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Religion and Modern Culture

The purpose of this research is to examine why theories of religion that locate its origin with projections of human needs resonate most strongly with modern culture. The plan of the research will be to set forth the context in which such theories have emerged and then to discuss how they may be distinguished from other ideas about the source of religious sensibility.

In his discussion of world religions, Hopfe identifies five general approaches to explaining the development of religions. What he calls the animistic theories refer to anthropological explanations for so-called primitive religions in terms of soul force, which was assigned to living and dead persons and indeed to all objects in nature. Over time, out of this way of explaining the world in sacral terms evolved polytheistic and monotheistic religions (Hopfe 7-8). Somewhat related to the animistic interpretation is the nature-worship theory, which was said to derive from primitive people's response to observations about the power of natural forces, such as seasons or day/night dynamics. Out of that general approach emerged the practice of personifying these forces in a sacral way and grafting on to them narratives suited to explaining their operation--that is, mythology and a pantheon were born. Such a theory was reinforced by linguistic evolution; Hopfe cites etymology linking the name of Apollo with a word for the sun and Daphne with a word for dawn (8-9). The theory of original monotheism cites primitive people's ethnographic presentations of the idea of an omnipotent Creator and moral arbiter that was specially revered but that was displaced by worship of petty gods because the implications of monotheism put too much strain on the primitive mind. The originator of that theory, one Wilhelm Schmidt, was said to have allowed "his Christian prejudices to influence the formulation of this theory" (Hopfe 9). Magic theory is linked to The Golden Bough, wherein Frazer posite...

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Religion and Modern Culture. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 13:57, March 19, 2019, from https://www.lotsofessays.com/viewpaper/1689279.html