The Societal Approach
Transformation versus generalisation
Religious beliefs have become transformed into secular guides for action. While social values may have had religious origins, that connection has now broken down.
Difficult to know if beliefs have been transformed or generated.
Weber saw desacrilisation as the disenchanment of the world, the world loosing its mystery and magic
Wilsion: rational view - the world is the enemy of religion
Religion as an individual search for meaning, religion has not declined, but its form of expression has changed.
The decline of religion is not a sign of secularisation, but shows that the individual must work out his/her ultimate solutions.
People make sense of their experiences by selecting from a wide range of sources, religion becomes more individual and private.
How do we know that people are involved in a 'quest' for meaning?
Believing without Belonging
In the UK, we have developed a believing without belonging approach to religion. Many people do have religious beliefs but do not practice them on a regular basis. The non partaking majority approve of the partaking active minority and join in with them only at certain times when there is the need for a public ritual to mark a specific event. E.g. Diana's funeral.
Religion in our society competes with other belief systems and activities.
Many people science has replaced religion because it gives facts. However, many others argue that science fails to deliver and followers have become disillusioned so seek enlightenment elsewhere.
More people turn to medicine than religion when ill. In tribal societies, the medical and spiritual are often combined in the form of witchdoctors.
The role of curing the inner self
Fundamentalism: refers to a belief in the need to subscribe or return to traditional values and practices, usually involving the literal translation and belief in a religous text.
A rise in fundamentalism in the past 30 years and a response to globalisation and the need to preserve cultural identity.
In times of insecurity and moral decline, fundamentalist beliefs offer hope, direction and certaintity.