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RLG210 Lectures

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Joseph Bryant

Lecture Notes There will be an emphasis on historical development and the origins of things and the beginning of things. A lot of the content will come from the lecture and 1-2 questions from the tests, however 90% of it will be from the lectures. Attendance will be taken at tutorials and it will count for participation marks. *Field report (10%) will be due at the end of the first term.  Sociologies of politics: arts, war, science, literature and of course religion.  The sociological study of religion attempts to identify: o The sociological factors of bases for religious beliefs, actions, experiences, communities, etc. o The relevance of significance of religion in social life and history o …but the sociological study of religion confronts unique interpretive challenges  Ontology- concerned with the nature of “being”, reality or existence, casual and constitutively (what the world is and how it works)  Epistemology- concerned with the nature of knowledge; how we know things  How do we make out assessments of reality?  How can we figure out the nature of reality?  Emmanuel Kant: “things in themselves and things as they appear”  Natural scientists: to their reality is an external one (exterior)  Social scientists: both exterior and interior o We can intuit and project and relation to other hum an experience o We can enter into the conscious life of others o Religions is based on a distinction ontology- the claim that there are supernatural beings or powers or a super-sensible reality, An Absolute, Divine, or Transcendent realm that is ultimately primary and causally responsible for both the Natural world and the Social world o Social science has no direct or objective “access” to that purported Transcendent reality; it cannot be visited for purposes of measurement or examination o Religion is based on and creates an epistemological dualism or split o Epistemologically, faith statements- i.e, the claims of believers to spiritual or divine truths are not fundamentally factual or empirical. Rahter, they essentially declarative What is sociology?  Looks at how conditions around us influence us socially  Study of social life of humanity and social relations  In the organization of knowledge sociology would be in: humanity and social sciences  Social sciences features more argument and theoretical disagreement  Actuarial science agrees on the basics and fundamentals  Social sciences disagree on the fundamentals  Economists see the world as having a economic base which is driven by power, privilege, and overall maximization (universal: human nature at work)  Anthropologists see the world as human social existence is based on cultural experience o What people see, think, and value is cultural (local, cultural arrangement)  Sociologists vs. Psychologists  Sociologists see psychological condition is because of social experiences  Psychologists are divided internally and tend to pull causation out of the person  Sociology looks for social factors of religion  Religion is a social force for politics, arts, gender politics, etc.  Religion is a social reality for social life  Ideology- what people regard as their ideology is driven by political opinions  Physics does not have very many ideology. WHY? o Because of the relationship between physicists and the subject matter they are studying o Verses economists‟ relations to what they are arguing o Therefore we are studying ourselves, which has a connection. Biologists, physical scientists are studying other beings o In social science it is very difficult to remove oneself from that connection.  Religion is based on a distinct ontology: the claim that there are supernatural beings or powers, or super-sensible reality, an Absolute, Divine or Transcendent realm that is ultimately primary and casually responsible for both the Natural world and the Social World  Science has no direct or objective “access: to that purported Transcendent reality. It cannot be visited or entered for purpose of measurement or examination (unlike the/this worldly realities of politics, art, war, etc.)  Religion is the only domain of social action where humans say that there is another world:  Our world (biological, social) verses another reality (under the sway of cosmic powers)  The most major traditions emphasis of transcendence  Religions tend to base on other realities  Religion is based on and creates an epistemological dualism or split: religious believers claim that reality of the Divine or Transcendent. But social scientists and historians have no way of accessing or testing the legitimacy or accuracy of the belief. That is to say, for science, the Devine or supernatural is not empirically verifiable or falsiable!  Epistemologically, faith statements---i.e. The claims of believe to spiritual or divine truths are not fundamentally factual or empirical. Rather, the are essentially declarative (“God is love”, “Nirvana is ultimate love”). Performative (“I have been saved by the load”) or emotive, i.e. expressing or soliciting feelings of awe, reverence, dependence, joy, etc.  Religious language or discourse is akin to poetry  Accordingly, the evidence of proofs for faith statements are “internal” to each particular religious traditions o The specific faith claims of one tradition are not convincing to those believing in other traditions, nor to skeptics and atheists Parable of the Two Explorers and the Gardner’s (paraphrased on the overhead)  This epistemological situation results in: 1. An “insider”-“outsider” polarity (Believers vs. Non-believers) 2. A split of polarity between subjective and objective ways of knowing. i.e. Religious experience is sustained by cultivated faith in the claims of a tradition; those without that fail will never be able to experience or comprehend the “true” nature of that religiosity or so say the insiders The Dilemma or Tension:  Social science cannot access that posited domain of the Divine or Transcendent, et believers claim their actions and experience are derived from the source. Social science accounts which attitude the actions and beliefs of believers to sundry social and historical forces that this appear “reductionist” and superficial to the religious actors themselves.  In other words: is religion ideology, a delusion or a fantasy? Or is it divine truth? This insider-outsider polarity cannot be overcome, given the distinctive ontological claims of faithful followers  Social scientists must accordingly “bracket” the ontological claims of religions---what Berger calls “methodological atheism” and Smart called “methodological agnosticism”---and focuses solely on their historical, social, and psychological consciousness and effects  That is historical social science studies the consequences and implication of religious belief and not the validity of it (that is a concern for theology and philosophy of religion).  Social scientists must accordingly “bracket” the ontological claims of the religion-what Berger calls methodological atheism and Smart methodological agnosticism- and focus on solely on their historical, social, and psychological consequences and effects  Historical social science studies the cause and consequences of religious belief-not the validity of it (that is a concern for theology and philosophy of religion)  Social science example of the dilemma: Carlos Cestoidean (1925- 1998), who began his research on the world of Yaqui magicians/sorcerers in conventional anthropological fashion, but through his association with the Bruno Don Juan Matus and other shapeshifters, came to agree that science could not properly access the “separate reality” they functioned in. With the aid of psychotropics and spirit training, Castaneda “crossed over” (from the tonal to the nagual, the „everyday‟ to the „spirit‟ world), became a mystic of sorts, and related that magical world from the “inside” in a series of popular best-sellers. The social science community, however is highly skeptical of the objective value or realism of Castaneda‟s “reports”. The case this illustrates the basic dilemma of insider vs. outsider, subjective vs. objective ways of knowing: scientific standards are deems inadequate or distortional by believers/insiders,” while scientist
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