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Lecture 1

RELI 1710 Lecture 1: Intro

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Department
Religion
Course
RELI 1710
Professor
Zeba Crook
Semester
Spring

Description
Intro Monday, May 1, 2017 6:08 PM Religious Studies • Religionswissenschaft = the science of religion • Science = definition, classification, analysis • How do you define and classify religion? • People use religion like its meaning is self evident Theories of Religion Tyler & Frazer (social anthropologist) • Social evolution: societies are improving • The world is a hostile place • Earliest humans devised a way to control the hostile world • Manipulate - magic - survival • Magic - Religion - Science • Magic superstitious, Religion rational. Explained failure. • Religion gave personality to the Gods. Accountable. • Science replaces Religion - most rational, top of the pyramid • Critique: • We don’t have evolutionary stages of magic, religion, science. • Magic is religious -terminology religious people give to those religions they don’t like • Magic is bad religion. Cant be differentiated from Religion Durkheim (sociologist) • Primitive cultures, if you can understand native religiosity you will find the earliest form of religon- easiest to understand • Societies are getting better • People naturally divide world into binary oppositions • Sacred - bigger, better, outside of us v Profane - everything else • Sacred thing starts to function as an emblem of our identity • Because its sacred its fundamentally different. Sacred knife wont be use to put jam on toast (profane act) • Totemism • Once people find identity in sacred objects they coexist • "God is society, writ large" - our values and identity came from above, actually we projected them above • Because its sacred its fundamentally different. Sacred knife wont be use to put jam on toast (profane act) • Totemism • Once people find identity in sacred objects they coexist • "God is society, writ large" - our values and identity came from above, actually we projected them above • "Religion was the cement of society" - works because it has a function. Unity. Build an identity. Us vs. Them. • Critique: • Too peaceful, ignoring chaos and strife that can also be part of religion Freud (psychologist) • Religion exists because people are weak and sick • Science could replace religion • Result of psychological distress- Repressed trauma and memory • Religion is fundamentally irrational behaviour • Religion is an irrational compulsion that comes from peoples fear of death • In the origins of humanity there was a cosmic murder of a patriarchal figure that became repressed and results in Religion • Psychological benefits -gets people through hard times, a crutch • Critique • Too simplistic, only western religions Judaism Christianity • Cant work for all religions Marx (political philosopher) • Religion fools the poor and oppressed into accepting their submission • Marx - conflict • Life is hard but fundamentally rewarding • Capitalism makes things worse, no relationship to things they were making • Disenfranchised from own production, Religion does the same. Disenfranchised from own morality • Instead of taking responsibility for decisions and morality they cast it on God. Outwards and Upwards • Religion functions in the misery of the people • Painkiller, escapism "religion is the opioid of the masses" good thing, not a problem • Opioid can be administered to people, double edged sword. • Religion functions to keep people down- if you're faithful youll go to heaven, etc. • Against rebellion • If everyone woke up they would overthrow their oppressors • Positive painkiller, Negative oppressor • Those in power eat • Critique: • Can't account for when religion inspires rebellion • Against rebellion • If everyone woke up they would overthrow their oppressors • Positive painkiller, Negative oppressor • Those in power eat • Critique: • Can't account for when religion inspires rebellion • Sometimes religion is used to free people Eliade (historian of religion) • Religion as product of something (symptom) v. Religion isnt a produc-t Religion is a primary. • First, cause of things not caused by things • Religion cannot be understood except from the inside • Phenomenology -Study religion as it appears, as it self represents • Take religion and claims at face value • Religion is unique • Critique: • Understanding from the inside, one assumes an outsiders perspective while studying • Analytical & explanatory Definitions • 50+ definitions of religion (Leuba 1912) • JZ Smith: • The existence of at least fifty definitions of religion is not evidence that religion cannot be defined • It is evidence that religion can be defined in at least 50 different ways Religions Primary Characteristics • Religion is a concept • Not an entity, mental representation, only exists in our heads. Concept as scholarly creation. Fruit (concept word). Fruits exist, Fruit doesn’t exist. Classification. Bread - data word. Thing. Religio - Latin term. People praying, sac
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