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Atheism And Critiques
Of Religious Belief
Durkheim, Marx, Freud & Dawkins…read more

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Sociological Critiques: Durkheim
"a religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred
things...single moral community called a church"
Saw religion as a fundamental social institution
It gives society a strong sense of collective conscience and helps to maintain
traditional social norms
Believe totemism was the earliest form of religion and reflects our own beliefs
Religion is one of the forces that create a sense of moral obligation to adhere to
societies demands…read more

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Critiques of Durkheim
Some theists are prepare to go against social norms e.g. Martin Luther King
His work was based on aboriginal societies, can it still be applied today?
There tends to greater loyalty to God than a community
Society develops over time but the idea of God does not…read more

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Sociological Critiques: Marx
Marx believed religion was the `opium of the people', a drug which is used to
prevent a revolution and encourage exploitation
God is an invention of the human mind in order to satisfy emotional needs
Religion is used by the ruling class to dominate and oppress by offering the
illusion of escape…read more

Slide 5

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Critiques Of Marx
Liberation theology; a movement which used religious beliefs to bring change
In most societies, the separation between church and state is far greater than
Marx assumed
Religion is often to interpretation so can influence both change and oppression
Weber: Religion promoted social change in pre-capitalist societies
Engles: Early Christian Churches offered a radical challenge to the governing
Roman authorities
Religion is no longer necessary in a capitalist society and yet it exists
Religion may decline for other reasons, not because the capitalist system
preserves it
Tillich: religion can by anything which people elevate themselves that fills their
lives with meaning…read more

Slide 6

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Psychological Critiques: Freud
"Demons do not exist anymore than gods do, being only the products of the
physical activity of man"
Religion acts as a neurosis, it masks the reality and prevents us from dealing
with factors that cause our unhappiness
Both God and religion are creations of mankind
The fear of a chaotic and unordered world motivates us to project the memory
of our fathers on it for he provided us with purpose and order
Religion allows people to see their social problems as a consequence of God's
actions rather than taking responsibility
"Religious faith therefore, an illusion based on wishful thinking rather than
reality"…read more

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