Tick the three types of critique against religious belief.
What would you include when talking about the popularist critique?
Durkheim and Marx
Freud and Marx
Freud and Jung
Durkheim and Dawkins
Dawkins and the problem of evil and suffering
What does the popularist critique try to do?
It attempts to dissuade people from religious belief as it is dangerous and precludes critical thinking.
It concludes that God is an invention of our society to satisfy our emotional needs.
It put forward the idea that religion is only there to soothe our guilt.
It tries to persuade people to believe in God since religion is the only effective way to ensure peace in the world.
Tick THREE ideas put forward by Dawkins against religious belief in the popularist critique.
Religious belief is not necessary as there is no God-given purpose in the world and the "only watchmaker is the blind forces of physics". Even if we did believe there was purpose, it is a value judgement and doesn't mean that purpose actually exists.
Faith limits our understanding of the world because "Faith is the great cop-out". Faith encourages people to halter their own thinking and find the answers in religion. For example, instead of thinking about how the universe started, some religious believers have faith that God created the universe.
Religious belief discourages change because it maintains tradition, which "tends to rather preclude thought and reflection". Religious belief stops humanity moving forward by encouraging ancient, sacred practices and beliefs.
Religious belief is dangerous because it helps maintain an unjust and unequal social order. Religious belief allows the rich who oppress the poor to feel less guilty and comforts the oppressed with the promise of heaven. Therefore, corruption and injustice is encouraged.
"Faith is very very dangerous' because it encourages fundamentalism, since religion can sanction anything as divinely ordained. Religious belief prevents logical thinking and is "bent on ruining the scientific education of countless minds".
Religious belief is a selfish act that satisfies our emotional needs and provides explanations for existential questions, such as mortality. Religious believers are actually focusing more on their comforts and needs rather than other people's.
In the popularist critique, what does Dawkins believe the function of religion is?
Religion is a primitive explanation for our existence, which has now been "completely superseded by science".
Religion is an invention of our society to comfort us emotionally and psychologically.
Religion is a tool to oppress the masses and maintain a social hierarchy.
Mackie's Inconsistent Triad suggests that an omnibenevolent and omnipotent God could not exist if evil did exist. If evil did exist then God could be either omnipotent or omnibenevolent, but not both, according to Mackie.
What is a good extension quote by HUME to include when writing about the problem of evil and suffering?
evil and suffering are the "rock of atheism"
"A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence"
"the errors in religion are dangerous"
What would you include when talking about the sociological critique?
Durkheim and Freud
What does the sociological critique try to do?
It concludes that God is there to ensure a social order and collective morality.
Durkheim believes that religious belief stems from totemic worship. Primitive clans would meet around a totem and this totem would become a symbol of their unity and community together. Over time this totem is elevated into a supernatural God.
Tick THREE ideas that Durkheim puts forward about religious belief and its function in society.
"Religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things...which unite in one single moral community". Therefore, religious belief holds society together through shared values and rituals, such as communion and praying at Church.
Religious belief is there to provide answers for existential questions, such as mortality and the problem of evil. Thus things that don't make sense are explained and our emotional needs are satisfied.
Durkheim thinks that the future of religion is that we need to enhance religious belief across the world and create a strong religious morality in every community.
Tick THREE ideas that Marx argues against religious belief.
Religion is a tool used by the bourgeois (rich) to oppress the proletariat (poor workers) and maintain an unjust social order. "Religion is the opiate of the masses".
Religious belief encourages inequality, for example 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says "if a man shall not work, he will not eat". Jesus is also seen encouraging people to pay tax to the powerful rich, with "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's" (Matthew 22:15-22).
Religion also comforts our emotional needs in an unjust society. For example, it subdues people into being oppressed by providing the comfort of a heaven. (e.g. Matthew 5:3-11 "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"). Whilst the powerful rich feel less guilty with the comfort of Jesus's non-judgement in 1 John 3:16 ("whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life").
Marx says that "the first prerequisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion" and therefore, the future of religion is to get rid of religion and move towards a secular, classless and equal society.
What would you include when talking about the psychological critique?
Dawkins and Marx
What does the psychological critique try to do?
It puts forward the idea that religion and God are only there to comfort our suppressed guilt and satisfy our psychological needs.
What is the origin of religion, according to Freud?
Religion was a primitive explanation for our existence, which has now been "completely superseded by science".
Religious belief stems from totemic worship by primitive clans, who elevated the symbol of unity in the totem into a supernatural God.
Religion arises as a tool for the rich to oppress the poor and maintain an unjust social order.
Religious belief occurs when in primitive clans, an alpha-male with be overthrown by jealous rival males. Yet with death of the alpha-male comes suppressed guilt from the other males and they begin to worship the deceased alpha-male in order to soothe their guilty conscience. The memory of the alpha-male is elevated into a super-ego and God becomes the projection of this super-ego.
Tick TWO ideas put forward by Freud about the function of religious belief.
We unload our suppressed guilt onto God to make us feel better and balance our psyche. See the origins (Oedipus Complex) for further context for this idea.
Wish fulfilment: Just like babies have wishes to be fed and comforted, humans never grow out of this and the wishes become greater. Our wishes become directed towards bigger issues, such as existential questions about mortality. God is therefore an invention of the mind to satisfy our wishes and provide answers to existential needs.
How did Jung differ from Freud? (Context: Jung was a former pupil of Freud but disagreed with his ideas)
Jung believed that there were two types of conscience: personal (unique to an individual) and collective (shared by humanity).
Jung was a theist, unlike Freud.
Jung argued that mythic heroes were a part of our collective conscience as they saved our threatened social order and uphold moral principles. Examples of mythic heroes are evidenced in stories passed onto the next generation, such as Superman, Hercules or Jesus.
Jung disagreed with the Oedipus Complex, instead believing that the alpha-male feels guilt for repressing other males.
Tick THREE strengths of Dawkins and the popularist critique.
We can observe fundamentalism in religion e.g. the Westboro Baptist Church. Thus Dawkins makes cohesive observations and comments on religion.
Dawkins's ideas appear more reasonable and less controversial than other scholars.
The popularist critique is arguably able to disprove God's existence since evidence from Biblical scripture is used to support Dawkins' arguments, making them more plausible. E.g. The Book of Job shows God causing suffering on the innocent and faithful Job for no reason. Leviticus 19 is an example of God ordering homosexuals to be killed, showing heavy prejudice.
The popularist critique uses extreme ideas and language and is therefore popular with many people across the world.
Dawkins holds religion to account for its actions, since religion has caused cruel atrocities and violence. The popularist critique acknowledges the problematic nature of religion, which some people tend to ignore.
Tick THREE weaknesses of Dawkins and the popularist critique.
Dawkins argues that religion stops people from thinking but this isn't a fair statement. There are plenty of examples of theists questioning and thinking about their religion. For example, Jesus questioning the Pharisee's absolute approach to religion, the theodicies thinking about the problem of evil in relation to God. Even McGrath acknowledges that "religion can generate violence but it is not alone in this".
Tinker highlights Dawkins' hypocrisy because "Dawkins exhibits all the hallmarks of those forms of religion he so despises". Dawkins argues that religion is dangerous yet Dawkins' fundamentalist atheist and extremely narrow-minded perspective is also dangerous.
Dawkins is just plainly arrogant and irritating, have no real understanding of religion and makes sweeping statements.
The popularist critique doesn't actually disprove God's existence because Dawkins has no proof of God's non-existence. The popularist critique merely comments on the dangers of religion.
Tick THREE weaknesses of the sociological critique (Durkheim and Marx).
Durkheim argues that religion prevents change but there has been significant change in religion. For example, Jesus and agape love transformed religious belief from the old legalistic approach of the Pharisees. The Reformation in Europe also saw vast changes in the way the Church was run. So religion does encourage and support change.
Marx criticises religion for just helping the rich stay in power yet there is Biblical scripture that suggests otherwise. For example, Matthew 19:21 says "...give to the poor and thou shalt have treasure in heaven" whilst 1 Timothy 6:10 states "The love of money is the root of all evil", showing that religion is not all about greed and wealth.
The sociological critique doesn't say anything new about religion and its ideas are too obvious.
The sociological critique doesn't disprove God's existence but instead comments on religion's function in society.
Tick THREE strengths of the sociological critique (Durkheim and Marx).
Durkheim's comments on religion's function are cogent because we can actually observe his ideas in real life. For example, the single moral community of the Church inviting people to share in sacred ancient rituals, such as Communion.
The sociological critique is not as offensive as the popularist critique.
There are examples in the Bible to support Marx's argument and we can observe religious oppression throughout history e.g. Victorian Times, where religion dictated your social class and showed prejudice against certain people.
It can be observed that society and religion are closely linked and influence our society. For example, the Queen is the Head of the Church and State in England.
Tick THREE strengths of the psychological critique (Freud and Jung).
We can observe wish fulfilment and guilt associated with religion. For example, in Church services we are asked to apologise for our sins and prayer to God to help us.
Jung's idea of mythic heroes is relatable and observable in many societies and cultures. This makes the psychological critique more appealing and relatable as an argument and it becomes more plausible.
Freud's ideas are so bizarre that they intrigue people to listen to his argument.
The parental and paternal language used in religion, e.g. God is the Father and Jesus is the Son, seems to point towards the complexities of the parent-child relationship highlighted by Freud.
Tick THREE weaknesses of the psychological critique (Freud and Jung).
Lowenthal cogently argues that Freud only focuses on projective religion rather than reflective, intrinsic religion. Religion is much more diverse than Freud thinks.
Hans Kung states that the psychological explanation for religion is valuable but "it cannot penetrate to the absolute reality". There is still a possibility that God might exist.
The psychological critique argues that religion balances the psyche and comforts our emotional needs. Yet atheists are able to balance their psyche and comfort their emotional needs without religion or a God.
The psychological critique's ideas are too complex and bizarre to be understood by the majority of people.