an alternative way to describe religion

B81dd166-beef-11e7-b58a-4186f6049f2e4Tim Crane at the TLS:

A common view of religion in atheist or humanist writers is that it is a kind of blend of cosmology – a theory of the universe – and morality. The cosmology is typically described in terms of something like Richard Dawkins’s God Hypothesis: “there exists a superhuman, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us”. And the morality involves commitment to something like the commandments and teachings of the Bible, the Qur’an or other sacred text. In this picture, the link between the cosmology and the morality is often made through the idea of the afterlife: we must behave well, according to the morality of the church or the Bible or the Qur’an, because if we do we will have eternal life in heaven with God, and if we don’t we will have eternal damnation or punishment in hell.

I am sure this picture of the essence of religion will be familiar to many. But it seems to me deeply inadequate, and its persistence frustrates the proper understanding of the phenomenon of religion and religious belief. We can begin to see what is wrong if we look at some of the familiar capsule summaries of the principles, rules, or laws of particular religions. Thus various principles of Christian churches might be characterized in terms of the canon law of the Catholic Church or the thirty-nine articles of the Anglican Church, or summed up in the Apostles’ Creed or the Ten Commandments. The principles of Islam are embodied in the Qur’an and in Sharia law, and they are sometimes summed up in the Five Pillars of Islam.

more here.