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In Search of the Spiritual - Essay Example

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With the evolution of the scientific method mankind learned that their environment was not controlled by the whims of a pantheon of gods, but rather by interrelated natural forces capable of scientific explanation as to cause and effect. …
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In Search of the Spiritual Introduction I would argue that the recent decline of group centered organized religion, particularly in the western democracies, and the rise of more individual experience driven spirituality is a consequence not only of the development of the scientific method but also of globalization. ( In Search of the Spiritual 2005). Early Mankind and Religion From earliest times man has sought ways to protect and control his environment, for example from adverse climatic conditions that could threaten his food supply or dwellings, or from possible invasion from rival warrior tribes. Prior to the rise of scientific enquiry he was not able to understand the forces that threatened him, much less control them. Therefore, in an effort to please the various gods which he assumed dwelled in his environment so that they would bestow favorable conditions, he developed elaborate ceremonies and sacrifices. For example, if needed rain on one occasion followed certain sacrifices and ceremonies, he assumed that he had pleased the gods causing them to bestow favorable conditions in gratitude. Of course, such efforts did not always work, but without any other explanation early man assumed that this was because there was some shortcoming in his supplication to the gods such as insufficient sacrifices rather than there being no relation between their efforts and whether or not rain followed. Aside from the occasional invasion by a rival tribe there was little contact between communities and very little immigration as we know it. Therefore, communities tended to be made up of small homogeneous groups with a highly ritualistic common religion for the purpose of attempting to placate the gods so that they would be inclined to bestow favorable conditions. ( functional theory Schaefer 2012). The Development of Science and Globalization With the evolution of the scientific method mankind learned that their environment was not controlled by the whims of a pantheon of gods, but rather by interrelated natural forces capable of scientific explanation as to cause and effect. Although we are still unable to completely control natural forces, we do have some understanding of how adverse events occur and can therefore predict them and take steps to reduce their devastation, for example resulting from hurricanes. Obviously, the development of the scientific method has led many to question the assumption of religion that a god or gods control our environment and therefore we must act in a way we believe pleases them. This of course has resulted in a decline in public religious observance. However, the provided article argues that while there has been a decline in group denominational religious observance at least in western democracies, this has been largely replaced by a rise in spirituality (In Search of the Spiritual 2005). I would submit that this is true and is a consequence of both the development of the scientific method and globalization. While science may explain natural phenomenon and offer at least some prospect of control for mankind’s benefit, man still feels somewhat at the mercy of forces he still cannot fully understand and control. Each scientific discovery gives rise to new mysteries. The interrelated complexities of the universe cause many to question whether we will ever fully understand it and to conclude there must be some overriding supreme force whether we call it God or not. I would also argue that globalization has factored into this shift from group centered public denominational religion to a more personal spiritual or religious experience. I submit that globalization with mass migration of peoples, many of strikingly different cultures, religions and value systems than the host country, in their efforts to pursue economic opportunity and escape political persecution, has necessitated profound changes in religious philosophies in their new homeland. While the culture of the majority population will inevitably dominate, some accommodation must be made to newcomers to make them feel welcome and to promote social harmony (cultural relativism Schaeffer 2012). Therefore, although not eliminated, there must be a shift from large denominational institutional public religious practice, especially those demanding strict observance of what they consider the only pathway to salvation, to a more meditative, individualistic spiritual approach. There are various forms of such spirituality ranging from atheistic ethical humanism, to agnosticism and finally to those advocating the existence of some kind of supreme power.. Although more nebulous than organized religion, especially fundamental with its’ tendency to demand absolute unquestioned obedience to its’ proscribed values, I submit their more situational based ethics and divergence from absolute concepts of right and wrong are more compatible with a multi cultural democracy and its’ emergence should be welcomed and promoted in the interest of social harmony. I believe narrow religious fundamentalism of all kinds is dangerous in our global world. One has only to look at the culture destroying practices of colonial missionaries on Indians even though well intentioned, and in our time the effect of Western hegemony much of it by Christians on Islamic culture, giving rise to political religious backlash and providing fertile ground for extremists groups.( conflict theory Schaefer 2012) Conclusion I would argue that Western democracies, in particular America, are moving away from ideology based religion requiring the church as intermediary with God to a more individualistic transformative spirituality, and this is due not only to scientific progress but more especially to globalization placing a higher value on social harmony than blind adherence to a particular religious dogma. References 1) “In Search of the Spiritual” Aug. 28, 2005. 2) Schaefer, Richard T. “Sociology 13th Edition” 2012 The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. Read More
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