Understanding Religion Vocab

Agnosticism:

“Not know” (Greek); a position asserting that the existence of God cannot be proven.

Animism:

From the Latin anima, meaning “spirit,” “soul,” “life force”; a worldview common among oral religions (religions with no written scriptures) that sees all elements of nature as being filled with spirit or spirits.

Atheism:

“Not God” (Greek); a position asserting that there is no God or gods.

Deconstruction:

A technique, pioneered by Jacques Derrida, that sets aside ordinary categories of analysis and makes use, instead, of unexpected perspectives on cultural elements; it can be used for finding underlying values in a text, film, artwork, cultural practice.

Dualism:

The belief that reality is made of two different principles (spirit and matter); or the belief in two gods (good and evil) in conflict.

Immanent:

Existing and operating within nature.

Monotheism:

The belief in one God.

Nontheism:

A position that is unconcerned with the supernatural, not asserting or denying the existence of any deity.

Pantheism:

The belief that everything in the universe is divine.

Polytheism:

The belief in many gods.

Post-structuralism:

An analytical approach that does not seek to find universal structures that might underlie language, religion, art, or other such significant areas, but focuses instead on observing carefully the individual elements in cultural phenomena.

Structuralism:

An analytical approach that looks for universal structures that underlie language, mental processes, mythology, kinship, and religions; this approach sees human activity as largely determined by such underlying structures.

Transcendent:

“Climbing beyond” (Latin); beyond space and time.

 

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