Is there an Adequate Definition of Religion?

Essay by noochstyleUniversity, Bachelor's February 2004

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In class we have discussed many different views and opinions on the subject of religion. Some people think that religion can be concretely defined, however many other people disagree with that. I feel that this maybe difficult to define religion because they are so many different religions and cultures. Just one definition may not express the views of all different people.

Religion cannot be defined through one thing because it is such a broad topic. Religion includes people from all around the world with different views and beliefs. One definition would have to cover the most primitive forms of religion to the most organized modern religion. If we were to go around the world and ask people of different beliefs what religion means to them I'm sure everyone could not agree on one thing. So we have to look at religion differently. We cannot look at this as there is one ultimate answer but if we discuss definitions from different people maybe we can discover the most pleasing definition for religion.

In doing this we must be careful that the definitions do not reduce certain groups or ideas because then the definition will no longer be adequate if people there are exclusions.

Some definitions which will be put forth are from theists, sociologists, and psychologists which try to explain the phenomenon of religion. The first is from James Martineau. He states that:

"Religion is the belief in an ever-living God, that is, in a Divine Mind and Will ruling the Universe and holding moral relations with mankind."

Martineau's definition of religion is from a monotheistic standpoint and excludes other types of religions. However his definition could be used to define what a monotheistic religion believes in.

The next definition comes from Karl Marx a sociologist and a seemingly atheistic...