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Science, Faith and Society, GCSE Coursework Example

Pages: 1

Words: 1647

GCSE Coursework

Part 1: Historical Description Questions

Section A: What is the strongest evidence for the secularization of western cultures?

Within the context of religion in western culture, secularization has been found to slowly change the role of religion in society. As society seeks growth and development in all sectors of life; education, manufacturing, business, technology just to mention a few, the environment within which society exists and functions changes. Society will adapt to the environment so as to ensure its survival and relevance within the prevailing environmental conditions.

Bruce holds that religion has been drastically influenced by different aspects of modernization such as increased individualism. The popularity, prestige and power of religion has significantly reduced within the past century or so. Religious ideologies and concepts that were deemed as stringent no longer inhibit economic growth and development. This is because western culture looks to realize its full potential with as little limits as possible. Modernization concepts that are entrenched within Western culture provide the strongest evidence that these culture are increasingly becoming secularized.

Section B: What is the strongest evidence that something else, or something more, is happening to religion in western societies?

Bruce highlights relativism as the strongest evidence of secularization in the modern world. As concepts and ideologies in science and religion oppose each other, the more pertinent issues become relative, as per an individual’s perception. From observation, one can safely conclude that this concept is true; ethical areas such as abortion and same-sex marriages become gray areas. These issues are mainly relative in western cultures. This has led to the formation of different religions, such as the Church of Scientology, and the evolution of some of the existing religions. Many individuals seem to hold on to some of the core beliefs engrained within different religions. They however abandon some ideologies owing to the relativity of such issues in the 21st century, commonly known as loose religiosity. As the macro/societal shifts imposes itself on western culture, individual’s perceptions of the concept of fullness transforms. This does not necessarily abandon all the ideologies and beliefs once held, but it rather accepts these ideologies based on the relevance, relative to the prevailing environmental conditions within society.

Section C: What do you think is the most accurate understanding of the nature and level of importance religion has in American society, and in western societies in general?

I believe that the importance of religion in terms of its nature and level within the American society cannot be understated. A huge portion of the American Constitution has been founded on religious ideologies long held by its founding fathers. These laws defined the history of America, similar to that of numerous Western societies. This has been marked by different eras in history. When society diverts away from religion, the moral fabric of the society is degraded as most issues are interpreted relative to an individual’s perception of right and wrong. Religion aims at creating a harmonious society, free from all possible vices. However, the erosion and devaluation of the roles and importance of religion exposes the American society and Western culture to numerous plausible social problems as interpretation of most issues is relevant.

Part 2: Historical Casual Questions

Section A: In a simplified but accurate form, what caused secularization, according to Bruce?

Bruce believes that secularization has been caused by modernization. In his opinion, modernization has introduced numerous concepts that have blurred the ethical and ideological lines. As modernization continues to transform the environment within which society exists and functions, society meets barriers that hinder progress. Some parts of religion form these barriers as there are certain aspects of modernization, especially within science, that question the validity of long-held ideologies. In order to circumvent these barriers, society questions the foundations of these ideologies and morals, relative to the prevailing conditions within the environment and their desire for growth and development. As a result, new and/or modified worldviews and ideologies are formulated and adopted.

Bruce believes that the concept of modernization is much more engrained into European societies than the American society. He holds that in most European nations, especially those in Western Europe, Christianity has been on the decline in the recent past. Interest in Christianity has significantly dropped within Europe as Pentecostalism and evangelicalism have continually failed in most nations within the region.

Section B: Do you find his explanation of the cause of secularization to be convincing? Why or why not?

Bruce’s explanation is not convincing. Bruce has managed to provide theoretical evidence and statistical facts to back his arguments. He puts into consideration the fact that different societies exist and operate within different environment experiencing different environmental and cultural factors. He manages to differentiate between the generally held perceptions that science is the cause of secularization, and introduces the view that secularization is a by-product of modernization.

However, it is important to note that Bruce fails to consider the fact that in his arguments, he fails to notify the reader on how his evidence shifts between the micro, mezzo and macro levels. It can be seen that he chooses his evidence from different levels of sociological analysis as best fits his thesis of secularization. He fails to consider facts and/or evidences that may seem to contradict his thesis. Notably, his approach to arguing is thesis can be rectified by Charles Taylors’ view. Charles Taylor’s concise argument holds that one has to critically scrutinize how individuals, on the micro level, are affected by macro-societal shifts within culture. By virtue of Bruce not considering this concept in his argument, he fails to undoubtedly argue and prove his thesis.

Section C: What role, if any, did the early and modern appearance of governmental religious neutrality and individual religious freedom have in causing – or allowing, or encouraging, etc. – the present condition of religion?

Before the introduction of the concept of modernization, government had control over a huge portion of its citizen’s lives including religion. Government provided religion the rights and powers to impose religious beliefs, concepts and morals on its citizens. Religion not only had influence, but power. However, the introduction of government religious neutrality withdrew the power of enforceability from religion. This was supplemented by the introduction of individual religious freedom. As individuals are free to exercise the religion of their choosing, those who felt held back by certain ideologies within religion gave it up, creating the current condition of religion where relativism prevails within society. The concepts of government religious neutrality and individual religious freedom are both aspects of secularization in themselves. It is because of the changing environment and the perpetual desire in human beings to grow and develop that leads to modernization, directly related to secularization.

Part 3: Historical Consequences Questions

Section A: what do you see as the likely long-term consequences of current trends (as you especially described in 1C) in religious life in American society, and Western societies in general?

Considering the current trends; secularization and modernization, religion is going to experience a drastic change in the near future. As the America society continues to become modernized, secularization will considerably affect government, religions and society.

As government seeks economic growth and development, it will be forced to change some of its laws. This is owing to the fact that most of these laws are founded on the Christian foundation on which this sovereign nation was built. The United States has seen considerable changes within its laws in the recent past, such as some states legalizing same-sex marriages and marijuana (California, Washington and Colorado). These changes are expected to continue to the point where the American government will have little or no conservative ideologies entrenched within their laws.

As society continues to adopt and readily accept different the different facet of secularization, it will readily conform to ideologies that best suit their prevailing need for economic growth and development. This creates a society where most ideologies are left to one’s own interpretation. Religion ceases to be the moral and ideological guide to human life and individuals take control over all aspects of their lives, making decisions as best suits them.

Religion will continue experiencing the reduction of its popularity, prestige and power. This is because the more government continues to formulate and upholding new laws that do not conform to the ideologies of religion, individuals within society continue to perceive most ethical issues in relativity. This means individuals will question the foundation of religious ideologies and in the end reducing the prestige and popularity of religion.

Section B: Try to evaluate these trends – which ones are good and why? Which ones are bad and why?

Religion is an important facet in human life. In a bid to find meaning and purpose for life and existence itself, religion forms an important bridge towards the “why?” of life. Religion, a conglomerate of cultural systems and beliefs, is a crucial component of human life and influences the relationships that and individual forges and the decision making pattern that one develops. Religion is what human beings use as a yard stick to gauge and give meaning and purpose to life.

Spirituality on the other hand is different from religion. Spirituality is a lifestyle that one chooses to undertake on a daily basis. In order for one to attain spirituality, they require a guide to show them the ropes on the different facets of spirituality and how it can be applied in day to day life. This is achieved through a spiritual mentor. Human beings are naturally predisposed to seek the meaning and purpose of life.

The prevailing trends in religion are bad. This is owing to the important and invaluable role that religion plays within society. It provides the limits and boundaries within which society can develop without self-destructing. It provides the ethical guidelines for the well-being and peaceful existence of society. However, some of these trends are good. This is because secularization as led to the emancipation of different section of the demographic in the form of the empowerment of women and human rights

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