The Problem of Definition of Religion Essay

The Problem of Definition of Religion Essay

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The Problem of Definition of Religion


The study of religion is problematic. There are so many dimensions to
religion (belief, practice, experience, knowledge and consequences)
that it is impossible to provide a conclusive definition.

Most sociologists do not believe in God.


Functionalist views on Religion
-------------------------------

The functionalist analysis of religion is concerned with the
contribution religion makes to meeting society's needs such as social
solidarity, value consensus and harmony and integration between its
parts.



Durkheim
========

Durkheim studied Aborigines. He called their religion 'toteism'. Each
clan has a totem, which is seen as sacred. Worshipping the totem is
seen as worshipping God. However Durkheim sees it as also worshipping
society.

· Worshipping society Durkheim argued that in worshipping God, people
are in fact worshipping society. Society is more important and
powerful than the individual, just as God is.

· Collective conscience: Religion reinforces the shared values and
moral; beliefs - what Durkheim called the collective conscience -that
hold society together.

· Collective worship Through acts of collective worship, members of
society express, communicate and understand the moral bonds which tie
them.



Criticisms
==========

· Durkheim only studied a small group of Aboriginal tribes. It may be
misleading to generalise from this small sample.

· Is toteism a religion?

· Most sociologists would not go so far to say that religion is
worshipping society.

· How applicable is this to modern society-ethnic sub cultures etc.

...


... middle of paper ...


... leadership would change. The sect would no longer be held together by
charisma. A bureaucratic denomination with a hierarchy may appear.

3. Some sects promote hard work and encourage their members to save
money. The members would be socially mobile and would not wish to be
part of a group created for marginal members of society.


Post Modernism
--------------

Post modernism = after modernity. Post modernity refers to beliefs and
ways of behaving that result from living in a postmodern society.

Modernity describes societies based around modern industrial
production. Urban living. Acceptance of reason and rational science.

Sociology is based on these modern ways of thinking e.g.

· There is a social order to life

· Social research can understand this order

· Research can be used to make progress.

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