Meaning and End of Religion

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Justin Luvshis
September 17, 2011
Intro to Phil of Religion
Professor Skorobogatov-Gray
Banner ID: 800494043

The Meaning and End
Of Religion
Wilfred Cantwell Smith

In the article, The Meaning and End of Religion, by Wilfred Cantwell Smith writes about his idea of the concept of religion explaining it to be a universally valid category as it is theorized but is truly a European creation. Throughout the article Smith conveys his ideas of religion. In his piece, there are several interesting ideas and most important thoughts that he tries to communicate to the reader. In response, the reader can respond to some of the important questions posited by Smith.

In his best known and most controversial work, Smith sets out part by part to explain that none of the suggested creators of Earth’s major religions had any intention of creating them. At first Smith explains the meaning of religion as to where the word was derived from, from different cultures/regions. He further goes on to show the change of location of the word and how it is expressed there. Smith discusses how religion from medieval times and forth to now modern times holds different meanings. Smith explains the reasons for abandoning the concept of a “religion.” He explains that whatever exists mundanely cannot be defined; whatever can be defined does not exist. He also explains his definition of faith and cumulative tradition. He connects these two ideas to the religions of Christianity, Judaism, Luvshis, 2

Buddhism and so forth. Smith claims that there is no essence to religion that a definition can capture. Though he does claim that the concepts o faith and cumulative tradition make it possible to “describe anything that has ever happened in the religious life of mankind.” This can be argued to be a contradiction. Also, it is arguable as Smith says that if an essence is what is common to all, and if faith and cumulative tradition are common to all so-called...
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