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I'm looking for a word to use to describe the idea that a certain religion is fundamentally not one religion but a conglomeration of two different things, i.e., that it fundamentally has never had a unified or coherent character. "Fractured" seems OK, but seems too weak, and seems to imply that there was something that was originally unified and coherent but then split apart. "Schizoid" seems closer to the meaning I want, e.g., in the King Crimson song "21st century schizoid man." However, it seems to be bound up with lots of obsolete, pseudoscientific, or pop-cultural ideas about mental illness.

Sample sentence:

Religion X is fundamentally schizoid in character, having begun its existence as an amalgam of different teachings that focused on different subjects of interest.

Is there a better word to express this idea, one that doesn't have the undesired pseudoscientific connotations and doesn't suggest a splitting of something that was originally a unified whole? Roget's thesaurus has an entry for "schism," which seems to consist of a lot words for splitting something initially unified. A word like "amalgam" doesn't seem quite like what I want, since, e.g., a dental amalgam functions really well at its job, and is a desirable thing. I'm happy with either a noun or an adjective.

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  • What about schizophrenic?
    – user 66974
    Mar 21, 2021 at 18:51
  • @user66974: As I understand the current science, schizophrenia is not the same thing as the concept of a multiple or fractured personality.
    – user16723
    Mar 21, 2021 at 19:09
  • Schizoid suggests a pathological background, which the alternative term should refer to.
    – user 66974
    Mar 21, 2021 at 19:16
  • @BenCrowell - schizoid (adjective PSYCHOLOGY specialized) suffering from or behaving as if suffering from schizophrenia. dictionary.cambridge.org/it/dizionario/inglese/schizoid
    – user 66974
    Mar 21, 2021 at 19:18
  • Its still unclear what you're looking for here. Your own word, fractured, implies that the religion is a broken whole, which seems to carry similar baggage as "schizoid". Are you looking to avoid negative connotation entirely? Or can you offer a more detailed description of what you want so we can better understand the tone and connotations you want to convey?
    – R Mac
    Mar 21, 2021 at 22:56

2 Answers 2

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There is a religion-specific term.

syncretism [noun] ...

the combination of different forms of belief or practice ...

syncretistic [adjective] ...

  • For centuries, Catholicism was Brazil’s official religion, but the Church tolerated a popular form of syncretism born when enslaved Africans disguised their deities as Christian saints. [Alex Cuadros, Harper's magazine, 2020]

[Merriam-Webster]

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    Syncretism doesn’t suggest anything pathological as schizoid does.
    – user 66974
    Mar 21, 2021 at 19:17
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    I'm sorry, your point is? OP wants a word without this baggage. Religion-specific (though it could be argued that picking assorted teachings doesn't show much faith in a God-given faith). Mar 21, 2021 at 19:26
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You can use "conflation" to describe what you mean. From this definition:

The process or result of fusing items into one entity; fusion; amalgamation.

This term also often has a negative connotation as indicated here:

Conflation is the merging of two or more sets of information, texts, ideas, opinions, etc., into one, often in error.

(emphasis mine)

So your sentence could be written as:

Religion X is fundamentally a conflation of different teachings that focused on different subjects of interest.

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