Theology and Religion in Modern Society


Religion is a social genus present in more than one culture and has various definitions. Religions have both substantive and functional aspects. Some people believe in the afterlife, while others hold beliefs in supernatural beings or explicit metaphysics. In either case, religions are a common social construct and exist throughout the history of mankind. Asad’s critique of Durkheim is discussed in this article. The pluralization of religions is also discussed.

Asad’s critique of Durkheim

Asad’s critique of Durkhheim’s concept of religion is particularly important today, as the concept is a contemporary construction, particularly in the West. He also points to the way in which geertz inappropriately applies his own unexamined ideological assumptions to other traditions. In particular, he addresses liberal misinterpretations of the Islamic tradition, and he deliberately uses examples from medieval Christianity.

Unlike Asad, Durkheim rejected totemic prototypes, and sought simplicity in his definition of religion. His search for simplicity was methodological, since the simplest religion was supposedly the most transparent, had the most observable principles, and was radically ahistorical. In this way, he argued that totemism was the anthropologists’ Eden, while modern European religion and society were a waste land.

Tillich’s definition

In the early chapters of Tillich’s book, “What Am I?”, he describes the romantic view of history and nature that shaped his theological imagination. He compares the past-looking, historical memory of Europeans to the forward-looking, individualistic mindset of Americans. His early experiences of trench warfare and death have shaped his view of God. It is through this personal experience that he develops his synthesis theory of religion.

In the second section, Tillich describes religion as an exercise of meaning making. He condemns post-Enlightenment reliance on scientific standards of knowledge, which excludes transcendental truths and leads to post-modern ennui. The foreword gestures toward an immaterial and transcendental definition of knowledge. In this way, he contributes to Anshen’s quest for knowledge and calls attention to the ethical and social concerns of the post-modern world.

Durkheim’s ultimate concern

Sociology has long been a keystone of liberal democracy, but the theory of religion was a major influence on the development of modern society. Durkheim argued that adhering to a social group is the only thing that makes an individual human. This theory, however, never lost sight of the individual. Rather, it recognized the individual as the determinant of society. This has lead to a more individualistic approach to society.

The philosophy of Durkheim’s work continues to influence social scientists today. His ideas have inspired social scientists and philosophers, including Paul Fauconnet and Marcel Mauss. In 1913, his focus on religion was expanded to include sociology. His work influenced the development of the Strong Program, a program in cultural sociology, and many other fields. His ideas are also closely connected to the concept of emergence, which emerged in the 1960s philosophy of mind.

Tillich’s pluralization of religion

The systematic theology of modern culture proposed by Paul Tillich in his 1919 draft Rechtfertigung und Zweifel must be revised in light of 21st-century thought. First, we must discard his notion of religion as an autonomous form in culture, a separate realm in the development of humankind. Second, we must reject his notion of religion as a general concept, and instead accept the notion of a particular self-referential communication event.

The intention behind Tillich’s work on religion is not entirely clear. While his general idea of religion is admirable, his conceito of religion contains several systemic issues that call for a more thorough discussion. Moreover, his “substantial” definition is incomplete, and his argument hardly stands up to a rigorous scrutiny. Nevertheless, we can appreciate that his views on the nature of religion are important and should be considered as such by the general public.