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Chapter 17, Religion Key Terms
l religion Any set of coherent answers to the dilemmas of human existence that makes the world meaningful; a system of beliefs and rituals that helps bind people together into a social group. l ritual A formal pattern of activity that expresses symbolically a set of shared meanings.
l l sacred A term used to describe phenomena that are regarded as extraordinary, transcendent, and outside the everyday course of events. profane A term used to describe phenomena that are not considered sacred.
l l secularization A process in which the dominance of religion over other institutions is reduced. simple supernaturalism A form of religion in which people may believe in a great force or spirit but do not have a welldefined concept of God or a set of rituals involving God.
l animism A form of religion in which all forms of life and all aspects of the earth are inhabited by gods or supernatural powers. l atheism A belief system that conceives of a god or gods as separate from humans and from other living things on the earth.
l polytheistic A term used to describe a theistic belief system that includes numerous gods. l monotheistic A term used to describe a theistic belief system centered on belief in a single all-powerful God.
l civil religion A collection of beliefs and rituals that exist outside religious institutions. l church A religious organization that has strong ties to the larger society.
l l sect A religious organization that rejects the beliefs and practices of existing churches; usually formed when a group leaves the church to form a rival organization. denomination A religious organization that is on good terms with the institution from which it developed but must compete with other denominations for members.
l cult A new religion. l religiosity The depth of a person’s religious feelings.