Religion – What Is It?

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by Neil Godfrey

three serious studies …. more to come


Scott Atran: In Gods We Trust


Science and Religion: Four Fundamental Differences (2013-05-23)

Fantasy and Religion: One Fundamental Difference (Or, Why God’s Word Will Never Fail) (2013-05-26)

Scott Atran


Neil Van Leeuwen: Religious credence is not factual belief

Religious Credence is Not Factual Belief: 1 (2015-08-29)

Religious Credence is Not Factual Belief: 2 (2015-08-29)

Neil Van Leeuwen

Pascal Boyer: Religion Explained


Is Religion Somehow In Our Genetic Makeup? (2015-09-25)

Studying Religious Beliefs Without Understanding How Humans Work (2015-09-26)

Is Religion for the Gullible? (2016-02-04)

Religion: It’s More Than We Often Think (2016-08-23)

Was Religion Invented to Explain Things — or to Compound Mystery? . . . Or. . . ? (2016-08-24)

Where Religious Beliefs Come From (2016-08-28)

Religion Explained: How to Make a Good Religious Concept (2016-09-04)

Why We Connect Moral Judgments to God(s) (2018-04-28)

Religion Explained – Why Rituals (Explaining the origin of the Lord’s Supper) (2018-09-13)

Atheists Do Not Understand Religion (2018-09-26)

Atheist Hostility to Jesus Mythicism … making sense of it (2018-10-06)

Towards Understanding Religious Fundamentalism and Extremism (and atheist in-fighting, too?) (2018-10-09)

Pascal Boyer
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7 thoughts on “Religion – What Is It?”

  1. I read the statement: “the many forms of religion we know are not the outcome of a historical diversification but of a constant reduction. The religious concepts we observe are relatively successful ones selected among many other variants.”
    But that does not explain the movement toward sectarianism. It appears that, once started, a religion begins to split into diverse sects over time. I know of no religion that has not gone through this process. Christianity has already developed over 40,000 sects and denominations and they multiply and mutate like viruses.

    1. “Coincidentally” I happen to have been catching up on some of the leading research into the whys and wherefores of religious communities and sectarianism. I hope to post something of what is out there soon.

  2. After Boyarin, the answer is Xtianity. “Religion” only exists from a Xtian perspective. Refering to anything else other than Xtianity as “religion” or a “religion” is erroneous; more orphan process still running on our post-Xtian atheist wetware.

    1. You skim and miss the nuances and even the major points of the arguments. Boyarin does not say that our concept of “religion” applies only to Christianity. Also, read the works I have linked to and see exactly what religion means in their works.

      Check again our comments and moderation policy. If you wonder why some of your comments disappear you will find the answer there.

      1. With reference to Victor Hugo- paraphrase variant:
        “Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

        I considered someone who has an idea whose time has come.
        The idea is 500 pages long, 50,000 words…
        Uh, oh!

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