Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Religion Research Paper Sample

Research Paper on Religion

Religion in Marx’s view was believed to be an unnecessary thing and opium of the people (as will be discussed in question #2) and thus should be removed completely from the society.

Marx in his different works attempted to trace religion to the point of man’s inception and stated that its presence is justified yet should be and will be removed by the communist society.  Marx believed that religion was created by man as an attempt to control the nature and others. When people were primitive they were powerless before the elements, and tried to use magic and rituals to somehow influence them and gain control over the elements. When a first society was created, religion was used to maintain order and the status quo of that society and thus enabled the ruling classes to maintain the division in the society as well as create more alienation.
Religion, in Marx’s view was also used effectively to keep people from taking action to change the society and overthrow the ruling class. In other words, religion was perfectly making people to resign rather than to act and achieve some changes. From reading the text I understood that  it was man who created God and not vice versa. Thus, religion that stated that people were below some supernatural being (God) was indeed a reserve of the reality in which people lived.
Marx noted that in virtually any society it is the view of the ruling class that is given the most credit and recognition. Since religion allows the upper class to rule/govern the lower classes, it was in best interests of the ruling class to have religion as one of the tools of manipulation. Since the upper class have the most power in the society, they would be the greatest supporters of religion preventing the lower classes from abandoning religion. In order for religion to be removed from the society, thus, one needed to change completely the social structure that naturally supported religion and had a place for it.

From the reading materials I infer that communism, in Marx’s view was the only ideology that would be able to help people abandon religion and concentrate on prosperity and personal happiness. Once the social stratification is removed from the society and the need to rule the lower classes will cease to exist (in communism everyone would be equal), religion would find little to no place and will also cease to exist.

2.   From what I have read as written by Marx and Feuerbach I made a conclusion that indeed religion was opium of the people. Religion according to Marx indeed was used by the ruling classes to soothe the pain the lower classes experienced when realizing the inequality, injustice and division in the society. Religion, according to the text provided people with fake reality and the social structure that supported existing rulers and governors. In order to keep people under control, religion promised people some benefits in the future should these people do what religion tells them to do. In other words, religion prevented people from acting in a way beneficial to them and provided them with some temporary illusory solution which indeed had little benefit for people. Drugs like alcohol when consumed allow people to forget about their problems for the moment and let them believe that in the future all will turn out just fine. Once intoxication disappears, people start to realize that drugs in no way benefit them. Religion, on the other hand appears to have a permanent impact on people by giving them a continuous promise and hope should they agree to experience some injustice and difficulties that the ruling class imposes on them. So indeed it appears that religion is an opium of the people since it just gives them conditional promises of good life and in return demands them to stay the way they are and not strive for the things they could and deserve to possess.

3. In my personal opinion, I believe that Amish society reflects false consciousness since they base all their decision strictly on the bible and refuse to adapt to the changes that the modern time demands.

As one can observe when reading the text, Amish society certainly expresses social resignation, i.e. the desire to resign from the existing societal problems that exist in the USA and lead lives they believe are true and right. I learnt that Amish families prefer to live away from what they call “worldly” and that means that they live from everything that constitutes a modern US society.  These families live away from the cities and urban districts and reject all modern utilities that people across the USA have a chance to enjoy. The Amish society does not even possess high school since it provides people with more than required for leading a godly life that Amishmen strive to lead.

The resignation is seen in the fact that the Amish community does not attempt to participate in politics and although it is never mentioned in the text, I believe that they do not engage in voting or presidential election campaigns. In other words, they find peace in their families and communities and let others rule them. Still, I learnt that the Amish do not pay taxes and in turn do not receive social security benefits which makes them exempt from the outsiders’ influence. The text spoke of some communities building hospitals and other facilities, yet these facilities were built with Amish money and are used exclusively by the community.

Amish do not work for others (upper class) and prefer to work for themselves on their farms. Religious beliefs allow Amish to ignore the US society as a whole and thus probably made them invulnerable to the social problems that a typical American experiences. In the recent years the growing prices of land, nevertheless, require Amish to abandon their homes and farms and go to the big cities in search of jobs to earn enough money to procure a farm or a new house in the community.
Amish religion appears to support the status quo in the community and obliges Amish to ignore anything else that takes place outside the community, since Amish are the chosen people who need to be kept separated from the rest. This separation as caused by religion already creates certain alienation and the fact that no Amish takes action to change the society means that Amish religion is “opium of the people” just like any religion.

4. In what ways do the Old Order Amish suggest an affinity with Marx’s ideal of a classless, economically equal society? In what ways does this group not fit his model? If Marx were observing an Amish district, what do you think he would say about its lifestyle, both in general and as reflected through its religious beliefs and practices?

Old Order Amish society to a certain degree appears to reflect a classless economically equal society as described in Marx’s utopian society. 

The following things make the Amish community similar to the ideal society as described by Marx:
  1. All people in the society have similar occupation. As noted earlier most Amish work only on their farms trying to feed their families. Since all people in the society have the same occupation, one assumes that virtually all of them have grow similar crops in similar quantities which provides them with similar amount of resources. The fact that Amish hardly ever use modern technology (tractors, sows, fertilizers, genetically modified crops, etc), the most they can earn depends on their physical ability to work. While in other societies the use of modern technology provides some time and effort-savings for some people and thus gives them an advantage over others, in Amish society the only advantage one can exert is to work more than others. Since physical ability to work is limited, one assumes that most Amish are able to yield the same amount of resources and thus remain equal.
  2. All people in the society obey the same restrictions and rules. No one is permitted to use technology that would give one person advantage (to produce more, grow more, earn more) over other people in the community. People in the society have the same simple clothes and similar agendas (work-sleep-work). There are no rulers to govern them and to advise them.  Whenever something bad happens all people in the society come and remedy the problem. The text illustrated a situation when a barn that burnt down would be built by the whole community within few days. Reliance on community and God makes all people in Amish society equal.
  3. All people in the society strive for similarity. As noted in text, all men wear hats and suspenders. All women and girls have almost identical haircuts and dresses. Thus, one can hardly observe any physical difference among Amish. In other societies physical difference (clothes, make-up, toys, watches, jewelry) is what oftentimes creates class distinction or at least shows its existence. Since in Amish society everyone looks the same and strives to look similar, one can conclude that people indeed are equal at least in appearance. 
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