When is Faith a Religion? Part I: The Four Criteria
C. S. Herrman
March 12, 2009
Wiccans can be forgiven for wishing to view their faith as a religion rather than a cult. This presentation asks whether analytical philosophy can find warrant for the premise. Were we to suppose that 1) the American Heritage Dictionary had not, in its 1992 edition, acknowledged Wicca as a 'pagan nature religion'; and 2) that we could lend credence to past opinion holding that witches do not practice religion, this paper would nonetheless ask that we return to 'square one', whereby to reassess how and why Wiccans, or followers of any faith, might reasonably appropriate the respectable and venerable epithet 'religion'. What philosophically justifies this claim?
The present paper discusses definitional and methodological constraints, followed by the introduction and justification of four criteria that I believe necessary to any normative definition of religion: 1) exposure theory as grounding perception and cognition of religiously relevant data; 2) myth as an emblematic conveyance of authority and sacrality necessary to religion; 3) faith as a philosophical aptitude necessary to ground sacrality and mystery, and 4) cosmology, as designating the intelligent unity grounding the authority and power presupposed by religion.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 21
Keywords: religion, faith, myth, exposure theory, belief, cosmology
Date posted: March 13, 2009
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