week".[37][38]

Secularism and irreligion

The terms "atheist" (lack of belief in any gods) and "agnostic" (belief in the unknowability of the existence of gods), though specifically contrary to theistic (e.g. Christian, Jewish, and Muslim) religious teachings, do not by definition mean the opposite of "religious". There are religions (including Buddhism and Taoism), in fact, that classify some of their followers as agnostic, atheistic, or nontheistic. The true opposite of "religious" is the word "irreligious". Irreligion describes an absence of any religion; antireligion describes an active opposition or aversion toward religions in general.

Critics of religion consider it to be to be outdated, harmful to the individual (e.g. brainwashing of children, faith healing, circumcision), harmful to society (e.g. holy wars, terrorism, wasteful distribution of resources), to impede the progress of science, and to encourage immoral acts (e.g. blood sacrifice, discrimination against homosexuals and women). A major criticism of many religions is that they require beliefs that are irrational, unscientific, or unreasonable, because religious beliefs and traditions lack scientific or rational foundations.

As religion became a more personal matter in Western culture, discussions of society found a new focus on political and scientific meaning, and religious attitudes (dominantly Christian) were increasingly seen as irrelevant for the needs of the European world. On the political side, Ludwig Feuerbach recast Christian beliefs in light of humanism, paving the way for Karl Marx's famous characterization of religion as "the opium of the people". Meanwhile, in the scientific community, T.H. Huxley in 1869 coined the term "agnostic," a term—subsequently adopted by such figures as Robert Ingersoll—that, while directly conflicting with and novel to Christian tradition, is accepted and even embraced in some other religions. Later, Bertrand Russell told the world Why I Am Not a Christian, which influenced several later authors to discuss their breakaway from their own religious uprbringings from Islam to Hinduism.

Some modern-day critics, such as Bryan Caplan, hold that religion lacks utility in human society; they may regard religion as irrational.[39] Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi has spoken out against undemocratic Islamic countries justifying "oppressive acts" in the name of Islam.[40]

Related forms of thought

Religion and superstition

Superstition has been described as "the incorrect establishment of cause and effect" or a false conception of causation.[41] Religion is more complex and includes social institutions and morality. But religions may include superstitions or make use of magical thinking. Adherents of one religion sometimes think of other religions as superstition.[42][43] Some atheists, deists, and skeptics regard religious belief as superstition.

Greek and Roman pagans, who saw their relations with the gods in political and social terms, scorned the man who constantly trembled with fear at the thought of the gods (deisidaimonia), as a slave might fear a cruel and capricious master. The Romans called such fear of the gods superstitio.[44] Early Christianity was outlawed as a superstitio Iudaica, a "Jewish superstition", by Domitian in the 80s AD. In AD 425, when Rome had become Christian, Theodosius II outlawed pagan traditions as superstitious.

The Roman Catholic Church considers superstition to be sinful in the sense that it denotes a lack of trust in the divine providence of God and, as such, is a violation of the first of the Ten Commandments. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that superstition "in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion" (para. #2110). "Superstition," it says, "is a deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand is to fall into superstition. Cf. Matthew 23:16-22" (para. #2111)

Myth

The word myth has several meanings.

  1. A traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon;
  2. A person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence; or
  3. A metaphor for the spiritual potentiality in the human being.[45]
  Urarina shaman, 1988

Ancient polytheistic religions, such as those of Greece, Rome, and Scandinavia, are usually categorized under the heading of mythology. Religions of pre-industrial peoples, or cultures in development, are similarly called "myths" in the anthropology of religion. The term "myth" can be used pejoratively by both religious and non-religious people. By defining another person's religious stories and beliefs as mythology, one implies that they are less real or true than one's own religious stories and beliefs. Joseph Campbell remarked, "Mythology is often thought of as other people's religions, and religion can be defined as mis-interpreted mythology."[46]

In sociology, however, the term myth has a non-pejorative meaning. There, myth is defined as a story that is important for the group whether or not it is objectively or provably true. Examples include the death and resurrection of Jesus, which, to Christians, explains the means by which they are freed from sin and is also ostensibly a historical event. But from a mythological outlook, whether or not the event actually occurred is unimportant. Instead, the symbolism of the death of an old "life" and the start of a new "life" is what is most significant. Religious believers may or may not accept such symbolic interpretations.

Religion and health

Mayo Clinic researchers examined the association between religious involvement and spirituality, and physical health, mental health, health-related quality of life, and other health outcomes. The authors reported that: "Most studies have shown that religious involvement and spirituality are associated with better health outcomes, including greater longevity, coping skills, and health-related quality of life (even during terminal illness) and less anxiety, depression, and suicide."[47]

Religion and violence

  The Crusades were a series of a military campaigns fought mainly between Christian Europe and Muslims. Shown here is a battle scene from the First Crusade. They were inspired at the jihad of the Islam civilization.

Charles Selengut characterizes the phrase "religion and violence" as "jarring", asserting that "religion is thought to be opposed to violence and a force for peace and reconciliation. He acknowledges, however, that "the history and scriptures of the world's religions tell stories of violence and war as they speak of peace and love."[48]

Hector Avalos argues that, because religions claim divine favor for themselves, over and against other groups, this sense of righteousness leads to violence because conflicting claims to superiority, based on unverifiable appeals to God, cannot be adjudicated objectively.[49]

Critics of religion Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins go further and argue that religions do tremendous harm to society by using violence to promote their goals, in ways that are endorsed and exploited by their leaders.[50][page needed][51][page needed]

Regina Schwartz argues that all monotheistic religions are inherently violent because of an exclusivism that inevitably fosters violence against those that are considered outsiders.[52] Lawrence Wechsler asserts that Schwartz isn't just arguing that Abrahamic religions have a violent legacy, but that the legacy is actually genocidal in nature.[53]

Byron Bland asserts that one of the most prominent reasons for the "rise of the secular in Western thought" was the reaction against the religious violence of the 16th and 17th centuries. He asserts that "(t)he secular was a way of living with the religious differences that had produced so much horror. Under secularity, political entities have a warrant to make decisions independent from the need to enforce particular versions of religious orthodoxy. Indeed, they may run counter to certain strongly held beliefs if made in the interest of common welfare. Thus, one of the important goals of the secular is to limit violence."[54]

Nonetheless, believers have used similar arguments when responding to atheists in these discussions, pointing to the widespread imprisonment and mass murder of individuals under atheist states in the twentieth century:[55][56][57]

And who can deny that Stalin and Mao, not to mention Pol Pot and a host of others, all committed atrocities in the name of a Communist ideology that was explicitly atheistic? Who can dispute that they did their bloody deeds by claiming to be establishing a 'new man' and a religion-free utopia? These were mass murders performed with atheism as a central part of their ideological inspiration, they were not mass murders done by people who simply happened to be atheist.

In response to such a line of argument, however, author Sam Harris writes:

"The problem with fascism and communism, however, is not that they are too critical of religion; the problem is that they are too much like religions. Such regimes are dogmatic to the core and generally give rise to personality cults that are indistinguishable from cults of religious hero worship. Auschwitz, the gulag and the killing fields were not examples of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma; they are examples of political, racial and nationalistic dogma run amok. There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable."[58]

Richard Dawkins has stated that Stalin's atrocities were influenced not by atheism but by dogmatic Marxism,[59] and concludes that while Stalin and Mao happened to be atheists, they did not do their deeds in the name of atheism.[60] On other occasions, Dawkins has replied to the argument that Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin were antireligious with the response that Hitler and Stalin also grew moustaches, in an effort to show the argument as fallacious.[61] Instead, Dawkins argues in The God Delusion that "What matters is not whether Hitler and Stalin were atheists, but whether atheism systematically influences people to do bad things. There is not the smallest evidence that it does."[62] D'Souza responds that an individual need not explicitly invoke atheism in committing atrocities if it is already implied in his worldview, as is the case in Marxism.[63]

Religion and the law

There are laws and statutes that make reference to religion.[64] This has led scholar Winnifred Sullivan to claims that religious freedom is impossible.[65] Others argue that the Western legal principle of separation of church and state tends to engender a new, more inclusive civil religion.[66]

Religion and science

Religious knowledge, according to religious practitioners, may be gained from religious leaders, sacred texts, scriptures, or personal revelation. Some religions view such knowledge as unlimited in scope and suitable to answer any question; others see religious knowledge as playing a more restricted role, often as a complement to knowledge gained through physical observation. Adherents to various religious faiths often maintain that religious knowledge obtained via sacred texts or revelation is absolute and infallible and thereby creates an accompanying religious cosmology, although the proof for such is often tautological and generally limited to the religious texts and revelations that form the foundation of their belief.

In contrast, the scientific method gains knowledge by testing hypotheses to develop theories through elucidation of facts or evaluation by experiments and thus only answers cosmological questions about the universe that can be observed and measured. It develops theories of the world which best fit physically observed evidence. All scientific knowledge is subject to later refinement, or even outright rejection, in the face of additional evidence. Scientific theories that have an overwhelming preponderance of favorable evidence are often treated as de facto verities in general parlance, such as the theories of general relativity and natural selection to explain respectively the mechanisms of gravity and evolution.

Religion and the theory of evolution

In some religions, particularly Christianity and Islam, there have been disputes between doctrines of creationism and the evolution theory. The dispute is between those who, despite evidence of evolution, argue for religious accounts of creation as a scientific theory, and those who defend the conclusions of modern evolutionary biology, geology, cosmology, and other related fields. Although Christian objections to evolution have been prominent, and the debate has often been portrayed as part of the culture wars,[67] the controversy is also present in Europe and elsewhere,[68] and Muslims are the largest single group of creationists.[69]

Religion as a Christian concept

The social constructionists

In recent years, some academic writers have described religion according to the theory of social constructionism, which considers how ideas and social phenomena develop in a social context. Among the main proponents of this theory of religion are Timothy Fitzgerald, Daniel Dubuisson and Talal Asad. The social constructionists argue that religion is a modern concept that developed from Christianity and was then applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures.

Dubuisson, a French anthropologist, says that the idea of religion has changed a lot over time and that one cannot fully understand its development by relying on etymology, which "tends to minimize or cancel out the role of history".[70] "What the West and the history of religions in its wake have objectified under the name 'religion'", he says, " is ... something quite unique, which could be appropriate only to itself and its own history."[70] He notes that St. Augustine's definition of religio differed from the way we used the modern word "religion".[70] Dubuisson prefers the term "cosmographic formation" to religion. Dubuisson says that, with the emergence of religion as a category separate from culture and society, there arose religious studies. The initial purpose of religious studies was to demonstrate the superiority of the "living" or "universal" European world view to the "dead" or "ethnic" religions scattered throughout the rest of the world, expanding the teleological project of Schleiermacher and Tiele to a worldwide ideal religiousness.[71] Due to shifting theological currents, this was eventually supplanted by a liberal-ecumenical interest in searching for Western-style universal truths in every cultural tradition.[72] Clifford Geertz's definition of religion as a "cultural system" was proposed in the 20th century and continues to be widely accepted today.

According to Fitzgerald, the history of other cultures' interaction with the religious category is not about a universal constant,[clarification needed] but rather concerns a particular idea that first developed in Europe under the influence of Christianity.[73] Fitzgerald argues that from about the 4th century CE Western Europe and the rest of the world diverged. As Christianity became commonplace, the charismatic authority identified by Augustine, a quality we might today call "religiousness", exerted a commanding influence at the local level. This system persisted in the eastern Byzantine Empire following the East-West Schism, but Western Europe regulated unpredictable expressions of charisma through the Roman Catholic Church. As the Church lost its dominance during the Protestant Reformation and Christianity became closely tied to political structures, religion was recast as the basis of national sovereignty, and religious identity gradually became a less universal sense of spirituality and more divisive, locally defined, and tied to nationality.[74] It was at this point that "religion" was dissociated with universal beliefs and moved closer to dogma in both meaning and practice. However there was not yet the idea of dogma as personal choice, only of established churches. With the Enlightenment religion lost its attachment to nationality, says Fitzgerald, but rather than becoming a universal social attitude, it now became a personal feeling or emotion.[75] Friedrich Schleiermacher in the late 18th century defined religion as das schlechthinnige Abhängigkeitsgefühl, commonly translated as "a feeling of absolute dependence".[76] His contemporary Hegel disagreed thoroughly, defining religion as "the Divine Spirit becoming conscious of Himself through the finite spirit."[77]

Asad argues that before the word "religion" came into common usage, Christianity was a disciplina, a "rule" just like that of the Roman Empire. This idea can be found in the writings of St. Augustine (354–430). Christianity was then a power structure opposing and superseding human institutions, a literal Kingdom of Heaven. It was the discipline taught by one's family, school, church, and city authorities, rather than something calling one to self-discipline through symbols.[78]

These ideas are developed by S. N. Balagangadhara. In the Age of Enlightenment, Balagangadhara says that the idea of Christianity as the purest expression of spirituality was supplanted by the concept of "religion" as a worldwide practice.[79] This caused such ideas as religious freedom, a reexamination of classical philosophy as an alternative to Christian thought, and more radically Deism among intellectuals such as Voltaire. Much like Christianity, the idea of "religious freedom" was exported around the world as a civilizing technique, even to regions such as India that had never treated spirituality as a matter of political identity.[18] In Japan, where Buddhism was still seen as a philosophy of natural law,[80] the concept of "religion" and "religious freedom" as separate from other power structures was unnecessary until Christian missionaries demanded free access to conversion, and when Japanese Christians refused to engage in patriotic events.[81]

  Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism are one, a painting in the litang style portraying three men laughing by a river stream, 12th century, Song Dynasty

Other writers

Similar views have been put forward by writers who are not social constructionists. George Lindbeck, a Lutheran and a postliberal theologian, says that religion does not refer to belief in "God" or a transcendent Absolute, but rather to "a kind of cultural and/or linguistic framework or medium that shapes the entirety of life and thought ... it is similar to an idiom that makes possible the description of realities, the formulation of beliefs, and the experiencing of inner attitudes, feelings, and sentiments.”[82] Nicholas de Lange, Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at Cambridge University, says that "The comparative study of religions is an academic discipline which has been developed within Christian theology faculties, and it has a tendency to force widely differing phenomena into a kind of strait-jacket cut to a Christian pattern. The problem is not only that other 'religions' may have little or nothing to say about questions which are of burning importance for Christianity, but that they may not even see themselves as religions in precisely the same way in which Christianity sees itself as a religion."[83]

Criticism

Religious criticism has a long history, going back at least as far as the 5th century BCE in ancient Greece with Diagoras "the atheist" of Melos, and 1st century BCE in Rome with Titus Lucretius Carus's De Rerum Natura, and continuing to the present day with the advent of New Atheism, represented by such authors as Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Victor J. Stenger, and Christopher Hitchens.

Critics consider religion to be outdated, harmful to the individual (such as brainwashing of children, faith healing, circumcision), harmful to society (such as holy wars, terrorism, wasteful distribution of resources), to impede the progress of science, and to encourage immoral acts (such as blood sacrifice, discrimination against homosexuals and women).

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ While religion is difficult to define, one standard model of religion, used in religious studies courses, was proposed by Clifford Geertz, who simply called it a "cultural system" (Clifford Geertz, Religion as a Cultural System, 1973). A critique of Geertz's model by Talal Asad categorized religion as "an anthropological category." (Talal Asad, The Construction of Religion as an Anthropological Category, 1982.)
  2. ^ Monaghan, John; Just, Peter (2000). Social & Cultural Anthropology. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-19-285346-2. 
  3. ^ Harvey, Graham (2000). Indigenous Religions: A Companion. (Ed: Graham Harvey). London and New York: Cassell. Page 06.
  4. ^ Vergote, Antoine, Religion, belief and unbelief: a psychological study, Leuven University Press, 1997, p. 89
  5. ^ Harper, Douglas. "religion". Online Etymology Dictionary. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=religion. 
  6. ^ Shorter Oxford English Dictionary
  7. ^ In The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light. Toronto. Thomas Allen, 2004. ISBN 0-88762-145-7
  8. ^ In The Power of Myth, with Bill Moyers, ed. Betty Sue Flowers, New York, Anchor Books, 1991. ISBN 0-385-41886-8
  9. ^ Johan Huizinga, The Waning of the Middle Ages (1919) 1924:75.
  10. ^ Max Müller, Natural Religion, p.33, 1889
  11. ^ Lewis & Short, A Latin Dictionary
  12. ^ Max Müller. Introduction to the science of religion. p. 28.
  13. ^ Kuroda, Toshio and Jacqueline I. Stone, translator. "The Imperial Law and the Buddhist Law." Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 23.3-4 (1996)
  14. ^ Neil McMullin. Buddhism and the State in Sixteenth-Century Japan. Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 1984.
  15. ^ Hershel Edelheit, Abraham J. Edelheit, History of Zionism: A Handbook and Dictionary, p.3, citing Solomon Zeitlin, The Jews. Race, Nation, or Religion? ( Philadelphia: Dropsie College Press, 1936).
  16. ^ Colin Turner. Islam without Allah? New York: Routledge, 2000. pp. 11-12.
  17. ^ Monaghan, John; Just, Peter (2000). Social & Cultural Anthropology. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-19-285346-2. 
  18. ^ a b Brian Kemble Pennington Was Hinduism Invented? New York: Oxford University Press US, 2005. ISBN 0-19-516655-8
  19. ^ Russell T. McCutcheon. Critics Not Caretakers: Redescribing the Public Study of Religion. Albany: SUNY Press, 2001.
  20. ^ Nicholas Lash. The beginning and the end of 'religion'. Cambridge University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-521-56635-5
  21. ^ Joseph Bulbulia. "Are There Any Religions? An Evolutionary Explanation." Method & Theory in the Study of Religion 17.2 (2005), pp.71-100
  22. ^ a b Darrell J. Turner. "Religion: Year In Review 2000". Encyclopedia Britannica. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/715463/Religion-Year-In-Review-2000. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  23. ^ [1]
  24. ^ Hinduism is variously defined as a "religion", "set of religious beliefs and practices", "religious tradition" etc. For a discussion on the topic, see: "Establishing the boundaries" in Gavin Flood (2003), pp. 1-17. René Guénon in his Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines (1921 ed.), Sophia Perennis, ISBN 0-900588-74-8, proposes a definition of the term "religion" and a discussion of its relevance (or lack of) to Hindu doctrines (part II, chapter 4, p. 58).
  25. ^ P. 484 Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions By Wendy Doniger, M. Webster, Merriam-Webster, Inc
  26. ^ P. 219 Faith, Religion & Theology By Brennan Hill, Paul F. Knitter, William Madges
  27. ^ P. 6 The World's Great Religions By Yoshiaki Gurney Omura, Selwyn Gurney Champion, Dorothy Short
  28. ^ India – Caste. Encyclopædia Britannica.
  29. ^ Jeffrey Brodd (2003). World Religions: A Voyage of Discovery. Saint Mary's Press. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-88489-725-5. http://books.google.com/?id=vOzNo4MVlgMC&pg=PA45&dq=%22330+million%22 : '[..] many gods and goddesses (traditionally 330 million!) [...] Hinduism generally regards its 330 million as deities as extensions of one ultimate reality, many names for one ocean, many "masks" for one God.'
  30. ^ Hinnells, John R. (2005). The Routledge companion to the study of religion. Routledge. pp. 439–440. ISBN 0-415-33311-3. http://books.google.com/?id=IGspjXKxIf8C. Retrieved 2009-09-17. 
  31. ^ Timothy Fitzgerald. The Ideology of Religious Studies. New York: Oxford University Press USA, 2000.
  32. ^ Craig R. Prentiss. Religion and the Creation of Race and Ethnicity. New York: NYU Press, 2003. ISBN 0-8147-6701-X
  33. ^ Tomoko Masuzawa. The Invention of World Religions, or, How European Universalism Was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005. ISBN 0-226-50988-5
  34. ^ A Common Word
  35. ^ C1 World Dialogue
  36. ^ Islam and Buddhism Common Ground
  37. ^ World Interfaith Harmony Week
  38. ^ UN resolution
  39. ^ Bryan Caplan. "Why Religious Beliefs Are Irrational, and Why Economists Should Care". http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/ldebate.htm.  The article about religion and irrationality.
  40. ^ Earth Dialogues 2006 Conference, Brisbane. "In these countries, Islamic rulers want to solve 21st century issues with laws belonging to 14 centuries ago. Their views of human rights are exactly the same as it was 1400 years ago."
  41. ^ Kevin R. Foster and Hanna Kokko, "The evolution of superstitious and superstition-like behaviour", Proc. R. Soc. B (2009) 276, 31–37[dead link]
  42. ^ Boyer (2001). "Why Belief". Religion Explained. http://books.google.com/books?id=wreF80OHTicC&pg=PA297&lpg=PA297&dq=%22fang+too+were+quite+amazed%22. 
  43. ^ Fitzgerald 2007, p. 232
  44. ^ Veyne 1987, p 211[clarification needed]
  45. ^ Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, p. 22 ISBN 0-385-24774-5
  46. ^ Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor. Ed. Eugene Kennedy. New World Library ISBN 1-57731-202-3.
  47. ^ Paul S. Mueller, MD; David J. Plevak, MD; Teresa A. Rummans, MD. "Religious Involvement, Spirituality, and Medicine: Implications for Clinical Practice". http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.com/content/76/12/1225.full.pdf. Retrieved 13 November 2010. "We reviewed published studies, meta-analyses, systematic reviews, and subject reviews that examined the association between religious involvement and spirituality and physical health, mental health, health-related quality of life, and other health outcomes. We also reviewed articles that provided suggestions on how clinicians might assess and support the spiritual needs of patients. Most studies have shown that religious involvement and spirituality are associated with better health outcomes, including greater longevity, coping skills, and health-related quality of life (even during terminal illness) and less anxiety, depression, and suicide" 
  48. ^ Selengut, Charles (2008-04-28). Sacred fury: understanding religious violence. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-7425-6084-0. http://books.google.com/?id=mOqtEkGlq0cC&pg=PR7&dq=%22sectarian+violence%22+%22religious+violence%22#v=onepage&q=%22sectarian%20violence%22%20%22religious%20violence%22&f=false. 
  49. ^ Avalos, Hector (2005). Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books. 
  50. ^ Hitchens, Christopher (2007). God is not Great. Twelve. 
  51. ^ Dawkins, Richard (2006). The God Delusion. Bantam Books. 
  52. ^ The Curse of Cain: The Violent Legacy of Monotheism By Regina M. Schwartz. University of Chicago Press. 1998. 
  53. ^ Wechsler, Lawrence. "Mayhem and Monotheism". http://faculty.plts.edu/gpence/2490/PDF/mayhem.pdf. 
  54. ^ Bland, Byron (May 2003). "Evil Enemies: The Convergence of Religion and Politics". p. 4. http://www.law.stanford.edu/program/centers/scicn/papers/religion_and_political_violence.pdf. 
  55. ^ John S. Feinberg, Paul D. Feinberg. Ethics for a Brave New World. Crossway Books. http://books.google.com/books?id=Nl-f5SKq9mgC&pg=PA697&dq=Aleksandr+Solzhenitsyn+But+if+I+were+asked+today+to+formulate+as+concisely+as+possible+the+main+cause+of+the+ruinous+revolution+that+swallowed+up+some+60+million+of+our+people,+I+could+not+put+it+more+accurately+than+to+repeat:+'Men+have+forgotten+God;+that's+why#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2007–10–18. "Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: 'Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.' Since then I have spend well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: 'Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.'" 
  56. ^ Gregory Koukl. "The Real Murderers: Atheism or Christianity?". Stand To Reason. http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5527. Retrieved 2007–10–18. 
  57. ^ a b Dinesh D'Souza. "Answering Atheist’s Arguments". Catholic Education Resource Center. http://catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0214.htm. Retrieved 2007–10–18. 
  58. ^ 10 myths and 10 truths about Atheism Sam Harris
  59. ^ Dawkins, Richard (2006-09-18). The God Delusion. Ch. 7: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0-618-68000-9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_God_Delusion. 
  60. ^ Interview with Richard Dawkins conducted by Stephen Sackur for BBC News 24’s HardTalk programme, July 24th 2007. [2]
  61. ^ The Video: Bill O'Reilly Interviews Richard Dawkins
  62. ^ Dawkins 2006, p. 309
  63. ^ Answering Atheist’s Arguments Dinesh D'Souza
  64. ^ An example is the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. However the US Supreme Court has intentionally not pinned down a precise legal definition to allow for flexibility in preserving rights for what might be regarded as a religion over time. [3]
  65. ^ Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, The Impossibility of Religious Freedom. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.
  66. ^ Ronald C. Wimberley and James A. Christenson. "Civil Religion and Church and State". The Sociological Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 1 (Winter, 1980), pp. 35-40
  67. ^ Larson 2004, pp. 247–263. Chapter titled Modern Culture Wars. See also Ruse 1999, p. 26, who writes "One thing that historians delighted in showing is that, contrary to the usually held tale of science and religion being always opposed…religion and theologically inclined philosophy have frequently been very significant factors in the forward movement of science."
  68. ^ Curry 2009, p. 1159 "News coverage of the creationism-versus-evolution debate tends to focus on the United States … But in the past 5 years, political clashes over the issue have also occurred in countries all across Europe. … "This isn't just an American problem," says Dittmar Graf of the Technical University of Dortmund, who organized the meeting."
  69. ^ Thompson, Damian. Counterknowledge. pp. 39-45. ISBN 978-1843546757. 
  70. ^ a b c Daniel Dubuisson, The Western Construction of Religion
  71. ^ Daniel Dubuisson. "Exporting the Local: Recent Perspectives on 'Religion' as a Cultural Category", Religion Compass, 1.6 (2007), p.792.
  72. ^ Tomoko Masuzawa, The Invention of World Religions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.
  73. ^ Fitzgerald, Timothy (2007). Discourse on Civility and Barbarity. Oxford University Press. pp. 45–46. 
  74. ^ Fitzgerald 2007, p. 194
  75. ^ Fitzgerald 2007, p. 268
  76. ^ Hueston A. Finlay. "‘Feeling of absolute dependence’ or ‘absolute feeling of dependence’? A question revisited". Religious Studies 41.1 (2005), pp.81-94.
  77. ^ Max Müller. "Lectures on the origin and growth of religion."
  78. ^ Talal Asad, Genealogies of Religion. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1993 p.34-35.
  79. ^ S. N. Balagangadhara. The Heathen in His Blindness... New York: Brill Academic Publishers, 1994. p.159.
  80. ^ Jason Ānanda Josephson. "When Buddhism Became a 'Religion'". Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 33.1: 143–168.
  81. ^ Isomae Jun’ichi. "Deconstructing 'Japanese Religion'". Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 32.2: 235–248.
  82. ^ George A. Lindbeck, Nature of Doctrine (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1984), 33.
  83. ^ Nicholas de Lange, Judaism, Oxford University Press, 1986

Bibliography

  • Saint Augustine; The Confessions of Saint Augustine (John K. Ryan translator); Image (1960), ISBN 0-385-02955-1.
  • Descartes, René; Meditations on First Philosophy; Bobbs-Merril (1960), ISBN 0-672-60191-5.
  • Barzilai, Gad; Law and Religion; The International Library of Essays in Law and Society; Ashgate (2007),ISBN 978-0-7546-2494-3
  • Durant, Will (& Ariel (uncredited)); Our Oriental Heritage; MJF Books (1997), ISBN 1-56731-012-5.
  • Durant, Will (& Ariel (uncredited)); Caesar and Christ; MJF Books (1994), ISBN 1-56731-014-1
  • Durant, Will (& Ariel (uncredited)); The Age of Faith; Simon & Schuster (1980), ISBN 0-671-01200-2.
  • Marija Gimbutas 1989. The Language of the Goddess. Thames and Hudson New York
  • Gonick, Larry; The Cartoon History of the Universe; Doubleday, vol. 1 (1978) ISBN 0-385-26520-4, vol. II (1994) ISBN#0-385-42093-5, W. W. Norton, vol. III (2002) ISBN 0-393-05184-6.
  • Haisch, Bernard The God Theory: Universes, Zero-point Fields, and What's Behind It All -- discussion of science vs. religion (Preface[dead link]), Red Wheel/Weiser, 2006, ISBN 1-57863-374-5
  • Lao Tzu; Tao Te Ching (Victor H. Mair translator); Bantam (1998).
  • Marx, Karl; "Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right", Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, (1844).
  • Saler, Benson; "Conceptualizing Religion: Immanent Anthropologists, Transcendent Natives, and Unbounded Categories" (1990), ISBN 1-57181-219-9
  • The Holy Bible, King James Version; New American Library (1974).
  • The Koran; Penguin (2000), ISBN 0-14-044558-7.
  • The Origin of Live & Death, African Creation Myths; Heinemann (1966).
  • Poems of Heaven and Hell from Ancient Mesopotamia; Penguin (1971).
  • The World Almanac (annual), World Almanac Books, ISBN 0-88687-964-7.
  • The Serotonin System and Spiritual Experiences - American Journal of Psychiatry 160:1965-1969, November 2003.
  • United States Constitution
  • Selected Work Marcus Tullius Cicero
  • The World Almanac (for numbers of adherents of various religions), 2005
  • Religion [First Edition]. Winston King. Encyclopedia of Religion. Ed. Lindsay Jones. Vol. 11. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005. p7692-7701.
  • World Religions and Social Evolution of the Old World Oikumene Civilizations: A Cross-cultural Perspective by Andrey Korotayev, Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2004, ISBN 0-7734-6310-0.
  • Brodd, Jefferey (2003). World Religions. Winona, MN: Saint Mary's Press. ISBN 978-0-88489-725-5. 

On religion definition:

Studies of religion in particular geographical areas:

  • A. Khanbaghi. The Fire, the Star and the Cross: Minority Religions in Medieval and Early Modern Iran (IB Tauris; 2006) 268 pages. Social, political and cultural history of religious minorities in Iran, c. 226-1722 AD.

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