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May 1, 2018 / C H Thompson

Substantive definitions

  • These focus on the content or substance of religious beliefs, such as the belief in God or the supernatural.
  • For example, Weber defines religion as a belief in the supernatural or the superior that can’t be explained scientifically.
  • Substantive definitions are exclusive as they draw a clear line between religious and non-religious beliefs.
  • Substantive definitions adapt a widespread view of religious belief in a God.
  • However, by defining religion in this way, no room is left for beliefs and practices that perform similar functions to religion, but don’t involve a belief in God
  • This means that this definition is mostly Westernised as it excludes religions such as Buddhism that don’t include a belief in God.
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