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Various (2004)Edit

Would anybody agree with me that this definition is faulty based on the fact that traditional buddhist don't beleive in a supernatural? Theyapps 05:10, 1 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I see your point, but isn't that the difference between religion, philosophy, and ethical systems? There are those who would argue that Buddhism is not a religion. RSvK 05:26, 1 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I thought Buddhists believe in reincarnation - surely that's supernatural.
Perhaps doctrine, ritual, or tradition should be mentioned. — Hippietrail 16:10, 1 Jun 2004 (UTC)
In the simplest sense, supernatural means just what the words imply: above nature, above that which we are born with. That's the regular meaning in Roman Catholic theology, so I added that along with the etymology. Regards, RSvK 16:35, 1 Jun 2004 (UTC)

What's the Persian word doing here? Is there some connection with 'religion'? RSvK 03:44, 23 Aug 2004 (UTC)

ok, my definition here sucks -- it says nothing about what is the most common usage of the word.

i think it's important, tho, not to have a definition which implies that religion necessarily always must involve "one or more deities".

—This unsigned comment was added by (talk).

rsvk (first comment) -- i think you're right, in terms of most common usage —This unsigned comment was added by (talk).

hmm... it just got changed back...
look, i think it's a bad idea to have wiktionary making such a statement about such a potentially important word. There's a real problem afoot of folks using the words "religious" and "secular" as if they were antonyms... i know we have to bend w/ common usage, but i think it's also necessary to at least portray a range of meaning.
In this case, a wrong (by being too limited) definition is far worse than none at all. If someone logs on and receives this current definition (the one w/ deities, implying there must be deities involved), they will likely come away less knowledgeable, rather than more knowledgeable, on the subject for having visited here. —This unsigned comment was added by (talk).

Religion vs. SpiritualityEdit

(Sorry for breaking the conversation in to coherent chunks - I can't tell who said what in the section above, as the anonymous IP isn't signing entries.)

Religion is distinguished from Spirituality by adding a specific deity. Right? I think I prefer the clunkier definition that got reverted once or twice so far. (Now I sign/timestamp my entry using the following text: --~~~~ which gets turned into this:) --Connel MacKenzie 05:23, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)

would that it were so clear.... when people say they're "spiritual but not religious," some probably mean what you said, but i think more do believe in a god, but merely don't adhere rigidly to a particular dogma, or they don't belong to or believe in the teachings of a particular institution. ---isaac

Isaac, we could debate forever what some people *intend* to *think* they *believe*. I agree that most people can be led to believe there is some power that is "God." The people that do not are defined as agnostic. But what this article is about is the Wiktionary word religion. It is (from a perspective of defining the word) distinguished from, say, spirituality by the practices pertaining to a specific deity. Each religion has one or more. Each practice of a particular dogma does not necessarily. Each religious institution has one or more deity, or they simply are not a religion.
You said: In this case, a wrong (by being too limited) definition is far worse than none at all. If someone logs on and receives this current definition (the one w/ deities, implying there must be deities involved), they will likely come away less knowledgeable, rather than more knowledgeable, on the subject for having visited here.
I think that is the crux of what you wanted to argue, but for the simple dictionary definition of the word, you seem to be wrong.
This isn't an appropriate forum for discussing the finer distinctions of what people *should* believe, nor what you or I *think* they *should*.
Again, I'm not talking about what people do or do not believe. I'm talking about a very specific dictionary definition, that I think you are clouding and confusing with a particular agenda. Personally, I tend to agree with your agenda, (I think) but in this context, I am VERY opposed to clouding and confusing a definition! The article as it stands now has lost relevant meaning, because of your POV. That alone is the reason you should probably change it back.
Perhaps the best, comprehensive noun definition so far was from 02:26, 23 Jul 2004:
#A system of attitudes, beliefs, and practices related to a [[god]] or the [[supernatural]].
in that it even encompasses gray-area religions such as Buddhism.
Finally, a note about timestamps. Tildes following two hyphens have special meaning here.
--~~~ becomes --Connel MacKenzie
--~~~~ becomes --Connel MacKenzie 20:25, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)
--~~~~~ becomes --20:25, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)
which you should be able to see the result of by using "Show preview."
--Connel MacKenzie 20:25, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)

sorry about jumping in here untrained and kind of making a mess, and thanks for being patient w/ me. Perhaps someone who knows what they're doing (which may be me, later) could put multiple definitions in here.

certainly, the most common usage of the word tends to imply something involving the supernatural, but i still think it's misleading to have an entry which seems to say that the supernatural MUST be involved for something to be considered a religion. As a primary definition, fine, but...

-- 21:14, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Thank you for signing it wiki-style. No problem about jumping right in - that *is* how one learns wiki. I was more fortunate than you, in that I have *very* patient encouragement. (And that was only a couple weeks ago.) Again, sorry if I slammed you on your first contribution.
I think if the definition of religion doesn't include a mention of a deity, it would not be distinguished from dogma or spirituality or whatever. What makes it a religion is the addition of a deity to the mix. From there of course, one could go off on tangents such as organized religion or established religion and the connotations of those terms... --Connel MacKenzie 21:53, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)

confucism and taoism are commonly referred to as religions, w/o any supernaturalism, in such venues as dating services, textbooks, and letters to the editor. This usage seems common enough to perhaps deserve to fit into a first definition, or a second.

Some buddhists don't believe in reincarnation, and there are even a very small number of christians and jews who will insist that they're both religious and secular. I know it's not a common usage -- typically we speak of "secular jews" and "religious jews," meaning the two categories to be clearly distinct. But this usage wouldn't even make intelligible sense if applied to confucism -- no one would denote a confucist who had supernatural beliefs as a "religious confucist" unless they were using the word in what i think could be called a downright illiterate (as well as unintelligible) manner.

i do need to restrain myself from using this as a forum for pushing my ideas of what the word should mean. But the particular definition i replaced, then truncated, said that religions are followed "to please one or more deities." It's hard to imagine that many people capable of reading english could come here, receive that definition, and not go away either personally less informed, or more informed in terms of taking wiktionary w/ a large grain of salt.

-- 22:14, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Perhaps I am inadvertently guilty of infusing my own POV. It looks like Jun-Dai has resolved the apparent ambiguity by listing the multiple meanings. I like it. If you have more to add to the main section, I guess now is a good time. --Connel MacKenzie 23:04, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)

hey, con -- thanks for the kind words. Nah, you didn't "slam me" too hard.

yeah, looks like things got improved a lot here --and i got to learn some things the lazy way, by watching.

i added a def., along w/ the following at first: "#: Usually this involves one or more sentient higher beings, capable of operating outside of the normal laws of nature, and responsible for the creation of all or most of worldly existence, especially living things. However, none of these elements is necessary to constitute a religion."

but i decided to quit while i was maybe ahead. for now.

muchos gracias to... "Jun Dai"? looks much better now.


--03:59, 12 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Isaac, Yeah, Jun-Dai is pretty cool. And he is very smart! Me being American, I don't think I even know someone who knows half as many languages as he does. --Connel MacKenzie 04:18, 12 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Religion is not a system of belief itself, it is a system of habits and..uhm, practices. Habits that are practices. Those practices are focused on belief and/or spirituality. I think Connel is/was right about the idea that religion had to include deities. Buddhism has many practices etc and even though Buddhism was a reaction intending to eliminate all the deities from Hinduism, Buddhism mixed with pre-Buddhist practices. Most Buddhist practices come from the pre-Buddhist era (Tibetan and Zen Buddhism have deities). Meditating can be seen as religious, but is that strictly Buddhist?

Secularism has nothing to do with whether you are religious are not, only in what degree you are religious. Some say, I believe God is great and made us all equal therefore we need neutral judgement, some say no we only need God to judge us and through the church He will.

But that's not really important here, what is important is that religion is not belief itself, it is a system of practices. Practices intended to connect to or please a deity or anything other supernatural that has influence on human life (in this world or in the afterlife). I wish the definition changed to "religion is a system of practices which act according to belief in the existence of at least one of the following: a human soul or spirit, a deity or higher being, or self after the death of one’s body."

Mallerd 12:40, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

PS: do practices "act"? I do not know, but I hope you understand it and correct it Mallerd 12:43, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

Lack of FalsifiabilityEdit

It was my understanding that the word "Religion" means a set of beliefs that rely on faith. In other words, it is not falsifiable. --Striderstrahan 12:22, 14 July 2006 (UTC)


I've removed the words "or nonexistence" from the first definition: "A system of beliefs that involves the existence or nonexistence of at least one of: a human soul or spirit, a deity or higher being, or self after the death of one’s body." If "or nonexistence" is included, then it's literally saying that any system of beliefs that touches on these matters, even if it rejects all of them, is a religion, which is almost as "liberal" an interpretation as the second definition ("Any system of beliefs") and clearly not how most people use the word. - dcljr 12:50, 26 August 2006 (UTC) Or, in other words, to put it more bluntly: "Lack of religion is not a religion." - dcljr 12:56, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Liberal or not, it's a pretty common use of the term to include atheism and even, to some extent science. Try googling on "atheism is a religion" or "science is a religion" (recognizing that this is only a fraction of the online usage of the term to include these two thing) and looking through the pages that come up. There certainly might be a better way to phrase it, but not having a definition that can include atheism and science is to ignore a pretty common usage of the term. Given that atheism rests principally on the non-existence of a deity, it would probably fit more into the first definition in the minds of the people that use it that way, since they are not necessarily trying to expand the term to include other systems of believe (e.g., logic, science). Incidentally, based on this definition of religion, agnostics would still fall outside of it, since that's "lack of religion" in the truist sense: they make no claims about the existence or non-existence of god. Jun-Dai 18:04, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Merging definitionsEdit

I suggest that the following definitions should be merged to form one which I believe covers the same ground. Nos 1, 3, 4, 5, 7

New definitionEdit

  • Belief in the existence of the power of a superhuman and/or divine power(s) and/or the human soul or spirit; expression of this belief in behaviour; a system codifying the philosophy, ethics and rituals of such a belief.

Old definitionsEdit

1. A system of beliefs, including belief in the existence of at least one of the following: a human soul or spirit, a deity or higher being, or self after the death of one’s body.
  • He couldn’t abide by any religion that didn’t allow for wrongdoers to be punished after death.
3. (uncommon): A system of belief predicated on the existence of one or more deities.
  • It’s not really a religion if there’s no god to pray to.
4. A way of living that corresponds to such beliefs.
  • You can practise any religion you want, so long as it doesn’t require you to violate the law.
5. A number of customs and rituals associated with such beliefs.
  • When it comes to religion, she doesn’t believe, but she loves to attend the ceremonies.
7. Any system or institution which one engages with in order to foster a sense of meaning or relevence in relation to something greater than oneself

Saltmarsh 15:24, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

I agree strongly. I tried to check the translations of religion and found the current definitions very much overlapping. Actually I think it might be possible to cover the term "religion" with just two definitions - one referring to religion as a system of beliefs (yours is written from that point of view) and the other referring to religion as a personal experience. By browsing web dictionaries I found that many languages have separate words for these two aspects. Hekaheka 21:37, 27 January 2007 (UTC)
I can't see merging that much. In English, there are at least two other senses to be defined: (a) A system of practices or behaviors motivated by one's beliefs, and (b) A belief system arising from or dependent upon the existence of one or more deities. Even within Christian scripture (a) is explicitly given as a definition contrasting with other usage (KJV - Book of James) and is a core idea in the history of the European religious wars of the 16th-18th centuries. Definition (b) is also key for understanding why (for example) many people do not regard Confucianism as a religion, even though it is a belief system. That gives a minimum of four definitions to be included. Remember that just because other languages don't distinguish these senses doesn't mean that English doesn't. --EncycloPetey 18:57, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
Yes - but surely all those listed above (# 1,3,4,5,7) are covered by your (b), your (a) is covered by the current #2 (although 2 might need rewording a bit). #6 should stand (although I think that golf, fishing or football might be better examples). There is a new one missed to date: the life of a religious (monk or nun). —Saltmarsh 06:18, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
No, and that's my point. Not all religions accept the existence of a deity, such as Buddhism. Not all senses of religion pertain to supernatural forces or spirits either, though that is a charatceristic intended in one sense of the word. It is legitimate to call "science" and "satanism" and "Buddhism" and "free-masonry" and "Star Trek" religions, but each is a religion in a totally different sense of that word. That is, it's possible to use the word religion in English in such a way as to pertain to only one of those and exclude the others. This indicates that there are different definitions in English. --EncycloPetey 19:21, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
Ok, Encyclopetey, show us your cards! What is your definition of religion, or is there any? Hekaheka 23:43, 2 February 2007 (UTC)
Given that we do not want/need hundreds of definitions - I was trying to word one which covered the lot. Perhaps I'll leave it to another. —Saltmarsh 06:54, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

The first defintion on 12:53, 3 December 2008 (UTC) also includedes higher being, which covers most of Petey's examples. Star Trek as religion is used figuratively to say that Star Trek is very important to a person. Besides, Buddhism does not intend to accept deities, but they (unawarely) do not act accordingly. Mallerd 12:53, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

"Usage notes"Edit

I have engaged with the usage notes to avoid ambiguity and to add an extra factor, but I am unsure about the last sentence; it seems to be proscribing, rather than describing how the word "religion" is used. I was under the impression this goes against Wiktionary policy of descriptivism.—GrecoBomb (talk) 18:48, 17 May 2012 (UTC)

Yes, done. Mglovesfun (talk) 11:11, 9 August 2012 (UTC)

Not from Old French?Edit

Our etymology is saying this was borrowed directly from Latin, not from the Old French religion. Is this correct? It is possible I suppose. Mglovesfun (talk) 11:09, 9 August 2012 (UTC)

RFV discussion: January–February 2018Edit

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Rfv-sense "A system of belief containing the concept that the person's existence continues after their death."

Can we find evidence for this that is distinct from "A particular system of faith and worship. " Kiwima (talk) 18:43, 11 January 2018 (UTC)

Would evidence be of the form "X isn't a (real) religion", where either X actually does not hold for life beyond the mortal coil or where the speaker says/believes that X does not? DCDuring (talk)
I suppose, although I was expecting more an example where "religion" was used to refer to a belief in life after death that did not include any concept of faith and worship. Kiwima (talk) 22:43, 11 January 2018 (UTC)
I am sceptical that such a sense is attested and also sceptical that usage such as the two of you describe would actually attest it as a distinct sense, as opposed to either suggesting that we should consider expanding the definition, or being already covered as belief in something supernatural. - -sche (discuss) 01:53, 16 January 2018 (UTC)

RFV-failed Kiwima (talk) 20:01, 13 February 2018 (UTC)

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