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What IS religion?

There is, without a doubt, an intensifying debate between advocates of religion and those opposed. A good place to start in this debate is what we mean when we say "religion." A social scientist might construe religion as "a set of beliefs and practices that are grounded in a particular iteration of morality." I think this definition is insufficient. We need to explore and be clear on what religious people mean by religion, otherwise, no fruitful conversation will ever occur among the participants of one such debate!

To aggravate the issue, it is absolutely true that there are many who refer to themselves as "religious," but are unaware of the basic premises and arguments of religious philosophy - this doesn't add to the debate either.

Both sides of the question consider the matter of great importance. There is a call for an intelligent discussion between religion and common culture - and there's no better place to have it then TED!

Would anyone like to take a stab at defining religion?

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    Sep 25 2012: Those who are religious have shut off their minds, allowing others to think for them - whether forced (as a child's survival can depend on accepting the parents' dictates) or by choice (just giving up). Religions are fear (scarcity) based.

    It is time for humanity to give up its fear/scarcity-based systems - ALL of them. When we do that, we will be able to construct abundance based systems. Only then will we be able to recognize freedom and equality.
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        Sep 25 2012: lol..i totally agree with you .a cup of tea
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        Sep 26 2012: Absolutely, religions tend to have an ethical component to them that those opposed tend to neglect.
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      Sep 26 2012: This is unfortunately untrue. Catholic doctrine, for instance, would explicitly repudiate domination for the sake of domination. God (not the caricatured, deist version, but "ipsum esse," after Aquinas) is precisely love, which is opposite fear.

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