Major Faults Of The Sociological Approach To Religion

2527 words - 10 pages

The scope and methods of sociology have been constituted such as to include everything within the close area of human society,that is everything that is relevant for the study of social phenomena,social structures and interractions.Sociology is an entirely modern science and therefore it has been constituted to meet the requirements of the modern man,whose need for religion and sacralization is much diminished.This has led to the strange and,as I shall try to prove in this essay,totally unjustified claim that there is nothing sociology cannot judge and even condemn according to its own narrow principles.But that doesn't mean that religion ceased to follow its legitimate course or that any authentic doctrine has lost anything of its inner value even if purely religious points of view have come to be included in sociological or philosophical discourses.Let us start from one of the classical definitions of religion offered by sociology.It belongs to Durkheim and claims that religion is "a unitary system of creeds and practices relative to sacred things,that is separate,forbidden,creeds and practices that bring together in a single moral community,called Church,all those who adhere to it" .This definition reduces the entire complexity of religious beliefs and practices,as well as the Church,to a strictly moral convention.This great confusion between morality and spirituality,which probably arised from the gradual departure of man from his spiritual roots,has an obvious consequence:everything that is beyond one's limited power of understanding is rejected out of hand as confused,unscientific or archaic and a "sociological" or "philosophical"explanation is offered instead of true knowledge.Let me explain in detail what the confusion consists of.First,there has to be understood that there is a major distinction to be made in order to approach this issue with any amount of intelligence.Religion and sociology represent two opposed realms:that of the sacred and that of the profane.The order I put them is the actual chronological order in which they arose and developed but unfortunately I could not leave enough free space to illustrate the exact distance between them in point of time and authority.While the religious tradition spans the entire history of mankind and constitutes indeed a tradition ,sociology as a science is no older than a century,which renders its claim to explain religion through the eyes of modern mentality if not unlegitimate at least unappropriate.That is not to say though that sociology is somehow inferior to religion (if this comparison can be accepted) because it obviously appeals much more easily to the modern mentality than religion does and has proved more compatible with the profane character of the modern society.Still,a profane approach to religion is not legitimate.The only thing that would make it legitimate is the claim that the modern manifestations of progress are enough to dismiss any traditional view as obsolete and that...

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