Religion deals with the

Read More on This Topic. That need made itself felt ecumenically throughout Europe from the beginning of the 19th century. It had indeed been prepared by the writings…. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. It had indeed been prepared by the writings of Rousseau as early as and in England by the even earlier preaching of John and Charles….

The anthropology of religion is the comparative study of religions in their cultural, social, historical, and material contexts. History at your fingertips. Sign up here to see what happened On This Day , every day in your inbox! If science goes beyond this strict view—and it has done just that with relativity theory and is likely to go even further with quantum theory—then the relationship between science and the contents religions try to express must change once again. Perhaps science, by revealing the existence of new relationships during the past thirty years, may have lent our thought much greater depth.

The concept of complementarity, for instance, which Niels Bohr considers so crucial to the interpretation of quantum theory, was by no means unknown to philosophers, even if they did not express it so succinctly.

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However, its very appearance in the exact sciences has constituted a decisive change: the idea of material objects that are completely independent of the manner in which we observe them proved to be nothing but an abstract extrapolation, something that has no counterpart in nature. In Asiatic philosophy and Eastern religions we find the complementary idea of a pure subject of knowledge, one that confronts no object.

This idea, too, will prove an abstract extrapolation, corresponding to no spiritual or mental reality. If we think about the wider context, we may in the future be forced to keep a middle course between these extremes, perhaps the one charted by Bohr's complementarity concept. Any science that adapts itself to this form of thinking will not only be more tolerant of the different forms of religion, but, having a wider overall view, may also contribute to the world of values.

Paul Dirac had joined us in the meantime. He [Paul Dirac] had only just turned twenty-five, and had little time for tolerance. The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination.

It is quite understandable why primitive people, who were so much more exposed to the overpowering forces of nature than we are today, should have personified these forces in fear and trembling. But nowadays, when we understand so many natural processes, we have no need for such solutions. I can't for the life of me see how the postulate of an Almighty God helps us in any way.


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What I do see is that this assumption leads to such unproductive questions as why God allows so much misery and injustice, the exploitation of the poor by the rich and all the other horrors He might have prevented. If religion is still being taught, it is by no means because its ideas still convince us, but simply because some of us want to keep the lower classes quiet. Quiet people are much easier to govern than clamorous and dissatisfied ones. They are also much easier to exploit. Religion is a kind of opium that allows a nation to lull itself into wishful dreams and so forget the injustices that are being perpetrated against the people.

Hence the close alliance between those two great political forces, the State and the Church. Both need the illusion that a kindly God rewards—in heaven if not on earth—all those who have not risen up against injustice, who have done their duty quietly and uncomplainingly. That is precisely why the honest assertion that God is a mere product of the human imagination is branded as the worst of all mortal sins. After all, there will always be human societies, and these must find a common language in which they can speak about life and death, and about the wider context in which their lives are set.

The spiritual forms that have developed historically out of this search for a common language must have had a great persuasive force—how else could so many people have lived by them for so many centuries? Religion can't be dismissed so simply as all that. But perhaps you are drawn to another religion, such as the old Chinese, in which the idea of a personal God does not occur? After all, it was purely by chance that I was born in Europe and not in Asia, and that is surely no criterion for judging what is true or what I ought to believe.

Matters of faith

And I can only believe what is true. As for right action, I can deduce it by reason alone from the situation in which I find myself: I live in society with others, to whom, in principle, I must grant the same rights I claim for myself.


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  7. I must simply try to strike a fair balance; no more can be asked of me. All this talk about God's will, about sin and repentance, about a world beyond by which we must direct our lives, only serves to disguise the sober truth.

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    Belief in God merely encourages us to think that God wills us to submit to a higher force, and it is this idea which helps to preserve social structures that may have been perfectly good in their day but no longer fit the modern world. All your talk of a wider context and the like strikes me as quite unacceptable. Life, when all is said and done, is just like science: we come up against difficulties and have to solve them.

    And we can never solve more than one difficulty at a time; your wider context is nothing but a mental superstructure added a posteriori. And so the discussion continued, and we were all of us surprised to notice that Wolfgang was keeping so silent. He would pull a long face or smile rather maliciously from time to time, but he said nothing.

    In the end, we had to ask him to tell us what he thought.

    How The Witcher 3 deals with religion and belief

    He seemed a little surprised and then said: "Well, our friend Dirac, too, has a religion, and its guiding principle is: 'There is no God and Dirac is His prophet. Some time later, probably in Copenhagen, I told Niels about our conversation. He immediately jumped to the defense of the youngest member of our circle. He believes that what can be said at all can be said clearly—or, as Wittgenstein put it, that 'whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent.

    If I suggest even minor changes, Paul becomes terribly unhappy and generally changes nothing at all. His work is, in any case, quite brilliant. Recently the two of us went to an exhibition which included a glorious gray-blue seascape by Manet. In the foreground was a boat, and beside it, in the water, a dark gray spot, whose meaning was not quite clear.

    Dirac said, 'This spot is not admissible.


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    In a good work of art, just as in a good piece of scientific work, every detail must be laid down quite unequivocally; there can be no room for mere accident. I feel very much like Dirac: the idea of a personal God is foreign to me. But we ought to remember that religion uses language in quite a different way from science. The language of religion is more closely related to the language of poetry than to the language of science. While the internal dimension is absolute, the external dimension can be subject to certain limitations on the strictly restricted grounds specified in Article The fundamental character of these freedoms is also reflected in the fact that this provision cannot be derogated from, even in time of public emergency, as stated in article 4.

    Articles 2 and 26 of the ICCPR require equal treatment of all persons before the law and prohibit discrimination based, among other grounds, on religion. The remaining articles act in a supportive role, outlining measures to promote tolerance or prevent discrimination. Taken together, the eight articles constitute an useful landmark to advocate for tolerance and to prevent discrimination based on religion or belief. While human rights are mainly conceived as individual rights, the UN Declaration on Religion also identifies certain rights related to religious institutions, parents, legal guardians, children, and groups of persons.

    The Minorities Declaration provides the fullest expression of the international right to self-determination of peoples. It affords a religious community the right to practice its religion, an ethnic community the right to promote its culture, and a linguistic community to speak its language without undue state interference or legal restrictions.

    The right to self-determination provides religious groups some of the same strong protections afforded to religious individuals. This right has both an individual and collective dimension. As for the individual dimension, members of the group are entitled to profess and practice their religion without undue constraints imposed on that entitlement by the political powers that be. As for the collective dimension, the religious community has a right to self-determination that involves more than a mere accommodating State disposition toward particular sectional beliefs and practices.

    In fact, in virtue of this right, governments are required to secure, through their respective constitutional and legal systems, the interests of distinct sections of the population that constitute a religious minority.

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