Secular Religion

A comparison of two theories about religion by Peter Berger and Sigmund Freud.

This paper analyzes and compares two secular theories of religion – Berger’s The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion; and Freud’s “The Future of an Illusion”. The paper shows that Berger’s theory is based on a sociological understanding of human nature, while Freud?s analysis is based largely upon his psychoanalytical theories. Both theories feel that the human fear of the terror of nature and death are at the root of the phenomenon of religion. The paper presents these theories, summarizes them and compares their different messages.
In The Sacred canopy: elements of a sociological theory of religion, Berger seeks to understand religion through a sociological framework. His theory of religion is based on the premise that every human society is an enterprise of world-building (Berger). As such, Berger explains that our perceived world is constantly being created through what he refers to as a dialectical process. This process has three key aspects: externalization, objectivation, and internalization. In externalization, our thoughts become translated into the products we make and the actions that we take. When the products of our thoughts appear in the outside world (are externalized) they then influence us by shaping our behaviors and future thoughts (internalization).

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