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One of the peculiarities of the academic study of religion is that scholars spend a large amount to time trying to define exactly what they are supposed to be studying. If that isn't strange enough, there is also some disagreement about exactly how one should study religion. In this first unit, we will begin by considering both the challenges of defining and studying religion. We will learn about two major categories of definitions for religion.


Learning Objectives

After studying this chapter you will be able to answer the following questions with at least a 70% accuracy:


Explain the challenge of adequately defining religion

Identify definitions of religion as substantive or functional.

Explain why certain definitions of religion are too broad or too narrow.

Define the following terms:

substantive definition

functional definition

genetic fallacy

Describe the contribution of the following individuals to the study of religion:

Sigmund Freud

Emile Durkheim

Karl Marx


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