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Evaluate The View That The World Is Becoming More Secular

1639 words - 7 pages

Secular is a term used to say something is not religious. Secularisation is described by sociologist Wilson as, ‘the process whereby religious thinking, practice and institutions lose social significance.’ The secularisation thesis argues that it has occurred in modern society, due to a number of factors. However there is an argument that religion is still important to society; again due to a number of factors.

Some sociologists argue that society is becoming more secular due to science and rationality, and the decline of traditional values. The strongest evidence for secularisation comes from church attendance statistics. According to the 1851 Census, 40% of the population attended ...view middle of the document...

However, religion is still a major provider of education and welfare for the poor. If you look at third world countries; there are more religious connections and tighter kinships. Also, the media still shows a great interest in religious issues such as women priests. Furthermore recently in the news, police had concluded a missing girl: April Jones ‘may not still be alive’. Her mother along with the rest of the community have turned to religion, and held a prayer for her in the Church for ‘hope.’ Some sociologists like Parsons say that disengagement is probably a good thing because it means that the churches can focus more effectively on their central role of providing moral goals for society to achieve.

According to sociologist Weber, the increasing rationalisation of the world has pushed out the sacred and religious thinking; which has no place in the western life. Society now does not see the world being controlled supernaturally. Instead humans are in control and have a more rational thinking approach and a logical approach based on scientific thinking. Science has shown us how the world was created, whereas in the past, religion was to help provide the answer to this. However science doesn’t not help us when in trouble/emotional trouble or answer questions about life after death. Sociologist Lyon argues that the last four decades have been a period of re-enchantment, with the growth of unconventional beliefs, practices and spirituality.

Sociologist Bruce argues that the growth of a technological worldview has largely replaced religious or supernatural explanations of why things happen. For example, when a plane crashes and a lot of people die, people are less likely to say its God’s punishment. Instead it can be explained through scientific and technological explanations. Bruce concludes that although scientific explanations do not challenge religion directly, they have greatly reduced belief for religious explanations. However, religious explanations can’t explain in every area; for example we may pray for help if we are suffering from an illness for which scientific medicine has no cure.

Postmodernists like Lyotard argue that religion have lost their power to influence how people think about, interpret and explain the world in postmodern societies. People are now taking more control over their own lives and are less willing to be told what to believe religious authorities. Sociologist Hervieu-Leger also agrees with the idea that there has been a big decline in traditional religion. She says that religion is no longer handed down from generation to generation through extended families and parish churches. In result; young people no longer inherit these religious identity and teachings of traditional religion.

However, religion itself has not disappeared. Instead, as some sociologist would put it; ‘individual consumerism has replaced the collective worship tradition of the past.’ In effect of this,...

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