Three main ways in which sociologists have defined religion:
1) Substantive definitions:
- Focus on the content or substance of religious belief.
- Weber defines religion as a belief in a superior or supernatural power that is about nature and cannot be explained scientifically -> Reflects Tylor: defined religion as animism- the belief that all things have a soul and a spirit. -> Stark and Bainbridge support Tylor's definition and agree that religion involves some ceonception of a supernatural being or force.
:) - Substantive definitions conform to a widespread view of religion as belief in God
X - Defining religion in this way leaves no room for beliefs and practices that perform similar functions to religion but do not involve belief in God.
X - Substantive definitions are also accused of Western bias because they exclude religions such as Buddhism, which do not have the Western idea of a god.
2) Functional definitions:
- Focus on the social or psychological functions it performs for individuals or society.