Religion as a Tool


Above I quickly sketched this diagram to help show how I view religion. Please feel free to make suggestions, corrections and challenges. Hopefully the diagram speaks for itself, but here are some explanations:

Goals: There are more goals than I have listed, of course. And these goals interact with each other complexly. I did not want to clutter the diagram — I trust the reader understands.

Goals & Tools: We all have tools/methods to acquire the goals shown in the clouds. Religious specialists offer nicely wrapped complete-packages for consumers to meet many of these goals. Non-religious folks aspire to the same goals of course, either with different methods, or different explanations of similar methods.

Public vs. Private Religion: Some people keep their religion more private than others. This is a diagram of one hypothetical person. Raise or lower the pink ovals, and you will get a different mix. The more public, the more we can confidently imagine that the goals are for influence or belonging. Public religion is usually intended as “signals” to affect both others and the person themselves.

Arrows: I drew an arrow to beliefs and the others ovals to offer a few examples. You can imagine other examples. Likewise with the goal arrows, I only gave a few examples to illustrate what I was envisioning.

god-talk: “god-talk” is speaking about your religion publicly or peppering your religious jargon and ideas into conversation, debates or any public arena.

Religion“: There are many definitions of “religion”, and as readers know, I am not a definition Nazi.  Here is one of my attempts to give a narrower sense of the word.  But there is also a secular use of the word where “religion” make sense in these sentences: “Fishing is his religion” or “Gardening is her religion”.  Even in these cases, perhaps you can imagine how we could organize my above diagram to meet goals and capture this sense of the word.  This particular chart uses a Christian for an example, but I am sure the reader could imagine other categories and particulars for another faith.



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

2 responses to “Religion as a Tool

  1. Thanks for the reminder on the broader meaning of “religion”. I will have to review your other posting in order to attempt to explain my observation that Sweden is more religious than many other European countries. For now, I have a hunch and a few pieces of evidence, but I need to construct a proof (of sorts) of this claim of mine. When I find the time….

  2. @ Takis,
    Yeah, to make a claim like “Sweden is more religious ….” , it would help drastically to first put forward the definition (yours or others) you are using and why you are using that definition — be clear on your objective.

    My above diagram is not just to show “broader” definition of religion, but mainly to show how what most atheists call “religion” works. That is, to show that religion is far, far more than bad thinking. Any conversation that goes that way is incredibly mistaken IMHO.

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