A Shanepedia Compilation

Let us all “Build Bridges of Understanding” and help make the World A Better Place!Let’s create a world -where people of every religion, every race, every culture, every political persuasion, every nationality and every background, can join hands and hearts to help create a much better world where we can all live together in peace and prosperity, freedom and justice, goodwill and dignity.

Consider that what we mean by faith is both an activity of the spirit, a belief in something, and of the mind – the organized collection of ideas, symbols, metaphors, and narratives in which the person believes: the doctrine. It is reasonable enough to see the latter as the product of the former. There is a natural human drive toward meaning, with the desire for solace amid our existential mystery and dread. This drive creates out of the spiritual inclination to believe, in various forms and from various historical circumstances, the particular objects of belief: the various faith doctrines, both lesser and greater in the numbers of adherents to them. These doctrines, in turn, in answer to spiritual yearning, produce more of the former sense of faith: the activity of the spirit, as additional people are drawn to believe, to become adherents of an established faith. The doctrines of these faiths are generally total, all encompassing accounts of the world and our being in it, so that they are exclusive of other accounts, of other doctrines.

Historically, we well know, the presence of competing faiths has led to bitter, even greatly murderous conflict. It is currently so, in regions around the world. In response, in the increasing refinements of our civilization, liberal societies have sought to accommodate this multiplicity of mutually exclusive faith doctrines. Because the force of the human drive that produces them is so great, and the dread and the fearful mystery of that drive’s source so universal, a common bond, ironically, is created across these otherwise exclusive doctrinal divides. In our secular historical development toward social accommodation we have created, as an adjunct idea to various social accommodations, an ecumenical accommodation, as well – a kind of holy of holies that seeks to bring peace among all doctrines and between the religious and secular worlds. This meta-level faith-teaching affirms that all faiths are expressions of our deep need for connection with God and God’s love. Accordingly, all faiths are to be respected.

A. Jay Adler

World Religion Day

World Religion Day World Religion Day was initiated in 1950 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States. The Assembly’s purpose was to call attention to the harmony of spiritual principles and the oneness of the world’s religions and to emphasize that religion is the motivating force for world unity.

“Religion should be the cause of love and agreement, a bond to unify all mankind for it is a message of peace and goodwill to man from God,” and “Religion is the greatest of all means for the establishment of order in the world and for the peaceful contentment of all that dwell therein.”

We need to understand what is religion & what religion is all about….

What is Religion?

Definition of Religion

I. Introduction

II. The Questions

III. The Requirements of a Definition

IV. The Definition

V. Final Questions

I. Introduction

Once people start to think about religion seriously and they study a variety of religions they are prompted to ask questions about the very nature of religion itself. What is the essence of religion? What is religion all about? What is the common element that links all religions that makes them belong or fit into the same category? A variety of answers has been offered by philosophers, theologians, scientists and a host of others from various disciplines and worldviews

II. The Questions

1. What is religion?

2. What is the essence of religion?

3. What do all religions have in common?

4. What is it about religion that makes it so distinct from other forms of life, from other worldviews?

5. What is it about religion that makes it appear resistant to the efforts of philosophers and scientists and skeptics to disprove religious claims?

6. How can religious believers go on believing without evidence to support their positions and beliefs and even against arguments that show their beliefs to contain irrational elements such as inconsistencies and contradictions?

III . The Requirements of a Definition

Note: What follows is based upon the work of Frederick Ferre in his Basic Modern Philosophy of Religion . Any definition of religion must satisfy not only the general criteria that all definitions must meet, but a few additional concerns specific to religious phenomena as well.

Definitions must:

1. use ordinary language

2. avoid ambiguity

3. avoid contradictions

4. include all that needs to be included

5. exclude all that needs to be excluded

6. avoid circularity Ordinary language usage of the term “religion” is inadequate to the task of definition because it is among other things, ambiguous and oftentimes contradictory as well. Ordinary language usage is blind and can not deal with new phenomena and can not resolve confusions.

Consider some of these examples of common definitions offered by ordinary language. Religion is:

a. belief in god

b. conviction in supernatural realities relevant to human well being

c. all of life

d. whatever gives meaning to life These offerings make religion into something that is irrational, too superficial or they are too inclusive or too exclusive as definitions for they fail to appreciate the breadth and depth of religious phenomena.

Whatever religion is it must be relevant to:

1. all kinds of people

2. all aspects of life

3. relate to social and public practices

4. relate to private experiences and practices Furthermore, any definition of religion must satisfy these requirements:

A. Scope i. inclusive ii. specific A. Cruciality

i. Unspecialized- relevant to all types of people and all aspects of life

ii. hospitable- to the diversity of the phenomena

iii. permissive- as to personal and social role

iv. open- as to the truth or falsity of claims

v. unprejudiced- as to possible harm or benefit of the phenomena So, considering all of the above requirements what would the definition need to notice about religion?

Religion: a. involves the whole of life

b. is open to all kinds of people

c. issues naturally in widely various activities

d. issues in widely various ideas and beliefs

e. exists and is exhibited in private and social settings

f. is open to different opinions as to the truth or falsity of its beliefs

g. has consequences considered to be either harmful or beneficial to individuals and groups

IV. The Definition 

To satisfy the above requirements and conditions religion must be placed within a category of human phenomena that manifests itself in a manner with features illustrative of the characteristics listed above. After placing religion in such a category it is necessary to distinguish it from other members of that category. What is the genus and what is the species that identifies religion uniquely?

VALUATION is the genus and the distinguishing characteristics of religion that separate it from other forms of valuation are intensity and comprehensiveness. Religion is the most intensive and comprehensive method of valuing that is experienced by humankind. Religion is a way of valuing that is most comprehensively and intensively experienced. This definition is both ideal and actual. It enables us to both understand and explain religious phenomena better. It enables us to understand how it is distinguished from other types of human experiences. It enables us to understand better how it relates to other forms of life or language games.

Organized religion is an institutionalized way of valuing that is comprehensive and intensive. As cultus it involves ritual and practices as aids to emotions and expressions of the valuation. As doctrinus it involves ideational elements that enable the comprehensive inclusion of the valuation. People participate in religion in different ways. People are religious to different degrees. People have a religion in different manners: a. to be associated with a religion b. partial personal appropriation –”latent residue” in experience once religion has been internalized c. religion guides and integrates a person’s valuing in all aspects of life This definition and this view of religion includes all the religions that have been traditionally thought of as religions and it excludes phenomena such as magic, art, and science from being considered as candidates for the title of religion. It has the power to discriminate among phenomena.

When religion is seen as a form of valuing and the most intensive and comprehensive form of valuing at that, then it is possible to understand why scientific findings and philosophical criticisms do not necessarily disturb its adherents.

Religion is about valuing and not about reasoning or about truth! This explains why the following is true of religion: Religion is more important than GOD! Religion is more important than TRUTH! Religion is more important than reasoning! Religion is more important than nearly anything else! Think again of the ideas of Paul Tillich that faith is the state of being ultimately concerned and how the word ultimately reflects what is most intensely valued. “Faith as Ultimate Concern ” by Paul Tillich Summary by Meghan Ramsay (QCC, 2004)

According to Tillich, “faith is the state of being ultimately concerned.” The Ultimate Concern is that which demands complete surrender of the person who faithfully accepts the Ultimate. Additionally, faith in and surrender to the Ultimate promises total completion regardless of what must be sacrificed in the name of faith. Tillich argues that faith is a task for the believer’s complete being—for instance, it is an act of both the conscious and the unconscious. He refers to faith as a “total and centered act of the personal self, the act of unconditional, infinite and ultimate concern.”


One aspect of religion that applies in all cases is that it is a public process. Having a personal belief system does not make it a religion. By definition a religion is an organized activity that involves other people. Most religions have a hierarchical system for example with priests and bishops and so on but this is not required. Most religions also have a specific place of worship and there are usually sermons, festivals and many other activities that are part of the process. None of this is strictly required; the only requirement is that the religion be a belief system that is held by a group of people who publicly share that religion. However in practice the vast majority of religions have some aspect of these things.


Another key difference between religions is that some are universal while others are not. That is that in some cases the belief is that the laws of that particular religion should apply to everybody while in other cases the belief is that only certain people should be bound by the laws. There are also many different religions that believe in many different gods. That being said the majority of religions and the ones that are practiced by the vast majority of people have common backgrounds so the differences between them are not all that great. Although this has not stopped the adherents of these religions from fighting with one another.


The principle of the unity of religion means that all of the great religious Founders–the Manifestations–have come from God.

In reality, there is only one religion, the religion of God.


A Shanepedia Compilation


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