Magic Religion And Science

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 Magic, Religion And Science



  Magic and religion are intertwined. Tyler: Religion is belief in the supernatural. The idea of religion is closely linked to magic and science.


There are many elements of religion. These elements are related to magic in one way or another. Before we discuss their relationship, we will briefly describe the elements of religion.


  elements of religion

  1. Social anthropologists, especially the British ones, have produced a large amount of data on primitive religion. The data pertains to primitive and aboriginal peoples of India, Africa and Australia. However, American anthropologists have shown less concern over primitive religion.


  1. There are certain elements of religion that also characterize the religion of many tribal groups:
  2. Durkheim has described rituals as an important element of religion. Ritual is a practice of religion, or rather the functional part of religion.


  1. Conceptually, rituals are distinct from religious events or beliefs. Beliefs are thoughts or ideas and rituals are their implementation. On the empirical plane of any religion, primitive or otherwise, the villager cannot be separated from religion. In The Structure of Social Action, Parsons explains the relationship between religion and rituals in the following words:
  2. The fundamental difference between religion and ritual is that between the two categories of religious phenomena – belief and rite – the first is a form of thought, the second of action. But the two are different, and at the heart of every religion. The rituals of a religion are inconceivable without knowing its beliefs.


  1. Though the two are inseparable, there is no particular relation of priority, the point being the distinction at present. Religious beliefs, then, are beliefs related to sacred objects, their origin, behavior, and significance to man. Rites are actions performed in relation to sacred things.
  2. If a Santhal of Bihar offers a hen to his local deity, it is a ritual according to his belief or idea that the deity should be appeased to remove the evils imposed on the community. Thus the sacrifice of chicken is a ritual and belief in the power of God is thought. We see that in the empirical situation both belief and ritual work together.


excitement of emotions

Certain feelings and emotions are also aroused in order to gain consciousness about the existence of a religion or belief. Fear of God, Fear of doing bad deeds, Giving charity, Leading a pious life

Nor are these patterns of behavior that evoke feelings for a religion.

However, sometimes emotions are also aroused to create panic among the followers.





The edifice of religion rests on a framework of beliefs. Earlier social anthropologists defined religion only in terms of beliefs. Tylor argued that without faith there can be no religion. And, what is important about faith is that it cannot be reasoned with; This cannot be proved empirically. It is just a matter of understanding.

In recent anthropological literature, the belief element in religion has been strongly criticized. It is said that religion has to be understood from a sociological and logical point of view.

Belief does not exist because it does not stand the test of reality.





In the early history of religion we have evidence to say that there were some organizations to regulate the activities of a particular sect. Max Weber, who has been called the founder of modern sociology, observed that all of the world’s great religions—Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism—had some form of organization. The function of the organization was to regulate the activities and functioning of the religion. Christianity has its own church which acts as a central body to hold Christians together. Similarly, Hinduism has its Char Dham where Shankaracharya acts as the head and controls the activities of the Hindus.



  symbols and myths

Each religion has its own symbols and myths. For example, church, temple, mosque, flag and a specific type of dress and worship are symbols of different religious sects. Similarly, there are mythological stories related to every religion. Tribals who believe in animism have their own totems which are reflected in animals, plants and trees. The origin of clans is also described in mythology.





To differentiate themselves, each religious faith has its own taboos. These prohibitions are related to food habits and lifestyle. For example, Jainism claims that its followers should not eat after sunset and that they should be strictly vegetarian. The behavior patterns of the followers are also determined by the religion.

A few more can be added to the above list of elements of religion. It must be remembered that these elements undergo changes and transformations at the local level. New interpretations are also added to the elements with the functioning of various social and cultural processes. Some new elements also appear.






  1. If we do a quick survey of research in sociology and social anthropology, we find that there has been no empirical study on magic by social anthropologists during the last few decades. Satchidananda has produced an extensive bibliography on rural studies, and to our surprise there have been no studies on the effects of magic among Indian tribes. Similarly, the Peoples of India project does not mention anything about it. On the other hand, social anthropology textbooks invariably have a chapter on tribal magic. Clearly, there is a huge difference between what we find today and what is given in the textbooks. It is incomprehensible who authors textbooks
  2. Devote many pages to vivid accounts of tribal magic. Perhaps, the fault is not the authors of the textbook. The onus is on the creators of the curriculum to include magic.
  3. Magical practices in India go back to medieval and pre-capitalist societies. Magic has a unique role to play in the development of our institutions. There were Malinowski, Evans-Pritchard and Fraser growth charts. It is this evolutionary perspective that inspired these anthropologists to write about tribal magic. Religion too, like any other social institution, has evolved through a long process of evolution.


  1. Magic was probably the first stage in the evolutionary stage of the development of religion. Apart from the tribals, the non-tribal groups who were living in isolation also had a strong belief in magic.
  2. The allopathic system of treatment had not come into existence then, and people were constantly falling prey to various diseases. They were living in unfriendly environment. There was famine, famine, pestilence and people had no other option but to resort to witchcraft.
  3. Malinowski and Fraser, who worked among the dramatists, reported on the role of magic in Aboriginal society in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries. Malinowski’s Trobrianders and Evans-Pritchard’s Azandes have now begun to modernize. All of them have accepted the modern medical method.
  4. In India, ‘civilised’ castes also adopted magical practices and in some cases, these proved to be more sophisticated than those of the tribals.’ When the Somnath Temple (Gujarat) was attacked, the Hindu kings invited a group of Brahmins to perform magic so that the attack could be neutralized. Even today, we see that when political leaders or elites of high status are struggling with death, Brahmins and Tantriks are called upon to chant Mrityunjaya – a clear example of belief in superstitions. The point we want to emphasize here is that magic was a specialized art practiced only by theaters.

. The entire subcontinent believed in magical practices. If Fraser and Malinowski refer to tribal magic, they are only discussing the tribal situation that was found not only in India but throughout Europe during medieval and pre-capitalist times.

  1. What is magic?
  2. It is a term that refers to a particular type of behavior, not necessarily religious, that results from the acceptance of beliefs in supernaturalism of one kind or another. If people believe in animism, they act so that certain things can be done with the help of spiritual beings they believe to exist. “If people believe in mana or animatism, they may act in somewhat different ways to achieve desired results with the help of impersonal types of power that they believe can be tapped.


  1. They also believe that certain things will inevitably happen because power always operates in the same way. If people believe in a pantheon of gods, one or the other of ‘those gods will be appeased, sacrificed, killed in some way to accomplish other desired objectives. However, the essential characteristic of magic is that its processes are mechanistic and work automatically if one knows the proper formula. Religion and magic are alternative technologies. Sometimes one complements the other.
  2. Anthropologists have defined magic on the basis of their experience in the field, although ‘some definitions are not directly related to empirical observations’. However, we will try to define magic in a systematic way here. Let’s start with John Lewis. He says:
  3. Magic is a technique of coercion using belief in supernatural power. Sympathetic or mimetic magic holds that an action performed on something standing in for a person or thing will have the desired effect on the real person or thing.
  4. Malinowski defines magic very precisely as, “Magic is a set of purely practical actions, performed as a means to an end.”
  5. According to Herskovits, magic is an important part of culture. People often use prayer as a form of worship. A prayer uses words to bring about the favorable intervention of the forces of the universe in the affairs of men. Magic stands opposite to prayer. This contrast was first made by Evans-Pritchard in his discussion of magic among the Azandes. Herskovits drew his understanding of magic from Evans-Pritchard and Fraser. His understanding of magic is explained below:
  6. Charms and spells are tools widely employed in magic. A specific power, placed to reside in a specific object, is set into operation by the utterance of a formula, which may itself conduct the power. The enchantment of magic takes innumerable forms. It often includes some part of the object on which its power is exercised, or some element which, because of external resemblance or internal character, achieves the desired result.
  7. Although the definitions of religion given by anthropologists differ for their
  8. Me and the content, the basic idea is more or less the same. The tribals believe that there is a supernatural power. No one can compete with it. It is universal. This supernatural power is endowed with ample power which is both positive (white) and negative (black). The person who wants to master the art of witchcraft pleases the supernatural power and gives him some power. The supernatural may thus be obliged to part with some of its power by means of some magical display. These performances differ from society to society.



  1. Theoretical Perspectives on Religion
  2. Functionalists believe that religion fulfills several important needs of people, including group unity and companionship. (Photo courtesy of James Emery/Flickr)
  3. Sociologists often apply one of three major theoretical approaches. These views provide different lenses through which to study and understand society: functionalism, symbolic interactionism, and critical sociology. Let us see how the scholars who apply these models understand religion.
  4. Practicality
  5. Functionalists argue that religion performs many functions in society. Religion, in fact, depends on society for its existence, value and importance, and vice versa. From this perspective, religion serves several purposes, such as providing answers to spiritual mysteries, providing emotional comfort, and creating space for social interaction and social control.
  6. In providing the answer, dharma defines the spiritual world and spiritual forces including divine beings. For example, it is “How was the world created?” It helps to answer questions like “Why do we suffer?” “Is there a plan for our lives?” and “Is there any life?” As another function, religion provides emotional comfort during times of distress. Religious rituals bring order, comfort, and organization through shared familiar symbols and patterns of behavior.
  7. One of the most important functions of religion, from a functional point of view, is that it creates opportunities for social interaction and the formation of groups.


  1. This social support and common

Jick provides networking, offering a place to meet others with similar values and a place to seek help (spiritual and material) in times of need. Furthermore, it can promote group cohesion and integration. Because religion can be central to many people’s concept of self, there is sometimes an “in-group” versus “out-group” feeling towards other religions in our society or within a particular practice. At the extreme level, the Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, and anti-Semitism are all examples of this dynamic. Finally, religion promotes social control: it reinforces social norms such as appropriate styles of dress, abiding by the law, and regulating sexual behavior.

  1. Critical theorists view religion as an institution that helps perpetuate patterns of social inequality. For example, the Vatican has immense wealth, while the average income of Catholic parishioners is low. According to this perspective, religion has been used to support the “divine right” of oppressive kings and to justify unequal social structures such as India’s caste system.
  2. But mankind has a way of responding to perceived injustice and religions losing relevance. One of the fastest growing sectors of global Christianity are evangelical churches, which are growing stronger not only in North America, but also in South America. This growth has come at the expense of the Catholic Church, which has long been a bastion of power in Latin and South America. Latin America refers to the countries in the subregion of the Americas where Romance languages, mainly Spanish and Portuguese, are spoken. As anthropologist Cristina Vital of the Institute for the Study of Religion in Rio de Janeiro explains,
  3. [Evangelical] churches adopt less rigid rules than the Catholic Church … They adopt customs and values we see in our society today, such as the importance of financial well-being, to reach this prosperity The Importance of Entrepreneurship, The Importance of Discipline (Feiser & Alves 2012).
  4. At the same time, evangelical and fundamentalist Christian denominations often introduce foreign belief systems that are homophobic or undermine family planning and anti-AIDS strategies.


  1. The persecution of homosexuals in Uganda through the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act (2014) was prompted by the influence of American evangelicals in the country (Gentleman 2010).
  2. In contrast, the power of Weber’s theories of sociology to help understand religious history was demonstrated to the contemporary public in the publication of a seminal work by Norman Gottwald, The Tribes of Yahweh: A Sociology of the Religion of Liberated Israel, 1250–1050. and was brought to an academic audience. BC (1999).


  1. Gottwald explains this connection even more clearly in his book The Politics of Ancient Israel, which was an answer to the question posed in Weber’s 1921 classic Ancient Judaism: How did the people develop as [hosted guests by larger societies]. Peculiarities? (Gottwald 2001, Weber 1921). Even critics of Gottwald’s view such as Kenton Sparks offer alternative Weberian interpretations for the existence of early Israel:
  2. Israel’s existence can equally be attributed to the religious innovations of Kingdom-era mono-Yahvistic prophets, who interpreted foreign oppression as the hand of Jehovah and thus Israel’s religious beliefs and ethnic distinctiveness. preserved in contexts where it might otherwise have been destroyed (Sparks 2004 p. 126).
  3. There is still a debate over the usefulness of Weberian theory in the explanation of social behavior, including thousands of years of social behavior. Weber still has relevance in the sociology of religion.
  4. Critical theorists are concerned with how many religions promote the idea that one should be satisfied with existing circumstances because they are divinely determined.


  1. It is argued that this power dynamic has been used by religious institutions for centuries to keep poor people poor, teaching them that they should not be concerned with what they lack because their The “true” reward (from a theological point of view) would come after death. Critical theorists also point out that those in power in religion are often able to dictate practices, customs, and beliefs either through their own interpretation of religious texts or through declared direct communication with the divine. In more recent history, George W. Bush’s statement that God told him to “end the tyranny in Iraq” (MacAskill 2005). A key element in the Enlightenment project that is central to the critical perspective is therefore the separation of church and state. Public policy that is based on irrational or rational religious belief or “revelation” rather than on scientific evidence undermines a key component of democratic deliberation and public scrutiny of the decision-making process.
  2. Fig. 15.3. Feminist theorists focus on gender inequality and promote leadership roles for women in religion. (Tas

Courtesy of Veer Wikimedia Commons)

  1. The feminist perspective focuses specifically on gender inequality. In the context of religion, feminist theorists claim that, although women are usually the ones to socialize children into a religion, they have traditionally occupied very few positions of power within religions. Some religions and religious sects are more gender equal, but male dominance is the norm for most. But this claim is also carefully scrutinized by feminist scholars. For example, those following the seminal work of The Gnostic Gospels by Ellen Pagels have been instrumental in rediscovering the place of women in Christian history (1979). Marilyn Stone’s When God Was a Woman (1976) traces the pre-history of European society back to female-centred cultures based on fertility and creator goddesses. It was not until the invasions of the Kurgans from the northeast and the Semites from the south in the fifth millennium BCE that hierarchical and patriarchal religions became dominant.
  2. Signal Exchange Route
  3. Rising from the concept that our world is socially constructed, symbolic interactionism studies the symbols and interactions of everyday life. For interactionists, beliefs and experiences are not sacred unless individuals in society regard them as sacred. The Star of David in Judaism, the cross in Christianity, and the crescent and star in Islam are examples of sacred symbols. Interactionists are interested in what these symbols communicate. Additionally, because interactionists study face-to-face interactions between individuals, a scholar using this approach may ask questions focused on this dynamic. The interactions between religious leaders and practitioners, the role of religion in common components of everyday life, and the way people express religious values in social interactions—all of these can be subjects of study for an interactionist.
  4. It is important to recognize that the above theoretical models each provide only a partial account of religious beliefs and practices.



elements of magic

Magic’ is an art and it has to be acquired. The practitioner has to work hard to develop the skill of magic. Some of the important elements of magic are given below:


(1) Tylor has classified ‘practices of magic’. These practices are scientific. The businessman works as a scientist. For example, Tylor says that things that look alike tend to be placed in a category. Just like the color of jaundice is yellow and so is the color of gold. Jadoo establishes a connection between the two because of their similar colour. Bohannon disagrees with this theory. He says that no logic of association applies to magical practices.

(2) Magic is person-oriented. A person sees something in a particular way; This belief works in their magical practices.

(3) According to Malinowski, mantras have an important role. Mantras have the power to mimic natural sounds and hence chants are vital for the successful outcome of magical practice. Second, the magician explains the current situation in the same language and orders the fulfillment of his wishes. Third, spells mention the names of ancestors who have imparted magical skills.

(4) while chanting mantras the magician continuously performs certain actions; For example, he waves his hands, makes faces and gestures. These physical activities are believed to strengthen the power of the spell.

(5) The magician observes some abstinence in the matter of diet and sexual relations on the days when he engages himself in magical practices.

(6) A magical practice cannot be performed at the magician’s discretion. There are certain days which are considered suitable for this. For example, the last day of the dark half of the month or the new moon is best suited for learning and practicing magic. Again, Dussehra days, especially Navratri, are good for magical practices.

(7) Malinowski says that discipline is most important in the practice of magic.

The first thing that is necessary for a magician is to clarify the objectives of magic. He has to handle them very carefully. A slight mistake could have cost the magician himself. This is the reason why the magician leads a miserable life in his old age.

(8) According to the purposes of the magical practice, the magician makes physical gestures to strengthen his magic.

Fraser and Malinowski have found interesting examples of magical practices among the aborigines of Australia and Africa. Nadel also mentions magic in his description of the Nupe religion. Evans-Pritchard gives a detailed account of magical practices and its elements among the Azandes.




  principles of magic

Some anthropologists have developed theories of magic. Tylor specifically distinguished magic from religion. He has created three basic principles of magic which are as follows:

(1) Magic pertains to a type of behavior that is based on common sense.

(2) Whatever is done by nature can also be done by magic. In such a situation, people are unable to differentiate between the working of nature and magic.

(3) If the spell fails, it is ascribed to faulty chanting of mantras or some lapse in the routine life of the practitioner.


Thus, Tylor’s theory of magic makes two important points: (i) magic is an ideology, and has to be relied upon; and (ii) magic is based on logic. If magical practice is carried out on these two principles, the results will always follow. Ivan Pritchard believes that magic and religion are found in all societies.

Magic, science and religion have influence in all societies. But the extent of effect is ‘not the same’. For example, if a society lives at a lower level of culture such as tribal and backward classes, the scope of magic and religion will be larger. The larger members of this society would rely heavily on magical practices and rituals. However, if a society has a high level of culture, there will be less room for magic and religion; And more space for science. In other words, advanced societies have a prominent place in science while backward societies practice more magic and religion.

Tylor’s theory of magic has been corrected by Frazer. In the literature on social anthropology, Tylor is best known for two of his classic works: a summary of what Tylor propounded as theory in these books.

Ken Up for discussion and analysis by Fraser. Paraphrasing Tylor, Fraser gives the principle – the law of sympatry – which states that tribal peoples view material things as sympathizers between two similar things. Sympathy is of two kinds: (i) on the basis of external resemblance, for example, between the color of jaundice and the color of gold; and (ii) on the basis of contacts. Based on these two sympathies, Frazer has given three principles of magic: (1) the principle of sympathy, (2) the principle of similarity and

(3) Principle of contact.

Fraser’s theory of magic holds that when an Aborigine practices magic, he does it as he has learned it, and is not concerned with the principles of magic—only with the result. . This is why Frazer regards magic as a semi-art and a semi-science. Magic has two basic purposes: first, some objectives are achieved through magic, and second, some unwanted events can be avoided. The first purpose is called sorcery and the second sorcery.

There is no doubt that Tylor has given some of the fundamental principles of magic which are to be found among the aborigines. These core principles have been further elaborated, reinterpreted and retextured by Fraser. The attribution of the division into witchcraft and sorcery is another important contribution to this field. His hypothesis is that magic and religion provide political cohesion to society. Fraser and Durkheim both see magic and religion as sources of political unity.




types of magic

  1. Students of social anthropology often distinguish between two types of magic. The first type named by Fraser is called imitative or homeopathic magic, while the second is called transmissive. Description of two types of magic
  2. Herskovits writes: Both are organized to operate according to a principle
  3. ‘Like to like’ is also called ‘principle of sympathy’. An example of ‘contagious’ magic is when a hunter drinks the blood of his kill to gain his cunning or his strength. ‘Imitative’ magic can be found, say, in the performance of a dance in which the mock killing of an animal was performed to ensure success in the hunt.
  4. The above two types of magic neither constitute the whole field, nor are they absent from some of the practices to which the word ‘religious’ is customarily given.
  5. Yet another typology of magic is that of ‘black’ and ‘white’. Black magic has some evil intentions. According to it, the victim has suffered some injuries. The second type, white magic, is beneficial in its intent. There is a lot of emphasis on black magic in the social anthropological literature. “The reason for this is twofold.


  1. The challenge for the investigator is to reveal what his informant is least willing to reveal. Even more so, however, is the dramatic appeal of black magic. Once a desire to talk about it is established, informants will dwell on the subject with gleeful and exuberant detail, and the ‘white’ magic will be discarded.
  2. The horror shows presented on television by different names depict many practices of black magic. If revenge is to be taken, the sorcerer makes a clay idol of the victim and gives him various kinds of pain. In turn, these pains are experienced by the sufferer. We have innumerable examples of magic from different parts of the world. However, examples of white magic are very few. This category of magic has also expanded to include many indigenous medicines. The surprising thing is that white and black magic is practiced even among literate people. However, with the increase in literacy and education, many magical practices are falling out of vogue.
  3. Witchcraft
  4. Disease and difficulties are common to mankind. People have a list of remedies to overcome these physical ailments or social crises. The premises for the secular practice of medicine, unaffected by supernaturalism, are therefore found in all societies. Such knowledge, which was certainly empirical and not analyzed scientifically, was generally available and used by all. However, there were innumerable troubles

that people in primitive societies believed were caused by factors of a non-physical kind.


  1. The treatment of such ailments required magical procedures, such as returning the poisonous force injected by an evil shaman or sorcerer to its victim. Individuals who had acquired or inherited or procured supernatural power and procedures based on these were said to help individuals who were ill from these non-physical causes.
  2. Shamans in all societies were only part-time workers who were engaged in treating people or in some ceremonies for which their power also fit them. The practice of medicine among people in primitive societies is thus everywhere characterized by some really useful instruments and drugs, but by erroneous theories of the causation of more deadly diseases and resorting to the supernatural.
  3. For subsequent treatment.
  4. Every society has its own experts who treat diseases with their skills. These are called witchcraft, shaman, ojha or bhopa. Shamans or exorcists are those who have the power to detect witchcraft and heal the person who has been cast. They claim to be able to see into the future, avoid harm, transform themselves, and accomplish supernatural tasks.
  5. Evans-Pritchard, who worked among the Azandes of South Sudan during 1926-36, gave a detailed account of witchcraft and divination. In the Azande tribe, any misfortune can happen, and is usually, attributed to witchcraft. The Azande take it for granted. The witch sends what she calls the spirit or soul of her witchcraft to harm others. The victim consults a tantrik or soothsayer to find out who is hurting him.


  1. This can be a long and complicated process. When the culprit is exposed, he is requested to withdraw his malicious influence. If, in case of illness, he does not do so and the person dies, the relatives of the dead person may in future take the matter to major and exact retribution, or they may make a counter to witchcraft as it is today. To destroy.
  2. The practice of witchcraft is also found among the Indian tribals. A witchcraft can injure anyone by any mental act and gradually lead to his death. This power originates from a certain substance in the witch’s body. Witchcraft can explain all unfortunate events. It plays its role in fishing, agricultural activities in the pastoral life of the village as well as in the communal life. Thus witchcraft plays a major role in the overall life of the tribal community. For example, if the maize crop is diseased, it is considered witchcraft. If the milch cow dries up, it is due to witchcraft.
  3. The phenomenon of witchcraft has been explained by various reasons. Although there is a natural cause, but why did the accident happen and why did it happen to that particular person? One person was injured after being hit by the bull. Why this man? And why this bull? Witchcraft is a causative factor in the production of harmful events in particular places and in relation to particular persons at particular times. If a tree falls and kills a man, that is natural but why did it fall when he was passing by.
  4. An oracle is consulted to determine if a person is casting a spell on another person. One of the most popular types of divination is the poison divination. The chickens are taken to the bush and given a small amount of poison. If the fowl remains alive, the man is declared a witch. Those who practice witchcraft are not magicians who heal diseases. There are other types of specialists who counteract magic. A witch doctor is an astrologer who exposes witches and a magician who thwarts them. He also acts as a leech or doctor.




magic and science



Tylor was the first to describe magic as a science. The question that troubled him and aroused his curiosity was that when there is no scientific basis for religion then why do the tribals follow it? The question was reasonable and demanded an answer. Tylor observed that the aborigines themselves knew that magic was not true, yet it had an important place in their lives.

He considered answering the question:

(1) Magic is related to common sense behavior.

(2) The one who does the magic is actually the nature too.

(3) even when magic fails to perform a certain action, there is no fault in it; Something must have gone wrong with the practice of magic.

(4) If magic hurts something, there is always counter magic.

(5) The success stories of magic far outweigh its failures.

Tylor argues that the systematic development of magic takes the form of science. The essence of their argument is that magic operates on the principles of nature. Nature runs by positivist laws, so it is also a science.

Fraser does not consider magic to be a pure science. However, he believes that magic is a quasi-science. According to him, magic is based on some logic and rules. Ordinary people do not understand that witchcraft is practiced on rules that are similar to science. People only see the applied side of it.



They do not think about the principles that guide magical performance. For a magician, magic is only an art, he does not even understand that these are principles that are based on complete science. In principle magic is based on abstract laws.

Malinowski has worked among the people of the Trobriand Islands. They have generated a rich trove of data, although they have notarized the question of the scientific nature of magic. He takes a functionalist perspective and states that magic exists in society; People practice it because it has certain functions to fulfill. However, he acknowledges that the methods of magic and science are, if not identical, in fact similar.


Magic and science both work on the logic of cause and effect.

Evans-Pritchard was a like-minded person of Tylor and Fraser. Despite their differing approaches all three agree on the following hypnosis

Other :


(1) There is some supernatural power. This power has two faces. One of its mouth is welfare and provides salvation to humans. Its second form is ugly and harmful. Science investigates the benevolent face while the ugly face casts a spell. Science and magic are two aspects of supernatural power.

(2) Ruth Benedict argues that magic is not a science. The findings of science are verifiable, whereas the findings of magic are beyond any verification.

(3) Continuous experiments are done in science. It has made tremendous progress during the last several centuries; Instead of registering any progress, magic is becoming increasingly oblivious. At least people show their belief in magic.

(4) The basis of science is pure logic while the principal basis of magic is faulty.



  magic and religion

  1. What is the relationship between magic and religion? The distinction comes with beings having more ore less personality, but most religious rites contain examples of magical symbolism, and a good deal of magic is involved in the context of spirits. In fact, it is not really possible to make a clear distinction between magic and religion.
  2. There is a fundamental difference between religion and magic. First, the rituals of a religion are public and collective. They affect people as a whole, absorbing all their energies for the duration of magic-religious activity. This gathering of large number of people for sowing, harvest feast and similar festivities brings the entire community in a mood of joy and harmony.


  1. It gives serious and collective expression to the social sentiments of an organized community on which the constitution of the society depends.
  2. Magico-religious rites are not meant for any celebration but to ward off or ward off impending evil. There are certain rites in magical practices related to hunting, which help in killing the animal easily. Sometimes, the whole hunt is performed in a ritual dance, with part of the animal’s skin. This clearly shows that magic is related to religion.


  1. There are field reports by Malinowski and Leach which establish that magic is used for the successful attainment of goals. For example, Malinowski reports that when a fisherman floats on ocean currents, he casts a spell and believes that his boat will not meet any tragedy. Trobrinders also practice magic to win the heart of their beloved.


  1. Durkheim, the founder of the sociology of religion, sees no difference between religion and magic. For him, both practices are meant to achieve certain objectives.
















Some aspects of religion: the sacred, the profane, the church, cults and sects, priests, shamans.


  1. Durkheim is called the father of sociology of religion. He argues that there are certain elements of religion and these elements are determined by the society. For them religion is objective, it is a reality. He further says that religion is not the product of the individual. It is the child of the society.


  1. When we discuss the sacred, the profane, the church and the cult, we refer to Durkheim and say that these aspects are created by society. In other words, those things which are sacred to society are sacred in religion; The things which are impure to the society are impure to the individual.


  1. Things that are respected are sacred to Hindus. These are offered to the gods and goddesses. The impure has a use value, the bicycle, the engine, the factory has a use value for society. th
  2. They are utilitarian. Durkheim thus describes all things in the world into the sacred and the profane.




  Durkheim’s religious views


  1. Theoretically the Forms Elementaires contain two distinct though interrelated elements, a theory of religion and an epistemology. The principle of religion will be considered first, because it forms the inevitable connecting link between what has gone before and epistemology.
  2. Durkheim has two fundamental distinctions from which Durkheim stands apart. The first is pure and profane. It is a classification of things into two categories, for the most part tangible things, often though by no means always material things.


  1. However, the two classes are distinguished not with reference to any intrinsic properties of objects, but with reference to human attitudes toward them. Sacred things are things set apart by a peculiar tendency of respect which

are expressed by They are believed to possess specific qualities in the form of special powers; Contracting with them is either particularly beneficial or particularly dangerous, or both.


  1. Above all, man’s relations with sacred objects are not taken as a general matter, but always as a matter of special approach, special respect and special precautions. To anticipate the outcome of the latter analysis, sacred things are distinguished by the fact that humans do not treat them in a utilitarian way, certainly not use them as means to ends that have intrinsic value. Based on the qualities they are adapted to, but separate them from these other unholy things. As Durkheim says, profane activity is par excellence economic activity. The approach of calculation of utility is antithetical to respect for sacred things.


  1. What is more natural from a utilitarian point of view than for an Australian to kill and eat his totem animal? But since it is a sacred object, that is precisely what it cannot do. If he does eat it, it is only on formal occasions, totally separate from the workday, that he seeks satisfaction. Thus sacred things, except precisely in this utilitarian relation, are protected from all kinds of taboos and restrictions. Religion is related to holy things.
  2. The second fundamental distinction is that between two categories of religious phenomena—beliefs and rites. The first is the form of thought, the second of action. But the two are inseparable, and central to every religion.
  3. The rituals of a religion are inconceivable without knowing its beliefs. Although the two are inseparable, there is no particular relation of priority—the point being the distinction at present. Religious beliefs, then, are beliefs related to sacred objects, their origin, behavior, and significance to man.


  1. Samskaras are actions performed in relation to sacred things. Religion for Durkheim is a ‘unified (cohesion) system of beliefs and practices relating to sacred things, separate and taboo, united in a moral community called a church, by those who follow it. The last criterion is the one that will be considered later, since the process by which it is derived cannot be understood without further analysis of the other criteria.
  2. In fact Durkheim introduced the concepts of the sacred and the profane in his book The Elementary Forms of the Religion’s Life, first published in 1912. This is perhaps the most influential interpretation of religion from a functional point of view. According to him all societies divide the world into two categories: the sacred and the profane. Sometimes impure is also called unholy. Religion is based on this division. Durkheim writes:
  3. Religion is based on this division. It is a unified system of beliefs and practices relating to sacred objects, i.e. things that are set apart and forbidden.
  4. Among the primary forms of religious life, Durkheim defines the concept of the sacred as:
  5. By sacred things one should not understand only those personal things which are called deities or souls, a rock, a tree, a spring, a pebble, a piece of wood, a house, anything in the world can be sacred Is.
  6. For Durkheim there is really nothing about the special properties of a pebble or a tree that makes them sacred. Therefore, sacred things must be symbols, they must represent something, to understand the role of religion in society, and establish a connection between sacred symbols and what they represent.








Churches, Cults and Sects

  1. It was Max Weber who initiated the formulation of categories for the analysis of religious organization. It is important to note that these categories were formulated specifically in the context of Christianity. Their applicability to the analysis of other religious traditions is problematic.


  1. Max Weber discusses the dichotomy between church and sect in The Protestant
  2. Ethnicity and Spirit of Capitalism. Differentiating between churches and sects, Weber writes:
  3. The fundamental difference between a church that was ‘a kind of trust’
  4. Dedication to supernatural purposes, an institution that necessarily includes both the just and the unjust…’ and ‘the Church of the Believers, which saw itself as ‘only a community of reincarnated individual believers, and only This. In other words, focus not as a church but as a denomination.’


  1. Since this distinction was made in his discussion of Baptists, Mennonites, and Quakers, it is clear that Weber attached significant importance to membership doctrine as a key feature of sects, and he emphasized the sectarian provision that ‘only adults who have personally received their faith, they should be baptized.’ Much of the later debate about the development of the sect has focused on this feature; And some of the other features that Weber attributed to sects as opposed to churches have also been employed in later research.


  1. The observation, for example, that separation from the state is characteristic of some churches as well as of sects, and thus cannot be said to be distinctive features of sects, and thus not a distinguishing feature of sects

Can be said, a number approach seems closely related to that of later sociologists. Similarly, the shared though differently interpreted concept of extra-ecclesiastical nulla salus held by both the Church and the Sect, which Weber pointed out, has been effectively adopted by David Martin to be the opposite of the Sect, which to some extent Tak has a unique ethos.


  1. Weber’s description of the isolation from the world in communal groups has been extensively analyzed in the work of Brian Wilson.





  1. Sect is a part of a wider religion. Like Buddhism has two sects Hinayana and Mahayana and Hinduism has Shaiva, Shakta and Vaishnava. That’s why there are different sects in Christianity.
  2. Weber noted that within each self-governing circle of a sect, an exceptionally strict moral discipline was practiced to maintain the purity of the entire community.


  1. This seems equivalent to Wilson’s argument that sects have totalitarian authority over their members, but Weber was concerned to draw a parallel with a different type of religious organization. After pointing out that the discipline of an ascetic sect is far more rigorous than that of any church, he continues: ‘In this respect, the sect resembles another sectarian feature, which is not peculiar to churches, and It is dominated by elements.


  1. A denomination contrasts strongly with the professional ministry of a church – this emphasis is related to the different definition of charisma by each organization. The requirement that sect members should practice fraternity in their dealings with one another is likewise a logical extension of the observation that each sect is based on the primacy of a local community of committed believers.





  1. Anthropologists have worked on the concept of cult. A cult is a set of practices and beliefs of a group in relation to a local Go. In sociology, it is a small group of religious activities whose beliefs are usually synergistic, esoteric, and individualistic. Although it is related to the concept of a sect, the cult is not in Western society associated with mainstream Christianity.


  1. As a scientific term, it is often difficult to separate the idea of a cult from its derogatory significance to common sense and does not have a precise scientific meaning. Cultural practices appear to cater to the needs of marginalized sections of urban, middle-class youth. Cultural membership among young people is usually fleeting.


  1. Spasmodic, and irregular. Research societies, cults have sprung up in the post-war period, and are often associated with the counter-culture.
  2. Steve Bruce refers to ‘mysticism’ as a tradition within Christianity apart from church and denomination. Bruce describes it this way:
  3. Unlike other forms it (cult) was a highly individualistic expression, varying with individual experiences and interpretation.
  4. For Bruce, this corresponds to the idea of a cult, which is:
  5. A loose-knit group organized around some common themes and interests, but lacking any clearly defined and exclusive belief system.
  6. A cult is more individualistic than other organized forms of religion. Because it lacks a definite principle.


  1. Cults tolerate other beliefs and indeed their own beliefs are often so vague that they have no concept of heresy. Cults often have customers rather than members, and these customers may have relatively little involvement with any organization. From them he learned the fundamentals of the beliefs around which the cult is based.





  Concept of priesthood/priesthood

  1. In the most common parlance. Priest is a religious functionary whose role is to administer an established religion – to celebrate traditional rituals, practices and beliefs. Two essential features characterize them, namely, regular cult, and rootedness in a religious institution. Weber explains that “it is more correct for our purpose to judge
  2. For the diverse and mixed manifestations of this phenomenon. The specialization of a particular group of individuals in the continuous operation of a cult enterprise, permanently associated with particular norms, places, and times, to establish as a significant feature of the priesthood. and belonging to specific social groups. The first characteristic implies that, “the priest’s main function … is religious … Worship as an expression of religious experience, however primitive or rudimentary in form, is the priest’s chief concern.


  1. He guarantees the correct performance of ceremonial acts of worship.” The priest mediates between God and humans; he not only interprets the divine will but regulates and strengthens the relationship between God and his fellow human beings. The basis of its existence and authority is a constant and regular communication with the divine.


  1. “Regular liturgical observance and a certain theology are necessary for the priesthood. Weber reiterates that there can be no priesthood without a cult, although there can be a cult without a particular priest because of metaphysical ideas and special Morality is missing in the case of a cult without priests.
  2. The Second Coming of the Priest

A Shakya characteristic is its association with an organized religion and legitimacy by religious authorities. An extended, cross-cultural description of priest is “any religious expert who serves religiously for or on behalf of a community.


  1. The priest resides in a religious organization as the representative of that establishment, and his functions mediate between its traditions and the people.” Unlike other related role types, “the priest serves at the altar in a temple or temple, As the representative of the community in its relations with the deities and by virtue of the status and functions of the holy order which is conferred upon him upon his consecration, fulfilling the sanctity and attendant taboos.


  1. Bendix paraphrases Weber, and reiterates that the priest functions in a sacred tradition, and that “even when the priest has a personal charisma, his function is legitimate only on the basis of the regular organization of worship”. Is.” Regarding the Levitical priests of Judaism, Brown explains that “even if a man was born into a priestly tribe, he was to be ordained to the priestly office.” Often a priest is the official representative of a religion.


  1. Greenwood, in affirming that the priest is called as a witness, says, ‘The priest is required to be personally representative of all the other members of the jocular church within which he (the priest) is the wider community presides over. ,
  2. Preparation and education play an important role in the priesthood. The purpose of systematic training of priests is to help them develop the faculties and abilities necessary for the performance of the liturgy. It is centered in the development and maintenance of the piper’s dialogue with the marks, which results in the mana or ‘purity’ of the priests. While ascetic practices are meant to bring the body and will under the necessary control, meditation and prayer are meant to prepare the soul, and instruction and study to train the mind.


  1. The history of the development of religions is evidence that great systems of knowledge and schools of learning of various disciplines have emerged in association with centers of training for priests. The rational training and discipline of priests is distinguished from a combination of partly “awakening education” using irrational means and aimed at reincarnation, and partly training in the purely empirical lore of magicians.
  2. Priest and related role types
  3. The identity of the priest can be better understood by separating it from other related role types. The priest is different from the magician. The word shaman comes from the Siberian Tungus noun saman which means “he who excites, moves, raises.” As a verb it means “to know in an ecstatic way.” The shaman is a person with a “high degree of nervous excitement” (often an epileptic). He is a charismatic61 transcendent personality – one who in a state of ecstasy actually displays the presence of the Holy. Vaston LaBarre writes, “The real difference between a shaman and a priest is who and where God is, inside or outside.”
  4. Priest is not a magician. In today’s society, a magician is one who
  5. Makes visible objects disappear, or makes invisible objects appear as a means of entertainment. But this has not always been the case. According to Wach, magic is meant to compel the mark to give what is desired, while religion, with which the priests are associated, is meant to present and worship the divine power upon which man feels dependent. Is.


  1. The authority of a magician is proportionate to the fulfillment of the expectations of his clients. His reputation is less firmly established and more dependent on his professional ‘success’ than that of the Prophet. On the one hand Weber sees in many religions
  2. Including in Christianity, the concept of priesthood includes a magical qualification. But on the other hand, he agrees with Wach that the priest is a worker in a regularly organized and permanent enterprise concerned with influencing the gods through worship, in contrast to the individual and occasional efforts of magicians, who magically They force the deities. means. While the priest works in the interest of his organization, the shaman is self-employed. Furthermore, the professional equipment of specialized knowledge, fixed doctrine, and professional qualifications of priests bring them in contrast to magicians, prophets, and other types of religious functionaries who manifest in miracles and revelations based on personal gifts (charisma).
  3. A priest is different from a prophet. A prophet is one who confronts the powers that be and the established way of doing things, while claiming to be taken seriously on religious authority. Weber finds that “personal calling is the decisive element that distinguishes the prophet from the priest. The latter claims authority based on his service in a sacred tradition, while the prophet’s claim is based on personal revelation and charisma. It does not Is.


  1. It is a coincidence that almost no prophets have emerged from the priestly class … The priest, the apparent opposite, bestows salvation by virtue of his office. Emphasizing the distinctiveness of the prophetic call, Wach states, “The organ, instrument, or consciousness of being. The mouthpiece of divine will characterizes the self-interpretation of the prophet. And the messenger prophet who communicates his demands to the world in the name of God.”

Let’s enlighten.


  1. Naturally these demands are moral, and are often of an active ascetic character. Vernon observes that prophets usually appear during periods of turmoil, when established value systems are being challenged. They are rarely welcomed in peacetime.
  2. According to Nisbet, the prophet and the magician have certain common features, namely occult powers and a perception of importance in times of collective crisis or personal hardship. But they are different.
  3. But whereas the prophet’s central function is to interpret sacred tradition and to deprive the population at large of ways to gain access to the deity, the shaman’s central function is to effect exceptions to the natural order … The Shaman’s Role belongs to the doer – but what he does is reserved for times of crisis and activities that are affected by risk or uncertainty of outcome. His role is the result of the special knowledge he holds for himself and his legitimate descendants. knowledge that he reserves for himself and his legitimate descendants.
  4. It is not feasible to make clear distinctions between these role types or even to categorize them in ways that are universally acceptable to all religions. At any rate, Wacht locates the uniqueness of the priesthood in the broad nature of the priests’ activities. “The institution of the priesthood is bereft of individual religious charisma of the great kind, but the priesthood is the most widespread of all exclusively religious activities in the history of man. The sociological implications and import of this activity are correspondingly far-reaching.
  5. A healthy, or sometimes even unhealthy, competition is observed in some religious traditions between these role types.


  1. It may occur between two different types of persons, for example, priest and prophet, or it may also occur within one person who is challenged with a role-set or multiple roles. In Buddhism a tension exists between holy men (monks), charged with the cultivation of wisdom, mental concentration and moral virtue, and priestly ritual specialists. The Sanskrit and Pala words, bhikshu and bhikku, meaning mendicant or mendicant, do not imply the role of a priest. Weber talks of a similar problem between monotheism and Hierocratic charism in Christianity. ,


  1. Inherent tensions emerge, more genuine monasticism is independent of institutional charisma because its own charisma is immediate to God.” The combination of the three role types—priest, king, and prophet—represents a similar conflict in the role type of the Christian priest today. leave room for
  2. Development of the priesthood
  3. It is not easy to trace the exact evolution of the role of priests in different religions, the main difficulty being the cross-cultural use of the terms priest and priesthood. Has been applied to a range of events around the world, often with European connotations and linguistic derivations. Furthermore, the division of labor that existed among the priestly class in early societies is not dear enough to us. However, a look at hi
  4. The history of religions readily reveals to us some common features and stages in the process of the development of the priesthood.
  5. The Journey from the Natural Priesthood to the Professional Priesthood in Religions
  6. The origin of the priesthood is said to be attributed to the universal need for the mediation of superhuman help felt by mankind in the struggle for life. In its development we note two phases, namely the phase of the natural priesthood and the phase of the professional or regular priesthood. There are indications to confirm that originally all invoked their own deities.


  1. In the early times, the worship was confined to the deity members of the kin and later to the people of the tribes. Then the heads of families or tribes most spontaneously performed worship, which was later confined to the members of the clans, and later to the members of the tribes themselves. The heads of families or tribes then most naturally assumed the priestly role because they, as the oldest and most experienced members of the family, were closest to the ancestors. increased, a regular priesthood was introduced. As not everyone is equally skilled in mediation, professionals are expected to have expertise, greater knowledge and power to secure a better outcome.


  1. But to a large extent the two forms remained intertwined. Gradually those skilled in interpreting the wishes of the gods and practicing magical arts won the confidence of the people and gained a certain eminence and formed a special class. Certain classes of people who had unmistakable links to the priesthood—those who, when in a state of ecstasy, were believed to be inspired by the gods, who served in famous temples or sanctuaries, who performed miracles—were considered to be members of a regular priesthood. He was a pioneer. When rituals lost their simplicity, a professional priesthood became even more necessary.
  2. The priestly functions are exercised between the same groups by their chiefs or leaders; Such as the father in a family, the head of a clan or tribe, the king of a nation or people. With the increasing development and differentiation of social organizations and stratification, the dominant cult functions of the leader are associated with particular individuals or professional groups.

, and as a result, professional magicians, astrologers, and even soothsayers emerge in more differentiated “primitive” societies. ,

  1. [These functions are referred to as quasi-priestly.] With the increasing complexity of cultural and social conditions, professional differentiation occurs, and a professional priesthood appears.
  2. The history of many religions testifies to the development of priesthood from natural to regular or professional form. For example, in the case of Hinduism, Dr.
  3. Radhakrishnan says that,
  4. The original Aryans were all of the same class, each a priest and soldier, merchant and tiller of the soil. There was no privileged order of priests. The complexity of life led to the division of classes among the Aryans. Although in the beginning everyone could offer sacrifices to the gods without anyone’s mediation, the priesthood and the aristocracy separated themselves from the proletariat…to learn wisdom, poetic and speculative gifts, the priest, or before a set Became representative in worship under the title. In view of their noble function of maintaining the tradition of the Aryans, this class was freed from the necessity of struggle for existence… The Brahmins are not priests pledged to uphold fixed doctrines, but an intellectual elite which is relegated to molding the high life of the people.
  5. It is pertinent to remark here that priesthood and cult have not been essential qualifications in all religions at all times. In the case of early Buddhism, for example, the possibility of a cultural priesthood was remote. “Buddhism had no order or ritual of sacrifice requiring the services of an officiating priest with expert knowledge of the methods and significance of the rites.


  1. In fact the Buddhist scriptures mention instances in which the Buddha himself ridiculed the ritualistic practices of the Brahmin priests. But already during its early history in China, when faced with the strong cultural attributes of Confucianism, Buddhism adopted cultural practices. Hinduism talks of teacher-Brahmin, priest-Brahmin and superman-Brahmin.
  2. Vocational priesthood exists in two forms, namely hereditary and vocational. According to the former, the priesthood is the privilege of a particular family or tribal lineage. Jewish Levitical priests, Hindu Brahmin priests and Zoroastrian priests are some examples. Vocational priesthood based on recruiting candidates from its pool of promising young members
  3. Devotion, intellectual and moral qualities. Professional priests distinguish themselves by special vestments, long hair, distinct language, and ascetic rules such as sexual control and fasting. Along with institutionalization, elements such as initiation rites and training increased in importance. Whereas in the past most religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity – reserved the priesthood for male members, more recently some sections of religious membership such as the Anglican Church have advocated for the priesthood of women. While many religions throughout their history have found themselves moving from priestly celibacy for various reasons, the Latin Rite of Roman Catholicism is the strongest in favor of it in contemporary times.
  4. As history develops, in the great world religions, representatives of the priesthood are organized into a highly complex structure in which a more or less differentiated hierarchy of groups with their various activities corresponds to the priestly hierarchy. In the beginning the divisions were on simple grounds such as natural groups (clan, tribe, people), local groups (village, city, district), and political groups (nation). Later, priests became associated with the formation of particular religious organizations, temporarily unified by the personal charisma of the priest leader alone, or organized as institutional units such as parishes.
  5. Sacred vs. Secular Powers
  6. According to the nature of the governance of a country, Weber identifies three types of relationship between secular and sacred powers in the history of the world. While in the first type, a ruler is legitimized by priests, in the second the high priest is also the king, and in the third, the secular ruler exercises supreme authority even in sacred matters. Thus while some countries had kings who were also priests, some other countries had priests who were also kings. Even in Islam, where unlike most other religions, there is no class of priests or clerics,
  7. In the strict sense of the word, we find that there was a time when the roles of Imam (leader of prayers in worship rites in mosques) and ruler of the place were assigned to the same person.
  8. When a governor was appointed in a province, he was also appointed as an Imam to lead the prayers, and this practice continued for a long time. In fact, leading the prayers (imamat) in Islam was as great an honor as the monarchy, and the two offices, the office of spiritual leader and the office of temporal leader, were for a long time combined in one person. As the ruler himself was the Imam at the centre, so were his governors at various provincial headquarters. There was no place in early Islam for the priest and the current mullah.
  9. According to Weber, in hierarchical domination, the priestly authority seeks dominance at the cost of political power. often the latter

Evil is presented as an inevitable evil, permitted by God because of the sinfulness of the world, and which believers must forsake but avoid. Sometimes it is even presented as a God-given tool for the subjugation of anti-church forces. “In practice, therefore, the hierarchy seeks to turn the political ruler into a vassal and deprive him of independent means of power…” Meanwhile, the hierarchy does everything possible to protect itself: an autonomous administrative apparatus , a tax system (tithes), legal forms (endowments) to protect church holdings, bureaucratization of administration, and the development of the charisma of the office at the expense of personal charisma.

  1. In Weber’s mind, the extreme opposite of any form of hierarchy is caesaropapism—the complete subordination of priests to secular powers. Here religious relations are only a branch of political administration. Political rulers fulfill these obligations either directly or with the help of state-maintained priestly professionals. Caesaro-papism is nowhere to be found in its purest form, as a rule the priestly charisma reconciles with the secular power, either tacitly or even through a concordat. Overall, the general picture of the relationship between the two painted by Weber is that of a cold war.
  2. “State and society everywhere have been deeply affected by the struggle between the royal and the priestly, between the military and the temple nobility. This struggle did not always lead to open conflict, but it did give rise to distinctive features and differences.. .”
  3. According to Aberbach, even though there are important differences between the sacred and the secular, the history of religion testifies to the close parallels between the two: while even in its secular forms, charisma has a religious dimension, traditional religious charisma rarely Be devoid of political and other importance. “Political charisma draws on the language, sentiment, and even ideological convictions of religion. Charismatic religious leadership is no less
  4. With politics. Devotees of the religious charismatic are inspired not only by his message but also by his political acumen and military success. The major religions of the ancient world were all official state religions. He was educated in religious schools, and had the outstanding qualities associated with religious leadership: Washington’s personal humility, Garibaldi’s austerity, Robespierre’s propensity for solitude and meditation. He concluded that, “the many parallels between religious and political charisma mean that in practice the association between both charismatic political leaders and figures of religious authority – priest and prophet, savior and messiah – although differing in intensity, is of little surprise.” matter. Fifteen years on, and the ‘righteousness’ of government which reflects the involvement of the modern state in the ‘deeper’ issues of human life, and the way in which state-organised societies, in varying degrees, worship and ‘deeper’ identity has become an object of
  5. It is challenging to note here that in the development of most religions, if not all, the priesthood was always limited to cult activities. Priests perform a number of other functions: directly or indirectly related to liturgical functions. He is the custodian of traditions and protector of the sacred knowledge and techniques of meditation and prayer.


  1. He is the guardian of the sacred law corresponding to the cosmic moral and ritual order. As interpreter of this law, the priest can act as judge, administrator, teacher and scholar, and formulate standards and rules of conduct. Since he performs sacred rites, he contributes to the development of sacred song, writing, literature, music, dance, sacred painting, sculpture, and architecture. As guardians of tradition, priests are also wise men, advisors, teachers, and philosophers. In the extent to which these diverse functions are performed, differences exist between religions according to the stage of development from primitive civilizations to highly developed ritualistic religions.
  2. The Babylonian priests had much to do not only with the interpretation of morals
  3. And religious law, but also with many civil enactments. It was the duty of some of them to receive the tithes, and to certify that they had been paid. Shinto priests are said to “serve not only in the performance of formal shrine rituals but also bear responsibility for administrative functions such as the maintenance and management of shrine facilities and finances… (after World War II later), great expectations are also placed on them for activities in the fields of social welfare and education.”


  1. Between the Indo-Aryan speaking invaders of north-west India and the end of the second millennium BC. The priestly social class was “responsible not only for a wide range of cultural works but also for the creation and preservation of sacred traditions of oral poetry.” The Rigveda mentions purohit (household priest of the king or some wealthy elite) who were not only in constant and intimate service to the king, but also had a close association with the king in his more mundane functions. the ethics of compassion (karuna) was
  2. The fundamental driving force of Buddhism. Buddhist monks have therefore traditionally played the role of spiritual advisors and teachers to laypeople. Now the Sangha social services in Theravada countries like Thailand and Sri Lanka

It is not unusual to find



  1. In Judaism, apart from cultural functions, priests had supernatural functions, medical functions, instructional and judicial functions, and administrative and political functions. In fact, history testifies that during the period of the Second Temple, when Judea and Jerusalem were under the dominion of foreign empires. The priesthood of Jerusalem played an important political role, with priests also serving as leaders of Jewish communities.


  1. There is no caste, class or profession in Islam proper that holds a monopoly on the performance of religious rites. When these were first performed publicly, the leader was appropriately the head of the community, and the name imam” ‘leader in prayer’ is hence used for ‘sovereign,’ ‘chief authority,’ and so on. led the sovereign prayer.
  2. Because of priests’ direct and immediate contact with the people who depend on them for God’s intercession, priests exercise tremendous influence over them. Not only in hierarchically classified ecclesiastical bodies but also in religious groups of more or less egalitarian bodies, religious leaders can become trusted, properly respected, and indispensable guides to their followers. basically a predominantly religious
  3. Influence, influence extends to moral, social, cultural; and political field.
  4. There is ample evidence in the history of religions to show that the decline of priests and priestesses has been a part of almost all religious traditions at one time or another. Scholars of Indian thought have noted a change from the simple offerings of the early Vedic period to the complex and ritualistic sacrifices of the Brahmanical period. Persuasion of the gods was replaced by coercion of the gods, while yagya was placed above even the gods. Introducing a distinctly magical element to the rituals, “the priest and the prayer are then transformed into witchcraft and spells.”


  1. Speaking about the Namboothiris who were temple priests in Kerala, Thulasidharan says it was the remunerative services that attracted them. They lived in extreme comfort and luxury. Although he was supposed to be the guardian of the morality of the society, he did nothing of the sort. “On the contrary, they were only eager to drink the sweet honey of life lees, not leaving a drop for the lower castes.” Some historians trace a similar situation among Christian clergy to the time before the Protestant Reformation. Ridicule, corruption, selling of indulgences and greed for wealth were the characteristics of the age.
  2. Nevertheless, priests have often throughout history been considered authoritative between the sacred and the profane. “Throughout the long and varied history of religion, the priesthood has been the official institution that has maintained a position of mediation and balance between the sacred and profane aspects of human society and that has exerted a stabilizing influence on social structure and cultural organization.” But priests Various administrative duties derived from the cultural activities of the Therefore, the less communication there is with the number expressed in the formal cult, the closer it is to the shaman. “So long as the mediation of the priest is desired to secure material or ideal benefits (du deus), religion is close to magic, but rises to a higher level where it becomes an act of thanksgiving and worship to the priest.” One’s own and other’s name goes.”






Currently there is unprecedented interest, enthusiasm and confusion about shamanism. Shamanic literature, rituals and workshops are flourishing and have given rise to a veritable cottage industry. There are actually shamanistically trained Anthropolo Geists like Michael Harner and highly controversial figures like Lynn Andrews, “The Shaman of Beverly Hills” (Clifton, 1989) offering shamanism workshops. Given that only a few years ago there was concern that shamanism would soon become extinct, it is clear that the tradition, or at least its contemporary Western version, is doing well.

What is not so clear is what exactly a shaman is. In fact, there is considerable controversy over this controversial point. On the one hand the ideas of the showman have been described as “mentally deranged” and “a complete psycho” (Devereaux, 1961) p “true idio (Wiesler, 1931), a charlatan, epileptic and, perhaps most often (Kacker , 1982; Shaman Noli, 1983) a histrionic or schizophrenic.

On the other hand, an opposite but equally radical approach seems to be emerging in popular literature. Here satanic states are being identified with Buddhism, Yoga or Christian mysticism. Thus, for example, Holger Kalveit (1988, p. 236)

The author would like to thank the following people {or their contributions to the preparation of this paper. Michael Harner provided both theoretical and practical information and introduced a large number of diabolical techniques. Marlene Dobkins de Rios provided bibliographic assistance while Frances Vaughan and Miles

Wich provided valuable feedback on earlier drafts of this paper. As always, Bonnie L’Allier provided excellent secretarial and administrative support.

shamans and shamanism as unique phenomena

Claims that the exorcist “experiences existential unity—the samadhi of the Hindus or what Western spiritualists and mystics call Enlightenment, Enlightenment mystica,” as if uniformly reaching the same state of consciousness.

unfortunately these

There appear to be serious flaws in the comparisons, which appear to be based on gross similarities rather than careful phenomenological comparisons (Walsh, 1990). Space does not permit such analyzes to be presented here. Suffice it to say that when careful phenomenological comparisons are made, it becomes clear that demonic experiences differ significantly from traditional categories of mental illness or those of mystics of other traditions (Nollie, 1983; Walsh 1990).

Therefore, contrary to much popular and professional thinking, we cannot define (or productively discuss) shamans and shamanism in terms of either clinical categories or other mystical traditions. Rather we need to consider and define them as unique phenomena. clearly an adequate definition can do much to help reduce

Huge confusion regarding the nature of shamanism.


The word itself comes from varman of the Tungus people of Siberia, meaning “one who is excited, shaken, raised.” It may be derived from an ancient Indian word meaning “to warm oneself or do penance” (Slacker, 1986) or from a Tungus verb meaning “to know” (Hultcrantz, 1973). But whatever its etymology The term shaman has been widely adopted by anthropologists to refer to specific groups of religious practitioners in various cultures who are sometimes called medicine men, witch doctors, magicians, sorcerers, magicians, or seers. However, these terms are not specific to healers. do not adequately define subgroups that fit more rigorous definitions of shamanism. The meaning and significance of this definition, and of shamanism itself, will become clear if we examine the way in which our definitions and understanding of shamanism have changed over time. have developed together.

Early anthropologists were particularly intrigued by the shamans’ unique interactions with “spirits”. Many people of the tribe may claim to revere, see, or even possess the spirits. However, only the shaman claimed to have some degree of control over them and to be able to command, commune and intervene with them for the benefit of the tribe.

  Thus Shirokogoroff (1935, p. 269),’ one of the early explorers of the Siberian Tungus people, stated that:

In all Tungus languages this word (saman) refers to individuals of both sexes who have mastery over spirits, who project these spirits into themselves at will and use their power over spirits in their own interests. especially helping other people who are suffering from it. Spirits; In such a capacity they may have a range of specialized methods for dealing with emotions.

But whereas early researchers were most influenced by shamans’ interactions with spirits, later researchers have been influenced by shamans’ control of their own states of consciousness in which these interactions occur (Dobkin, de Rios & Winkleman, 1989; Nolley, 1983; Petersl, 981; Peters and Shamanism Price-Williams, 1980, 1983) As Western culture has become more interested in altered states of consciousness (ASC), the first researchers have become interested in the use of altered state tradition in religious practices (Tarte , 1983a) , b), and it appears that the first tradition to use such states was shamanism. Contemporary altered definitions of shamanism have therefore focused on the use of states such as shamanism (Harner, 1982; Knolly, 1983; Peet & Price-Williams, 1980).




Origin of Shamas

However, there are many, many possible states of consciousness (Shapiro & Walsh, 1984; Walsh & Vaughn, 1980; Wilber, 1977, 1980), and so the question naturally arises as to which are specific and defining for shamanism. , The broad definition has broad and narrow definitions. “The only defining characteristic is that the specialist enters into a controlled ASC on behalf of his community” (Petes Price Williams, 1980, p. 408), such specialists would include, for example, Mediums who enter a trance and then claim to speak for a spiritist should note the point that the use of the term “spirits” here does not necessarily imply that there exist separate entities that interact with people in control. or communicate. Rather the term is being used to describe only the way in which shamans and mediums interpret their experiences.

So a broad definition of shamanism would include any practitioner who enters controlled altered states of consciousness, whatever those particular states are. Narrower definitions on the other hand specify altered staters) quite precisely as ecstatic states. Indeed, Mircea Eliade (1964, one of the greatest religious scholars of the 20th century), “the first definition, and perhaps the least dangerous, of this complex phenomenon would be: the shamanistic technique of ecstasy.” Here ecstasy does not mean much ecstasy, but There is more. Emotion, as Random House Dictionary defines it as the taking or transfer of oneself or oneself out of one’s normal state and entering into a state of intense or heightened emotion. As we shall see, Especially suitable for shamanism.

The distinguishing feature of shamanic ecstasy is the experience of “soul flight” or “travel” or “out-of-body experience” (Eliaud, 1964; Harner, 1982).

Is. That is, shamans in the ecstatic state experience themselves, or their soul/spirit, flying through space and traveling either to other worlds or to distant parts of this world. In other words, “the shaman specializes in a trance, during which his soul is believed to leave his body and ascend to the heavens or descend to the underworld” (Eliad, 1964, p. 5). These flights reflect the satanic cosmology consisting of the three-tiered universe of the upper, middle and lower worlds, the middle corresponding to our Earth. Shaman is in this threefold work

LD systems tender to learn, gain strength, or diagnose and treat those who come for help and healing. During these visits the shaman may feel himself discovering the other world, meeting otherworldly people, animals or spirits, witnessing the cause and cure of a patient’s illness, or intervening with friendly or demonic forces.

So far, any definition we have includes three key features of shamanism. The first is that shamans can voluntarily enter an altered state of consciousness. Another is that in these states they experience themselves as traveling out of their body to other realms, which is a contemporary of some out-of-body experiences (Munroe, 1971; Irvine, 1985) or lucid dreams (LaBarge, 1985). is in line with the report. , Third, they use these journeys as a means to gain knowledge or power and to help people in their community.


Conversations with spirits are also frequently mentioned in definitions of Satanism. Furthermore, Michael Harner, an anthropologist who may have more personal experience of sharanic practices than any other Westerner. suggests that a key element of Satanic practices may be “contact with an ordinarily hidden reality” (Harner, 1982, p. 25). Thus he defines a shaman as “a man or woman who uses an altered form of consciousness to contact and use an ordinarily hidden reality in order to gain knowledge, power, and help other persons.” enters a state of being” (Harner, 1982, p. 25).

Should these two additional elements, “contacting a hidden reality” and “communication with spirits” be included as essential elements of the definition of shamanism? Here we are on difficult philosophical ground. Surely this is what shamans feel and believe they are doing. However it is a huge philosophical leap to assume that this is actually what they are doing. The precise nature of both the worlds (or ontological states in philosophical terms) in which shamans perceive themselves and the entities they encounter is an open question. For the shaman they are interpreted as independent and completely “real”; To a Western person with no belief in other realms or entities they would likely be interpreted as subjective mind creations.

In fact, it may be impossible to decide this question. Technically speaking we can have an example of ontological uncertainty due to the under-determinism of the theory by observation. More simply speaking, it is the inability to determine the ontological status of a phenomenon because observations allow multiple theoretical interpretations. The result is that the interpretation of such uncertain pheno mena (“and” spirits ” in this case of the nature of hidden reality) depends largely on one’s own philosophical inclination or worldview. We can therefore place shamanism on secure grounds. define if we leave these questions as much as possible to philosophical interpretation.

Briefly, shamanism can be defined as a family of traditions whose practitioners focus on voluntarily summarizing altered states of consciousness in which they experience the definition of self, or their spirit(s), Travels to other locations and interacts with other entities at the request of other entities. To serve their shamanism community.


Whatever its origin, shamanism is widely spread throughout the world. It is found today in large areas such as Siberia, North and South America and Australia and is thought to have been present in most parts of the world at one time or another. The remarkable similarities between shamans from widely spread areas of the world raise the question of how these similarities evolved. One possibility is that they arose spontaneously in different places, perhaps due to a common human instinct or recurrent social need. The second is that they resulted from migration and diffusion from a common ancestor.

If migration is the answer, then that migration must have started long ago. Shamanism occurs among tribes with so many different languages that diffusion from a common ancestor must have begun at least 20,000 years ago (Winkelman, 1984).

This long time period makes it difficult to explain why satanic practices would remain stable in so many cultures for so long while language and social practices changed so rapidly. These difficulties make it seem unlikely that migration alone can account for the long history and far-flung distribution of shamanism.


It follows that if the worldwide, history-long distribution of shamanism cannot be attributed to diffusion from a single invention in prehistoric times, they must be discovered and rediscovered in different times and cultures. Was. This suggests that some recurring combination of social forces and innate abilities acquired and maintained Satanic roles, rituals, and states of consciousness over and over again.

Shamanism rediscovered across diverse times and cultures

certainly appears to be evidence of some innate human tendency to enter into conspicuous change

d State. Studies of various meditation traditions suggest that innate instincts to reach altered states can be very accurate. For example, for two and a half thousand years Buddhists have described reaching eight highly specific and distinct states of extreme concentration. These concentrated states, that phantasm, are extremely subtle, stable and blissful and have been described very precisely over the millennia (Buddhagosha, 1923; Gole Man, 1988). Today some western seekers have started reaching out to them and I have had the privilege of interviewing three of them. In each case his experiences match up remarkably well with ancient accounts. Clearly then it appears that the human mind has some innate tendency to settle into certain states if it is given the right conditions or practices.

The same principle may apply to satanic states. Observations of Westerners in satanic workshops suggest that most people are able to enter satanic states to some degree. These states can also be induced by a variety of situations which suggests that the mind may have some inherent tendency to adopt them. The situations that trigger them may include such natural events as isolation, fatigue, ingesting -mic sounds, or hallucinogens (Winkleman, 1984; Walsh, 1989, 1990). Thus they will be rediscovered by different generations and cultures. Since the states can be pleasurable, meaningful, and therapeutic, they will be actively sought and the ways to induce them will be remembered and transmitted across generations.

Distribution due to innate tendency and diffusion

Thus shamanism and its widespread distribution may reflect an innate human tendency to enter certain pleasurable and valuable states of consciousness. Once discovered, customs and beliefs supporting the entry and manifestation of states would also arise, and shamanism would once again emerge. This natural tendency can be supported and expanded by communication between cultures. For example, shamanism in northern Asia appears to have been modified by the importation of yogic practices from India (Eliad, 1964). Thus the global distribution of shamanism may be due to both instinct and the spread of information. The end result is that this ancient tradition spread across the Earth and probably survived for tens of thousands of years, a period that represents a significant proportion of the time that fully evolved humans (modern Homo sapiens) have been on the planet. are on.

Given that shame has been around for so long and is so widespread, it naturally begs the question of why it occurs in some cultures and not others. Answers are beginning to emerge from cross-cultural research. A notable study examined 47 societies spanning approximately 4000 years from 1750, ie, the Babylonians, to the present century (Winkelman, 1984, 1989). It is interesting to note that, prior to Western influence, all 47 of these cultures used altered states of consciousness as the basis for religious and medical practices. Although shamanic practices were found in most regions of the world, they occurred only in certain types of societies. These were mainly simple nomadic hunting and gathering societies. These people depended little on agriculture and had almost no social class or political organization. Within these tribes the shaman played many roles, both sacred and mundane: medicine taker, healer, ritual performer, keeper of cultural myths, medium, and master of spirits. With his multiple roles and the power vacuum introduced by a classless society, the shaman exerted a great influence on his tribe and people.

However, as societies develop and become more complex, it appears that this situation changes dramatically. Indeed, as societies become sedentary rather than nomadic, agricultural rather than agricultural, and socially and politically classless rather than stratified, then shamanism seems to have disappeared (Winkleman, 1984, 1989). In its place appear a variety of specialists who focus on one of the magician’s many roles. Thus instead of shamans we find healers, priests, mediums and sorcerers/witches. They specialize in the practices of medicine, ritual, exorcism and malevolent witchcraft, respectively. An obvious contemporary western parallel to the older medical general practitioner or G.P. has to disappear. and the presence of diverse experts.

Some of these ancient experts have been compared to the shaman G.P. It is interesting to do with those who preceded them. priests of organized religion

They have emerged as representatives and are often religious, moral and even political leaders. He is the leader of social rites and rituals. On behalf of their society, they pray to and propagate spiritual powers. However, unlike their demonic ancestors, they usually have little training or experience in altered states. (Hoppel, 1984).

while priests inherit a socially beneficial religious

Other magical roles of magicians, magicians inherit malevolent ones. Shamans were often hermaphrodite figures to their people, revered for their healing and helping powers, sorcerers and witches feared for their malevolent magic (Rogers, 1982), at least as they note in Winkleman (1984) and other anthropological studies. are experts in malevolent magic and as such they are feared, loathed and persecuted.


Origin of Religion (Evolutionary)

The sociology of religion in the nineteenth century was concerned with two main questions. ‘How did religion begin?’ and ‘How did religion develop?’ This evolutionary view was influenced by Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, published in 1859. Just as Darwin attempted to explain the origin and evolution of species, sociologists attempted to explain the origin and evolution of social institutions and society. In the context of religion, two main theories for its origin, animism and animism, were advanced.



animism, naturalism

Animism means belief in souls. Edward B. Tylor considers it the oldest form of religion. He argues that animism derives from man’s attempts to answer two questions, ‘What is it that differentiates between a living body and a dead one?’ and ‘What are those human shapes that appear in dreams and visions?’ To make sense of these phenomena, early philosophers invented the idea of the soul. A soul is a soul that leaves the body temporarily during dreams and visions, and permanently at death. Once invented, the idea of spirits was applied not only to humans, but also to many aspects of the natural and social environment. Thus animals were invested with a soul, as were man-made objects such as the bowler of the Australian Aborigines. Tylor argues that religion, in the form of animism, arose to satisfy man’s intellectual nature, to satisfy his need for death, dreams, and visions.

Naturism means the belief that the forces of nature have supernatural power. F. Max Müller considers it the oldest form of religion. He argues that naturalism arose out of man’s experience of nature, particularly the effect of nature on man’s emotions. Wonder, terror, wonders and miracles happen in nature, such as volcanoes, thunder and lightning. Amazed by the power and wonders of nature, early man transformed abstract forces into personal agents. Man humanized nature. The force of the wind became the life of the wind, the force of the sun became the life of the sun. Where animism seeks the origin of religion in man’s intellectual needs, extremism seeks it in his emotional needs. Naturalism is man’s response to the effect of the power and wonder of nature on his senses.

From the origins of religion, nineteenth century sociologists turned to its development. Many plans were developed, Tyler being one example. Tylor believed that human societies developed through five major stages, starting with simple hunting and gathering bands, and ending with the complex nation state. Similarly, religion developed through five stages, which corresponded with the development of society. Animism, the belief in a multitude of spirits, constituted the religion of the simplest societies; monotheism, the belief in a single supreme god, constituted the most complex religion. Tylor believed that each stage in the development of religion arose out of preceding stages and that the religion of modern man, ‘can be traced largely to only one god’.

A runaway product of an old and uncivilized system’.

There are many criticisms of the evolutionary approach. The origins of religion are lost in the past. The first indication of a possible belief in the supernatural dates from about 60,000 years ago. Archaeological evidence suggests that Neanderthals in the Near East buried their dead with flowers, stone tools, and jewelry. However, theories of the origin of religion can only be based on speculation and intelligent guesswork. Evolutionists such as Tylor and Muller came up with plausible reasons for why certain beliefs were held by members of particular societies but this does not necessarily explain why those beliefs originated in the first place. Nor can it be argued that all religions are of the same origin. In addition, the clear, precise stages of the development of religion do not correspond to the facts. As Andrew Lang points out, many of the simplest societies have religions based on monotheism, which Tylor claimed was limited to modern societies.




















Durkheim and Sociological Functionalism



In the field of religion during the 18th and 19th centuries, it was believed that religion was the result of civilization. In other words, religion only emerged from civilization.


Malinowski, E.B. Tyler, and others. He pointed out that the primitive tribes had definite ideas about the origin of religion. His approach was functional. In fact, origin or dharma is explained from two points of view. One functionalist and the other dialectical i.e. Marxist. The religion, which originated from the aborigines, says that when the Trobriand Islanders went to sea to fish, they faced many unexpected dangers. This prompted the tribals to express their belief in magic and the supernatural. Because there was a need for religion, their emerging religion. In this lesson we will discuss the origin of religion from the point of view of functionalism. Here we will examine the development of religion from the perspective of Durkheim and Max Weber.





Origin of Religion: Durkheim’s Thoughts

The 18th century was the century of evolutionary theory. Not only Durkheim and Max Weber, Karl Marx also contributed to the theory of evolution.

The functionalist perspective examines religion in the context of the needs of society. Functional analysis is primarily concerned with the contribution of religion to meeting these needs. From this perspective, society requires some degree of social cohesion, value congruence, and harmony and integration between its parts. The function of religion is the contribution it makes to the fulfillment of such functional prerequisites—for example, its contribution to social cohesion.





  holy and profane

In Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, first published in 1912, Émile Durkheim presented perhaps the most influential explanation of religion from a functionalist perspective (Durkheim, 1961).

Durkheim argued that all societies divide the world into two categories: the sacred and the profane (profane). Religion is based on this division. It is a unified system of beliefs and practices related to sacred objects, i.e. to say separate and forbidden things. It is important to realize that:

By sacred thing one should not understand only those individual objects which are called deities or souls; A rock, a tree, a spring, a pebble, a piece of wood, a house, in a word anything can be sacred.

There is nothing about the special properties of the pebble or the tree that makes them sacred. So sacred things must be symbols, they must represent something. To understand the role of religion in society, a connection has to be made between sacred symbols and what they represent.




Durkheim used the religion of various groups of Australian Aborigines to develop his argument. He saw their religion, which he called totemism, as the simplest and most basic form of religion.

Tribal society is divided into many clans. A clan is like a large extended family whose members share certain duties and responsibilities. for exam

Clans have a rule of exogamy—that is, members are not allowed to marry within the clan. Clan members have a duty to aid and assist each other: they join together to mourn the death of one of their members and to avenge a member who has been wronged by a member of another clan. There are

Each clan has a totem, usually an animal or a plant. This totem is then represented by figures made of wood or stone. These drawings are called churingas. Churingas are usually at least as sacred as the species they represent and sometimes more so. Totem is a symbol. It is a symbol of the clan. This is his flag; It is the mark by which each gotra distinguishes itself from all others. However, the totem is more than the churinga it represents – it is the most sacred object in tribal rituals. Totem is the ‘outer and visible form of the totemic principle or god’.

Durkheim argued that if the totem symbolized God and society simultaneously, is it not because God and society are one?

Thus he suggested that in worshiping God, people are actually worshiping society. Society is the real object of religious worship.

How does humanity come to worship the society? Sacred things are considered superior in dignity and power to profane things, and especially to humans. ‘In relation to the sacred, humans are inferior and dependent. This relationship between humanity and sacred things is precisely the relationship between humanity and society. Society is more important and powerful than the individual. Durkheim argued that primitive man regards society as something sacred because he is completely dependent on it.

But why doesn’t humanity just worship society? Why does it invent a sacred symbol like the totem? Because Durkheim argued, it is easier for a person to ‘see and direct his feelings of awe towards a symbol than towards something so complex as a symbol.’

Religion and the ‘collective conscience’

Durkheim believed that social life is impossible without the shared values and moral beliefs that make up collegiate reason. In their absence, there would be no social order, social control and no social solidarity or co-operation. In short, there would be no society. Religion reinforces the collective conscience. Society worships those values and strengthens moral beliefs

which form the basis of social life. By defining them as sacred, religion gives them greater power to guide human action.

This attitude of respect for the sacred is the same attitude that applies to social duties and obligations. In worshiping society, people actually recognize the importance of the social group and their dependence on it. In this way religion strengthens group unity: it promotes social cohesion.

Durkheim emphasized the importance of collective worship. The social group comes together in religious rituals filled with drama and reverence. Together, its members express their belief in common values and beliefs. The unity of the society is strengthened in this highly charged atmosphere of collective worship. Members of society express and understand the moral bonds that unite them.

According to Durkheim, the belief in gods or spirits, usually the focus for religious ceremonies, arose from belief in the ancestral spirits of feared relatives. The worship of the gods is actually the worship of the souls of the ancestors. Since Durkheim also believed that souls represent the presence of social values, the collective conscience is present in individuals. It is through individual souls that the collective conscience is realized. Since religious worship includes the worship of spirits. Durkheim again concluded that religious worship is actually the worship of a social group or society.




Durkheim’s criticism

Durkheim has explained the origin of religion from tribals. The tribals taken by him were just like any other tribals. Most sociologists believe that Durkheim exaggerated his case. While believing that religion is important for promoting social cohesion and strengthening social values, he would not support his view that religion is the worship of the society. Durkheim’s views on religion are more relevant to small, illiterate societies, where there is a close integration of culture and social institutions, where work, leisure, education and family life merge and where members share a common belief and value system. . His ideas are less relevant to modern societies, which have many subcultures, social and ethnic groups, specialized organizations and systems of religious beliefs, practices and institutions. As Malcolm Hamilton states, the emergence of religious pluralism and diversity within a society is, of course, something that Durkheim’s theory has great difficulty in dealing with (Hamilton, 1995).

Durkheim may also exaggerate the extent to which the collective conscience pervades and shapes people’s behaviour. in day

Ed, sometimes-religious beliefs can overlap with and override social values. Malcolm Hamilton makes this point convincingly:

The fact that our moral sense can lead us to go against the majority, society, or authority suggests that we are not as dependent on society or on beings as Durkheim claimed. Society, powerful as it is, does not have the primacy that Durkheim believed it to have. Ironically, it often seems that religious beliefs can have a much greater influence and hold on the individual than society because it is often out of religious beliefs that individuals will fly in the face of society or retreat from it. Will try to , as has been the case with many communal movements.




Malinowski’s perspective on the origin of religion

Like Durkheim, Malinowski uses data from small-scale non-literate societies to develop his thesis on religion. Many of his examples are taken from his fieldwork in the Trobriand Islands off the coast of New Guinea. Like Durkheim, Malinowski sees religion as reinforcing social norms and values and promoting social solidarity.

However, unlike Durkheim, he does not view religion as reflecting society as a whole, nor does he view religious rituals as worship of society itself. Malinowski identifies specific areas of social life to which religion is concerned, and to which it is addressed.

These are situations of emotional tension that threaten social cohesion.

religion and life crisis

Worry and stress disrupt social life. Situations that generate these emotions include life’s crises such as birth, puberty, marriage, and death. Malinowski notes that in all societies these life crises are surrounded by religious rituals. He views death as the most disruptive of these events and argues that:

The existence of strong personal attachments and the fact of death, which of all human phenomena is the most disturbing and disorganizing to man’s calculations, are probably the main sources of religious beliefs.

The religion deals with the problem of death in the following way. A funeral ceremony expresses the belief ion immortality that denies the fact of death and brings comfort to the bereaved. Other mourners support the bereaved by their presence at the ceremony. This comfort and support checks the emotions that death produces and moderates the stress and anxiety that can disrupt society. death is socially devastating

Because it removes a member from the society. Social group units to support the bereaved at a funeral ceremony. This expression of social solidarity reconnects the society.



Religion, Prediction and Control

A second category of events – undertakings that cannot be fully controlled or predicted by practical means – also create stress and anxiety. From his observations in the Trobriand Islands, Malinowski noted that such events were surrounded by rituals.

Fishing is an important subsistence practice in the Trobriands.


Malinowski observed that in the calm waters of the lagoon ‘fishing by the method of poisoning is easy and absolutely reliable, giving abundant results without danger and uncertainty.’ However, beyond the barrier reef in the open sea lies danger and uncertainty: a storm can result in loss of life and the catch is dependent on the presence of shoals of fish, which cannot be predicted.


in the lagoon, where man can rely entirely on his own knowledge and skill; There are no rituals associated with fishing, whereas rituals are performed before fishing in the open sea to ensure a good catch and for the safety of the fishermen. Although Malinowski refers to these rituals as magic, others argue that it is more appropriate to consider them as religious practices.

Again we see that rituals are used for specific situations that generate anxiety. Rituals reduce anxiety by providing a sense of confidence and control. Like funeral ceremonies, fishing rituals are social events. The group unites to deal with situations of stress, and hence group cohesion is strengthened.

So we can summarize that Malinowski’s distinctive contribution to the sociology of religion is his argument that religion promotes social solidarity by dealing with situations of emotional tension that threaten the stability of society.




Malinowski’s Criticisms

Malinowski has been criticized for exaggerating the importance of religious rituals in helping people cope with situations of stress and uncertainty. Tambiah (1990, discussed in Hamilton, 1995) for example, suggests that magic and elaborate rituals are associated with the cultivation of taro and yams on the Trobriand Islands. This is related to the fact that taro and yama are important because men must use them to pay off their sisters’ husbands. Men who fail to do so show that they are incapable of meeting important social obligations. Hence these rituals are concerned only with the maintenance of prestige in that society and do little to strengthen solidarity or deal with

Uncertainty and danger. A particular function or effect that occurs in religion, sometimes mistaken for a feature of religion in general.




















Weber and Phenomenology


Max Weber is a great theorist in the field of religion. He was an evolutionary functionalist. His book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1958) is very important. In fact, Weber has made a major contribution to the development of religion. Both Marxists and functionalists are believed to have contributed immensely to the work of religion. What differentiates Weber from Marxist is that Weber established that even ideas can change the world. This was a refutation of the Marxist thesis. In this part of the lesson we will discuss the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism.

Functionalists and Marxists both emphasize the role of religion in promoting social integration and inhibiting social change. In contrast, Weber (1958, first published in English in 1930) argued that religion can cause social change under certain circumstances, although shared religious beliefs can unify a social group, those same beliefs can have consequences. that can generate change in the long run. Society.

Max is generally considered a materialist. He believed that the physical world

(and especially people’s involvement with nature as they worked to secure their own survival) shaped their beliefs. Thus, for Marx, the economic system largely determined the beliefs that were held by individuals. In Marxist terms the mode of production determines the type of religion that will be dominant in any given society.

Unlike Marx, Weber rejected the idea that religion was always shaped by economic factors. He did not deny that, at certain times and in certain places, religion could be shaped to a great extent by economic forces, but he denied that this was always the case. In some cases the reverse can also happen, ie religious beliefs can have a major impact on economic behaviour.

Weber’s social action theory argues that human action is guided by meaning and purpose. From this point of view, action’ can be understood only by appreciating the world view – the image or picture of the world held by the members of the society. From his worldview, the individual means objectives and

Achieve objectives that guide their actions. Religion is often an important component of the worldview. In certain places and times, religious meaning and purpose may guide action in a wider context. In particular, religious beliefs can guide economic action.






Capitalism and ascetic Protestantism


In his best-known book, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1958), Weber examines the relationship between the rise of some form of Protestantism and the development of Western industrial capitalism. In the first part of his argument, Weber tries to demonstrate that a particular form of Protestantism, ascetic Calvinist Protestantism, preceded the development of capitalism. He also tries to show that capitalism initially developed in areas where this religion was dominant. Other regions of the world had many of the necessary prerequisites, yet they were not among the first to develop capitalism. For example, India and China had technical knowledge, labor to hire and individuals engaged in money making. What they lacked, according to Weber, was a religion that encouraged and facilitated the growth of capitalism. The first capitalist nations emerged in countries in Western Europe and North America that had Calvinist religious groups. Furthermore, most of the earliest capitalist entrepreneurs in these areas came from the ranks of the Calvinists.

Made a connection between Calvinism and capitalism by comparing religion and economic development in different parts of the world. Weber goes on to explain how and why this type of religion was linked to capitalism.

Calvinist Protestantism has its origins in the beliefs of John Calvin in the seventeenth century. Calvin thought that there was a distinct group of chosen people—those chosen to go to heaven—and that they were chosen by God before they were even born. Those who were not among the chosen could never obtain a place in heaven no matter how well they behaved on earth.

Other versions of Christianity derived from the beliefs of Martin Luther. Luther believed that individual Christians could affect their chances of reaching heaven by the way they behaved on earth. It was very important for Christians to develop faith in God and to do God’s will on earth. To do this they have to be dedicated to their calling in life. Whatever position God has given them in the society, they should faithfully perform the proper duties.

At first glance, capitalism seems more likely to have arisen from the doctrine of Lutheranism. However, it encouraged people to produce or earn more than is necessary for their material needs. It gave more importance to piety and faith than the accumulation of great wealth.

The possibility of capitalism arising from the theory of predestination propounded by Calvin seems to be less. If some individuals were destined for heaven regardless of their earthly behavior—and the rest were equally unable to overcome their curse—there would be no point in working hard on earth.

Weber points out, however, that Calvinists had a psychological problem: they did not know whether they were among the chosen. They suffered from a kind of inner loneliness or uncertainty about their status, and their behavior was not an attempt to earn a place in heaven, but to make them believe that they had been chosen to go there. He argued that only God’s chosen people would be able to live a good life on earth. If their behavior was exemplary, they would be sure that they would go to heaven after death.

Therefore, the Calvinists’ interpretation of the doctrine of predestination contributed to them becoming the first capitalists.




Protestant ethic

The Protestant ethic that Weber describes (and which enabled Calvinists to convince themselves that they were among the chosen) first developed in seventeenth-century Western Europe. Morals were ascetic, encouraging abstinence from life’s pleasures, an austere lifestyle and strict self-discipline. It produced individuals who worked single-mindedly hard at their career or business. Making money was a tangible sign of success in one’s business, and success in one’s business meant that the person had not lost favor in the eyes of God. John Wesley, a leader of the great Methodist revival before the expansion of English industry in the late 18th century, wrote:

Dharma must necessarily produce industry and thrift, and these cannot produce wealth. We should encourage all Christians to get what they can and save what they can; That is, what are the effects to become rich.

This money cannot be spent on luxuries, fine clothes, grand houses and frivolous entertainments but in the glory of God. In effect, it meant being even more successful in one’s calling, which meant re-investing the profits back into the business.

Protestants condemned the waste of time, idleness, idle gossip and oversleeping.

Attacked – more than six to eight hours a day. They were fixated on sexual pleasures; Sex should be confined to marriage and only then to procreate (vegetarian diets and cold baths were sometimes advised to ward off temptation). Sports and recreation were accepted only for improving fitness and health and were condemned if used for entertainment. The impulsive fun and enjoyment of pubs, dance halls, theaters and gaming houses were forbidden for ascetic Protestants. In fact, anything that could distract or detract people from their calling was condemned. Living life according to these guidelines was a sign that the person had not lost favor and favor in the eyes of God.




soul of capitalism

Weber claimed that the origins of the spirit of capitalism were to be found in the ethics of ascetic Protestantism. Throughout history there has been no shortage of seekers of wealth and profit: pirates, prostitutes and moneylenders have always chased wealth in every corner of the globe. However, according to Weber, both their methods and objectives of the pursuit of money were contrary to the spirit of capitalism.

Traditionally, money-seekers are engaged in speculative projects: they gamble to get a prize. If successful, they start spending lavishly on personal consumption. Furthermore, they were not dedicated to making money for themselves. Weber argued that workers who earned enough for their families to live comfortably, and merchants who had the luxuries they desired, would not feel the need to work harder to make more money. . Instead, he asked for free time for recess.

Ascetic Protestants had a very different attitude towards money, and Weber believed that this attitude was characteristic of capitalism. He argued that the essence of capitalism is the pursuit of profit and profit anew forever.

Capitalist enterprises are organized along the lines of a national bureaucracy. Business transactions are carefully appraised with costs and expected profits in a systematic and rational manner.

Behind the practice of capitalism is the spirit of capitalism – a set of ideas, ethics and values. Weber illustrates the spirit of capitalism with quotes from two books by Benjamin Franklin, Necessary Hinds That Be Rich (1736) and Advice to a Young Tradesman (1748). Franklin Writes ‘Remember That Time Is Money’, Time Wasting Laziness And Diversion Lose Money

  1. Remember that credit is money. A reputation for prudence and honesty will bring credit as a testament to timely repayment of debts. Businessmen should behave with industry and economy, punctuality and justice in all their dealings.

Weber argued that this spirit of capitalism is not just a way of making money, but a way of life, with morals, duties, and obligations. He claimed that ascetic Protestantism was an important influence in the formation and development of the spirit and practice of capitalism: a methodical and one-sided pursuit of a calling that rational capitalism encourages. Weber wrote that ‘restless, incessant systematic work in a worldly calling must have been the most powerful conceivable lever for the expansion of the spirit of capitalism. Making money became both a religious and business ethic. The Protestant interpretation of making a profit justifies the activities of the businessman.

Weber claimed that two key features of capitalist industry – the standardization of production and the specialized division of labor – were encouraged by Protestantism. The Protestant uniformity of life greatly assisted the capitalist in the standardization of production. The emphasis on the importance of definite occupation provided a moral justification for this modern specialized division of labour.

Finally, Weber noted the importance of restrictions on the creation of wealth and on spending it, which encouraged savings and reinvestment:

When the limitation of consumption is combined with this release of acquisitive activity, the inevitable result is clear: the accumulation of capital through an ascetic compulsion to save. By making productive investment of capital possible, the restrictions imposed on the consumption of money naturally served to increase it.

The ascetic Protestant lifestyle led to accumulation of capital, investment and reinvestment. It created early businesses that expanded to form a capitalist society.








  materialism and weber’s theory

Weber, then, believed that he had discovered and demonstrated that religious beliefs could cause economic change. He claimed that he found a weakness in Marx’s materialism which implies that the economic system always shapes ideas.

However, it should be emphasized that Weber did not minimize the importance of economy and material factors. He said, ‘It is not, of course, my intention to replace an equally one-sided metaphysical causal explanation of culture and history with a one-sided materialistic one. Capitalism was made possible not only by Calvinist Protestantism, but also by the technology and economic systems of the countries in which it developed. Material factors were as important in its development as ideas; Neither can be ignored in any explanation.



Religion, Modernity and Rationality

Along with explaining the origin of capitalism, Weber also

by the growth of Protestantism

There was much to be said about the possible consequences of the changes that had taken place. His theories have had a tremendous influence on general ideas about change in Western societies, and in particular on the concepts of modernity and secularism. Modernity refers to both a historical period and a type of society, often seen as developing alongside industrialization, science, and capitalism. Secularism means the decline of religion. For example, Robert Holton and Brian Turner (1989) argue that the central themes of all Weberian sociology were modernization and the problems of modernity, and that we should consider rationalization as a process that produced modernism.

As we have seen above, Weber argued in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism that ascetic Protestantism helped create modern capitalism. Along with this came the emphasis on rational calculation as the evaluation of profit was necessary in pursuit of the maximum possible profit that would be produced by following different types of action. The capitalist will then follow whatever path yields the most profit. Weber distinguished between formal rationality and substantive rationality. Formal reasoning involved enumerating the best means to achieve a given end and the calculations had to be in numerical form. Actual rationality involves action designed to accomplish some ultimate goal, such as justice, equality, or human happiness. Capitalist practice placed primary emphasis on the formal rationality of accounting in the pursuit of profit maximization. Real nationality, including the morality imparted by religious beliefs, faded into the background of capitalist societies.

For Weber, rationality in the modern world would not be confined to capitalist enterprise. As Holton and Turner point out, this would also include the emergence of a rational legal system, the separation of home and work, rational financial management, and a rational system of administration. Weber’s views on bureaucracy

A good example of his belief that modern societies would be more characterized by rationality. However, for Weber, and for many later sociologists, rationality may be contrary to the belief that religion is essential.

Religions do not expect their followers to try to test their beliefs scientifically, nor do they expect religious beliefs to be based on weighing the costs and benefits of joining a religious group. Followers should only believe in the truth of their religion.

In the rational modern world, however, Weber thought that followers of the religion would find it difficult to maintain their faith. Discussing Protestant denominations in the United States, Weber noted that closer examination revealed a steady progression of a distinctive process of secularization, including all phenomena originating in religious concepts (Weber in Garth & Mills (eds.), 1948). In short, ascetic Protestantism would contribute to the development of capitalism, which would require a rational approach to social life, which in turn would undermine religion. So the Protestant religions contained the seeds of their own destruction. as Malcolm

Hamilton puts it:

Once on its way, the modern economic system was able to support itself without the need for the religious ethics of ascetic Protestantism, which in many ways could not help but plant the seeds of secularism in modern society through its own worldly activity and Promotes consequential expansion. Of wealth and material well-being. Calvinist Protestantism was about to dig its own grave.



Karl Marx and Dialectical Materialism


DN Dhangare in his book “Themes and Perspectives in Indian Sociology” has argued that the essence of Marxism is dialectical materialism.

In his support, the Marxist historian D.D. Kosambi. Marx argues that class, class struggle and alienation are all due to dialectical materialism. Marxist approach has an equally important place in the field of religion. For a long time there was no church in Russia. In fact, religion was outlawed in socialist countries. Dialectical materialism needs to be considered in all its aspects in this regard. In this lesson we will discuss the Marxist perspective on religion.

In Marx’s vision of an ideal society, exploitation and alienation are things of the past. The means of production are communally owned, resulting in the disappearance of social classes. The members of society are complete human beings: they control their own destiny and work together for the common good. Religion does not exist in this communist utopia because the social conditions that produced it have disappeared.

For Marx, religion is an illusion that heals the pain caused by exploitation and oppression. It is a series of myths that justify and legitimize the subordination of the subject class and the supremacy and privilege of the ruling class. It is a distortion of reality that provides many of the deceptions that form the basis of the ruling class’s ideology and false class-consciousness.




as a religion

the opium of the people

In the words of Marx, ‘Religion is the sign of the oppressed creature, the spirit of a heartless world and soulless circumstances.

is the soul of It is the opium of the people’ (in Marks, Bottommore and Rubel, 1963). Religion acts as an opiate to ease the suffering caused by repression. It is both an ‘expression of genuine suffering and a protest against suffering’, but it does little to solve the problem as it helps to make life more bearable and therefore reduces the demand for change. Thus, religion only fools its followers instead of giving them true happiness and fulfillment.

Similarly, Lenin argued ‘religion is a kind of spiritual jinn in which the slaves of capital sink their human shape and their claims to any civilized life’ (cited in Lane, 1970).

From a Marxist perspective, religion can alleviate the suffering of the oppressed in the following ways:

(1) It promises a heaven of eternal bliss in the afterlife. Engels argued that the appeal of Christianity to the oppressed classes lay in its promise of salvation.

Bondage and misery in later life. The Christian vision of heaven can make life on earth more bearable by giving people something to look forward to.

(2) Some religions make the suffering caused by persecution a virtue. In particular, those who bear the deprivation of poverty with dignity and humility will be rewarded for their virtue. This view is rooted in the famous Biblical quote, ‘It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven’. Thus religion makes poetry more tolerable by offering rewards for suffering and promising compensation for injustice in the afterlife.

(3) Religion can provide hope for supernatural intervention to solve problems on earth. Members of religious groups such as Jehovah’s Witnesses live in anticipation of the day when supernatural forces will descend from above and create a heaven on earth. Anticipating this future can make the present more acceptable.

(4) Religion often justifies the social system and an individual’s position within it. God can be seen as creating and organizing social structure, as in the following verse from the Victorian hymn ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’: The rich man in his palace

poor man at his door,

God made them high and low, and ordered their property.

Thus social order appears to be inevitable. It can help those in the lower rungs of the stratification system to acknowledge and accept their position. In the same way, poverty and misfortune in general have often been seen as a divine command as punishment for sin. Again the condition is defined as irreversible and irreversible. It can make life more bearable by encouraging people to accept their situation philosophically.


Religion and Social Change

Religion has historically been a major impetus for social change. In early Europe, the translation of sacred texts into everyday, non-scholastic language empowered people to shape their own religions. Disagreements between religious groups and incidents of religious persecution have led to large-scale resettlement, wars and even genocide. To some extent, the modern sovereign state system and international law can be seen as products of conflict between religious beliefs as these were established in Europe by the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), which ended the Thirty Years’ War. Had given. As outlined below, Canada is no stranger to religion as an agent of social change.


At the same time, religion is still a dominant force in Western society, against the backdrop of societies becoming more and more secular. Secularization as a social and historical process has been outlined by sociologist José Casanova as three interrelated trends, all open to debate: 1) the decline of religious beliefs and practices in modern societies, 2) the decline of religion, privatisation, and 3) differentiation of secular spheres (state, economy, science), usually understood as “emancipation” from religious institutions and norms (Casanova 2006).

Historical sociologists Émile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Karl Marx and psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud anticipated secularization, claiming that the modernization of society would reduce the influence of religion. Weber believed that membership in prestigious clubs would supersede membership in Protestant denominations as a way for people to gain authority or respect.

In contrast, some argue that secularism is the root cause of many social problems, such as divorce, drug use, and educational attrition. US presidential contender Michelle Bachman also linked Hurricane Irene and the 2011 earthquake felt in Washington DC to politicians’ failure to listen to God (Ward 2011).

While some scholars view the Western world, including Canada, as becoming increasingly secular, others believe that religion is still all around us. For example, recent statistics show that approximately 75 percent of Canadian marriages still include a religious ceremony. But it varies from as high as 90 percent in Ontario to less than 40 percent in British Columbia (Black 2007, BC Vital Statistics 2011).

of this writing

At the time, religion influenced post-secondary education in Canada. Trinity Western University, a respected private Christian university in British Columbia, is embroiled in controversy after several provincial bar associations have voted not to admit graduates of Trinity’s proposed law program. One of the central issues is the “covenant” the university requires its students to sign, unless it is within a marriage between a man and a woman. The university intends to take bar associations in British Columbia, Ontario, and Nova Scotia to court to “respond to threats against freedom of religion” (CBC 2014). At this time, law societies in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nunavut have decided to admit graduates of Trinity Western.

This is not a new battle for Trinity Western University. In 2001, the Supreme Court of Canada in B.C. Teachers’ College to uphold original decision not to admit Trinity Western graduates into teaching profession. This action would have effectively barred Trinity graduates from teaching in British Columbia (Wikipedia n.d.). The 2001 court decision makes for an interesting read, even providing insight into Trinity’s next legal battle to assert its rights as a religious organization (Supreme Court of Canada 2001).

Religious independent schools teaching Kindergarten to Grade 12 receive varying degrees of public funding across Canada. In British Columbia, these schools are experiencing declines in student population found in public schools and have generally increased annual enrollment (BC Ministry of Education 2014).

Compared to other democratic, industrialized countries, Canada is generally considered a fairly religious nation. While 42 percent of Canadians in a 2009 Gallup poll said religion was an important part of their daily lives, 65 percent make this claim in the United States. The numbers were also high in Spain (49 percent), but lower in France (30 percent), the United Kingdom (27 percent), and Sweden (17 percent) (Crabtree and Pelham 2009). Secularism interests social observers because it emphasizes a pattern of change in a fundamental social institution.

The above figures on the importance of religion in daily life tell us a lot about our views on other issues. For example, countries like Canada that have less influence on our day-to-day routine than we believe are more tolerant, even accepting of homosexuality (Trinity Western University notwithstanding). A recent study shows that in countries where religious

The effect is small even in the richest countries in general (Pew Research 2013). They are more accepting of homosexuality than in poorer countries where religious influence is greater. There is no level of acceptance of homosexuality in predominantly poor and/or Muslim countries. There is a strong correlation between the religiosity of a country and opinions about homosexuality. The fact that Canada has become more secular is evidenced by a 10 percent increase in acceptance of homosexuality in the last decade.

While less than half of Canadians say religion is important, 80 per cent of Canadians claim a religious affiliation (Statistics Canada 2011). Canada is known for its religious diversity, yet it is predominantly Christian, with 72 percent of its population declaring membership in one of its sects or denominations. Catholicism is the most popular choice, with about 50 percent of Christian Canadians. According to data collected between 2001 and 2011 (Statistics Canada 2011), religious affiliations among recent immigrants to Canada are similar for Christians and those claiming no religion. Other common affiliations for new immigrants are Muslim (18 percent), Hindu (8 percent), and Sikh (5 percent).

The power of the sociological study of religion goes far beyond the way we think about and treat religion. These thoughts and behaviors radically spill over into other important areas of our lives. Whether we consider our views on politics, homosexuality, or the education of our children, the sociological study of religion provides valuable insight into our collective behavior.





religion and social control

From a Marxist perspective, religion does not merely mitigate the effects of oppression; It is also an instrument of that suppression. It acts as a mechanism of social control, perpetuates the existing system of exploitation and reinforces class relations. Simply put, it puts people in their place. By making an unsatisfactory life bearable, religion discourages people from trying to change their status quo. By giving an illusion of hope in a seemingly hopeless situation, it stokes thoughts of overthrowing the system. By providing explanations and justifications for social situations, religion distorts reality. It helps in creating a false class-consciousness which blinds the members of the subject class to their real status and their real interests. Thus it diverts the attention of the people from the real source of their oppression and thus the power of the ruling class.

helps to maintain.

However, religion is not solely the province of oppressed groups. From a Marxist perspective, the ruling classes adopt religious beliefs to justify their position to themselves and others. These lines ‘God made them high and low / And ordered their wealth’ clearly show how religion can be used to justify social inequality, not only for the poor, but also for the rich. Even for Religion is often directly supported by the ruling classes to further their interests. In the words of Max and Engels, ‘the parson always shakes hands with the landlord’. In feudal England the lord of the manor’s power was often legitimized by proclamations from the pulpit. In return for this support, the landowners often richly endowed the established church.

Evidence to Support Marxism

There is ample evidence to support the Marxist view of the role of religion in society.

The caste system of traditional India was justified by Hindu religious beliefs. In medieval Europe, kings and queens ruled by divine right. The Egyptian pharaohs became a stepfather, combining both god and king in one person. Slave-owners in the southern states of America often disapproved of the conversion of slaves to Christianity, believing it to be a controlling and early religion.

Employers used religion as a means to control the masses and encourage them to stay sorghum and work hard.

A more recent example that can be used to support Marxism is discussed by Steve Bruce (1988). He has pointed out that conservative Protestants in the United States—the New Christian Right—consistently support right-wing political candidates in the Republican

Attack the party and the more moderate candidates in the Democratic Party. In 1980 he targeted 27 Liberal candidates for attack; Of these, 23 were lost. The New Christian Right supported Ronald Reagan in his successful campaign for the presidency in 1984. In the 1988 presidential campaign, Reagan was unsuccessfully challenged for the Republican nomination for president by Pat Robertson, a member of the New Christian Right. Robertson is one of several television evangelists who have tried to win new converts to their brand of Christianity and who have spread their political and moral messages through televised preaching.

According to Bruce, the New Christian Right favored a more aggressive anti-communist foreign policy, greater military spending, less central government intervention, less welfare spending, and fewer restrictions on free enterprise. Although Bruce emphasizes that he has had limited influence on American politics, it is clear that he has shown a tendency to protect the interests of the rich and powerful at the expense of other groups in the population.

limitations of marxism

Conflicting evidence suggests that religion does not always legitimize authority; It is not just a justification for repatriation or a justification for privilege, and it can sometimes provide motivation for change. While this is not reflected in Marx’s own writings nor in much of Engels’ earlier work, it is reflected in later works by Engels and in the approach to religion advanced by recent neo-Marxists. We’ll examine these ideas after the next section, which considers the relationship between religion and communism.

Furthermore, the fact that religion sometimes acts as an ideological force in the way Marx suggested does not exist or explain religion. As Malcolm Hamilton explains:

However, to say that religion can be turned into a tool of manipulation is no more than saying that because art or drama can be used for ideological purposes, it explains art or drama.

In contrast, the approach used by Stark and Bainbridge (1985) attempts to find an explanation for the almost universal presence of religion in society in basic human needs. His views will be scrutinized soon.



religion and communism

Marx said that ‘religion is only an illusory sun which revolves around man until he revolves around himself (Marx and Engels, 1957). In a truly socialist society the individual revolves around himself, and religion—along with all other illusions and distortions of reality—disappears.

Whatever the merit of this prediction, it certainly does not reflect the position of socialist Israeli kibbutzim. Many kibbutzim are fervently religious and their members do not perceive any contradiction between religion and socialism.

The power of religion in USSR communism was hard to measure. After the Revolution of 1917, the communist state placed limits on religious activity and at times persecuted religious people. Soviet law restricted religious worship to designated churches and other places of prayer. Religious education of children was banned. Geoffrey Hosking estimated that there were over 50,000 Russian Orthodox churches before the 1917 Revolution, but only 4,000 remained by 1939 (Hosking, 1988). Writing in 1970, David Lane claimed

It is estimated that there were about 20,000 Russian Orthodox churches in 1960, but about half of these were closed by 1965 due to Khrushchev’s policies.

On the surface such figures suggest that there was a decline in religion, but this may be due to the activities of the ruling elite rather than a loss of faith by the population. Lane claimed that the religion probably had little control over the population, but still showed some resilience to communism. The flexibility is reflected in an estimate that put the number of Orthodox Christians baptized in the period 1947–57 at 90 million, roughly the same as in 1914. Britain or most of Western Europe’.

Restrictions on religion were eased when President Gorbachev instituted a policy of glasnost, or openness. In 1989 and 1990, unrest in several Soviet republics suggested the continued strength of religious belief. The Roman Catholic Church was one source of demands for independence in Lithuania. Conflict between Soviet Muslims in Azerbaijan and Soviet Christians in 1990

Troops were deployed to restore order in Armenia.

When the USSR began to split and Communist Party rule was abandoned, religious beliefs became even more pronounced. In 1991 David Martin described how church bells were used to summon millions of people to join arms around the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. In other ex-communist countries, the Serbs’ passionate pilgrimage to monastic shrines in Kosova (Martin, 1991b) in Poland and the feast of the Assumption were huge gatherings.

Opinion poll data show that religion remained important to large sections of the population in the USSR and Eastern Europe during the communist era, and has become stronger since the demise of communism. Citing data from the International Social Survey Program, Andrew Greely notes that in 1991, 47 percent of the Russian population claimed to believe in God (Greely, 1994). The strength of the religious revival is evidenced by the fact that 22 percent of the population were former non-believers who converted to faith in God. Similarly, Miklos Tomka found that in 1978, 44.3 percent of the Hungarian population claimed to be religious and this had increased to 76.8 percent by August 1993 (Tomka, 1995).

Fidel Castro’s Cuba is a society that maintained communism into the 1990s. However, even a staunch communist like Castro was forced to acknowledge the continuing appeal of religion when he invited Pope John Paul II to Cuba in January 1998. The Pope addressed the large and enthusiastic crowd, suggesting that Roman Catholicism remained strong despite nearly 40 years. The communist state discouraged religious participation and belief.

These examples show that there is more to religion than just a set of beliefs and practices that developed in societies based on private ownership of the means of production.

The materialist dialectical approach has not been confined to Marx only. There are other Marxist theorists such as Engels and the Neo-Marxists. Now we will analyze these neo-Marxists according to whom religion is considered a revolutionary force.

Engels and Neo-Marxist-Religion as a Revolutionary Force

Roger O’Toole, commenting on the Marxist sociology of religion, argues

Beginning with the work of Engels, Marx undoubtedly recognized the active role that can be played but religion in effecting revolutionary social change (O’Toole, 1984). Thus, in On the History of Early Christianity, Engels compared some of the early Christian sects that opposed Roman rule to communist and socialist political movements (Marx and Engels, 1957). He said, ‘Christianity gripped the masses just as modern socialism does under the shape of various sects’. While Christianity originated among oppressed groups as a way of dealing with exploitation, it can become a source of resistance to the oppressors and thus a force for change.

Otto Maduro – the relative autonomy of religion

Maduro is a contemporary neo-Marxist. While acknowledging many aspects of Marx’s analysis of religion, he emphasizes the idea that religion has some independence, or ‘relative autonomy’, from the economic system of the bourgeoisie (Maduro, 1982). He denies that religion is always a conservative force and in fact claims that it can be revolutionary. He states, ‘Religion is not a functional, reproductive or conservative factor in society; It is often one of the main (and sometimes the only) channels available to bring about a social revolution.

Maduro claims that until recently, Catholicism in Latin America supported the bourgeois and right-wing military dictatorships that represented its interests. The Catholic Church has tried to deny the existence of social conflicts between the oppressor and the oppressed classes. It recognized some injustices such as poverty and illiteracy, but suggested that the solution lies with those who already have power.

The Catholic Church has also supported members of the clergy who have assisted in private enterprise and government projects.

, It has celebrated military victories but failed to support unions, strikes and opposition political parties.

On the other hand, more recently, the Catholic clergy have demonstrated their autonomy by criticizing the bourgeoisie and acting against their interests, Maduro believes that members of the clergy can develop revolutionary potential where oppressed members of the population Have no way for your complaints. They pressure priests to take up their case, and theological disagreements within a church can provide an interpretation of a religion that is important to the rich and powerful.

All of these conditions have been met in Latin America and have led to their development of liberation theology.

Brian S. Turner – The Materialist Theory of Religion

Brian Turner (1983) Marx argues that religion stems from a maternal

  Premise: That is, he agrees that religion is concerned with the material and economic aspects of social life. However, unlike Marx, Turner does not believe that religion has a universal role in society, nor does he believe that religion is always an important part of the ideological control of the ruling class. He questions the belief that religion has always been a powerful force persuading the masses to accept the status quo.

7.5 Religion and Feudalism

Marxists have assumed that, in feudal times, religion (specifically, Roman Catholicism in Europe) was a belief system that played a fundamental role in unifying society. Turner rejected the idea that religion was as important to serfs and peasants as it was to feudal lords. Based on historical evidence, he claims that the peasantry was largely indifferent to religion: their main concern was survival.

By comparison, religion played an important role in the lives of the ruling class, the feudal lords. In feudalism, property consisted of the power derived from the ownership of land by private individuals. The ruling class had to transfer property to an heir to maintain its supremacy. A system of primogeniture was commonly used: the eldest son of a landowner inherited all his father’s land. It prevented the division of wealth, which would have reduced the concentration of power in the hands of particular individuals. It was therefore vital to the functioning of feudalism and the maintenance of a dominant class that each landowner had a legitimate male heir. Premarital promiscuity and adultery both jeopardized the production of such an heir. The legitimacy of marriage and children was furthered and defended by the Church. Thus, in Turner’s words, ‘religion has the function of controlling the sexuality of the body in order to secure the regular transmission of property through the family’. Without religion it would have been difficult to ensure that there were recognized legitimate heirs who could retain the lands concentrated in their family’s possession.

A secondary function of religion under feudalism also stemmed from primogeniture. There was a preponderance of younger sons who did not inherit the land. In military feudalism, sons could die early, so it was necessary to have multiple heirs in case one or more were killed. But those who did not get the inheritance should have had some means of support. Monasteries provided a solution to the problem of surplus men.




  religion and capitalism

Turner believes that, in modern capitalism, religion has lost an important function for the ruling class. He claims that today personal and family wealth is of little importance to maintaining the power of the ruling class. Wealth has become impersonal—most wealth is concentrated in the hands of organizations (such as banks, pension funds, and multinational corporations) rather than in the hands of individuals. Under these circumstances, religion is nothing more than an optional addition to modern capitalist societies. Since the transfer of property through the family is no longer central to the system, society may tolerate, and the church may accept, divorce and illegitimacy.

Turner’s views on religion are similar to the more general views on the dominant ideology thesis advanced by Abercrombie, Hill and Turner (1980). He holds that modern capitalist societies do not have a widely accepted ruling-class ideology and that such an ideology is not necessary for the continuation of capitalist dominance: the ruling class uses coercion and naked economic power to maintain its position. Abercrombie et al. Hence questions Marx’s assumptions about the importance of religion in creating false class consciousness in capitalist societies.

Having discussed the Marxist and materialist views of a religion, let us now consider the relationship between gender and religion. Some feminist theories of religion have similarities with Marxist theories.

New Sociology


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