religion by xiaoyounan


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              The Nature of Religion*

                What is religion?
                Various definitions
                Approaches to the study of religion
                Typical components of a religious system
                Why do people turn to religion?
                Religion in the contemporary age

*Based on “Notes on the Nature of Religion,” by G. Cronk
Note: This presentation is in the
process of being developed. At this
time, it is just a brief overview
outline of our first required reading,
“Notes on the Nature of Religion.”
The presentation will be expanded in
the future.
What is religion?
 Religion as a “binding together” (Latin, religio, from the
  verb religare = “to bind together”).
 Religion is a relationship between the religious devotee
  and that which is the object of religious devotion (the gods,
  God, the Tao, the Holy, etc.), a relationship that binds the
  two together.
 Religion is also a binding together of all those who share
  the same or similar religious attitudes. In this way, religion
  gives rise to a community of devotees, a collectivity
  (church, synagogue, brotherhood, sisterhood, etc.) that is
  itself related to and bound together with the object of its
  devotion (the gods, etc.).
          the here and now                                   "The Beyond"
             the human                                      the superhuman
             the natural                                    the supernatural
            the immanent                                    the transcendent
     the secular and the profane                     the holy, the sacred, the divine
              the finite                                       the infinite
            the temporal                                       the eternal
      the mutable, the transient                     the immutable, the permanent
           the contingent                                    the necessary

Through religion, devotees are bound together with one another, forming a
community of devotion; and they are, even more importantly, bound together with
the supreme reality to which they are devoted. The “here and now” is joined to “The
Beyond;” the human to the superhuman; the natural to the supernatural; the
immanent to the transcendent; the secular and profane to the holy, the sacred, the
divine; the finite to the infinite; the temporal to the eternal; the mutable and the
transient to the immutable and the permanent; the contingent to the necessary.
In the “Notes,”
          there is a list of
           definitions of religion
           by numerous authors.

                            Which of these
                                definitions do you find
                                most informative or
                                meaningful? Why?

 Which of the definitions do
 you find least informative or
 meaningful? Why?
Approaches to the study of religion
 The historical approach

 The phenomenological approach

 The social scientific approach

                What are the basic characteristics of
                these approaches?
Typical components of a religious
belief system (world-view)
 A vision of reality (metaphysics)
  – Cosmology – questions about the origins and nature of
     the universe (Greek, kosmos)
  – Theology – Supreme Reality and the idea of the Holy
  – Anthropology – human nature, human existence, the
     human condition
 A doctrine of salvation, deliverance, or liberation
 A doctrine of right conduct – in ethics and in ritual
 A theory of the ultimate destiny or final
  culmination of all things
 A definition of the nature and membership of the
  religious community
Why do people turn to religion?
Religion as a response to “the human condition”.

 The pursuit of happiness
 The human condition
   – Alienation of self and other
     vs. the need for a meaningful
     and harmonious relationship
     between self and other.          The promise of religion:
   – The insufficiency of human        transcendence of the
     existence vs. the quest for       human condition.
   – Guilt, meaninglessness, and
     death vs. the search for
     righteousness, meaning, and
Religion in the contemporary age
 The process of modernization
 Modernization and change
 Modern thought
  – The attitude of scientific reason
  – The doctrine of philosophical naturalism
  – The philosophy of secular humanism
 Science and technology in the modern world
 The problem of meaning in modern culture
To be continued . . . .

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