Animism: meaning life, soul,
-belief in spiritual beings
- Tylor argued that animism was the earliest stage of what we today know as religious behavior
- a term popularized by the late 19 century anthropologist EDWARD BURNETT TYLOR to name the
belief he thought to be held by EVOLUTIONARILY early people (what Tylor would’ve named a
‘primitive’ or ‘tribes very low in the scale of humanity’) concerning natural phenomena (ex. Trees, ocean ,
ppl) possessing spirits or souls.
- was developed to help answer the question “what is the origin of religion?” making Tylor an early
example of a scholar developing a NATURALISTIC theory of religion.
-Chapter 4 The Functions of Religion
- for Tylor the NATURAL cause of religion could be explained by understanding its origin, and its origin
was based on our ancient ancestors solving puzzles by using their inevitably faulty reasoning about how the
natural world worked.
-naturalistic theories of religion: opposed the theological approaches that presume study of religion to be
found in a supernatural source (god). It presupposes that those beliefs, behaviors or institutions classified as
‘religious’ are in fact mundane elements of the historical, cultural world.
- We therefore refer to Tylor’s definition as essentialist: it identifies the 1 essential feature without which
something wouldn’t be what it is.
Theodicy: meaning the justice of god (problem of evil)
-coined by the philosopher G OTTFRIEDW ILHELM VON LEIBNIZto name the problem of justifying belief in the
goodness of an all- powerful divine being in light of routine empirical observations of what could be called
evil in the world.
- Problems have been divided by European philosophers into 3 propositions that, it is argued, cannot
all be held simultaneously (what is called trilemma).
- THEISTIC philosophers have also worked to develop ways to distinguish among types of evil that
need to be addressed, such as moral evils, for which an intentional AGENT can be held accountable
(and the evil thus explained as the result of free will) and natural evils, such as earthquakes.
- Largely a CHRISTIAN philosophical issue, MAX WEBER argued that the HINDU doctrine of
karma was but 1 more attempt to address the problem of evil.
- Chapter 6 Religion and the Insider/ Outsider Problem.
- Theological challenge of justifying one’s belief in an all-powerful, all-good god despite events in the
observable, natural world that suggest otherwise
- Long standing problem for some theologians who subscribe to belief in a MONOTHEISTIC god
- C OGNITIVE SCIENCES: seeing theodicy’s instead as ways in which social actors articulate and
systematize their efforts to deal w. what we once might’ve termed cognitive dissonance- a term used
for the discomfort and sometimes profound anxiety, that results from having experiences that
conflict w/ one’s conceptual framework.
- D ISCOURSE: communication of thought by words/conversation
Mysterium tremendum et fascinans:
- Coined by Protestant theologian R UDOLF O TTOto name the fascinating, full of awe, mystery that he
argued in his German work on comparative theology, Das Heilige was the object common to all
forms of religious EXPERIENCE.
- The feeling that a person experiences, known as the experience of the numinous
- Otto defines this feeling as 1 that contains elements of utter awe, might, power, energy and urgency.
- The significant, compelling and thereby attractive, and yet repelling myste