I have shuffled some categories and category names, and brought several entries into a category called, for now, Religion. It ties to other parts of culture and ideas, but it stand up as way of grouping entries.
Religion is fact of social life and a set of ideas about truth, justice and reality.
If we define religion as a way of looking at the whole picture – God (or not), faith, order, chaos, life, death, truth, goodness and beauty – and if we look at belief as an emotional attachment to that way of looking at things, every person has a personal belief system. The belief system will be unique to that person, but it will be connected by language, theories, rituals, emotional colour and any number of other intellectual, cultural and social elements other people and their belief systems, and personal belief systems turn out to be shared or to have a lot in common with other peoples’s belief systems. We look to organizational or structural connections between people (churches and movements) and their beliefs (theology, sacred writing and religious writings) as defining a religion.
It is possible, from the perspective of sociology and religious studies to see philosophies and ideologies as religious movements. It is also possible to look at art and literature and the creative process as intensely emotional experiences and to compare the inspirational value of religion and the arts. It is possible, indeed, to see any personal belief system as a private religion. Sometimes we say that people are “religious” about politics, the arts or sports – meaning that they are passionate, intense, dogmatic, and a little unreasonable. We can also look to religion in that sense as a person’s private passion.
There is more to religion than emotional intensity. It’s a unique subject bringing together philosophy and the social sciences in the study of how people experience meaning of their lives and translate that into a theory of being and a set of ethical principles. People seem to have a deep emotional need to understand their experiences and to translate their feelings into symbols and stories and to share their experiences, feelings and stories in sacred writings, rituals and religious practice.
Many people rationalize their feelings into magical and superstitious beliefs, and use those beliefs to rationalize profoundly immoral and evil practices and social systems. I think other people do better at bringing their emotions and feelings into contact with reality. My own bias is for a scientific and rational perception of reality, for tolerance of religion that has a a sense of justice and tolerance.
My organizational decision was ultimately to put the Religion category under Society & Culture.