Now that I have finished “Peter bloody Conrad(This is a mountain of a book, and anyone who reaches the end without oxygen can feel justly proud)”:http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,2174173,00.html I can return to Oliver Morton’s _Eating the Sun,_ and I was struck yesterday by the difficulty, at the margins, of defining life. This is not just a matter of molecules being lifeless, even when they complicated and themselves essential to living things. It applies at the other end of the scale, to: is a planet alive, as Gaia would have us believe? In other worlds, one of the necessary characteristics of life is that it involves a whole lot of non-living things.
And it seems to me that there are similar difficulties with religion. It is an arrangement of things not themselves intrinsically or necessarily religious. Unless you define it to mean all forms of social organisation, as functionalists easily end up doing, anything classifiable as a religion is going to use lots of irrelegious fragments of social organisation; and they, in turn, are going to have qualities which might be pressed into service by a church.
Note that this distinguishes quite clearly between religion and superstition, since I am using “superstition” to mean a tendency to people the world with spirits, or just generally to think illogically which is an individual, not a collective phenomenon. A hallucination is individual; an apparition is collective.