The Evolution of Religion

1318 Words Jun 18th, 2018 6 Pages
INTRODUCTION In The Wizard of Oz (1939), Dorothy and her friends journey to the Emerald City in seek of Oz – the great and powerful wizard. Upon finally reaching him, Dorothy’s dog opens a curtain to reveal that the Wizard is merely an ordinary man speaking into a microphone while using various knobs and levers to create a smoke-and-mirrors effect. In many ways this story is similar to the creation and interpretation of religion by individuals within society. In the following pages I will discuss this metaphor, as well as Rudolf Otto and his theories on the creation of religion, Peter L. Berger’s theory of “the sacred canopy,” and finally the intermingling of these two theories in the evolution of religion.
RUDOLF OTTO AND RELIGIOUS
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This is the first of the three main aspects of Berger’s “Sacred Canopy.” “Externalization,” Berger says, “is the ongoing outpouring of human being into the world, both in the physical and the mental activity of men,” (4). Every time an individual externalizes himself upon the environment, it changes, thus creating a new set of choices to be made.
This imposition of our decisions then leads to objectivation – the second aspect of the sacred canopy. According to Berger, “the humanly produced world becomes something ‘out there.’ It consists of objects, both material and non-material that are capable of resisting the desires of their producer. Once produced, this world cannot simply be wished away,” (9). In other words, objectivation occurs when the products of what we create impose themselves back upon us and take on a life of their own. Gender roles, for example, are objectivations and are different in varying societies. Berger explains that “society assigns to the individual not only a set of roles but a designated identity. In other words, the individual is not only expected to perform as husband, father or uncle, but to be a husband, a father, or an uncle” (14). The final aspect of Berger’s sacred canopy is internalization. Internalization is the acceptance of these objective realities that society imposes upon us. In this step, our objectivations become part of who we are. This can be seen in various

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