SOC 250y1 The Sociology of Religion
Slight continuation of last class...
Religion is distinct from other human activities because many pertain to the belief of
another, higher plane of existence.
Social science example of the 'insider outsider' dilemma.
- cultural phenomenon, published a bunch of books about how science could not properly
assess 'separate reality'.
-as an anthropology Phd student, he studied the Yaqui people and became very spiritual
and through taking psychotropic drugs during ritual brujo ceremonies he 'crossed over' to
the spiritual realm and became a self proclaimed mystic.
- consulted with Don Juan Matus, a expert in this sort of phenomenon
- as his research unfolded, he began to clash with the insider outsider problem.
- DonJuan basically made fun of him for being a member of civilized society and said
that he couldn't possibly make proper sense of the spiritual world.
- so castaneda decides to become a disciple of Don Juan, fully commits himself to him
-he begins to develop 'powers', learns how to talk to animals, flies, etc.
- writes books about this, become best sellers.
- social science community is obviously skeptical of the objective value of his reports.
- this illustrating the insider outsider dilemma.
Religion: a system or complex of social relationships that human beings create and
modify -in history- with supernatural or divine powers (impersonal/personal), for
purposes of establishing order and protection, and for securing meaning and purpose.
Religion is thus:
A) a way of making sense = the cognitive function
B) a way of gaining security, support, protection = the practical function
Today most people meet these needs via science, laws, morality, technology, art, etc.
Religion doesn't play so heavily a role in our well being because we turn to the things of
our modern era firstly and then turn to religion when that doesn't work out, ex. If you're
sick you go to the hospital first and when the doctors don't know what to do, then you
The basic premise or intuition of religion: there is a higher reality than the natural and
social/human worlds, ultimately constitutive, creational, causal --a transcendent realm of
power and mystery, upon which our existence is dependent.
- religion is an 'imaginary' construction, in the sense that human beings create the
symbols of representation and meaning that vivify or realize the transcendent for our comprehension
This is making the transcendent 'objective' via temples, shrines, statues, etc
- also by calendric commemorations, rituals, seasonal changes, etc.
- doing so is an interplay between divin