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In this module you will be introduced to a number of definitions of religion.

Your own definition of religion

At this point it would be very useful for you to experiment with drawing up a definition of religion.

Before you do that, first warm up a bit by defining ordinary things in everyday life. To use examples, take "chair", "dog" or "mountain". Don"t jump to a dictionary right away. First come up with your own definitions. Not as easy as you thought, eh?

Develop a definition of religion. This does not exclude that you may eventually come up with one of the definitions below, or with another one held by other scholars. The important point is that you know how and why you came to that definition. So what is required, is not only the definition itself, but a thorough motivation of your reasoning behind coming to it. One or two pages will do.

A comparative look at various definitions of religion

They will simply be listed. You are not required to learn them by heart. But read them very carefully, and make sure that you understand fully what each of them means. It would of course do no harm to remember some of them. You will be required, however, to analyse and criticise them.

It would be possible to go deeply into each one of them and to study all the ideas that lie behind them and are contained in them, but that would take us too far for now. However, some of them contain ideas (such as "ritual") that you may have not studied yet. In such cases, consult a knowledgeable person or literature to clarify the meaning of such terms.

According to the following authors, arranged in alphabetical order, religion refers to:

... a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things ... beliefs and practices which unite into a single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them - Emile Durkheim

When Durkheim here speaks of "church", he uses a term that is derived from Christianity, but that is (in certain senses) used with reference to the organized, socially established forms of all religions. It happens quite often that a term originally at home in one specific religion, became useful to describe something in more religions. "Taboo" is another example.

... illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strongest, and most insistent wishes of mankind - Sigmund Freud

... the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people - Karl Marx

... all people's serious concerns that go beyond their strictly biological needs - Thomas Luckmann

... whatever gives people a serious sense of identity - Hans Mol

... a way of entering into a relationship with the supra–empirical aspects of reality, be they conceived as God, gods, or otherwise - Thomas F O'Dea

The word "supra" means "beyond". "Empirical" means "what has to do with sense–experience". Together they refer to those aspects of life that go beyond, or lie outside, our ordinary sense experience.

... what the individual does with his own solitariness - Alfred North Whitehead

... advice about, and training in, the steps necessary for salvation - Bryan Wilson

... a comprehensive and fundamental orientation in the world. This usually contains ideas of the ultimate nature of things and of divinity, transmitted in sacred traditions, requiring social and personal commitment, and expressed in rituals and morality. It includes, but is not restricted to organized forms of religions, world views, belief systems and indigenous knowledge systems - The South African Curriculum Statement for Religion Studies

The last definition rests on and applies the South African Policy on Religion and Education, which was issued on 12 September 2003 (Government Gazette Volume 459, No 25459). We just had to include something like this to show you the difference between definitions made up by scholars and those made up for legal and administrative purposes. Note how this definition also breaks one of the first rules of definition-writing: never include the word itself in your definition! A definition of religion should not contain the word "religion" itself.

Your own definition of religion, reconsidered

Has your understanding of religion changed by reading these definitions? Is there one, or are there elements of several, that have impressed you to the point where you would like to rewrite your own definition? Go ahead, do it now.

Questions & Answers

how do they get the third part x = (32)5/4
kinnecy Reply
can someone help me with some logarithmic and exponential equations.
Jeffrey Reply
sure. what is your question?
ninjadapaul
20/(×-6^2)
Salomon
okay, so you have 6 raised to the power of 2. what is that part of your answer
ninjadapaul
I don't understand what the A with approx sign and the boxed x mean
ninjadapaul
it think it's written 20/(X-6)^2 so it's 20 divided by X-6 squared
Salomon
I'm not sure why it wrote it the other way
Salomon
I got X =-6
Salomon
ok. so take the square root of both sides, now you have plus or minus the square root of 20= x-6
ninjadapaul
oops. ignore that.
ninjadapaul
so you not have an equal sign anywhere in the original equation?
ninjadapaul
Commplementary angles
Idrissa Reply
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Sherica
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Sherica
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Uday
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a perfect square v²+2v+_
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algebra 2 Inequalities:If equation 2 = 0 it is an open set?
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or infinite solutions?
Kim
The answer is neither. The function, 2 = 0 cannot exist. Hence, the function is undefined.
Al
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Nancy Reply
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ramon Reply
Kristine 2*2*2=8
Bridget Reply
Differences Between Laspeyres and Paasche Indices
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No. 7x -4y is simplified from 4x + (3y + 3x) -7y
Mary Reply
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Joan Reply
J, combine like terms 7x-4y
Bridget Reply
how do you translate this in Algebraic Expressions
linda Reply
Need to simplify the expresin. 3/7 (x+y)-1/7 (x-1)=
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. After 3 months on a diet, Lisa had lost 12% of her original weight. She lost 21 pounds. What was Lisa's original weight?
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Cied
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I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
Porter
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Porter
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Yasmin
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Cesar
I'm interested in nanotube
Uday
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what is nano technology
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what is system testing?
AMJAD
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
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AMJAD
what is system testing
AMJAD
what is the application of nanotechnology?
Stotaw
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
Azam
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
Prasenjit
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
Azam
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
Prasenjit
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
Damian
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
Damian
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
Azam
Hello
Uday
I'm interested in Nanotube
Uday
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
Prasenjit
can nanotechnology change the direction of the face of the world
Prasenjit Reply
At high concentrations (>0.01 M), the relation between absorptivity coefficient and absorbance is no longer linear. This is due to the electrostatic interactions between the quantum dots in close proximity. If the concentration of the solution is high, another effect that is seen is the scattering of light from the large number of quantum dots. This assumption only works at low concentrations of the analyte. Presence of stray light.
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the Beer law works very well for dilute solutions but fails for very high concentrations. why?
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Source:  OpenStax, Learning about religion. OpenStax CNX. Apr 18, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11780/1.1
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