Topic Question 1



Weber,Durkheim, and Marx are philosophers that differed in their theoriesof sociology of religion. Though they each try to explain on how thereligious factor into the society that increases in builds on thebasis of rationalism. Of the three thinkers, Marx is the one who wasthe earliest to write something little about religion. In hiswriting, there is little mentioning about religion, such that it willnot be easy to pull the sociology of worship (Waller and Edwardsen216). However, when indulging in his book, especially the firstparagraphs, you will be able to pull Marx classical stamen onreligion, which is the opium of the people.

Inhis statement Letus not forget that there exists no other religious reality than thefaith of the believer. If we want to know religion, we must referexclusively to the believer`s testimony. (W.B. Kristensen).Though this statement might not be similar to the statements thatwere made by Weber, Durkheim, the three philosophers try to explainhow religion came to be and the effects that religion has on thesociety. In his book, Marx starts off the contribution the criticismthat the people had on religion with a bold opening. To clarify hisposition, Marx, there is nothing like non-human being and when a mantries to seek a supernatural he will end up finding only hisreflection. According to him, religion is nothing but a reflection ofhumanity and not God (Ricocur 152). The gods that man tries to findis he as discovered through the course of recent events in history.

Whenit comes to Durkheim, he uses the history of religion to illustratethe manner at which society came to be structured. In his explanationfor instance, Durkheim classificatory schemes that are used in socialgroups are based on the difference that is found in tribes. Accordingto him, tribes were categorized into two divisions that weresubdivided further into various clans. It is this division accordingto Durkheim that was used to classify the environment and thesurrounding into different categories. He remarks that there isnothing objective in the world that forces humans to be able to groupthings with each other (Waller and Edwardsen 215). There is no placein reality is it possible to observe beings that can be able to mergetheir nature as well as to change into one another. He tries toexplain that the realities to where religious speculation is appliedare the same theories that would serve as the objects that scientistwould use. The realities that were created were society, nature andman. These facts are used to try to connect things together, tryingto establish internal relationships between things that both classifyand systematize them.According to his explanation, Durkheim statesthat religion is not the thing that brought society, rather it is thesociety that gave birth to worship

Weberclaimsthat people tend to peruse only that which interest them. Accordingto him, religion is a tool that has been brought forth to provide atool for social change as well as stability (Krentz 46). To supporthis theory, Weber comes up with various trends, for instance, theimportance of believing in magic that the earlier society had, thusthe reason that acts were efficacious during this period. At thisstage of life, magicians were able to do certain tasks like theprotection of the village, healing and also facilitating the growthof crops. The magicians realized that for them to be relevant, theywill have to ensure that the people are always in need of theirservices. As time went by, a need of having specific gods rose andthose gods grew in prominence as well as monotheism in the endbecoming more dominant.

Weberclaims that the creation of these gods needs something to be able tomaintain them and thus came the priesthood The next team to becreated was the prophets, just like the magicians they used toempower the community due to their gift of having charisma (Wach 8).

Theentire three authors had different theories defining religion. By theend of the era, none of them believed that it is a religion thatbrought society, rather the organization that brings forth faith.However, the difference that is found between Marx and Durkheim isthat Marx spends most of his research and writing trying to state howthe economy factors are the reason behind the engines of history,while spending less time on religious topics (Wach 7). While on theother hand Durkheim spends a lot of time in exploring of religion andhow it has influenced the direction that the society takes.

Justlike Durkheim, Weber spends a lot of time in contemporary societythat is rooted in the process of religion. At the same time, Weberjust like Marx sees the driving force of indulging into history byusing the driving forces the martial of interest and not ideas thatare found in religious belief. Weber tries to bring out the ideasthat are found in the religious belief. The primary focus of his bookis the combination of using technologies that are employed in thefacilitation of capitalism as well as the ascetic behavior (Krentz46). Those are off the Calvinist of allowed capitalism to be able toflourish both in Europe and America.


Scholarshave tried to define the study and meaning of religion withoutsuccess. Most scholars in their definition focus more on the groupsof people rather than the individual experience that a person getsout of religion (Boon 313). For those scholars that look at theexperience that an individual has with religion, they do theirresearch based on a larger group. Most scholars define religion as anoverall framework that is used by a panel so as to understand itsworld as well as guide the life. The general framework is used inshaping every moment that a certain groupgoes through, and at thesame time it is not something that is out of the ordinary, in fact,it in most cases it does go on like everyday life experiences.

CliffordGeertz is among the influential figure when it comes to religion. Hebrings out a definition of religion that has been used and borrowedwhen it comes to studying of religion. It is his definition ofreligion that gives us a starting place for those who are studyingreligion to be able to understand it in a social as well asscientific way (Geertz 27). His definition suggest that every group,and individual in one way or another live under the concept ofreligion, even in the case that no one in the group believes eitherin god or life after death or any familiar trappings of religion. Byhim stating that every group and community has religion, he meantthat every group has a certain framework that its members have incommon so that they make sense out of life and guide behavior.

Oneof the definitions that are given by Geertz is that religion is asystem of a symbol. Symbols can be can be anything ranging frompictures, events, objects, actions, relationship or anything else.Thus for people of different religion, they tend to have differentsymbols (Tylor 27). There are some that find their symbol beingsacred and will not want anyone or anything to interfere with it.These symbols tend to have meaning that conveys a message about thereligion. The symbol is used to teach and help those using it to beable to understand the religion in a particular manner. At the sametime, the religion is what is used to bring out the real meaning ofthat religion and also distinguish it from other faiths (Boon 314).These symbols are used to inform people that they should or aresupposed to live in a certain manner because the world moves in acertain way.

Hisother definition Geertz states that religion is a Religion is asystem of full of symbolism which acts to establish moods andmotivations that are strong, pervasive and long-lasting. Moods arethe manner at which people feel and respond to the world. While onthe other hand motives are the things that people aspire, and valuesare the things that are held (Geertz 28). When combined the threeelements can be used to make either our lives or ethos. The symbolsused in religion are their so that they can tell us that sincereality of life is made in a certain manner, that people of thatreligion or faith have to feel in a certain manner and aim to be ableto keep up with certain values.

Hisother definition is that religion is used to formulate the concept ofhaving a general order of existence (Weber 51). Religion is there sothat it can persuade us that there is the connection between thenature and our daily lives. The religion aims to reassure us thatthere is meaningful order in the manner at which we live rather thanhaving chaos in our lives. In most cases, this is taken for granted.However, every one of us tends to have a moment of crises where theworld does not seem to make any point. Religion helps those who areundergoing a difficult situation that it is something that is passingby and will be over soon.

Religionis used to cloth its conception of order with a factuality of order.If you are having a symbol of faith with you, they you will be ableto endure crises (Weber 52). To face the challenges that life throws,it is important that you view the symbol as a description ofsomething that is permanent in reality. So as to reinforce suchbelief, every religion has rituals that they perform. According toGeertz, a ritual is a way that is used to act out an individualsymbol. On the same note, a routine is also used to show thebelievers that it is possible to a certain reality according to itsgroup behavior.

Finally,religion is utilized in the creation of moods, and it motivates in aunique and realistic manner. The most crucialelement of having aritual is so as to to send people back into everyday life routine. Itis in fact these symbols that are used to put reinforcementcommitment to our norms (Geertz 27). This is the manner at which lifeteaches us to be able to live and experience life. Religion is usedin the shaping and grilling our daily life experiences.


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Waller,James and Mary Edwardsen. “Evolutionism.” TheEncyclopedia of Religion.Ed. Mirces, Eliade, New York: Macmillan publishers Co., 1987.214-218. Print.

Tylor,Edward. “Religion in Primitive Culture.” AReader in the Anthropology of Religion.Ed. Michael Lambek, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2002. 21-33. Print.

Weber,Max. “The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism.” AReader in the Anthropology of Religion. Ed. Michael Lambek, MA:Blackwell Publishing, 2002. 50-60. Print.

Geertz,Clifford. “Religion as a Cultural System.” AnthropologicalApproaches to the Study of Religion. Ed. Michael Banton. London:Tavistock, 1966. 1-46. Print.

Ricocur,Paul. “What is a Text? Explanation and Understanding.” PaulRicocur: Hermeneutics and the Human Science, Ed. John Thompson. NewYork: Cambridge University Press. 1981, 145-164. Print.

Krentz,Edgar. “Goals and Techniques.” The Historical-Critical Method.Ed. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975. 33-54. Print.

Wach,Joachim. “Introduction: The Meaning of and Task of the History ofReligions.” The History of Religions: Essay on the Problem ofUnderstanding, Ed. Joseph Kitagawa. Chicago: University of ChicagoPress, 1967. 1-9. Print.