Talk:Religion

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Definition[edit]

Religion is defined as, according to this article, "an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence". Numerous scientific fields, like anthropology/evolutionary biology, and certain parts of philosophy, can also fit into this category. I suggest you add the word "unsubstantiated" at the start of the definition. JDiala (talk) 22:41, 24 December 2013 (UTC)

I think that change would violate WP:NPOV, but I wonder if there is reliable sourcing for adding a word or two to convey the spiritual nature of it. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:45, 24 December 2013 (UTC)
I suggest making use of Durkheim's wording (given in the later Definitions section). Thus: "Religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence relative to sacred things including but not limited to gods and spirits". Manbooferie (talk) 07:38, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
If we want to avoid violating NPOV, but still address JDiala's valid point about science not being a religion, then I suggest adding the word "faiths" to the definition. As faiths are, by definition, unconditional, it would mean that science would no longer apply. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 50.104.242.109 (talk) 18:58, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

The definition is baloney. Religion is defined in the bible as something made up by men telling each other what to do. There is no connection to cultural systems and only accidental connections to beliefs. (Pretense of belief is acceptable in religion.) Morality is the adjective form of more, pronounced "mor-ay", and a more is any rule made up by a group of people who live near each other. A more does not have to be right, only accepted. There is no particular connection between religion, morality, and law. For example many people think illicit sex should be punished by death, laws prescribe jail time, and the bible commands banishment. [1] [2] [3] [4] Jewels Vern (talk) 02:52, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

Religion is defined as, according to this article, "an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence". This is very confusing, since it mixes together anthropological and phylosophical terminology requiring separate explanation to be properly understood (and the reference to Geertz in the note does not suffice). I recommend changing the entire initial definition as follows: "Religion refers to sets of variously organized beliefs about the relationship between natural and supernatural aspects of reality, and about the role of humans in this relationship." — Preceding unsigned comment added by ELCLant (talkcontribs) 02:40, 30 March 2014 (UTC)

Religion has a page in wikitionary I'm still a newbe here so I can't add it, if anyone able to add this link somewhere and define it by a dictionary or something that'll be great! Night-changer (talk) 10:32, 24 May 2014 (UTC)

New stuff goes at the bottom. We don't use user-generated sources (i.e. anything with "wiki" in the name) as a source. And at any rate, a dictionary definition would be woefully understating a small selection of sources on the subject instead of accurately summarizing the variety of views out there. Ian.thomson (talk) 15:15, 24 May 2014 (UTC)


Wetodid (talk) 19:01, 13 August 2014 (UTC)If you take supernatural out of the definition for religion the description becomes that of traditions https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tradition. The definition for religion must include a reference to the supernatural or it will not be accurate.

The current definition is not correct as it would include ideas such as Democracy. Religion requires a belief in a god or gods per standard Dictionary definitions, we should not be attempting to redefine it here. Lexlex (talk) 12:06, 21 October 2014 (UTC)
The dictionary is just plain unreliable compared to academic works dedicated to studying the subject. The dictionary is not written by specialists in relevant fields, but by people who copy colloquialisms (or attempting to re-define things themselves). Citing a dictionary to define religion when there are academic sources (and already in the article), is like citing newspapers on Global warming instead of scientists.
Belief in a god or gods is theism, not necessarily religion. The Church of Satan, Raëlism, Scientology, Jainism, and some forms of Buddhism and Confucianism lack gods, but are religions. Spinozism has beliefs about God, but is still not considered a religion (just as deists like Thomas Jefferson are also not considered religious). Ian.thomson (talk) 15:37, 21 October 2014 (UTC)

Update to Religious groups table?[edit]

I suggest the table under 'Religious groups' showing numbers of adherents for the five main religions, ought to be updated and expanded with more recent data, e.g. 2010 from the Pew Research Center. Also, I think it would be a good idea to include a few other groups so that the total adds up to 100% and, quite importantly, the "non-religious" category gets a mention too. With regard to Judaism, which is clearly is a minor religion in percentage terms, I think it's worth separating out because of its (dis-proportionate) world-wide impact. The revised table would look like this:

Major religious groups Adherents in 2010[5]  % of world population[5] Demographics
Christianity 2200 million 31.5% Christianity by country
Islam 1600 million 23.2% Islam by country
Hinduism 1000 million 15.0% Hinduism by country
Buddhism 500 million 7.1% Buddhism by country
Folk religion 400 million 5.9% Chinese folk religion
Judaism 14 million 0.2% Judaism by country
Other religions 58 million 0.8%
Non-Religious 1100 million 16.3%
Total 6872 million 100.0%

† Includes followers of African traditional religions, Chinese folk religions, Native American religions and Australian aboriginal religions.
‡ Includes Bahai's, Jains, Sikhs, Shintoists, Taoists, followers of Tenrikyo, Wiccans, Zoroastrians and many other faiths.
¶ Includes atheists, agnostics and people who do not identify with any particular religion in surveys.

  1. ^ Acts 26:5
  2. ^ Galatians 1:13
  3. ^ Galatians 1:14
  4. ^ James 1:26
  5. ^ a b Pew Research Center (December 2012). "The Global Religious Landscape. A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Major Religious Groups as of 2010.". Pew Research Center. Retrieved 30 December 2013. 


Attempts to change the definition[edit]

@ELCLant: has been trying to change the opening definition without really discussing the matter.

Is there any reason to change the current introduction? Especially without citing additional sources? The current one covers pretty much anything that could be called a religion, while the first attempted new version causes problems with certain belief systems such as Confucianism (which classified as either a religion or a philosophy), and separates the cultural aspects of many religions. A second attempt tries to limit the definition as if it were purely an American phenomena.

Can anyone think of a reason to include these edits? Ian.thomson (talk) 20:50, 24 June 2014 (UTC)

I've looked at the edits, and it seems to me that the existing (unchanged) lead definition is better sourced and more inclusive, so I prefer not to make the changes. By the way, I want to make sure everyone remembers WP:3RR. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:39, 24 June 2014 (UTC)


Wetodid (I grabbed this from another talk post) (talk) 18:41, 13 August 2014 (UTC) Religion is defined as, according to this article, "an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence". This is very confusing, since it mixes together anthropological and phylosophical terminology requiring separate explanation to be properly understood (and the reference to Geertz in the note does not suffice). I recommend changing the entire initial definition as follows: "Religion refers to sets of variously organized beliefs about the relationship between natural and supernatural aspects of reality, and about the role of humans in this relationship.

Wetodid (talk) 18:56, 13 August 2014 (UTC) (another request suggestion for correcting definition) I suggest making use of Durkheim's wording (given in the later Definitions section). Thus: "Religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views relative to sacred things including but not limited to gods and spirits". Manbooferie (talk) 07:38, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

I believe that Durkheim is not really acceptable in religious studies, correct me if I'm wrong though. Shii (tock) 00:29, 14 August 2014 (UTC).
Wetodid (talk) 16:36, 14 August 2014 (UTC)Acceptable? He is considered the father of sociology and spent significant effort exploring and defining religion, he is cited further down the definition...? Also, you focused on the word Sacred, which clearly establishes the value of religion, its holiness or divinity, if you take that component away its merely a set of traditions. Can we compromise on other wording? Lastly, the Etymology uses the word sacred "Religion (from O.Fr. religion "religious community," from L. religionem (nom. religio) "respect for what is sacred, reverence for the gods,"[10] "obligation, the bond between man and the gods"[11]) is derived from the Latin religiō, the ultimate origins of which are obscure." I am really not seeing what your concerns are. Maybe the fix is as easy as adding the word supernatural;"that relate humanity to a supernatural order of existence"
So? Freud is considered the father of psychoanalysis, that doesn't mean that you'll be learning Freudian techniques in a modern psychology course. Can you define "supernatural"? What is the supernatural in Confucianism? Shii (tock) 21:20, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
I'm going to agree with Shii in terms of the lead sentence, at least insofar as I don't see the proposed new version as actually being an improvement (at best, just a net gain of zero for no compelling reason). However, looking at the edit history, I note that a sentence about Asad was also deleted: [1]. Was that intentional, and should that sentence be put back? --Tryptofish (talk) 22:50, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
That line was originally in Note 1, and some formatting error put it directly into the first paragraph. I don't think it actually makes sense without having introduced who Geertz and Asad are in that first paragraph. Shii (tock) 00:13, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

...an order of existence.[edit]

The opening definition does not match the dictionary/wiktionary definitions. Additionally, "order of existence" seems to have been invented solely for this article, its not a wiki page and Google didn't have a single hit... The article sites approx. 4,200 religions, if we can confirm that a single one of those does not have supernatural components that would begin the discussion for dropping it. To date, the supernatural element is what defines religion. Removing it from the opening line fails to communicate the fundamental mechanism behind religion. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Wetodid (talkcontribs) 19:10, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

I think you raise an interesting point about the phrase "order of existence". I'd like to hear from other editors about whether there is a good argument in favor of us using that phrase, and, if not, what other wording might be used in its place. (But I'd like to have some discussion here before anyone changes the page.) --Tryptofish (talk) 19:38, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
(edit conflict)Dictionaries do not go as in depth as the academic works that are summarized and cited in this article. Wikipedia does not cite Wikipedia, much less Wiktionary. "Order of existence" was hardly invented for this article (that you claim so leaves me incapable of believing you've done any reading on the subject except beyond a few misguided polemics), but is quoting the work of Clifford Geertz, and is cited in a variety of religious studies courses. Even criticism by Talal Asad shows it to be a common definition, which is what the article aims to use. It is readily found in a Google books search, including this book, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one... That's just in the first two pages of my search results.
Random Google web searches are not used for any indication of popularity (much less reliability) because Google does tailor its results to individuals. For example, when I searched for it, I got this, this, this, this, this, this, and this just on the first page of my search.
The supernatural element fails as a definition because there are agnostics, "spiritual but not religious," and other non-religious folks who believe in the supernatural, and there are religious folks who firmly deny anything they understand to be supernatural. Many religious persons do not believe in something that is beyond (supra-) nature, but believe that whatever entities exist in their religion exist within the realm of natural law (even if they operate on principles not yet understood). To say that such beliefs are supernatural is to misrepresent what they claim as their beliefs. They may not be scientific, but they are a form of naturalism, even if it's not a colonialist white naturalism that is historically rooted in Protestant deism. Further, supernaturalism is at odds with skepticism, and as Jamy Ian Swiss will tell you, atheists do not possess a monopoly on skepticism, and there are superstitious atheists.
To define religion in relation to the supernatural requires redefining the supernatural in a way that makes my ghost-hunting, luck-charm-buying, fortune-teller-visiting, horoscope-reading, conspiracy-theory-believing agnostic friends somehow more scientifically minded than (*raises hand*) the religious friend who constantly responds to their Facebook posts with links to Snopes, Hoaxbuster, and scientific journals because he believes that logic and scientific laws are emanations of the Logos.
To define religion in terms of theism is also wrong, because that means that Albert Einstein is religious for his Spinozan view of God, Thomas Jefferson religious for his deistic belief in a first cause; but Buddhism, Confucianism, Jainism, some branches of Taoism, Raelianism, Scientology, and the Church of Satan are somehow not religions.
Theism, supernaturalism, and religion are clearly three distinct things that can be compatible but are still not the same.
And for the record, I had nothing to do with writing the lede, I just cannot support the OP's approach. Ian.thomson (talk) 20:23, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
1. Every Google book referenced contains the description made by Geertz, which was dissected and re-worded in the description for this article. Why are we cherry picking from his description and re-writing, if it is the authority shouldnt we use it in whole or risk corrupting it? 2. Spirituality comes with both Natural and Supernatural components depending on interpretation, Agnostics are by definition claiming neither faith nor disbelief and may need a category created called "sitting on the bench", I am not sure why that was brought into the conversation? 3. The word supernatural references things that are outside the realm of nature (beyond nature). In simple terms, if we call empirically proved things nature then the things claimed to be proved but which lay beyond empirical measurements are supernatural which includes religion, ghosts (aka the soul), lucky charms (ex. Rosary), fortune telling (Divination), Horoscope reading (Astrology is a form of divination). The point here is that these beliefs are no more and no less scientific than religion, they are by description claiming unique mechanisms which exist in the realm of the supernatural. I recommend reading the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosphy's reference on the meaning of life for clarification on my destination; http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/life-meaning/#Sup. 4. Agreed that Theism is a subset of religion. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Wetodid (talkcontribs) 20:13, 9 October 2014 (UTC)
There's a difference between cherry-picking and due weight. If a ton of sources support a particular idea, Wikipedia follows suit. If I was cherry-picking, it'd be easy enough to go to books.google.com and completely overshadow the 18 results I found (out of the first 20!).
And again, "Many religious persons do not believe in something that is beyond (supra-) nature, but believe that whatever entities exist in their religion exist within the realm of natural law (even if they operate on principles not yet understood). To say that such beliefs are supernatural is to misrepresent what they claim as their beliefs. They may not be scientific, but they are a form of naturalism, even if it's not a colonialist white naturalism that is historically rooted in Protestant deism."
For example, the Church of Satan regards itself as completely materialist, Kopimism doesn't have anything to say about the supernatural (other than distributing any literature about it whether or not it agrees with any of it), Confucianism regularly rejected all the supernaturalism of Buddhism and Taoism but advocated keeping the ancestor worship and belief in a divine right of emperors as purely civil rites, and the Hashashin probably reinterpreted all of Islam's commandments as purely political (Zakat being a form of taxation for a rebel state rather than charity to earn brownie points with God). And those are systems of thought compatible with modern western science. Going into pre-modern or non-western cosmological beliefs, many forms of magical thinking did not regard their beliefs as supernatural, but Preternatural or even (especially in animist societies) just plain natural. These beliefs assume that there are natural laws, but make mistaken assumptions as to what those laws are.
From an emic perspective, those beliefs are a form of naturalism, not supernaturalism; and from an etic perspective, to say that they are not a form of naturalism (if an admittedly mistaken form) is just the prejudices of a modern western emic perspective.
And we are not agreed regarding the relationship between theism and religion. I clearly stated that theism overlaps with but has distinct points from religion. Einstein, Ben Franklin, Goethe, Thomas Jefferson, Socrates, and Spinoza were certainly theistic but far from religious. Ian.thomson (talk) 20:45, 9 October 2014 (UTC)
Wow, I wrote a short, snarky comment about this but ian.thomson's edit just conflicted with mine, and he explains this in far better detail. Thank you.
Too many people come to this article thinking that their own personal pet definitions can simply supplant the consensus of reliable sources. We as long-term editors must demand citations for claims like this. Shii (tock) 20:27, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
Those explanations are good enough for me – thanks! --Tryptofish (talk) 20:40, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Maps[edit]

I just made this revert: [2]. What is the rationale for duplicating, or better, replacing the existing map? --Tryptofish (talk) 14:46, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

New notice at the top?[edit]

Maybe something along the lines of "If you cite a dictionary against the academic sources in the article, we will not consider your attempts to change the definition" or "dictionaries do not trump academic sources when defining religion"...? Ian.thomson (talk) 15:40, 21 October 2014 (UTC)

Sounds good to me. Talk:Historicity of Jesus has a ton of notices to steal from. Shii (tock) 16:25, 21 October 2014 (UTC)