How have scholars attempted to define the core of religion?
monothetic definition and polythetic definition
monothetic definition of religion
a definition of religion according to a single, decisive feature of religions. ie. supernatural beings OR sacred experiences
polythetic definition of religion
a definition of religion according to features that most, but not all, religions have in common. ie. problem of multiplicty or 'family resemblance'
wittgenstein's philosophy that things which may be thought to be connected by one essential common feature may in fact be connected by a series of overlapping similarities, where no one feature is common to all. So, religions have lots of overlapping similarites rather than a specific feature in common to all. polythetic attempt to define religion.
monothetic explanation for definition of religion. fits western religions like Christianity, Islam, Hinduism. Does NOT fit Buddhism.
monothetic explanation for definition of religion. fits eastern religions like Buddhism, Taoism. No beleif in a God or gods, more of a collection of ritual spiritual sacred experiences and philosophies.
problem of multiplicity
polythetic description of something most religions have in common-most religions contain several versions of themselves ie. several versions of Christianity (Evangelical/Baptist/ect) and Islam (Sunni/Shiite)
christian theologian who talked of holy 'other'. a monothetic attempt to define religion. fits western religions.
theologian who focused less on dieties and more on sacred 'experiences'. he emphasized a feeling of absolute dependence on a spiritual phenomenon experiened as sacred. Monothetic attempt to define religion. Fits eastern religions.
philosopher who looked at words as language games, analyzed word 'religion' as a family resemblance. he said that words have no essences, their meanings come of how they are used. very polythetic.
John Z. Smith
religious historian who used the polythetic means of defining religion in his work. He identified the problem of mulitplicity.
What are the two perceptions of the sacred that we went over in class lecture?
experiences of the sacred, speaking of the sacred
experiences of the sacred
powerful, sometimes pathological, and can be soteriological
Rudolf Otto's word for both the holy and the nonrational aspect of human experiences of the holy.
referred to both the holy and nonrational aspect of human experiences of the holy as 'intense'
pathological experiences of the sacred
examples include torture, sacrifice, exorcisms, pathologies caused by harmful religions, and non-use of medicine resulting in harm (this isn't necessarily psycho)
soteriological experiences of the sacred
involve the concepts of salvation and redemption, and the differences in what a person has to do and does not have to do for salvation
speaking of the sacred
beyond printed words. includes symbols, metaphors, sacraments, stories/myths, and eschatology
symbols that speak of the sacred
they help represent the awesome experience through a visualization.
methors that speak of the sacred
one example is 'light'. spotlights are even used to surround a preacher/pastor in a halo of light as he gives his sermon to connect him with his role as 'speaker of the sacred'
sacrements that speak of the sacred
invoking God, catholic mass, communion
stories that speak of the sacred
shared stories among religions like 'the flood'. (assyrians, jews, christians, native americans, and islam include a flood story
eschatology (in terms of speaking of the sacred)
details concerning the END TIMES. most religions have their own versions of the end times. ie. Christians have 'the rapture'
other categories involving experiences of the sacred
theistic vs nontheistic, ehtnic vs new, established vs new (terms like 'cult' and 'sect'
more established religions
Confucianism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Scientology, Shinto, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism.
What are the major explanations for why religion exists?
humans invented them, functional perpspective, the dieties are real
what explanations arise from the notion that humans invented religion?
scientific materialism (intellectual societies acceptance that there is nothing supernatural, so humans had to invent religion), Feurbach (projections), Freud (neurosis), Marx (social control)
Feuerbach's take on religion as a human invention
we invented religion based on the way we project the 'good' in ourselves onto other things
religion is the product of human neurosis (he thought everything humans did was). our obsession with father results in our need for God, mother with mary...things like that
religion is a means of economic control. it also is the expression of our unfulfilled desires. (ie. we want to live forever, so we try to do so through 'religion'.) giving this to us placates us and makes us happy enough to control
functional perspective for why religion exists
collections of explanations from scholars and theologians as to the function religion serves mankind. these include Durkheim, Max Weber, Hans Mol, John Bowker, Duke Koenig, Erich Fromm, Ghandi. Religion apparently gives people answers > DOGMA
functional perspective: religion in the science of social control (glue/placation)
functional perspective: religion is a way of explaining and giving meaning to suffering/hardships. Satisfies problems science cannot.
funcitonal perspetive: religion is required for wholeness, identity. sacralinzation of identity, religion gives people identity
functional perspective: biologist who said religion is a 'good' virus that pulls people together, a survival tool in groups to 100-200.
functional perspective on religion and health. he conducted studies to 'prove' religion contributes to health and well being. he is 'on a mission' to prove God exists through prayer.
functional perspective: humans are borh unstable. religion provides stability.
religion transforms people in ways that allows people to do things they normally couldn't.
dieties are real perspective of why religion exists.
rational perspective vs irrational perspective.
3 rational modes of 'knowing' truth
empirical, constructive, intuitive
William James dieties are real theory for why religion exists
purported the idea of levels of consciousness, ranging from unconscious to conscious. the size of the consciousness is the 'seed of religion'. various levels of unconscious activity indicate level of intuitive thinking/openness to religion.
non-rational 'dieties are real' persepctive of why religion exists
mysticism 'perceives truth directly'. this truth is identified with the terms kensho, gnosis, and enlightenment.
the doctrine that the world (or reality) consists of two basic, opposed, and irreducible principles that account for all that exists. (mind/body separation.)
said there are two feelings involved with the mystical experience of truth. awe (dread) and great attraction.
said there are 4 components of non-rational mystical 'perception of truth'. 1. experience of unseen reality. 2. involves whole person's being. 3. most intense experience possible. 4. motivates the person
religious historian, philosopher, interpreter of religious experience. interested in understanding sacred reality. thought in term sof profane (worldly) vs sacred, imminent vs transcendent, theistic vs non-theistic, exclusivist vs universalist.
belief or worship in multiple gods
belief or worship in one god
the metaphysical and theological view that all is one, that all reality is subsumed under the most fundamental category of being or existence. (all souls and all life is connected and part of one universal creator).
beleif that God does not exist
the philosophical view that the truth value of certain claims — particularly metaphysical claims regarding theology, afterlife or the existence of God, gods, deities, or even ultimate reality — is unknown or, depending on the form of agnosticism, inherently impossible to prove or disprove.
brought forward by philosopher Dawkins, goes beyond atheism to say that not only does God not exist, but that institutionalized religion is harmful.
an approach to religious definition via a return to how religions appear from a first person perspective. he practiced 'thick description' of religious practices, or detailed description of behaviors and what they mean to a person.
in religion - repeated acts
something --- such as an object, picture, written word, a sound, a piece of music, or particular mark --- that represents (or stands for) something else by association, resemblance, or convention, especially a material object used to represent something invisible. visual representation of spiritual experience
The representation of abstract ideas or principles by characters, figures, or events in narrative, dramatic, or pictorial form.
outsider term. a traditional sacred story accepted as history; serves to explain the world view of a people
joseph campell had 4 purposes for myths
mystical, cosmological, sociological, psychological
no compromise on beleifs. traditional
resist any cultural/contemporary influences (amish)
a "deep and totalistic commitment" to a belief in, and strict adherence to a set of basic principles, often religious in nature
not orthodox, welcome a variety of approaches to understanding God, open to new ways of talking about the divine. christian liberals do not beleive in Adam & Eve
polemic word meaning argument. Characterized by, revealing, or approaching departure from established beliefs or standards.
in religious terms, one who follows own path (prophets/change/transform)
when people started analyzing the scripture/bible. started in the late 18th century. analyzed texts in their original forms, historical context, intended audience, language and word meaning, literary form, and any redaction
editing, forming of the text in scripture
science and religion
both engaged in searching for universal principles that explain facts of nature.
negative sides to religion
women have been excluded, charisma or religous leaders has potential for being used to control and manipulate, escapism, justify wars or hate against any group