- Functional and substantive definitions can be combined - Religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things that unites people into a single moral community who follow and accept these beliefs and practices - Sees religion as a combination of beliefs and practices (doing is as important as believing) Weber defines religion as a belief in a superior or supernatural power that is above nature and cannot be explained scientifically. eventually forgetting their own origins and status as thetans’ (Aldridge, 2007). “FASCINAS”– the element of mercy and grace. Their rituals are not to honour or worship the mogat but to placate and appease them. However, religious objects are not always treated with respect. In this belief system, humans are in effect gods, but gods who have lost their way. The question was how to describe the object of feeling.. In general sociologists would agree the belief systems such as, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Judaism are religions. Max Weber (1905) used a substantive definition of religion, seeing it as a belief in a supernatural power that is unable to be scientifically explained. Alan Aldridge describes these beliefs in the following way: ‘Scientology built a complex cosmological and metaphysical system on the basis of Dianetics. They cause illness and death and control the wind and the rain. He made the distinction between what religion is and what religion does for those who subscribe to it. Otto also coined the term ‘Numinous’, which is Latin for divine beckoning. Phrases such as ‘the ultimate problems of human life’ are open to varied interpretations. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. These determine whether or not they subscribe to the inclusive or exclusive definitions of religion. Exclusive Definitions: An exclusive definition of religion is where the criteria that define religion are more restrictive. They have no god, but their world is inhabited by a host of supernatural beings known as mogat. What religion IS. SUBSTANTIVE. Peter Berger (1974). A functionaldefinition of religion is based on what religion does and how it operates ‘in terms of its place in the social/psychological system.’1This means that the focus is on the instrumental role of religion. However, in evaluation – Hamilton notes two main problems with such a definition: It allows the inclusion of a wide variety of belief systems in the category ‘religion’. Any definition of religion must encompass this variety. The mogat are the ghosts of the dead. Otto stated that; The holy is what stands apart from, and is contrast with the profane. But Scientology also contains spiritual beliefs. Tylor also distinguished between three varieties of religious tradition: animism, polytheism and monotheism. Peter Berger made an understandable distinction between ‘substantive’ and ‘functionalist’ definitions of religion. For example, a table becomes holy when it is at an alter with a chalice on it, and the profane would be classed as something ordinary or secular that does not have any meaning. An overwhelming power/terror, usually described as awe as the experient does not run away. In other words, whether a belief can be considered religious or not depends on the substance of what is believed. E.B. It started as a type of therapy called Dianetics in which a therapist (or auditor) questions a subject (known as a preclear) wired to a machine similar to a lie detector (called an e-meter). Immortal, omniscient and omnipotent, thetans created the universe . Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. Scientology originated in the writings of a US science fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard. His followers worship him and praise him and live by his commandments. Some examples that Otto typically picked out were. Human beings are in essence spiritual entities, thetans. One way of defining religion is to see it in terms of the functions it performs for society or individuals. Otto accepted the importance of feeling however, believed that feeling alone was insufficient and an object of the feeling was also a necessary component. ( Log Out /  The Dugum Dani are not pious — they do not pray. ( Log Out /  Religion requires a belief in God or gods, or other supernatural beliefs. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. Profane objects do not produce these effects. but foolishly became trapped in their own creation . Sacred objects — for example, the cross in Christianity — produce a sense of awe, veneration and respect. . If one looks at religion – realistically, the debates around the area are really not that pronounced. . However, these roles and purposes might vary between societies and it should be the job of sociology to uncover them by empirical investigation, not to assume what they are from the outset. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. However, it is difficult to produce a definition broad enough to do so without incorporating phenomena that are not normally thought of as religions. Inclusive Definitions: Within an inclusive definition of religion one can easily qualify a ‘way of life’ as a religion. This can pertain to the social function of religion for group coherence, social order, defense of group interests, etc. Reference List of Literature that I have read; Christian approach to The Old Testament & Messianic Prophecy. States that religion is all about its content or subject matter, for example; belief in gods, belief in spirits, or… Some sociologists would not include the New Age movements within their definitions of what constitutes a religion. Functional Definitions of Religion For those who focus on functionalist definitions, religion is all about what it does: if your belief system plays some particular role either in your social life, in your society, or in your psychological life, then it is a religion; otherwise, it’s something else (like philosophy). It is based upon assumptions about the roles and purposes of religion. Substantive definitions can take a number of forms. All definitions emphasise certain aspects of religion and exclude others. We can see the biases (according the theoretical stance the hold) are very apparent in the debates that have formulated amongst sociologists around the issue of secularisation. An example of this approach is provided by Yinger, who defined religion as ‘a system of beliefs and practices by means of which a group of people struggles with the ultimate problems of human life ‘ … To define a group or ‘way of life’ as a religion is much more tricky than if it is an inclusive definition. These sociologists include, and exclude aspects of religion and theory as they see fit. It is more difficult to label a belief system as religious. Substantive definition of religion outlines religion in terms of its content referring to subject matter such as belief in God or in spirits. It is clear that many other aspects of social life, apart from religion, address such issues — for example, medicine and leisure. One way of defining religion is to see it in terms of the functions it performs for society or individuals. Substantive definitions are EXCLUSIVE – this means that they draw a clear line between religious and non-religious beliefs. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Change ). He made the distinction between what religion is and what religion does for those who subscribe to it. The aim is to clear the mind of the preclear of negative blockages, known as engrams. These so called sociological disputes about the definitions of religion tend to be around religions that are on fringes of more mainstream religions, and society. Functional definitions tend to be more inclusive. As a sociologist, Berger made reference to ‘substantive’ and ‘functionalist’ definitions of religion. . . Alan Aldridge (2007) distinguishes between more inclusive definitions and exclusive definitions. Otto is often criticised for being too selective when picking the ‘high points’ of religion as most religious followers have not, and are likely to never experience the same spiritual ‘highs’ that Otto describes. Peter Berger (1974). Individual sociologists have their own theoretical assumptions. His conclusions exclude the mundane aspects of religion, and the day to day hardships that come with it. An example of this approach is provided by Yinger, who defined religion as ‘a system of beliefs and practices by means of which a group of people struggles with the ultimate problems of human life‘ (quoted in Hamilton, 1995). Durkheim (1961, first published 1912) defined religion in terms of a distinction between the sacred and the profane. However, as Hamilton points out, such definitions run into problems because certain belief systems which are commonly regarded as religions, such as Buddhism, do not contain a belief in supernatural beings. A supernatural element is combined with institutional aspects of religion in Melford Spiro’s (1965) definition of religion as ‘an institution consisting of culturally patterned interaction with culturally postulated superhuman beings’. Other approaches are based upon substantive definitions; This means that they are more concerned with the content of religion rather than its function or purpose. ‘ The god of Christianity is a supreme being, his word is the ultimate truth, his power is omnipotent.