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The terms religion and religious obviously come from the same root, which would normally lead us to conclude that they also refer to basically the same thing: one as a noun and the other as an adjective. But perhaps that isn't always true - perhaps the adjective religious has a broader usage than the noun religion.

 

Read Article: Religion vs. Religious: If Something is Religious, is it a Religion?

Comments
November 14, 2006 at 8:39 am
(1) beepbeepitsme says:

People can practice many things “religiously”. That is in a figurative sense. But practising something religiously, is not the same as being a religion in the literal sense.

May 23, 2009 at 5:53 pm
(2) Michael says:

Erm, do you own a dictionary? That would clear this one up.

May 23, 2009 at 6:08 pm
(3) Austin Cline says:

Erm, do you own a dictionary? That would clear this one up.

I think I did a fair job at explaining the issues involved. Do you disagree with any of it?

May 24, 2009 at 1:34 pm
(4) Michael says:

I can’t disagree with what you did say, it’s common sense.

But I think you only skimmed the surface of the isse.

You missed out the primary sense of “religious” which is one’s attitude to the over-arching meaning of reality. I don’t think I’m going beyond dictionary definitions, but maybe giving a more modern subjective emphasis.

Your article sounds typical of the Protestant antithesis I encountered, at University among Evangelicals, between “faith” and “religion”, although you have broadened it somewhat to try and eliminate the Protestant “faith” too.

However, as a Catholic, and, I think, a humanist, I would say that just as a person is indivisible (“individual”) reason is one whole thing and religion and faith are the same.

There is something wholesome about referring to “concrete” religions, and I definitely applaud that.

In fact, it is the concrete religion of Protestant rationalism that underlies your whole argument. Most religious traditions do not operate this way; most Anglophone Protestant atheism really doesn’t address the real concerns of mainstream religion; it appears to be the final stage of the “protest” against Catholic Christianity.

May 24, 2009 at 3:09 pm
(5) Austin Cline says:

You missed out the primary sense of “religious” which is one’s attitude to the over-arching meaning of reality. I don’t think I’m going beyond dictionary definitions, but maybe giving a more modern subjective emphasis.

Since everyone has some sort of attitude towards reality, you are defining everyone as “religious” and thereby denying that anyone is “secular.” Since “secular” is a completely valid term, and since there are indisputably significant differences between people who really do have religions and people who call themselves secular, I think you need a whole lot more to justify that definition than that is has a “modern subjective emphasis.”

However, as a Catholic, and, I think, a humanist, I would say that just as a person is indivisible (”individual”) reason is one whole thing and religion and faith are the same.

This denies that a non-religious person can have “faith” and that a person’s religion might not be based on faith. Your reasoning for this is…?

In fact, it is the concrete religion of Protestant rationalism that underlies your whole argument.

Can you make a case for my argument not applying to other religions?

Most religious traditions do not operate this way; most Anglophone Protestant atheism really doesn’t address the real concerns of mainstream religion;

There is a set of “concerns” that are a part of every “mainstream” religion? That’s interesting news. I’d like to see you establish what a “mainstream” religion is and then explain what “concerns” they all necessarily have.

it appears to be the final stage of the “protest” against Catholic Christianity.

This might come as a surprise, but not everything is about your religious beliefs.

May 25, 2009 at 9:26 am
(6) Michael says:

Austin,

I just noticed your brilliant summaries of the history of theology and philosophy. I think these are a great resource and I hope they are more widely studied.

It seems there’s a lot of confusion over the political meaning of the word “religious” in your above comment.

Here in the UK we actually have a state religion (the Church of England) which is still in force although barely acknowledged in practice. Personally I would prefer a more secular state, but campaigns for that seem to hardly get off the ground here.

In the US it seems that “religious” vs. “secular” has a politically-charged meaning and I think that’s a good thing in many ways.

I use the words “faith” and “religon” to mean somethin primarly sujective (faith) and inter-subjective (religion). Political problems come later; culture is primary. Otherwise, how could the (politically very weak) Christian Church have survived in the Roman Empire, for example?

As you recognise in one of your great historical summaries, fundamentalists “refuse to engage” with the social and political realities around them.

Mainstream religions, in contrast, tend to define themselves more healthily in dialogue of some kind, moving with the times while keeping their own roots. Examples are Islam, Buddhism (sort of a religion), Sikhism, Christianity etc.

The main concern of all these religions is:

a) recognition of the mystery of reality which becomes undeniable the more we engage with the natural world

b) how the individual takes up a personal attitude towards that mystery

The more superficial aspects of ritual etc. are simply a social expression of this. Modern sociologists have discussed in detail how even “secular” societies have their own secular myths, rituals etc. This is mainstream university social theory, not written by Church sponsored organs.

However, my final point was that modern Western atheism is not a free-floating cultural life. It finds itself in a historical trajectory from the Catholic West, through Protestant Europe, to the American rationalist world of today. Its roots are within that tradition, and so is all its terminology and argumentation.

Catholicism is relevant historically, because Protestantism firstly censored part of that tradition, and now rationalism is reacting against its Protestant roots. I think this has to be acknowledged.

Personally I can embrace a lot of the positive steps proposed by atheists. More secularity is a good thing. Transparency in education is great. Promotion of learning and natural science would be good although I don’t see much so far! So keep up the good work.

May 25, 2009 at 9:37 am
(7) Austin Cline says:

As you recognise in one of your great historical summaries, fundamentalists “refuse to engage” with the social and political realities around them.

That’s a problem which afflicts lots of people, not just fundamentalists.

Mainstream religions, in contrast, tend to define themselves more healthily in dialogue of some kind, moving with the times while keeping their own roots. Examples are Islam, Buddhism (sort of a religion), Sikhism, Christianity etc.

Are you saying that only mainstream religions are “healthy,” or that all mainstream religions are “healthy”? How, exactly are you defining “mainstream” or “healthy”?

The main concern of all these religions is:

a) recognition of the mystery of reality which becomes undeniable the more we engage with the natural world

b) how the individual takes up a personal attitude towards that mystery

They seem to be involved with a lot that isn’t directly connected to those “main” concerns.

I don’t think you actually answered my earlier questions.

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