RLG100Y1 Lecture Notes - Rudolf Otto, Jewish Atheism, Mircea Eliade

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8 Feb 2013
Chapter and lecture compilation
Lecture 2 Religion 100
Christianity isn’t the father of the other religion
Te history of religious studies is really the history of studying European studies
Early theories of religion in 19th centures coming out of the enlightenment ,( scientific method
and reasoning) wanted to understand religion in a scientific way in a way detached for the
religious presentations in it self.
o Interested in observing religioin from the outside
o Through reason
These theories posed an evolutionary line of de velopment( starting with the most primitive and
ancient to the apex of religion which was monotheistic religions)
Two major influencial factors in forming religion in the west
o Discovery of other religions and ways of life ( during the enlightenment)
o Darwin!!! Huge factor in conditioning and influencing religion in many ways. He
proposed that humanity has developed along an evolutionary line, which caused the
question of god, and the certainty of biblical creations.
The world was 6thousand years old from the story of genesis, so it just went into the 19th
century as common knowledge, but Darwin provoked the thought that maybe the bible wasn’t
entirely accurate.
o This is where the start of religious studies really started
tylor- pioneer in the field on anthropology in the carribean and islands
o Wanted to look at the most ancient forms of religion
o Animism: simple and essential component of each religion that the most ancient also
had. ( belief in spiritual nature)
o The difference between animation in life and death the critical factor of spirit is where
religion arises from subsequent relgions are really carious of the initial though of
o All religions about defining the key element which represents liveliness( life and death)
Max Muller
o Translated the sacred text : the book of the east” in Sanskrit
o Proposed the oldest religious scriptures were : the Vedas belonging to the Hindu religion
Used these to get a sense of religion
o He concluded that religion arose as a way of explaining natural phenomena
They gave names to all the natural reactions around the natural phenomena ,
came to represent its self from awe to supernatural deities
Concluded that religion was a disease of language( the people were to week and
ignorant to pray to for support.)
o So he said that once people come to completely realize this there is no need for the
crutch of religion.
James frazier: british anthropologist
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o Located the source of religious sentiment in magic
o Stated that people try various techniques that will try to control the different
phenomena that they cant control
o Prayers/ rituals were used so that the universe was controllable through their
unsophisticated consciousness
Emule Durkheim
o Worked on austrailian/ aboriginal people through them he coined the term totemism
Totem is a plant or animal that is connected to a group or a clan or tribe. These
things could be considered very sacred either being sacrificed or protected. It is
their identity
Totem represents the god of each religion or tribe
Each religion projects their own totems
o The god that we encounter in other relgions are less about god themselves but are
representative of the groups that worship them
o In his view each relgion has their own gods which are totems of representing that are
the identity
Sigmund freud : totem and taboo
o Was an atheist jew
o Religion is analogous to an infants relation to a mother or parent
o To him there was no suprise that many religions thought of their god as a paternal figure
o He saw religion as originating from peoples guilt, or appease the father figure.
o Belived that they project the image of god , that religious idease are illusions, and that a
healthy person can face the world without help
20th century the study of religion shifted from origion now we are focus on finding the purpose
of religion
Feuerbach religion is just projection from the wishes of humanity like a collective dream or
fantasy that provides an escape from the situation we find our selves.
o The imagination helps to relieve the pressures though religion
o God is created in the idealized humanity not the other way around
o Wishful thinking *
Carl Marx a studier of feurerbach
Religion is a much more pervasive phenomenon
Religion can dictate what people do all day long.
Religion represents for many the ultimate authority for all senses of life
If we don’t understand religion or a bit about the culture or the history, the different civilizations
ect. If we don’t understand beliefs, we don’t really don’t have hope for understanding the world
as we know it today
Comes from the latin word religio
o Recollect or seeks to ground one in our lives
o It alludes to a reality other than what we encounter in everyday lives
o Was coined with reference to Christianity
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o For a long time it meant something like practicing Christianity, or being Christian
o The term before the middle ages, wasn’t used in the plural or there was the belifes and
practices of the people.
o There were rivals of Christianity (islam)
o Pagan rivals pre rennisance
14th century
o Catholic religion set up chairs
o They sent out priests to talk about religion
Europes horizons were expanding through the different voyages ie Christopher Columbus (1492)
o The info gathered from the voyages, was now able to be put on the printing press and
was widely spread about their adventures
o For the first time Europe was now aware of other people in other places that are not
practicing European styles
The people that are discovered are accounted in an exaggerated mannor(
o Asthe middle ages progressed the travel logs were replaced by more serious issues (
bringing Christianity to the rest of the world)
o Christian missionsairys ( jezuates) they tried very hard to learn the scriptures and the
ways of other religions, translating the texts sending them back home to Europe.
The European enlightenment
o A general disenchantment of Christianity
The friench enlightenment
o Volter- satires of Christian beliefs were made.
o As Europe became more familiar with other religion many scholors proposed
equivalents of Christianity, interms of thinking philosophy, even some that may
intellectually surpass Christianity
Many scholors focused on china( libniz) and (Volter)
Volter decided that india was the fountain head of religion
o Starting from this period the studies of religious departments to interpret classical texts
by other travelers.
Must read for your tutorial look on the website for the reading sections that require a one page
Refers back to The last point from the last lecture, Carl Marx
19th century was the part coming out of the enlightenment where it escaped all the biases
o Increasing concer with science approaching phenomena with reason and rationality
o Adapted many theories to evolve his own theories of religion
o He saw the origon and development of religion bought in parsle of continuing class
struggle, that society is characterized by endless class struggles
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