A rational definition of religion

Definition and identification[ edit ] An infographic exploring the sizes of various religions and religious denominations. As you move away from Western polytheist and monotheist religions into Eastern religions and some indigenous religions, the line becomes a bit blurred. Theravada Buddhismfor example is sometimes called a religion, other times a philosophy. Some religions have subgroups which are called denominations, such as Shiites and Sunnis.

A rational definition of religion

How easy it is to take a sentence like, "Only faith gives me the conviction: The first key sentence is, "Only if God accepts me, and I become convinced of this, do I know definitively: Of course secular humanists believe that it is good that human beings exist.

A rational definition of religion

This leads to the second key sentence: No self-respecting humanist can fail to have "doubt over humanity", and although that need not occlude all the light, it is a dark cloud we have to live under.

The doubt over humanity that is an inevitable corollary of secular humanism cannot be neatly contained and eventually it spills over into doubt abut the capabilities of human reason. Indeed, the more you know about how the human mind works, the less reason we have to trust our rational capacities.


There is no reason to believe that a brain that evolved to help us survive in the pleistocene is a reliable tracker of truth. This is a clever argument, but we have much less contentious reasons to doubt our rational capacities: The very smart are not immune.

Indeed, they sometimes seem to be more capable of distortion than others, since they are clever enough to construct whatever argument they need to prop up what they already believe.

What all this suggests is that in practice there is no neat distinction between the logical and the psychological. Those who attempt to use pure reason cannot expect to succeed, while those who willingly allow psychological factors to affect their reasoning may be being more self-aware about their rational capacities than those who do not.

Return to the pope and his message becomes more interesting. Nothing in what he said appeared to provide any rational grounds for belief, only psychological incentives to believe.

It is because it provides certainties about our ultimate worth that, as Benedict put it, "faith makes one happy from deep within". For atheists, the standard response would be: We have to live being uncertain that it is good that we exist, with doubts about humanity.

But this might just be too quick. Kierkegaard saw the limits of reason as themselves a reason to make irrational leaps of faith. In a more modest form, his insight could help explain the rational non-rationality of much religious belief.

Although not couched as arguments to believe, a lot of religious talk and writing is of the kind "without faith, we are lost".Can it be rational for the religious to be non-rational? Julian Baggini Bypassing it with a leap of faith is problematic, but there's a serious debate to be had about rationality's limits.

In fact, theorists such as Marett (an Anglican) excluded scientific results altogether, defining religion as the domain of the unpredictable and unexplainable; that is, comparative religion is the rational (and scientific) study of the irrational.

Why Religious Beliefs Are Irrational, and Why Economists Should Care. by Bryan Caplan. Larry Iannaccone and his co-author Rodney Stark once wrote that the belief that society is getting less religious says "less about empirical fact than it does about secularization faith – a faith that, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, sustains the conviction of many social scientists that.

Rational religion definition | English definition dictionary | Reverso

Search rational religion and thousands of other words in English Cobuild dictionary from Reverso. You can complete the definition of rational religion given by the English Cobuild dictionary with other English dictionaries: Wikipedia, Lexilogos, Oxford, Cambridge, Chambers Harrap, Wordreference, Collins Lexibase dictionaries, Merriam Webster.

Kitcher does not at all hide the fact that he'd like to see religion eventually disappear -- but he explicitly claims (and this is consistent with the form of secular humanism he defends) that this process would be gradual and rational, an enlightenment rather than a violent upheaval.

A religion is a systematic set of beliefs, rituals and codifications of behaviour that revolves around a particular group's worldview (views about the world at large and humanity's place in the world).

Religion - RationalWiki