Assess to what extent is it true that today secularisation is a feature of global religion (33)

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Assess to what extent is it true that today secularisation is a feature of global religion (33)

In today’s society there are sociological arguments that say society is becoming more and more secular. A secular society is where religious beliefs and values have lost influence and importance in society. Wilson has argued that Western societies had been undergoing a long term process of secularisation. But is secularisation a feature of global religion not just of western societies? Sociologists put forward different explanations of these trends and have reached different conclusions.

There is evidence to show that there has been a decline in the proportion of the population going to church in the postmodern era. In Britain 2005 there was a 6.3% attendance to church on Sundays, but this is predicted to be as low as 4.7% by 2015. There has also been an increase in the average age of churchgoers, meaning that the younger generations are becoming more secular. However church weddings and baptisms are still popular today with 41% of people having their babies baptised in 2005. On the other hand these statistics may only be the way they are as both of these ceremonies are socially desired today.

Weber comes up with the theory of rationalisation and the fact that rational ways of thinking and acting have come to replace religious ones. He argues that the protestant reformation started the process of rationalisation of life whereby rational scientific outlook found in modern society has undermined religious worldview. He says that this has contributed to the decrease in influence if religious beliefs in society today. He also argues that disenchantment of religion has taken place with the protestant reformation. This meant that events are no longer to be explained as the work of unpredictable supernatural beings, but as the predictable workings of natural forces. All that was needed to understand them was rationality. By using reason and science and, humans could discover the laws of nature, understand and predict how the world works and control it through technology. Therefore there is no need for religious explanations of the world. In Weber’s view this lead to the disenchantment of the world. It squeezed out magical and religious ways of thinking and starts of the rationalisation process that lead to the dominance of rational mode of thought. Following this Bruce argues that the growth of a technological worldview has largely replaced religious or supernatural explanations of why things happen.  He says that a technological worldview leaves little room for religious explanations in everyday life. Bruce concludes that although scientific explanations do not challenge religion directly they have greatly reduced the scope for religious explanations.  This has therefore shown that with modern society secularisation increases due to rational thinking and science undermining religion.

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However science doesn’t have all the answers and when it does it can be quite blunt and too realistic for our liking. People will still like to believe that when they die for example, they would go to a happy place and meet loved ones. Not blackness for eternity. Also the church is still the only institution that provides religious help ‘life instructions’. It is a humanistic need to want help and follow instructions that can help. Therefore as a global society we might have more faith in science these days but we still need religion for the bits ...

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