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Theories of Religion


Theories of Religion How many of them are there? Four Men Edward B. Tylor James George Frazer F Max Muller Lucien Levi-Bruhl Edward B. Tylor 1832-1917 English ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Theories of Religion

Theories of Religion
  • How many of them are there?

Four Men
  • Edward B. Tylor
  • James George Frazer
  • F Max Muller
  • Lucien Levi-Bruhl

Edward B. Tylor
  • 1832-1917
  • English Anthropologist
  • Primitive Culture
  • Developed a theory of culture it is made up of a
    wide range of human activity.

The Start
  • Taylor addresses the question whether or not
    primitive people have a concept of religion.
  • Yes they do the problem is that their concept of
    religion does not correspond the Western
  • What looks irreligious is actually religious.
  • What the scientific community needs to do is to
    widen its definition.
  • The community needs to rely on observations and
    not merely theoretical conjecture.

The Definition
  • Religion among primitive people is basically
  • . . . in its full development, includes the
    belief in souls and in a future state, in
    controlling deities and subordinate spirits,
    these doctrines practically resulting in some
    kind of active worship.

The Parts
  • It has two components
  • 1. Souls of small creatures capable of existing
    after the death of the body.
  • 2. Other spirits including powerful deities who
    control life and now and in the hereafter.

The Summary
  • Since humans have souls so do animals to a lesser
    degree as do trees to a lesser degree as do
    inanimate objects.
  • Taylor wants us to remember that souls in modern
    thinking is in the realm of metaphysics and no
    longer used to explain events.
  • However, it is still an animating, separable,
    surviving entity, the vehicle of personal

James George Frazer
  • 1854-1941
  • Scottish Anthropologist
  • The Golden Bough A Study in Comparative Religion
  • Developed a theory of religion

The Start
  • He contends that magic and science have the same
    element which under girds them bothnamely faith.
  • The scientist and the magician believe in his or
    her craft.
  • Magic has the fatal flaw it is the misconception
    of similarity of thought and ideals.
  • Magic is the bastard child of science.

The Definition
  • . . . A propitiation or conciliation of powers
    superior to man which are believed to direct and
    control the course of nature and of human life.

The Parts
  • Magic consist of two parts
  • Theoreticalthat is a belief in higher powers.
  • Practicalan attempt to propitiate or please
  • Totem is part of magic. Totem protects the
    person and the person shows respect to the totem
    in various ways.

The Summary
  • Magic is the mistaken application of thoughts and
    ideas to resemble or to be congruous to certain
  • Magic preceded religion and therefore, modern
    civilization has magic in the background.
  • Religion is the outgrowth of the recognition of
    powers superior to humans.
  • Magic, Religion and Science are theories of

Friedrich Max Muller
  • 1823-1900
  • German Scholar
  • Introduction to the Science of Religion
  • He articulated the idea of doing a comparative
    study of religion.

The Start
  • Muller wants to develop the science of religion
    as a way of comparing religion. Christianity had
    been severely criticized. He hopes to exonerate
    Christianity by showing its superiority.

The Definition
  • Religion has a deity, sacred text or words and
    rituals. Religion produces a yearning for a
    higher life.
  • It has two sides dialectic
  • Growth
  • The tendency to convey ideas through wordsto
    coalesce the thought.
  • Decay
  • The tendency to highlight the material instead of
    the spiritualit vacillates between the two

The Parts
  • What the Science of Religion should be able to
  • Withstand any scrutiny
  • Errors of religion can be discovered
  • No religion is superior to others
  • Comparing religions leads to a greater understand
    of them

The Summary
  • Comparative study of religion will lead to a
    greater understanding of religion.
  • Christianity is the best religion in this regard
    because it has the kind of platform which allows
    for the comparison to be made.
  • The problem with religion is with language.

Lucien Levi-Bruhl
  • 1857-1938
  • French Philosopher
  • How Natives Think
  • His thinking gave new perspective on
    understanding how peoples of past cultures think.

The Start
  • People act in groups and as individuals.
  • For past cultures the only way you could
    understand the culture was to look at the whole

The Definition
  • Religion is mysticismanimism
  • Religion was best understood as part of the
    group dynamics.
  • People act differently in groups than they do as

The Parts
  • As a collective group when certain things are
    present, certain qualities exist in objects.
  • The objects have certain qualities present
    ascribed to it by the group.
  • Just because we do not see it, this does not mean
    that it is not present for the group.

The Summary
  • Primitive man, therefore, lives and acts in
    environment of beings and objects, all of which,
    in addition to the properties that we recognize
    them to possess, are endured with mystical
    attributes. He perceives their objective reality
    mingled with another reality.