Like all abstractions, “religion” is a fuzzy word. It is easy to forget that we created the word “religion” and that the meaning of “religion” does not exist out there in the real world waiting to be discovered. Many dialogues are wasted over not realizing the artificial nature of the word. Yet, it helps us communicate.
I created a definition here to capture the sense of the word when used to describe “world” religions. But the use of “religion” I will be discussing in this post is:
#5. something of overwhelming importance to a person: eg. “football is his religion” (Collins English Dictionary)
Most of us view our own temperaments with “overwhelming importance”. Indeed, with such overwhelming importance that the will sacrifice reason and even relationships to protect them. Outgoing people think it is virtuous to feel bold in stating our opinions or to keep a conversation going. Shy people feel it is virtuous to hold back and let others speak in conversation and that speaking too much is selfish. Each views their own tendencies as if they were noble, self-chosen skills.
Some people view music, solitude, nature, gardening, poetry, cooking, sports and more as virtuous and worthy of proselytizing — the rationales they generate for their preference rarely contain “well, because I love it, and I am not really sure why.”
Reason and skepticism are just such temperament issues. Some people are more inclined toward those skills and feel those poor at them are dangerous, ignorant or vacuous. They feel they are so overwhelmingly important that they ironically stop being reasonable about their discussion on their importance and turn off their skepticism about their own attachments and their own shortcomings.
We all make a religion of our temperaments, our stations-in-life and/or our conditions at sometime — the question is, do we know that we are doing it?
Note: Also see this graphic illustration of this phenomena I did back in 2009.