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November 23, 2010
William James (1902)
Religion - a common human response to the fact that we will die, offers us immortality, better
times, security of spirits that look over us. Provides meaning and purpose in a sometimes cruel
Karl Marx
Religion is opium of the people
Abolition of religion as illusoryy happiness of people is required for their real happiness
Underscores Marx's connection of religion and economy
People in hard times (especially poor ones) to draw themselves from their conditions
If you live under promise of afterlife then your oppression in current life might lead to
passivity so you dont fight for better conditions
If you believe youll have a better life later why would you bother trying to make current
life better?
People would become passive and not care about current issues
Religion and Sociology
Under what circumstances is religion a source of social stability?
community - protects vs suicide
social change - becoming more or less religious
Western World
Belief God controls and influences current life
Often attribute luck and good will to God
Divine Control Theory
God has influence on outcome of life
Life goes according to God's will or God's control
Influences social structures usually politics
Especially in American politics, Gods name is still often quoted
Often assigned gender and human attributes
People feel intimate bond with divine - similar to friends and family
God is conscious being, all knowing, has explicit expectations for all of us
This idea that God has full control over our affairs, weather, sports games have deep theological
roots across all religions
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More religious countries usually have more belief in divine control
SES - Socioeconomic Status
includes one's yearly income and the amount of education they attained
if put together can get a fairly powerful idea of someone's social status, especially status
Deprivation-Compensation Thesis
individuals who are disadvantaged socioeconomically are more likely to be religious since they
are making up for their plight
opiate of masses
reliance on omnipotent all knowing god offsets bad working conditions, poor living conditions,
poor, etc
people with low SES are likely to seek out god in prayer
report higher levels of interaction with god, more belief in divine control
people with low SES have higher psychological benefits from religion
African Americans
"black church"
social services, politican organization
place of solace in inequality, poverty, crime
Demytholgization Thesis
higher SES status dimishes belief in supernatural-mythological belief in religion
wealth + education makes most people have less belief in god
see order in world
Divine Control
Hergrup Benson
spent over $2 million to determine if prayer can help with healing
all received same surgery, many patients, hospitals, etc
group 1 - prayers, didnt know (patient)
group 2 - no prayers
group 3 - prayers, did know (patient)
given name of sick person and a script to read with the prayer
result: prayer had no effect on recovery
no difference between group 1 and 2
comparing group 1 and 3
difference in opposite direction, 59% who knew prayers had complications, 52%
who had prayers and didnt know had complications
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