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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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    Oct 22 2012: For many who were born in a religious ( any) family environment, Religion grows with us growing in that environment. as a a habit and a custom. We inherit religion when we are born from our fathers and mothers just like our last name.
    If we live in a "religion practicing" family our faith to that family religion grows strong as we grow and watch father and mother exercise their faith daily or on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays etc and as we start to accompany them for that activity. Alternatively if we are born to parents who do not believe or practice any faith, it is highly unlikely that we become believers ourselves, in that sense many of those who consider themselves believers did not have the opportunity to question the foundations of that (inherited) religion and its philosophy as Christian Martinez mentions in his opening statement, rather adopted it as a given and grew up with it.
    My experience with my own (2) kids and of course this experience do not provide a scientific base to define or undefine Religion; I offered them the opportunity, when they reached age sixteen to reflect on that specific inheritance and formulate an opinion by themselves: "You were born Catholics because your father was born like that and so did your grandfather" etc - Now you have the opportunity to 1) look at all different religions and faiths that world has to offer 2) compare with what you have inherited and exercised as a faith within your family 3) chose to keep things the way they are as far as your religion is concerned or choose another "way" that reflects more your aspirations, ideals and beliefs. They had two years for that "internal search" and today, several years later, my son turned Buddhist and my daughter is fairly agnostic! Religion is a form of knowledge that we are ( or not) comfortable with and that influences our behavior and our perception of things together with education, life experience, science, etc...........
    Personally I am an atheist

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