Religion In America Essay

2002 words - 8 pages

Religion in America


OVERVIEW

The history of religion in America is fascinating, both on its own terms and also with respect to what it teaches us about other aspects of American culture. The period we are studying is especially interesting, because it was during this era that many developments and changes within American society occurred; in some cases these effects challenged the development of religion in general, while other effects promoted it, or at least specific varieties of it.

I shall proceed to examine several of these changes; while this list is by no means comprehensive, it hopes to capture the overall texture of religion in America during the modern era, or roughly the period between the Civil War and World War II.

DARWINISM AS SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY

Richard Dawkins, a contemporary British biologist, says that "Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist" (qtd. Haught 50). Before Darwin, those who rejected the idea that a Supreme Being of some kind was responsible for the position in which humans now found themselves lacked a serious alternative explanation for life. Furthermore, religion has always provided answers to important questions such as, Where did we come from?, Why are we here?, and Where are we going?. Science before Darwin was largely unable to answer these questions.

Darwin's publication of his theory of evolution through natural selection had broad ramifications in the scientific world, and not merely for biology. Many people, scientists and non-scientists alike, saw Darwinian theory as the ultimate disproof of the existence of God. On this view, because Darwinism offers an explanation for the development of human beings from lower forms of life, a believer in evolution is automatically a non-believer in a personal, caring God responsible for the creation of life. For example, philosopher Daniel Dennett asserts that evolutionary theory has destroyed theology, and that Darwinism's metaphysical implication is that life has no purpose, and certainly no divine direction (cf. Haught 77).

Some theologians and philosophers see kind of conclusion as problematic. It is widely thought that the kind of assertion Dennett makes, for example, is an example of "scientism"-the metaphysical claim that truth can only be found through science (cf. Smith 59-60). Its cousins are materialism, the belief that the material world constitutes the whole of reality, and reductionism, which asserts that explanations of the most fundamental units are the most accurate. It is undeniable that the reductionist and materialist perspectives are invaluable to progress through the scientific method. Whether they can be logically extended to the metaphysical realm is a contentious subject, but the philosophical adoption of Darwinism's implications is seen by many to this day as a major advance in human thought. Teleological systems of thought, and most especially those citing the authority of a...

Find Another Essay On Religion in America

Materialism and Religion in Alexis De Tocqueville's Democracy in America

1602 words - 6 pages In Democracy in America, Alexis De Tocqueville explains the dangers of democracy and explains the virtues that temper these dangers. In this paper, I will look at two issues Tocqueville discussed extensively in late 19th century American democracy and posit what Tocqueville may say about these issues today. The points I will discuss are materialism and religion. In a democracy, such as America, the individual’s opportunity to succeed makes him

The Role of Religion in the Formation of America

2047 words - 8 pages The Role of Religion in the Formation of America Religion has played a large role throughout History. Entire nations have been founded on the ideals of one religion or another, and many wars have been fought purely for religious reasons. In fact there are wars still going on that are almost completely religiously motivated. New Religions may form, old religions may die or change, but they will always be a part of our culture and society

The role of religion in early America played an important

1858 words - 7 pages The role of religion in early America played an important factor in the way people treated their fellowman and the way society functioned as a whole. The manner in which a society operated reflected greatly upon the beliefs and practices of its culture. In early America, five diverse segments ? Native Americans, Planters, Puritans, Afro-Americans, and Rationalists/Revolutionaries illustrated such behavior.The Native Americans were the first

What are the Effects of Marriage and Religion on African Americans in Urban America?

1248 words - 5 pages What are the Effects of Marriage and Religion on African Americans in Urban America? The last three decades have witnessed a “retreat from marriage” in the United States, marked by high rates of nonmarital births, lower rates of marriage, and divorce. Although a growing body of research on the retreat from marriage has focused on its social and economic causes, little attention has been paid to the role that cultural institutions play in

Freedom in America. Speaks of t he freedom of speech, color, religion, cencorship etc..

2614 words - 10 pages No other democratic society in the world permits personal freedoms to the degree of the United States of America. Within the last sixty years, American courts, especially the Supreme Court, have developed a set of legal doctrines that thoroughly protect all forms of the freedom of expression. When it comes to evaluating the degree to which we take advantage of the opportunity to express our opinions, some members of society may be guilty of

Talks about the levels of religion (Tolerant and intolerant)that were found in North America before 1700).

535 words - 2 pages ." Not only were there Puritans, Baptists, Quakers, and Catholics, but it was also home to the first Jewish community in the country. North America's first synagogue was built in New York in 1730. Even African Americans were free to practice their own religion. They actually made up over 15% of the religious population.In summary, North America had several differing opinions when it came to religion. From Puritans to Quakers to Jews, North America was full of diversity and variety. In the 1700s, the British North American colonies were open to an assorted range of beliefs.

Religion Shaping America

903 words - 4 pages The functionality of America would not be as novel or ingenious without religion, a monumental influence in the building of the United States. If we trace back hundreds of years to colonial times, religion acted as the absolute driving force that convinced colonists that America was the new haven they had been looking for. It also contributed long lasting moral, social, and political impacts seen in countless movements reflecting the christian

The Freedom of Religion: America, the most diverse

823 words - 3 pages Immigrants, who left their world to enter a new one, founded America. Leaving countries that persecuted them because they believed in something different other than their "national religion". America's constitution was drawn up because many believed that we all had a right to freely live and choose a belief of our own choosing. The freedom of religion is one that still stands today."The United States is a culturally and spiritually diverse

The roles that religion played on the early society of north america.

799 words - 3 pages freedom of all citizens.Religion has shaped America in many ways. We are a very diverse country and share many different beliefs. It took many strong-willed people to get to the point at which we are today. Society has changed so much during the beginning of the first thirteen colonies, in fact, society is in ways a religion because there are no limits in what a person can choose to believe in.

Hollywood's Attack on Religion, from the book Hollywood vs. America by Michael Medved

1605 words - 6 pages The section that I have chosen to analyze from the book Hollywood vs. America is "The Attack on Religion." In this part of the book, Michael Medved discusses the shift in attitude Hollywood has made toward religion, from acceptable to contemptible. He takes a look at the messages being sent in films, music and television in the last 15 to 20 years and analyzes their effects. In general, Hollywood depicts religion in an unfavorable manner

POLITICS IN AMERICAN RELIGION TODAY

1006 words - 4 pages Religion and Politics in America advances five theories for placing in a meaningful context the sometimes bewildering complexity of relations among religion, politics, and culture in American society. The culture wars thesis illuminates the contours of religion and politics today by emphasizing Americans' deep social divisions over values and lifestyles. Conservatives stress the importance of traditional values: religion, marriage and family

Similar Essays

Contemporary Religion In America Essay

791 words - 3 pages Religion is a very difficult topic to approach. To discuss religion, is to walk through a mine field. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and beliefs. In contemporary America, it is popular now turn from established religions or to have no religion at all. It is not difficult to believe how science and technology played a major role in contemporary religion in America by making our society secular. As our ability to attain knowledge

Largest Religion In America Essay

2171 words - 9 pages Latin American HumanitiesStudent SymposiumValencia College-West CampusOrlando, FloridaProposalSaintanel FrancoisMajor: NursingThe topic of this paper is the diversity of religion in America and to show why there are so many religions. This research paper will talk about different type of religions existing in America. This paper will divided in three parts such as originality, doctrine, and practice. The origin of religion will tell us where the

Religion In America Essay

861 words - 3 pages Religious practice officially commenced in North America in 1620, when a group of Separatists alighted in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Although Jamestown Virginia, established ten years earlier, equaled the first English site in North America, the Separatist's settlement comprised the first religious element. Believing that the Anglican church was corrupted beyond redemption, the Separatists had isolated themselves from it and then fled to Holland

Religion In Colonial America Essay

1555 words - 6 pages (Mather, 2008). Jonathan Edwards 1703-1758 Religion continued to play a major role in Colonial America during Jonathan Edwards’s life. Reading Christian religious texts will lead one to the conclusion that a specific cycle has existed throughout not only the history of Colonial America, but the history of mankind. God’s children will follow his teachings for a period of time, wane in their faith, pursue wicked endeavors, and be humbled