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Sigmund Freud

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Sigmund Freud, Emile Durkheim, and Karl Marx all argue that religion is NOT a response to the sacred but derive from other needs.  Using the same subject as your first essay, present a sustained argument that shows how the service you witnessed reflects religion as social (Durkheim), religion as psychological (Freud), and religion as manifestation of power relations (Marx).Relate to the first essay and argue why the sacred action, time, and place are not the response to the religion

There have been functional theories proposed by Karl Marx, which focus on the economic background of religion. Emile Durkheim has put focus on religion as a social need, while a philosopher named Sigmund Freud, has come up with theories that explain religion as a psychological need. They all focus on the motives of why individuals have beliefs that are irrational in nature. Karl Marx, a social philosopher, viewed religion in a worldly and materialistic aspect. He also saw economics and distinctions as what determines a society. Karl Marx saw a person’s mind and human consciousness as a constituent of matter. According to him, the dynamics of a society were being fueled by economics. Marx viewed religion as a temporary and illusionary source of comfort and happiness. He did not see it as a necessity of the human culture. He believed that religion supported the status quo and had its origin from alienation. These views by Marx have had a strong influence on thinking about the society.

Modern religious groups like the SLO Crusade portrayed certain aspects of alienation. They have alienated themselves from what they rightfully own in favor of their sacred endeavors with God. Marx asserts that religion justifies basic social frustration in our society (David 2000, pg 2526-8). He goes on to say that the need for religion has implied a protest against the unfavorable conditions of the society. This is what Marx termed as the opium of the people. Some teachings of the bible by the SLO group implies that one has to live the way Jesus lived. They have to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, and that Jesus lived a simple and normal life. Richness is negatively portrayed in the bible. This seems to justify that it is okay to be poor because they will be given riches in heaven.

On the other hand, Emile Durkheim viewed that, it was not faith in the supernatural that served as the defining characteristic of religion but rather, the concept of sacredness. He saw that religion reflects the concerns of the society. This view was based on the research among the Australian aboriginals regarding totenism. He saw that many of the clans had different objects, animals or plants that they held sacred and symbols of the clan. Christians would have a church as their sacred place and believe that God was present in the church area. Durkheim views religion as a response to the social needs of a society. In highlighting examples from an encounter from a group known as SLO crusade, this idea of a social need is brought out more clearly. Modern groups like SLO crusades have their own time of worship apart from their daily activities. They did their worship as a group or as a team. Each member would leave his or her daily activity at designated times and adhere to the timetable of the group.

This religious group believed the world to be having a superior God and sought to live or abide by His rules. They all believe God to be powerful, and the one that brings them together. They can identify themselves as a society that is under or belongs to God. In this group, members are free to interact with each other and share their knowledge on their day to day activities basing on the bible. They co-exist collectively and new members are welcomed to experience the advantages of living together in Christianity. A member of the SLO group can seek out and enjoy the company of another member of the group. When the SLO crusades members are observed, they display the same characteristics by maintaining a code of conduct while worshiping or performing their rituals. The people belonging to this community maintain discipline while worshiping. By organizing crusades, the SLO group is trying to urge people to join their religious group and stick to it. This is an ordered group of people bound by their maker who is God. It is correct to assert that religion cannot be considered to take place on a personal level, but rather on a group level.

Durkheim saw totenism as the simplest and original form of religion. He does not see a separation of moralism from religion. Religion emphasizes the group interest that often clash with the interests of an individual. This is emphasized when the SLO crusade members left their own personal routine, and duties so as to meet up as a group and do their sacred worship or rituals. Durkheim viewed that religion functions as a group cohesion performed by rituals that are collectively attended. The members would feel united with the gods and hence with the group. Durkheim's approach focuses on the ways social institutions fill social needs. Durkheim and his group of scholars asserted that the society and God is identical (Jones 1999). They believed that any talk about God was about social experienced and derived from it. They believed a ritual to be religion in tangible form. They believed that gods or spirits do not exist or are beyond human experience. They explained the spirit as the dynamics of enthusiasms induced by a crowd in rituals.

Sigmund Freud is a philosopher who viewed religion as an illusion; a belief that followers want to be true. Freud explains that religion is an unconscious neurotic response to what he termed as repression. By this, he meant that a civilized society demands that one cannot fulfill his or her desires so sudden, they have to be repressed. He understood religion as a system of beliefs about this world that involves moral guidelines and a consoling sense of being special. Religion was a special force that puts energy on the forms that are assumed by culture. Freud had a theory that myths are to be viewed after the fashion of dreams. However, myths are not individual dreams but collective ones. He felt that both dreams and myths are structures imagined and made of symbols that are organized along a narrative (David 2000, pg 2526-8). Dreams and myths display mechanism of forming symbols. They display how creative the human mind can be. They are produced by unconscious minds. Ancient events that are written in books like the bible can be seen as myths that represent the creativity of the human mind. Freud concluded that myths are group fantasies. There persist certain human situations behind the diversity of cultures and societies. These myths appear to be repressed by the members of a society because they are shared by the members and are pervasive and powerful. He asserts that myths are the shared unconscious wishes of a group of people. The psychological interpretation of these myths will bring out the nature of these wishes. In a religious group like SLO crusade, the idea that God is their father shows a shared unconscious wish for a powerful and a morally upright father for the group. The idea of them devoting to Jesus Christ as the Son of God brings out a western perspective of how sons relate to their dads.

Freud believed that humans had a sense of specialness. Religion encouraged self-love by giving its followers the illusion that they were privileged in relating themselves to an all-powerful and all-loving God. Religious groups like SLO crusade assert to each member of the society that they have a special relationship with their father in heaven. Sigmund Freud appreciated the power of religious symbols.

These theories are contrary to what is asserted by Mircea Eliade, that the encounter with the sacred shapes the individual and the community’s organization of space, time and action. Mircea focuses on what religion is. He tries to explain that individuals have faith since their religion makes them sense that way. On the other hand, those theories that are termed as functional theories put focus in what religion does.

In figuring the world as sacred, there are some questions that arise. For example, the manifestation of sacred in space where the world was created by gods or paradigmatic act of generation, this is a belief that the followers of religious groups would like to believe is true. These religious groups like SLO crusade believed that they became truly men by acting like Jesus. This can instead be explained as a psychological need and not sacred time.

It is also disputable to say that groups like SLO crusade portrayed aspects of sacred by acting in a manner suggesting a need to leave the profane in favor of the sacred. The SLO crusade group wishes to live their earthly being and be in the presence of God. This is what can be referred to as an aspect of alienation. The SLO Crusade portrayed aspects of alienation by leaving behind their worldly aspect and being with God. They also alienate themselves from their normal lives by trying to live like Jesus. By participating in religious activities, one is said to be alienating him so as to engage in such activities. Also, the notion that participation in these events meant stepping out of ordinary life and into sacred time is not true. This can be termed as an illusion. They want what they think to be true. This is brought out clearly when they translate their regular believes into common practices in their lives.

The SLO Crusade uses the bible, an ancient book, which could be viewed as a book of myths. Events of the ancient times are recorded on it. By basing the bible as a book of myths, it will be okay to say that, the Christian religion bases itself on illusions and not sacred events. Myths have unknown origins and are supposed to explain how things came into being. This means that the followers of this religion belief what is written in their sacred book to be true. These myths are better explained by Freud’s theory of dreams.

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