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Assess the view that science has replaced religion as the main ideological influence in society today. (33)

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Introduction

´╗┐Assess the view that science has replaced religion as the main ideological influence in society today. (33) Following the period of the Enlightenment when scientific and evidence-based rational thought was seen to be increasingly replacing religion in explaining the world, one might have predicted that religion would one day be displaced by science. However, in the twenty-first century, while science has gained in influence and knowledge, it would be wrong to say that religion has been displaced, as it still plays an important role. In addition, in an increasingly postmodern world, many individuals are seeking sources of spirituality through new religious movements, while for fundamentalists religion is as relevant today as at any time in the past. Therefore the debate surrounding religion and science is one of fluctuating beliefs. Comte saw the growth of scientific explanation as a feature of modernity. And today its achievements in many basic features of daily life such as, transport, communication and economic productivity has raised our standard of living. Also its achievements in medicine have eradicated fatal diseases. This success has led to a widespread faith in science. However even though science has gained respect by increasing our standard of living with its achievements it has created its own manufactured risks. ...read more.

Middle

He was ridiculed out of his profession. Then why should science by the main ideological influence in society today when science is not open to discuss theories, this shows that it can be a closed belief system. But Kuhn explains that, when enough respected scientists challenge the paradigm, there is scientific revolution. This therefore shows that when a new theory is backed up by enough people with the right evidence then change can occur. Interpretivist sociologists have developed Kuhn?s ideas further They argue that all knowledge is socially constructed. It is created by social groups using the resources available to them. In the case of science, their ?scientific facts? are a product of shared theories or paradigms that tell them what they should expect to see. Therefore science and religion both have the same amount of ideological influence in society today as neither are the full truth and just both are socially constructed metanarratives. Globally, the religious influence is still very strong with billions of people identifying with the major religions as well as superstitious beliefs in many less developed countries, such as Voodoo. The functionalist perspective highlights how religion performs many important functions that science is simply incapable of doing. ...read more.

Conclusion

Other postmodernists, such as Jean Lyotard, refuses to accept science and ideology as meta-narrative. Science is just another meta-narrative that falsely claims to possess the truth. Marxists would say it?s just another way of thinking that is used to dominate people. Others argue that the validity of science has also been discredited by the falsification of evidence and some scientists are seen as serving the interests of their paymasters e.g. Governments. However, scientists would nonetheless point to the significant contribution of research and growing acceptance of scientific explanation in a technological society. In conclusion, it is unclear that religion has been displaced by science in society today. This is due to the problematic nature of measuring religious influence, despite the growing influence of science and rational thinking. Science and religion can be viewed as competing ideologies in society. While ideas of secularisation support the growth of influence of science, the debates surrounding globalisation, beliefs in postmodern society and fundamentalism all support the continued influence of religion. But I personally believe that Bruce?s argument of secularisation shows people are no longer being influenced by religion leaving a gap in the market for science to step in and take the main ideological influence in society today. ...read more.

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