Unless two speakers see eye-to-eye on religion, to discuss it meaningfully they often need to first agree on how they are going to use the word at any given time.Though words like dog, table and star can be fuzzy in rare cases, abstractions like “religion” are fuzzy from the very beginning. Here is an annotated list of my posts addressing the challenges behind “defining religion”.
- The Reification Fallacy : start here: the logical fallacy behind all language prescriptionists
- The Myth of Definitions : the nature of words
- Religion Prescriptionists: People who tell us what religion should be
- Defining Religion: a syndrome model : my definition — others are fine too
- Defining Religion: Ninian Smart : Ninian Smart’s example – mine is narrower
- Defining Religion: Robert Bellah : very broad definition
- Religion Does NOT Exist : an extreme title to show the limitations of definitions
- Boyer: Is there such a thing as “religion”. Quote from his book that explains things nicely.
- Rees on “Religion”: Tom Rees agrees, “religion” is a deceptive word
- When Religion is not Religion: theists and atheist both want to define religion to their liking.
- Misplace Certainty: Vehement Skeptics — generalizing about religions
- Human Transcendence: A good picture of the Soup of Religion
- Cults vs. Religions: Defining “cult” is as slippery as defining “religion”
- Defining Music and Religion: “Music” is as slippery as “religion”
- False Generalizations about Religion: a picture of why gross generalizations fail
Other related posts:
- The Limitations of Abstractions: an index exploring other abstract words
- Cults vs. Religion: defining “cult” has similar problems
- Defining Poetry: Another example of how definitions reflect agendas