Similarities In The Opposition. Ideas Do Not Prove Their

909 WordsFeb 18, 20174 Pages
Similarities in the Opposition Ideas do not prove their value until they withstand the challenge of being questioned. On the surface, professor Craig Martin and anthropologist Clifford Geertz approach analyzing religion with opposing views. Martin dismisses definitions of religion claiming that no definition can encompass the practical use of the word and instead provides a step by step approach to explaining beliefs and actions in the perspective of a methodological atheist. Geertz, however, provides a working definition broken into a five-part model to make it a useful tool. Upon further analysis of these two methods, the once contradicting ideas begin to work in unison with each other. Martin’s functionalist approach and the definition…show more content…
Martin discusses the uses of the hermeneutics of suspicion for his second step in his approach. He believes it is important to remain suspicious of the cultural element being examined and presume it is false. Geertz, in the second part of his definition, states that a system of symbols “acts to establish powerful, pervasive and long-lasting moods and motivations in men” (Geertz, 1993). This statement is in agreeance with the suspicious mindset provided by Martin, as Geertz also does not confirm any religious beliefs to be true. He uses the word “acts” to show that the cultural elements function in a specific way, not to prove their factual accuracy. His definition demonstrates the unity of individual components in a culture and how they function. Both methods do not approach religion with yes or no questions but rather seek the answer to why it functions in particular ways and how it continues to exist. In life, there are questions that have answers unable to be proven with facts of science, which leaves a lot of room up for interpretation. As previously stated, neither Martin nor Geertz tries to prove religious facts but rather explains them in terms of how they function in the practical world. Martin’s last step in the methodological atheist approach is to provide a functionalist explanation as to why the cultural element persists in societies. In investigating this function, Martin must analyze all parts of Geertz’s definition. The
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