Posted: Jul 20, 2011 9:22 am
by Zwaarddijk
cavarka9 wrote:We are living in a world dominated by the abrahamic religions and in particular Christianity and before that Islam,most of the other faiths have been interpreted by the christian missionaries, so much so that other faiths today are infact hybrids.
It certainly is true of 'Hinduism', the word itself originates periodically from time to time and mostly by 'non-hindus' and eventually appropriated by the concerned people themselves.It eventually becomes a preeminent way to categorize Indians to a large degree from around 17-19th century.
I believe that it is prudent to use 'faith systems' rather than 'religion'. The word 'religion' is absurd, it makes other faiths mere models of Abrahamic ones, it also is academically improper to continue to view things as though they are all similar when infact they are not similar.

Not even in the Abrahamic fold does the term religion give the right associations all the time. The word 'religion', however, predates Christianity, and the practices it mainly was used to refer to back then were indo-european religions - closer related to Indian religion than to Abrahamic religions. One particular example among the abrahamic religions where the word itself causes problems is Judaism. The druze and some small iraqi religions also don't fit the ideas of stereotypical "religions" either.

"Faith system" is problematic as a word as well - not all religions hinge on faith, a lot of them hinge on praxis or some sense of community instead, and faith can be omitted, or seen as but an optional part in being a member in good standing.

Academics, when using words like religion, are probably more aware of possible problems with them anyway, and will try to surpass the associations the word has. Accepting any other word may also come just as rife with ideological presumptions, possibly colouring the studies of a religion in a way favoured by its adherents, abandoning academical objectivity.

A funny thing with regard to the word religion, is how a lot of Christians will distance themselves from the label as well - 'Christianity isn't a religion, it's a relationship (with Jesus)', 'Religions are full of obligations and rituals and rules, Christianity is about Christ's love for you', etc. (Of course, there's even funnier things happening here, such as those very same people often being very adamant in thinking that some specific rules are very necessary for the true Christian, etc)

One problem, probably, is that people want to be able to talk about religions without first knowing what it is they're talking about - and this isn't something that new or different words are going to solve.