Religion can be labeled in any category-it has been called a belief system, an ideology, an “opium,” unconscious and transcendent knowledge of the world around us. In any form, it represents first a system of ideas, concepts, associations, and comparisons that people can transfer to material culture.
But regardless of the categories, one thing is important to understand: a religion without words, a common language, and a system of thought cannot exist for more than one generation. Religion is a set of some abstract meanings that can be conveyed through words and language.
In its idealized understanding, religion does not involve the need to defend itself against skeptics or to seek validation for itself–the transmission of knowledge and religious foundations from generation to generation would be sufficient to keep the followers of religion alive. A suitable quote in this case is that “Silence is the language of God”.
But on the other hand, it is historically clear that language as a means of preserving religion is also the main reason why religious knowledge cannot be transmitted verbatim, accurately, without interpretations, skepticism and discursiveness. It is by creating new interpretations of this or that dogma that many skeptics or reformists have created a new religion.
Thus, the question of the relationship between language and religion is more than the preservation of a cultural tradition. Language and religion have been of interest to different thinkers and scholars for centuries, from the time of Aristotle to the present day.
Philosophically, language and religion are two tools of human consciousness that help explain the organization of the external world and create a sense of community. Therefore, religion and language are the same forms of consciousness as philosophy, morality, law, art, and science, for they all have the same goal of representing the world in human consciousness.
Since language and religion are two different approaches to understanding the world, they are used together as the concept of “language and religion” in order to make the subject of discussion clearer. This gives new meaning to these concepts and allows them to be considered alongside other persistent philosophical categories, such as “language and society”, “language and consciousness”, “language and culture”.
Still, the obvious point is that religion is more dependent on language. It is through language that all religious images are created and preserved, which makes the psychological structures of language and religion closely intertwined.
The sacralization of texts and their role
The highest form of development of spiritual consciousness of a certain community of people is the creation of their own sacred books – the Torah, the Holy Scriptures, the Koran, the Avesta, the sermons of Buddha. Each of these texts became something more than just serving to form a national community – over time the adherents of one or another religion were not limited by geographical boundaries and could maintain a sense of unity with like-minded people regardless of their location. Such a sense of community proved even more enduring in the formation of mental kinship than the use of the same language in which the texts were written.
Thus, regardless of religion and the language in which sacred knowledge is transmitted, language and religion are still important elements of human cognition and explanation of the world order, the role of human life and life after death.
Another important feature of sacred texts is that a whole layer of important cultural and spiritual manifestations of adherents is formed around them – a special religious worldview, traditions, rituals, religious morals, religious institutions. All these material manifestations of abstract religion make spiritual practice clearer and more understandable to many followers beyond national limitations.
Atheistic Existentialism: Is Life Without God Possible
Despite the power of religious doctrine and its interpretation of the social order, another manifestation of human consciousness is the total or partial denial of man’s divine, mythical and spiritual need for God in any form, transcendental, metaphysical and religious. The adherents of this philosophical trend, atheistic existentialism, while refuting most of the accepted Christian canons, were unable to escape the religious perspective of the world, for they claimed reincarnation as a form of salvation.
Religious Practice Today
In today’s world, whose transcultural boundaries are increasingly losing their significance, the sanctity of religious language looks like the last bastion not smoldering. Especially in megacities or in distant countries, religion and language are often the most important attributes of national and cultural unity. Praying in one’s own language preserves a sense of unity with culture and history.
In today’s global world, where people often lose their roots and remember them from childhood stories, learning and praying in one’s native language performs an important practice of spiritually reconnecting with one’s roots.
This trend is most popular among today’s Jewish population, some of whom reside in different countries of the world. It is language and religion that are the sources of reconnection with the past. For them, Hebrew is an intimate way of understanding their religion, culture and philosophy in more precise terms. Thus, regardless of the context, it is the use of religious terms in the daily vocabulary, along with the celebration of holidays, that helps make sense of one’s existence and history.
On the other hand, it is through religious language and the canons of faith that the diverse Islamic world retains its sense of unity – of the 5 varieties of Arabic, the Syro-Palestinian dialect (Levantine Arabic) is the most universal, and the Koran is written in this dialect, so it is understood by most Arabs.
And what is more, the language of religion can not only sustain the existence of a national culture, wherever its followers live, but it can create new societies, bringing different people together. This is precisely the unusual way in which the classical Tibetan language is characterized. Its first followers, where they established a monastery and began to bring together all those who wished to study Buddhism.
Language and religion as worldviews are manifestations of human consciousness and, regardless of their transformation, serve as indispensable modes of human knowledge of the world. Their role is a more complex function than that of social or political worldviews, for through religion and language humanity seeks not so much to arrange its life as to find answers to questions about its existence.