What is Religion? (03:25)
Sociologists provide definitions of religion. Most see it as a system of beliefs and practices relating to a divine power that guides human behavior and explains human existence.
Sociology of Religion (02:24)
Sociology is defined as interactions among people. The sociology of religion looks at religious organizations and institutions within society, focusing on evolving denominations and world views.
What is God? (01:56)
A Lutheran pastor, a Baptist preacher, and a rabbi present their definitions of the divine. Sociologists study human perceptions of God.
Religion in History (01:32)
Ancient societies used mythology to explain the natural world. Our faith and understanding of God is shaped by life events.
Religion and the Industrial Revolution (03:43)
Marx saw religion as hindering freedom of choice and working class efforts to improve living standards. Durkheim theorized that religion held societies together, with God as the deification of society. Max Weber studied religious effects on attitudes, such as pursuing economic gain for spiritual purposes.
Religious Organizations and Practices (02:50)
An Imam explains the Islamic principles of brotherhood and a Lutheran pastor discusses the Abrahamic religions. The leading world religions are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism. Non-religious persons account for 16% of the world's population. View U.S. Christian denominations by population percentage.
Cults, Sects, and Messiahs (02:47)
Cults are new religions to society considered false, unorthodox or extremist by established religions. Sects split from established religions. Protestant reformers were considered Christian sectarians.
Texts, Doctrines, and Dogma (01:16)
Believers compare their behavior to texts they believe were written by God. Imam Safdar Razi says jihadists misuse the Koran.
Symbols, Rites, and Rituals (02:20)
Most religions feature a symbol connecting the faithful. Ceremonies, observances, or practices prescribed by religion include fasting during Ramadan or being baptized. Rituals follow the human life cycle and have social as well as theological meaning.
Research Methods (03:14)
Sociologists analyze historical documents and use quantitative surveys or questionnaires to collect data. George Yancey describes his research on racial attitudes in multiracial churches. Diana Garland discusses using qualitative interviews to gain insight on personal faith.
Future of Religion (03:18)
Scientific knowledge outweighs traditional scriptural knowledge. Modern cultural contact challenges our beliefs. Fundamentalism refers to modern Christian and Islamic movements emphasizing literal interpretation of the Bible and Koran. In contrast, William James’ idea of common religious experience is at the root of American liberal theology.
Secular, Sacred, and Supernatural (02:37)
Hear the differences between fundamentalism and evangelicalism, secular and sacred, and natural and supernatural. A Baptist preacher believes the Christian Church is losing moral authority, but religion survives in modern America.
Credits: Sociology of Religion (00:35)
Credits: Sociology of Religion
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