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Can A Definition Of “Religion” Be Academically Useful? Pick Yes Or No, And Provide An Argument As To Why Or Why Not?

763 words - 4 pages

A definition of Religion is and can be academically useful. It’s the same as with science as it is with religion, the ability to have a definition, creates academic validity for the subject. One has the ability to point to a certain section or a topic of a book and then support themselves with a fundamental definition. Now the problem that arises in religious studies is that the definition is not always accurate or consistent. Many different academic scholars and writers have their own beliefs and reasoning as to what religion is and thus they tend to create their own definitions. Which is why if one reads Mircea Eliade’s, The Sacred and the Profane, and then goes on to read Edward Burnett Tylor’s, Primirive Culture, they would be presented with two entirely different definitions of religion. For example Eliade essentially defined religion as “the one unique and irreducible element – the element of the sacred” (Pals 272) in relation to that of the profane. This definition created by Eliade fit in perfectly with his theories of religion. Essentially, Eliade believed that the daily life of a person was connected to this idea of the sacred, by the appearance of the sacred, known as “hierophany,” or “theophany” if an appearance of a god occurs. Then Eliade attempts to provide validity to the definition he has created by using the “archaic man.” The archaic man wished to return to a lost paradise, free from historic time as a way to escape their insignificance. The archaic man could not believe that the struggle to survive and live had no meaning and they wish to escape from “cyclic time.” Early religions, such as Christianity and Judaism, also revolted against this idea of “cyclic time” and eventually found meaning in existence with the contact of the God of Israel similar to how cultures before them found meaning, such as the Greeks finding meaning is Zeus. As Eliade continued to build and create his definitions and key concepts, (however vague and weak they might have been) he has the ability to back up his findings and research with his definition he has created about religion. He can point to any part of his religious model and say it is accurate because it fundamentally fits into the two realms he has...

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