SOC 101 Introduction to Sociology
Instructor: Megan Reid
December 4, 2011
Sociological Theories of Religion
Religious institutions consist of groups of individuals who share a common view about the nature of god or a creative source to the universe, combined with a set of beliefs, writings, behaviors, and rituals to support it. They rely on faith, which stems from personal belief instead of scientific evidence. (Vissing, 2011). Theorists believed that religion is an illusion; because culture and location influence religion to such a degree. There idea that religion presents a fundamental truth of existence seemed rather unlikely to them. Influence that religion holds over people and societies is powerful.
Functional theorist Durkheim applied his theory by predicting that religion's influence would decrease as society modernizes. He believed that scientific thinking would likely replace religious thinking, with people giving only minimal attention to rituals and ceremonies.
“Durkheim's linking of the study of religions with the practice of the alienist shows above all that the believer's point of view does not have explanatory value when it comes to religious phenomena. Does this necessarily mean that religious beliefs are mere misunderstandings or illusions? On the contrary, Durkheim thought that they had objective meaning, and even suggested that thought categories themselves had a religious origin (ibid.: 3). To discover this meaning, what was needed was simply a more reliable point of view than the believer's. However, having recourse to the scientific viewpoint still left him open to petition principia, since he also held that the objectivity of abstract thought was genetically derived from that of religious representations, i.e. from the demonstrandum.”(Paoletti, 2005).
Durkheim took God totally out of religion, but he looked at religion as a positive thing. He believed that... [continues]
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