"The growth and influence of religious fundamentalism across the world challenges the claim that contemporary society has become secular". To what extent do sociological arguments and evidence support this view of contemporary religious belief and practice?
Fundamentalism- going back to old traditions, going back to basics
Fundamentalism refers to a belief in a strict adherence to an established set of basic principles (usually religious in nature), sometimes as a reaction to perceived doctrinal compromises with modern social and political life.
Secular- Denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis
Contemporary- Belonging to or occurring in the present
Contemporary society- Contemporary society, according to social and political scientists, is characterised by at ...view middle of the document...
Among these fundamental changes are: improvements in life conditions, life expectancy, literacy and gender equality; changes in domestic and international political institutions; and the breakdown of natural equilibria.
Berger- Berger's approach encompasses most systems of belief, which provide possible answers to questions of ultimate meaning. But he makes a distinction between religious and non-religious belief systems. Berger adds another twist to the secularisation debate, because although by his reckoning, secularisation is occurring it has not led to a decline in religion. Instead, he argues that secularisation has led to a decline in the credibility of Christianity in producing a comprehensive universe of meaning, but the increasing number of sects and movements attest to the fact that religious belief still thrives.
Berger then argues that secularisation has led to religious belief being expressed in a different form, not that secularisation leads to religious decline.
In The Invisible Religion 1967, Luckmann argues that Marxism is a religion in that any human attempt to comprehend our place in the cosmos is by its religious nature. By this standard, until the late 1980s, millions of people throughout the world could be viewed as living in states build upon the religious doctrine of Marxism.
Martin suggests removing the term altogether, and Luckmann (l983) argues:
'To the extent that secularisation is a myth rather than a reasonably objective sociological or historical construct, it misdirects our observations of religion as a social reality in late industrial society.'
The central problems of the secularisation debate therefore are:
1. The different definitions.
2. The problems of measurement.
3. Assumptions about the past and the future.
4. Levels of analysis.