Originally posted by Palynka
Isn't that a bit circular? After all, "religious beliefs" are part of your definition of religion.
And if beliefs are left unqualified, then the "body of collective beliefs and practices endowed with a certain authority" could be used for a variety of things (politics springs to mind) that are not thought of as being "religious" in a colloquial use of the word...
No it isn't circular, and I was sure that you would ask me this question Pal my pal!
Since every religion is not divinely or supernaturally inspired and it is solely a human invention, I see it as just another social product that constitutes a body of collective archetypes which in turn they became the basis of the invention of collective beliefs and practices endowed with a certain authority. In my opinion a “religion” is not necessarily just a plexus of symbols, rites, temples, religious personages and worshipping of supernatural existences, but also an apparatus of collective representations that they express collective realities.
On our way from the miscellaneous archetypes to the miscellaneous religions we notice that this concept is a source of solidarity and identification of the believers within a society, able (according to the believers) to provide a theory of reality, a meaning for a purposeful life, authority figures and “reinforcement” of the collective moral and social norms. This is the reason why the religion is a critical part of the social system.
Therefore I am sure that even atheism can suffer of radical “religious sects” -like Stalinism and Maoism amongst else- since in such an environment the aim of the leadership is the establishment by any means of a specific social control system that reassures “cohesion” and “purpose for the people”, which it forces the individual to obey, communicate, interact, behave and live under specific social norms that are supposedly designed for him but, alas, without him. So when I trade the orthodox religious concept of the sacred supernatural existence and of the supernatural realm of reality (that they have to be worshipped by the believers) with the radical collective Stalinist and Maoist etc ideals that they are fixed deep into the “revolutionary societies” as the essence of the “revolution”, I understand what exactly goes wrong: the radical body of the individuals -the “clan”, the fundamentalist believers, the fundamentalist revolutionaries- become extremely powerful and they mutate into disastrous sentient beings. Inquisitors, Nazis, Maoists, Stalinists, radical Islamists, radical Christians etc. are all in my opinion religious to the hilt.
So I see “religions” -the radical sects of atheism etc included- as a product of our societies. It ‘s up to us to use our intelligence properly and to cease dogmatize upon the nature of things based on miscellaneous so called “absolute truths”. In fact, the miscellaneous theories of reality are merely theories and not “absolute truth”.