Religion is a belief system which seeks to explain the origins of the natural world and of human beings. Types of religion Many religions exist with in society.
- Totemism- smaller societies and cultures believe that totems of animals and plants posses supernatural powers.
- Animism- small societies and cultures that believe in ghosts and spirits.
- Theistic- religions centred on belief in a sacred, higher or controlling power. there are two types of theistic religions:
- Monotheistic religions that believe in one divine power.
- Polytheistic religions that believe in a number of separate gods.
Definitions of Religion
- The sacred and profane- Durkhiem claimed that the focus on religion is things that surpass the limits of our knowledge and that humans organise their surroundings by defining everyday things, such as objects, as profane but setting apart something's as sacred such as days or places.
- The functional and inclusivist- this is a broad definition of religion that covers a wide range of beliefs which give people a religious or sacred quality. focuses on the function of beliefs in society and how it can bind societies and groups together.
- The substantive and exclusivist- focuses on religions substance or content and involves supernatural, supra-human beliefs of some kind. It therefore excludes those views that suggest that anything that people regard as sacred can be regarded as religion. (E.G. God is religion not things)
To Qualify as a religion they must include all or some of these:
- Beliefs- belief in the supernatural and/or powers often a belief in a God and scared symbols such as totem pole or cross.
- Theology- a set of teachings and beliefs often based on a holy book.
- Practice- a series of rituals or ceremonies to express religious beliefs, either publicly or privately.
- Institutions- some form of organisation of believers such as a religious leader and building. (E.G. Church and Priest)
- Consequences- a set of moral or ethical values that are meant to guide or influence the everyday behaviour of believers.
What is science?
Science was developed in Europe during the 18th century. It was based on two basic principles:
- The belief that reason could provide an understanding of the world.
- The belief that understanding could be used to improve the lives of humans.
Knowledge was based on reason and observation. This formed the guidelines for the scientific method (procedure for doing science), This challenged the views of the church as the church believed that knowledge was based on divine revelation. (eternal truths revealed by God)
Features of science
Science aspires to be objective ( approach topics with an open mind) and value freedom (not to let the researchers beliefs or prejudices influence the research). Also within science explanations are based on empirical evidence (observable evidence collected in the physical or social world).
The Scientific method involves:
- Hypothesis Formation- forming ideas or informed guesses for possible explanations for some phenomena.
- Falsification- the aim of testing hypothses against the evidence to prove them wrong. if a theory with stands this attempt then they gain acceptance in the scientific world.
- Prediction- establishing cause and effect in order to predict what will happen in the same situation but in a future point in time.
- Theory Formation- if hypothesis is truth and predictions appear sound then this may become part of the theory.
- Scrutiny- the theory is tested by other scientists and will stand until a new theory proves it is false.
Religion and Science Sociologists
- Thomas Kuhn (1962)- Challenges the traditional view of science. he sees science as social constructed within scientific communities. scientists work within shared paradigms. (a framework stating which theories should be developed, what data should be collected and which research method to use) scientists look for data that will support their paradigm. this paradigm then shapes how we see the world.
- Berger and Luckmann (1967)- argue that people create universes of meaning to their lives and look to science and/or religion to support them. there is no right or wrong, "one society's truth may be another societies falsehood.
Religion and Science
Religion and Science key terms
- Faith- a belief based on a person's feelings rather than scientific evidence.
- Totemism- a belief that totems of animals and plants hold supernatural powers.
- Animism- refers to the believe in ghosts and spirits.
- Theistic- religions centred on the belief in sacred, higher or controlling powers.
- Monotheistic- a religion that believes in one divine power.
- Polytheistic- a religion that believes in more than one God.
- Scared- objects, places or events that are seen as extraordinary.
- Profane- ordinary everyday objects.
- Scientific method-
- Value Freedom-
- Empirical Evidence-
- Theory Formation- if there is evidence that can not be shown as false then the hypothesis is true.
- Gidden's ideas of:
The negative view of science- science does not provide certainty because theories are constantly being revised. science does not always improve life, it brings risks and danger.
The positive view of science- science will bring certainty and progress that's based on securely founded knowledge. (E.G. GM crops producing low cost crops to feed the poor.
- Beck's ideas of:
The interconnectedness of parts of the world. (E.G. trade, diseases and internet) Example: Chemobyl reached 20 different countries and caused 500,000 deaths.
Uncertainty and risk- uncertainty in terms of disagreement between scientists. Risks in terms of global crises. (E.G. GM food is good however long term impact is unknown)
Lyotard's ideas of:
loss of faith in science- it's metanarrative claims are no longer concerned with human improvement. (E.G.nuclear power- Chernobyl)
Science as servant of industry and commerce- concerned with producing goods for the global marketplace. (E.G. GM foods - farmers become dependant upon biotech companies)
Ideology is most commonly regarded as a set of ideas and values shared by a social group that:
- provides a particular vision or way of seeing and interpreting the world.
- presents only partial, incomplete or false view of reality.
- expresses and justifies the interests of particular social or political groups. (Promotes the group)
karl Popper (1959) saw ideology as a closed system of thought. by this he means that ideologies are closed to evidence which challenges their beliefs. he also saw ideology as a tool of social control and oppression.
Pluralist ideology is a view of the world that suggests that there are many different types of social group, each with its own ideology, or sets of ideas and means of interpreting the world, with no single one having a monopoly of power.
However pluralist ideology falls into a trap of claiming superiority over other ideologies, as it aims to persuade people that the prevailing ideas in society reflect those of a broad range of social groups, with no dominant ideology. but in doing this, it is denying that there may be unequal distribution of power in society, and that not all socially groups hold equally influence on those in poor or get their views accepted.
Ideology and Theory
Classical Marxism ideology
Karl Marx saw society as a structure divided into two major parts. the first is the economic base (the infrastructure) and the second is the superstructure consists of the rest of society- the political, legal, educational systems, religion, mass media. beliefs and ideas. Marx claimed that the infrastructure shapes the superstructure. (the economic system shapes the rest of society)Marx saw conflict between the social classes- the ruling class and the working class.
Classical Marxism Theory
In Marxist terms religion promotes the beliefs and values of the ruling class and provides the working class with a false consciousness which prevents people from seeing the reality of their oppression. Religion also provides false hope and soultions in order to cope with oppression and everyday situations. This leads to no change within society as society accepts oppression as religion justifies inequalities. Religion also provides rewards in the afterlife in order for society to cope with poverty.
Ideology and Theory
Neo Marxism Ideology
According to the Italian Antonio Gramsci beliefs and ideas can change society. they are not shaped by the infrastructure. Superstructure and Infrastructure are indepentant for each other.
Neo Marxism Theory
Popular forms of religion have emerged which expresses and supports the interests of the working class. These religions beliefs and practices can be developed by working class intellectuals to challenge the ruling class ideology. Religion can promote hegemonic ideas of the ruling class and promote the masses to rise against their oppression.- Gramsci
Otto Maduro argues that religion plays a progressive role in political struggles of the oppressed classes. Maduro argues that anguish and aspirations of the oppressed may be reflected and voiced by members of the clergy. the clergy become the political vanguard like the working class intellectuals.
Ideology and Theory
feminists focus on gender.