Definitions of Religion


Religion has been defined as a social genus that is present in more than one culture. Its definition can be substantive or functional. For example, people throughout history have held beliefs in disembodied spirits, but no explicit metaphysics or views of an afterlife. However, as the human population has expanded, religious beliefs have been more prevalent, and religion is now a widespread and measurable aspect of society. This article explores some of the main definitions of religion.

Polythetic approaches

Most attempts to analyze religion have been monothetic. Monothetic approaches operate on the classical view of concepts, where every instance of a concept has a defining property that is shared by all instances. Polythetic approaches, on the other hand, reject the classical view and treat religion as a prototype structure, with different properties for different instances. Nonetheless, it’s important to recognize the limitations of each approach. Let’s look at a few examples.


Emile Durkheim, a famous French sociologist, is internationally recognized as the father of sociology. His study of human behavior is known as Sociological Analysis. But what is the significance of Durkheim on religion? How can you understand this famous French thinker and his theories on religion? Let’s examine some of his most famous works below. You may be surprised by what you find! There’s more to Durkheim than meets the eye.


The book Tillich, Religion, is a study of the relationship between theology and culture. It addresses the difference between religion and culture as well as the way in which they are expressed in different languages. According to Tillich, language is always wrapped in a cultural husk, but the content of religion remains. Thus, religion is a cultural activity that attempts to analyze and interpret culture. But, how do we recognize this process?

De Muckadell

The English draft version of Tim Jensen’s Horisont textbook’s introduction was adopted by Tim Jensen. The book is a Danish upper secondary school RE textbook edited by Annika Hvithamar and Allan Ahle, which was published in 2013. Jensen originally wrote the introduction, but revised it in English. This article explains how Jensen’s work improves the original book.


In De Muckadell’s religion, de Muckadell rejects stipulative definitions of religion. These definitions are impossible to critique and force scholars to accept whatever is offered. For example, if a stipulative definition of religion is given as “ice-skating while singing,” the real definition of religion will reject this stipulative definition. But the problem with this definition is that it is hard to understand the meaning of religion in such a vague way.