Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Religion, Science and Ideology

Religion, Science and Ideology

Peter Berger: Argues that religion is seen as a 'sacred canopy', it gives people answers to life’s questions and protects them from uncertainty.

Definitions of Religion:
  • Substantive (what religion is)Max Weber: Argues that religion is the belief in the supernatural. Substantive definitions are therefore exclusive as if there is no idea of a 'God' within the religion then it is not a religion.
  • Functional (what religion does)Yinger: Argues that religion provides society with social order, maintains the value consensus and the specialised division of labour. Functional  definitions are therefore inclusive.
  • Social ConstructionistAlan Aldridge: Argues that each individual has their own definition on what religion is. Social constructionist definitions are therefore inclusive.
Types of Religion:
  1. Totemism (Durkheim): Argues that religion is the belief in a sacred (holy) symbol. He researched the Australian Aborigines and found that they would try to differentiate themselves from each other by choosing an animal or a plant to be their symbol that they would worship and place on totem poles. In the end it was the drawing of the symbol that they were praising, not actually the symbol itself.
  2. Animism (Evans-Pritchard): A belief in ghosts and spirits, nothing to do with a 'God'.
  3. Theistic: Religions that involve a 'God'. Mono theistic, one 'God'. Poly theistic, many 'Gods'.
  4. Buddhism: The Buddha is a symbol of how to live your life. Their religion is a code on how to live your life, how to improve yourself and achieve enlightenment.
Different Religious Organisations:
  1. Church (Troeltsch): Not a building, a worldwide mainstream religion. It has a large membership. They follow traditional beliefs and have a huge life span. Extremely wealthy and are exempt from tax. An example of this could be Christianity.
  2. Sect: A small protest movement that originates from a church who break away because of a disagreement over doctrine. They usually revolve around a leader. These are very short lived movements. They are usually extreme. When the leader dies the movement usually dies. Really dedicated to their cause.
  3. Denomination (Niebuhr): These come from successful sects. After the death of the leader, the sect will establish itself as a large religion. An example of this is the Methodist church.
  4. Cult: Difficult to define. Loose in structure. Usually a group of like minded individuals that have a leader. People voluntarily come together and create their own community. Cults do not have to be negative.
Ideology: An ideology is a set of beliefs based around a core principle.

Marxism: Believe that the ideology of religion is Capitalism, as it is part of the superstructure that instils the false class consciousness. (Stuart Hall).

Radical Feminism: Believe that the ideology of religion is patriarchy. (Laura Purdy – Political Action). (Shulamith Firestone – Reproductive Technology).

Religion and science can both be viewed as ideologies as they are both a set of beliefs based around the core principle. After 'Enlightenment' science became the dominant belief system.

Karl Popper: ‘Fallacy of Induction’. Popper is very positive towards science due to ‘falsification’ (using evidence to disprove a theory). He argues that the point of science is to prove your own theory and other theories wrong. He claims that science is the dominant belief system as it is the largest. As any cause and effect relationship can be proved wrong at any time due to one exception. He argues that religion is not a science as you cannot test religion like you can with science.

Robert Merton: Argues that science is all about falsification and that science is the dominant belief system due to having the ‘CUDOS’ norms:
C – Communism; No private property within science.
U – Universalism; Everyone is equal.
D – Disinterestedness; No fraud within research.
OS – Organised Scepticism; Encourage others to be critical of your work.

Thomas Kuhn: Argues that science is the dominant belief system as it has a ‘fixed paradigm’ (a way of doing things), the people within science have a set way of doing research. Change within science is very rare. The paradigm is the foundation of the subject area, in order for change to occur it would require a scientific revolution. He argues that religion isn’t a science as there is no fixed paradigm and there is too much conflict. Therefore religion is pre-scientific.

Keat and Urry: Argue that within the field of science, they study a variety of topics such as closed belief systems and open belief systems. Closed beliefs are things that are never challenged , open beliefs are things that are challenged. They argue that science is versatile and therefore religion could be a science as they debate ideas that can’t be proven.Since the Enlightenment, secularisation has occurred.

Evans-Pritchard: Believes that religion is a closed belief system. He studied the Azande tribe who believed in animism. They believe that all misfortune comes from witchcraft, people can commit witchcraft from their stomachs, but this is unintentional. They created a mechanism to test this, they'd visit the Shaman who would feed a chicken a benge, if the chicken died then it would prove that witchcraft had occurred. However, the benge was actually poisonous so it would always die. This brings people closer together and is a mechanism of social control. It is a closed belief system as it is never challenged.

Polyani: Argues that religion is a self sustaining belief system as it is never challenged as queries can always be answered.As society is now more rational and scientific, people question things. Therefore religion has declined as they can't get answers.

Herberg: Argues that internal secularisation has occurred, religions have diluted their beliefs. They are trying to attract more people in order to maintain their membership.

Marxists: Would argue that science and religion are part of the superstructure and help to maintain the false class consciousness.

Feminists: Would argue that science and religion are patriarchal as they are very male dominated and it is difficult for women to excel in these fields.

Postmodernists: Would argue that science and religion are outdated as we are no longer in the modernist era. They each claim a 'monopoly of the truth' which is a metanarrative as society is fragmented and identities are fluid.

Karl Manheim: Argues that all ideologies are:
  1. Written by intellectuals – therefore they do not understand everyday life.
  2. One sided – they are subjective.
There are two types of world view:
  1. Ideological – traditional/past
  2. Utopian – future
He argues that society needs a 'free floating intelligentsia'. An objective world view that everyone can understand.

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