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What Does "Religious" Mean?

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Exaltist Ethan, Nov 29, 2022.

  1. Exaltist Ethan

    Exaltist Ethan Synverse Shaper

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    This thread was inspired by @We Never Know 's thread you can check out here.



    This is possibly the best video that helps explain what the term "religion" means. And yes, I know that what "religion" and being "religious" means are two different things, but both are intrinsically similar and captivate the points I'm trying to get across.

    TAKE TWO

    I would like to discuss and debate with the people on Religious Forums on the term of "religious" itself. I originally made a long and elaborate post trying to explain to others that I was indeed not religious. But the more I typed the more I realized how wrong I was, making excuse after excuse as to why I don't consider myself religious even though by every count and means I actually am.

    First, let's try to understand what the word "religious" means.

    For me, religious means you believe in God and this belief in God gives you a meaning, or purpose to your life. That belief reinforces a code of dogmatic morals, virtues and rituals. As @Quintessence argued in this thread, being religious includes spirituality so the term "religious but not spiritual" does not truly exist.

    But I do believe there are people who fit the term "religious but not spiritual" in Unitarian Universalists. UUs embrace all views on God or lack thereof but have a religious code of ethics with their seven principles and six sources of faith. They also have their own rituals. What makes them not spiritual isn't the fact that some of them don't believe in God, but rather, God, the transcendent and the meaning of life isn't as important as what you actually do in your life, according to them. To them, the meaning of life is reflected by what you do in it.

    So, I would call many of those who follow Unitarian Universalism to be religious themselves, as long as they practice their faith. I joined my local Unitarian chapter in 2014 but since I moved away from it, and stopped attending services. I no longer call myself a Unitarian towards most people, especially now that my own pantheism has become trinitarian.

    But with the rise of atheist organizations trying to fill the gap of value that is drained from it, such as the Sunday Assembly, it is worth asking each other what does it actually mean to be religious. I do not consider the Sunday Assembly to be religious because it itself refers it as a secular organization. There is no talk about ultimate agency of humans or of a God or an afterlife. The organization is essentially a social club for skeptics.

    As well, while I do suffer from bipolar disorder, take medications for it like a ritual, and believe that I do indeed have this disorder, I do not consider my bipolar to be religious in nature because my purpose of life and God have nothing to do with my condition. I take meds to curve my mania so I don't feel awful all the time. It doesn't have anything to do with who I really am as a person, besides being on disability and taking medicine daily.

    However, during my first take of writing this all I kept doing was denying my own religiosity when in fact it is abundantly clear to me now that I am religious. Not the typical Christian-type of religiosity. However, the gospel of syntheism is that our change is creating God. If you are causing this change as a syntheist, you are inherently a religious syntheist. And since everything that exists changes in our Universe, syntheism and being religious automatically go hand in hand.

    And as well, my term "Exaltism" defines the reason why I serve to exist - to exalt others as divine. In the most menial way of doing this I try to give compliments whenever I can. I do this on a consistent and daily basis, and my syntheist theology reinforces this purpose to live. I even changed my username to reflect this type of religiosity. "Exaltist Ethan".

    So, to call myself a "cultural" omnist just doesn't make any sense to me as someone who is clearly religious. In my first take I tried to define religious as having rituals and a code of ethics that work together with the beliefs, and that because I didn't have either the rituals nor the unique morals, I can't be religious. But the ritual of Earthseed is to cause change, and its ethics is to not cause negative change towards oneself or others. As an Exaltist, that is what it means for me to be religious.

    I don't have my own special holidays, as my atheist parents and I celebrate traditional American holidays, and I don't really do anything unique on a consistent basis that makes me part of any major established religion out there, but in many ways I do cause change and I try to be a good force in the world. Syntheism itself implies religiosity unless you actively try to stop positive changes.

    So, I am no longer calling myself a cultural omnist, but I'm reverting back to simply syncretic omnism, meaning, the omnism I believe crosses many traditions and cultures. I revere and respect all religions, and I have my own unique way of being religious, even if while I'm at church I don't take communion. Being an Exaltist and part of Earthseed and a syntheist gives me my primary reason for living: to ultimately create God.

    And although I kept denying it in the past, that is why I now consider myself religious.

    TL;DR - What does religious mean to you? What does it mean for someone to be religious? Do you consider yourself religious? Why or why not? Please, debate with others what religious means and what it means to be religious here.
     
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  2. The Sum of Awe

    The Sum of Awe Brought to you by the moment that spacetime began.

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    When someone tells me they're spiritual I'm interested, when someone tells me they're religious I'm frightened.
     
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  3. Exaltist Ethan

    Exaltist Ethan Synverse Shaper

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    Then why are you on a forum called "Religious Forums"?
     
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  4. The Sum of Awe

    The Sum of Awe Brought to you by the moment that spacetime began.

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    Everyone here scares me :fearscream:
     
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  5. Evangelicalhumanist

    Evangelicalhumanist "Truth" isn't a thing...
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    Religious has all sorts of different meanings, to all sorts of different people. Things like social-cultural systems of required behaviors and practices, morals, beliefs, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations. Religion most often connects human life to supernatural, transcendental, and spiritual elements. But there is no real, general agreement about what it really means. If you think you are religious, you must provide your own definition, because there just isn’t a common one.

    In general, though, religious people accept such things as faith, supernatural being(s) or meanings and eschatologies that transcend this human existence.

    Religious people may engage in rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration (of deities and/or saints), sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trances, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, prayer, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture. Religions have sacred histories and narratives, which may be preserved in sacred scriptures, and symbols and holy places, that aim mostly to give a meaning to life. Religions may contain symbolic stories, which are sometimes said by followers to be true, that may also attempt to explain the origin of life, the universe, and other phenomena. Traditionally, faith, in addition to reason, has been considered a source of religious beliefs.

    There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide.

    (The above was paraphrased from Wikipedia article on Religion.)


    Now, to those of us who have no religion, this sounds like (sorry, but it’s true) a kind of escapism, or an admission of terror at not knowing what life is, or is about. Non-religious, in general, in my opinion, don’t suppose that life is “about” anything other than what we each decide it is about – while we have it.
     
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  6. Wildswanderer

    Wildswanderer Veteran Member

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    Just that they observe certain rituals.

    I don't consider myself very religious, but I do have a relationship with the God who created me and particularly with Jesus.

    I believe there's value in certain religious practices such as baptism and communion to illustrate something about us and God. I don't believe those practices contain salvation.
     
  7. lewisnotmiller

    lewisnotmiller Grand Hat
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    Same reason people watch horror movies, maybe??
     
  8. lewisnotmiller

    lewisnotmiller Grand Hat
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    I'd go with something similar to this. I think it's possible to be a theist but not religious, but many people who claim to be spiritual are also religious...they just don't identify with an established religion.

    And plenty of non-theists are religious too.

    But if you don't have rituals or practices that are carried out as part of a mindful pattern of living, I would say you're not religious.
     
  9. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Turned to Stone. Now I stretch daily.
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    The meaning has changed. Originally it meant 'Christianity'. You need some word for the things people do instead of Christianity. 'Religion' has been used for that.

    What does this group or this person do instead of being a Roman Catholic? That is their religion. If they do nothing then they have no religion. That's how the term is used.

    We also use it to describe what ancient people do rather than Christianity. The Romans do temples and so forth, but rather than saying "Romans do temples and such" we say "The Roman religion."
     
  10. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    In simple terms, to be religious means to grapple with life's big questions (e.g., who am I really, what am I supposed to do with my life, what powers beyond the human control my destiny, and so on) to create a meaningful life path for yourself and others in your community.

    I used to have a very narrow understanding of religion to the point when someone I deeply respected called me "religious" it was like they'd slapped me across the face. But I didn't understand what they meant but as an adult I realized the above is what they undoubtedly meant. The problem was my exposure to religion was institutional, spoon-fed religion. For me it was a horrible fit, so I had a big phase of hating on religion and hating on theism... all the while still pontificating highly religious questions and developing my own religion without understanding that's what I was doing.

    It's both funny and sad looking back on it. If I'd actually had proper guidance, I would have found my center much sooner than I did. Things have a way of working out as they ought to, though.
     
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  11. We Never Know

    We Never Know No Slack

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    In short I see it as believing beyond than what is, thats there's more than just a short life then death.
    Maybe that's faith?
     
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