Making Sense of Religion

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  • Making Sense of Religion
    • Social Science
      • Karl Marx
        • Religion originates from the alienation and it supports the status quo, opressing the masses
          • There is an illusionary aspect to religion, used to control
            • However, religion can also be used as a positive movement for revolution and social change
          • Marx makes no distinction between different religions
      • Edward Tylor
        • Religion is the belief in the supernatural, which originated as an explanation for the world
          • Practices and beliefs are survivors that are redundant in the modern world
            • The idea that monotheism is more evolved than polytheism is desputed
            • It focuses on the intellectual aspects of religion rather than the social
            • It assumed the psyche of all people is the same at one time
      • Geertz
        • Religon is formed of symbols which embody ideas. it's a system of communication.
      • Durkheim
        • Religion exists as an institution because it meets a need in society.
          • Considered an apologist of the status quo, as it justifies society by claiming that each part of society has a function
        • What is important is the sacred and the theory is based on 'totenism'. Religious rituals cause group cohesion,
          • The social aspect of religion is uncontested,
          • Does not account for individuality in religion
          • Totemism: primitive groups reflect their group identity with an impersonal power, such as an animal spirit As the totem permeated the clan itself, it was considered sacred
          • Moralism is an important part of religion
      • Freud
        • Religion is an illusion based on wishful thinking.
          • It is an unconscious response to repression, and its neurotic.
            • There are some visible similarities between a neurosis and religious behaviour
            • Pseudoscience
            • It requires an individual not to act on desires straight away for the sake of iits continued functioning so that it can be offset in the afterlife.
      • Jung
        • The word 'God' refers to a structure in the psyche, as does other religious language.
          • Focused on individualism and encourages wholeness
          • He doesn't understand some theological concepts: by reducing God to the mind, he devalues religious concepts.
          • His criticism of religion only really questions certain dogmatic traditions; there is not necessarily an incompatibility with faith
      • Weber
        • Religion has a social component as well as being a force for change.
          • Social groups have different levels of prestige and power; social cohesion and prestige motivates them
            • Idea of cult personality
            • Fails to recognise that prestige and power in capitalism are directly influenced by economic rescources
            • Less restricted account of society and the Marxist class system
      • Malinowski
        • Religion was developed specifically  was a way to cope with death. Science is practical knowledge which is necessary for a society's progression but is related to magic - like religion - as both deal with the phenomenal
          • Ties sociology and psychology together
          • Considered an apologist of the status quo, as it justifies society by claiming that each part of society has a function
    • Subjective
      • Language Games
        • Wittgenstein
          • The meaning of words are determined by the language game that it is a part of. This means that the context of the word changes its meaning.
          • If you are a religious believer then you are part of that language game and thus religious language will be meaningful to you
            • Implies that language can never convey truth in an realist sense
            • Can lead to irrationalism or blind faith without justification and thus could be used to support extremism
      • Analogy
        • Aquinas
          • We talk of God in analogies.
        • An analogy is an attempt to explain the meaning of something by comparison with an example more familiar to us.
      • Symbols
        • Paul Tillich
          • Religious language is symbol, meaning that religious symbols communicate significant beliefs and values
            • They communicate something hard to put into words and the meaning of the symbol derives from the culture
              • There are four key features of symbols:
                • They participate in that to which they point
                • They point to something beyond themselves
                • They open up levels of reality which are otherwise closed to us
                • They open up dimensions of the soul which correspond to those aspects of reality
        • Alston objected to symbolism as it means that there is no point trying to determine whether a statement is true or false.
      • Braithwaite
        • The primary function of religious language is to prescribe a course of acting
          • A religious statement expresses the intention to follow a religious way of life
        • Language has an action-guiding role.
      • Evans
        • Religious language is dependent on a series of contexts. In order to understand the meaning of religious language we must pay attention to the context in which it is uttered.
          • Religious language refers to the social and communicative institutions the speaker participates in
    • Verification
      • A. J Ayer
        • All talk of God is meaningless
          • John Hick
            • God's existence can be verifies through eschatological verification, whereby experiences of God in the afterlife would establish the verification of his existence
      • The Verification Principle establishes that statements are only meaningful if they can be verified, either analytically or empirically.
      • The Principle itself cannot be verified as there is no analytic or empirical verification for Verificationism and therefore we can call into question its authority
    • Falsification
      • Anthony Flew
        • Religious statements are meaningless because, for a religious believer, nothing could prove that God doesn't exists
        • God has died a 'death by a thousand qualifications' because when a religious believer is challenged about the existence of God they respond by modifying the way they talk about Him
          • Basil Mitchell said that Flew was wrong to suppose that theists never allow anything to count against their faith. He believed that theists accepted evidence against their ideas,
      • A statement is only meaningful if we accept that there is evidence that may falsify it
      • R. M. Hare disagreed with the principle because religious statements could be non-cognitive
        • A 'blik' os a particular view about the world that may not be based upon reason or fact and cannot be verified or falsified
          • They are groundless and don't need to be explained
            • John Hick responded that there are many reasons behind religious belief
              • He also objects that there is no way to judge between a sane or insane blik and the judgement that religion is insane could only ever be arbitrary

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