What Are the Dimensions of Religion of the Ninian Smart?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 31, 2020 8:36:19 AM ET

Ninian Smart's seven dimensions of religion are ritual, narrative and mythic, experimental and emotional, social and institutional, ethical and legal, doctrinal and philosophical, and material. These are recognizable elements across all the world's religions.

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Smart devised his seven dimensions of religion as a way to avoid defining what a religion truly is and instead create a system to discuss and compare various aspects of religious belief and practice.

The first three dimensions are considered "para-historical," dealing with the intangible beliefs and concepts behind a religion, while the remainder are "historical" and involve the external manifestations of a religion's practice.

Smart's dimensions have been influential in differentiating the field of religious studies from the field of theology.