Karl Marx believed that
created by humanity for two purposes. On the one hand, religious
beliefs represent the unfulfilled longings of oppressed people for a
better life. On the other hand, religion is created by those in
authority to maintain their power and to manipulate people
|Religion is the sigh of
oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world. and the sold of
soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people . . . .
B. Functional Perspective:
The functional perspective argues that
exists because it is useful. In particular, it meets the deep needs
of society and individuals. For example, sociologist Emile Durkheim argued that religion
creates and maintains social order. Psychologist Erich Fromm concluded that religion
enhances person's mental health by providing
stability and meaning. Religion can fulfill one's desire for
perfection, inner strength, and change.
The great scholar of comparative religions,
Mircea Eliade believed that religion helped humanity find meaning
in the midst of ordinary life. He argued that there are basically
two realms: the sacred and the profane. The sacred is the realm of meaning from
which the chaotic realm of the ordinary (profane) derives its meaning.
Religion helps us to
seek out and find the extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary; the
sacred in the midst of the profane.
C. Faith Perspective:
Notice that the functional perspective does
really address the
question of the truth of religious beliefs; rather it simply asserts
that whatever its source, religion can play a positive role in
promoting the well-being of society and individuals. In contrast, the
faith perspective says that religions exists because God or Ultimate
Reality really does exist. Religious belief springs from "mystical
experience" that one cannot
fully explain or articulate.
Notice that we use the phrase "God or
Reality." As we encounter various religious traditions we will
observe that not all religions have as their basis a belief in a
personal deity. For some religions such as Taoism, an impersonal
force is the "Ultimate Reality" that causes and sustains all things. For
Theravada Buddhism, Ultimate Reality is the eternal cosmic law of karma to
which even the gods are subject.