Any formal study of religion or religions must begin with a clear understanding of the subject matter, namely, what religion is. And and yet this task is not as easy as it seems because in any society the meaning of words is not absolute or fixed; it is as fluid as its interpretations and applications.
Although the majority of the population of the world continues to identify themselves with a religion, on the basis of some implicit and unmeasured understandings of religion, especially when it comes to answering polls, over the years religious scholars have struggled with the meaning of the term religion, or even with the essential, common traits that would lead them to classify individuals or groups under that label.
Adopting different points of view and using methodologies of analysis that embody different human experiences, many scholars have concluded that a single, definitive definition of religion is neither possible nor advisable. Since it is a social construct that reflects diversity of perceptions and thoughts, it is up to any person to decide what it means and for others to try to understand these definitions in their corresponding contexts. And yet a work-in-progress definition of religion is possible, necessary, and desirable, at least to name the subject matter and start a conversation that would elicit a wide range of qualifications, exceptions to the rule, and even critiques.
Recognizing that there is no such a thing as value-free, final definition and that, at the same time, religion is something that average people primarily experience or live and hardly ever stop to formally define it, much less to take into account the ideas of others to see where they all coincide, how could we, then, define religion?
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