“We have just enough religion to makeus hate, but not enough to make uslove one another.”Jonathon Swift 1711
“Religion is the opium of the people”Karl Marx 1843
“A Christian is a man who feelsrepentance on a Sunday for what he didon Saturday, and is going to do onMonday.”Thomas Russell Ybarra 1880
“So many gods, so many creeds,So many paths that wind and wind,While just the art of being kindIs all the sad world needs.” Francis Thompson 1913
“God seems to have left the receiver offthe hook….and time is running out.”Arthur Koestler 1967
“Wherever God erects a house of prayer,The devil always builds a chapel there;And t’will be found on examination,The latter has the largest congregation.” Daniel Defoe 1701
Definitions Religion has been defined in many ways:1. A belief in some kind of supernatural power2. An expression of this belief in collective worship3. A set of moral values which guide action4. A force which brings people together and unifies society.
Substantive and Functional definitions of religionSubstantive This sociological definition focuses on what religion is.1. Belief in the supernatural2. Relating to the scared
Belief in the supernaturalThe supernatural refers to powerabove the forces of nature.Max Weber saw religion as a belief inthe supernatural.Involves a belief in beings, powers orforces superior to humans and whichcannot be explained by Science.
Relating to the ScaredExplanation provided by EmileDurkheimKey to religious beliefs is how society’smembers relate to things which theyview as sacred.People divide the world in thingsconsidered sacred and thingsconsidered profane
Things or people seen as scared evokefeelings of awe, respect and deference.A supernatural being such as a god islikely to be seen as sacred.However it seems anything can be seenas sacred. (e.g.) the resting place of asaint to Christians, a cow to a Hindu.
FunctionalFunctional definitions stress howreligions contribute to societies.According to Durkheim the key functionof religion is to strengthen socialsolidarity and integration.
Functional definitions of religion are inclusive– allows us to include a wide range of beliefsand practices.Do not specify a belief in God or thesupernatural.However just because an institution helpsintegrate people into society – it does notmake it a religion.
CriticismsNot all cultures see a distinctionbetween the natural and thesupernatural-to many angels, spiritsand Gods are real and a natural part ofpeople’s experiences.If religion involves belief in thesupernatural-is every supernaturalbelief religious (e.g.) witchcraft?
CriticismsDurkheim’s notion of the sacred hasalso been challenged as not beinguniversally applicable.E.g. a saint who does not respond afterlong and repeated prayers may beseverely admonished, the statue turnedupside down and whipped.
Social constructionist definitionInterpretivist viewBased on how each member of societychooses to define religionNo universal definitionDoesn’t always involve a belief in God.
Example: ScientologyLoved in some Banned in others!!countries
NOW THAT YOU HAVE DEFINITIONS OF RELIGION LOOK AT THE FOLLOWING EXAMPLES AND MAKE A DECISION….ARE THEY ACTS OF RELIGION OR NOT????
Sociological definitionsMcNeil (“Culture”, 1986)“Religion involves beliefs that explainexperiences by claiming that there is asuperhuman or supernatural agency of somekind, often a god or gods. It also involvesrituals to express these beliefs in public andprivate ceremonies of worship. It provides amoral code to guide our everyday behaviour.”
Bilton et al (“Introductory Sociology”, 1990)“Religion may be said to be a system ofbeliefs about the individual’s place in theworld, providing an order to that world and areason for existence within it. However wecannot merely define religion as a system ofbeliefs that guides social action since…this isalso true of science and magic. One must gofurther and suggest that the beliefs aresupported by a community which we call a“church”.
Giddens (“Sociology”, 1989)“Religions involve a set of symbols, invoking feelingsof reverence or awe and are linked to rituals orceremonies (such as church services) practised by acommunity of believers. Whether or not the beliefs ina religion involve gods, there are virtually alwaysbeings or objects inspiring attitudes of awe andwonder…all religions involve ceremonials practisedcollectively by believers which normally occur inspecial places-churches, temples or ceremonialgrounds. The existence of collective ceremonial isusually regarded as one of the main factorsdistinguishing religion from magic.