Sunday, December 29, 2002

New York Times

Using the thin gruel of scientific reductionism, Dr. David Sloan Wilson attempts to define religion via Darwinism, vexing lexicographers worldwide:

Religion has a superficial definition, which is a belief in supernatural agents, but some people regard this definition as shallow and incomplete. The Buddha, for example, refused to be associated with any gods. Or you could say that religion is something that handles concepts of an afterlife, but that definition, too, is limited, and it excludes a number of faiths. I've found that when you go beyond the superficial definitions of religion, it's very difficult to distinguish anything fundamental about religion that is not also fundamental to other social organizations. For example, the concept of sacredness, and the existence of a symbolic system that distinguishes the sacred from the profane, extends to many other social organizations.

[December 24, 2002]

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