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Academic Study Of Religion Reflection Paper

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Serhan Tanriverdi
Reflection Paper
Academic Study of Religion
Prof. Abdulaziz Sachedina
The Challenges of Academic Study of Religion
The academic study of religion is very challenging task because religion is a complex phenomenon. Thus, the study of religion varies based on different disciplines and approaches. Some studies are broad and comprehensive while some are narrow and exclusionary. There is a wide-range of study methodology in various ways. So, each study method can be viewed as a way of understanding, seeing and interpreting the multidimensional meaning and practice of religion. In addition, the academic study of religion rests on the basic distinction between studying about religion as a field of inquiry and being religious or a
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Thus, the definition of religion varies based on the disciplines and approaches. Some of its definitions are broad and comprehensive while some are narrow and exclusionary. There is a wide-range of definitions in various ways. So, each definition can be viewed as a way of understanding and seeing the multidimensional meaning and practice of religion. A typical definition of religion refers to a set of beliefs, symbols, and rituals, which are based on the ideas of the sacred, which in turn unites believers into a socio-religious community. Sociologists generally define religion by reference to the sacred or they focus on the social aspect of religion rather than the theological because it makes social analysis and comparison possible (Scott 2014:641). Similarly, Geertz (1973) argued that religion involves a meaning system with an interrelated set of beliefs, symbols, values, moods, and motivations. Another important dimension of religion refers to its structural system with established status, organizational patterns, and even bureaucratic dilemmas. Religion also is composed of a belonging system, with friendship networks, group boundaries, and informal norms which may be quite independent of the formal structure or official meaning systems (Roberts and Yamane 2015).
Here, the task of the sociology of religion is not to judge religions or to test the truth or falseness of any belief system, but to attempt to sociologically understand and explain the reality of religion. Therefore, the prominent studies in the sociology of religion define religion in two and sometimes three ways: (1) substantive, (2) functional, and (3) symbolic (Davie 2013). Thus, in the following sections I will address the basic features of substantive, functional, and symbolic definitions of
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