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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 theprocess of being developed. At thistime, it is just a brief overviewoutline of our first required reading,“Notes on the Nature of Religion.”The presentation will be expanded inthe 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.).
Religion 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 necessaryThrough religion, devotees are bound together with one another, forming acommunity of devotion; and they are, even more importantly, bound together withthe supreme reality to which they are devoted. The “here and now” is joined to “TheBeyond;” the human to the superhuman; the natural to the supernatural; theimmanent to the transcendent; the secular and profane to the holy, the sacred, thedivine; the finite to the infinite; the temporal to the eternal; the mutable and thetransient 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 religiousbelief 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 vs.♦ The human condition – Alienation of self and other vs. the need for a meaningful and harmonious relationship between self ♦ The promise of religion: and other. transcendence of the – The insufficiency of human human condition. existence vs. the quest for fulfillment. – Guilt, meaninglessness, and death vs. the search for righteousness, meaning, and immortality.
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