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2012. Vol.2, No.1, 50-52
Published Online January 2012 in SciRes (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/sm) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/sm.2012.21006
0 Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
The Dialectical Relationship between Religion
and the Ideology of Science
New York City College of Technology (CUNY), New York, USA
Received May 12th, 2011; revised August 13th, 2011; accepted September 20th, 2011
This original effort suggests that analogous to Max Weber’s “Spirit of Capitalism” found in the Protestant
Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, the disenchantment and demystification of the ancient Judaism ethic
code of behavior, is a major factor in the rise of the ideology of science.
Keywords: Salvation Doctrines; Disenchantment; Principle of Rationality
The Dialectical Relationship between Religion
and the Ideology of Science and Technology
Introduction to the Principle of Rationality
Max Weber’s (1864-1920) most important observations was
the extensive influence religion has had on the modernization
of Western Society. In Economy and Society Max Weber re-
veals his major concept of Rationality, and the historical-reli-
gious transformation process known as disenchantment. The
Principle of Rationality is the degree to which a society dis-
places or replaces irrational thought with rational thought. A
significant component found in the Principle of Rationality is
“disenchantment”. Disenchantment is the impersonal and ob-
jective human relationship located within Rationality. For We-
ber this force accounts for the rise and fall of institutional
structures, classes and parties. Furthermore, Weber suggested
that disenchantment is a major force in producing social change.
Rationality consists of two types of movements within social
development—substantive and formal.
Substantive rationality or the traditional society is character-
ized by personal relationships and is without the purely meas-
ured acts of economic calculable. According to Weber, sub-
stantive forms are rooted in the recurrent and normal needs of
the workday, usually with a patriarchal figure as routine leader
of daily chores.
According to Weber, a charismatic/patriarchal leader arises
because he holds a specific gift of the body and spirit, which
was believed also to be supernatural or given to him by God.
Within this society the image of the world is based on concrete
magic, and religious dogma centered on mystical experiences.
On the other hand, formal rationality is antagonistic to substan-
tive or traditional rationality because formal rationality is a
“modern state” with “advanced institutions” based on a “money
economy” which has become synonymous with occidental de-
Formal rationality embraces a bureaucratic authority both in
the private economy and the political sectors. Moreover, Weber
suggested that bureaucratic authority’s objective discharge of
business in a “precise, unambiguous, and continuous manner”,
has become in part, Western Culture.
Within formal rationality a process occurs which changes
humanity’s thinking and attitudes concerning the image of the
world. Weber labels this historic-religious transformation dis-
enchantment. Weber saw this process as a general trend in
Western Civilization as being an iron cage. In his view, there is
no way out, no returning to a time in which the world would be
viewed through magical or religious imagery. Additionally, this
transformation was blocked everywhere, except for Western
Civilization. Disenchantment can be seen as the degree to
which the magical elements of thought are displaced by that of
the rational, intellectual and an objective articulation of the
image of the world. The masteries of nature and the “mystic
experience” to a large extent, progress to an intellectual, im-
personal, calculating image based in rules and scientific laws.
Hence, this attitude seeks the “meaning of inner-worldly oc-
currences” through empirical and scientific thought. Thus, it is
pushing back religion and the supernatural into the realm of the
irrational, reducing human relations to an objective and imper-
Weber in his work the Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit
of Capitalism states that the protestant sect of Calvinism
changed Western Civilization by suggesting that hard work and
the accumulation of wealth was in fact God’s work. The more
wealth one accumulates, the more good work for God can be
performed leading to eternal life at the right hand of God. John
Calvin and his followers believed in pre-destination. In an ef-
fort to fulfill their perceived destiny, this group found it neces-
sary to work hard, accumulate wealth, and invest this wealth to
gain more wealth. This perceived destiny stated above, lead to
the basis of American Capitalism. In Europe this Christian sect
was persecuted, and settled in what is now the United States of
America. The founding fathers, Washington, Jefferson, Frank-
lin and Abraham Lincoln all were Calvinist, and profoundly
influenced the growth and philosophy of the United States.
Today, the idea of capitalism is part and parcel of the American
identity. As Americans we are always thinking in terms of
capitalism, even if we are not working on Wall Street. Educa-
tion is viewed by many Americans as an investment in their
children’s future as human capital. Indeed, our society places a
large proportion of wealth in the investment of education. The
axiom is invest in education today for a better job or working
conditions in the future.
So to sum up, Weber saw disenchantment and the demystifi-
cation of religion as one of the most important, if not the most
important function of modern social life.
Context and Overview of the Dialectical
Weber suggested that early on in the development of reli-
gious salvation doctrines there is an important split into two
forms creating different human identities, thus different world-
views. He illustrates this point by comparing the vessel of God
salvation doctrine, and the free choice and free will salvation
doctrine, which I will refer to as the ancient Judaism ethic code
Weber stated that the vessel of God doctrine leads its follow-
ers in pursuit of “world adjustment and world flight”. This
produces a human identity that is passive to the masteries of
nature and world occurrences. Rendering humanity to accept
what is understood as God’s actions and therefore without re-
course, all world events have been willed by God, translating
human identity into a passive being in relationship to “world
occurrences”, thereby reducing the human spirit to a single
sentence “it is God’s doing, nothing can be done”… On the
other hand, Weber suggested that “for the Jew... social order of
the world was conceived to have been turned into the opposite
of the one promised for the future, but in the future it was to be
overturned so that Jewry could be once again dominant. The
world was conceived as neither eternal nor unchangeable, but
rather as being created. Hence, the present structure a product
of man’s actions, above all those of the Jews and God’s reac-
tion to them. Hence the world was an historical product de-
signed to give way to the truly God-ordained order… There
existed in addition a highly rational religious ethic of social
conduct; it was free of magic and all forms of irrational quest
for salvation; it was inwardly worlds apart from the path of
salvation offered by Asiatic; it was inwardly worlds apart from
the path of salvation offered by Asiatic religions. To a large
extent this ethic still underlies contemporary Middle Eastern
and European ethic. World-historical interest in Jewry rests
upon this fact… Thus, in considering the conditions of Jewry’s
evolution; we stand at a turning point of the whole cultural de-
velopment of the West…” Bendix, Reinhard. Max Weber: an
intellectual portrait, University of California Press, 1977, p.
The outcome of the disenchantment of the Jewish ethic of
social conduct (defined as the demystification of religion)
which is free of magic and all forms of irrational quest for sal-
vation, leads its followers in pursuit of world domination and
“inner-worldliness”. In addition to the above mentioned code,
the Judaic mythology of knowing, and giving names to an en-
tity is a function of power and control over that entity. Indeed,
at the every least the act of naming an entity translates to an
equalitarian force. By knowing the real name of an entity, there
is power and dominance over that entity. (This theme occurs in
many paradigms, most notably that of the Frankfurt School).
Hence , for the God of Israel to materialize himself to the peo-
ple of Israel and give His name as Yahweh is a major factor in
the demystification, and disenchantment of religion; acting as a
major pivotal point in Western Civilization toward the freedom
from magic and irrational behavior.
Hence, this original work advances the following thesis: the
disenchantment of the Judaic ethical code of behavior acts as a
major factor in the ideology of science. This highly rational
ethic leads to the disenchantment of religion which transforms
the social trajectory of Western Civilization. Furthermore, this
transformation propels Western Civilization into the modern
ideology of science. This monumental historical shift to an-
thropocentrism from religious magic changing humanity's im-
age of the world toward: 1) empirical knowledge and scientific
and technological know-how led to control of the world through
calculation; 2) the intellectual elaboration of the world by tak-
ing a rational, impersonal consistent and unified stance toward
world domination. Hence, this monumental movement from
religious ascription to personal achievement acts as a major
contributing factor into the ideology of science in modern soci-
ety. No longer is modern society concerned with magic; rather
free will performance and recognized objective and empirical
behavior is that of empirical thought...
Max Weber and Georg Simmel (1858-1918 two German So-
ciologists noted for their work on the money economy and the
matter-of-fact human relationship) were brother-in-laws. As
brother-in-laws they often debated the relative importance of
modern capitalism (matter-of-fact behavior as Simmel put it),
and disenchantment. Weber was a Christian, but Simmel was a
Jew concerned with European anti-Semitism. As a result, there
was the consistent debate among the two men over the “Jewish
question” in Europe, and the importance of the influence of
Judaic religious code on Western Civilization. Indeed, Simmel
is generally known for his work in the social role as an analyti-
cal concept. The Stranger as a sociological type is an example
of this analytical approach.
In the Stranger, Simmel argues that in all human relation-
ships there is a unity of nearness and remoteness, indifference
and involvement. The Stranger is close in a natural, social and
general human sense. But these common features only connect
us because we all are a part of the human family. As a group
member the stranger is both near and far at the same time. This
nearness and farness produces tensions only when the Stranger
displays his/her social differences (i.e. race, religion, city vs
country dweller, etc.). Simmel supports this point by identify-
ing the social position of the Jew in Europe and the Beede tax.
The Jew under the Beede tax had to pay a fixed tax per single
person. On the other hand, for Christian citizens the tax was
based on his changing fortune. Simmel refers to this social
position because historically Europe has a long tradition of
being Christian. Hence, in Europe the Jew was seen as a s-
tranger as a result of his/her religious doctrine. Thus, this taxa-
tion policy discriminated based on the religious strangeness of
the Jew in Europe.
Hence, from Simmel’s work on the stranger Weber gleaned
the concept of mystification and disenchantment of the Ancient
Judaism Ethic Cod of Behavior as the first religious doctrine to
explain the modern impersonal rational society. As was men-
tioned earlier, The Principle of Rationality can be viewed as the
degree to which society replaces or displaces irrational thought
(mysticism, superstition and concrete magic) with rational
(provable and observable facts). The result of this historical-
religious transformation is disenchantment. Disenchantment
can be seen as the degree to which the magical elements of
thought are displaced by that of the rational, intellectual and an
objective articulation of the image of the world. The masteries
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 51
52 Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
of nature and the “mystic experience” to a large extent, pro-
gress to an intellectual, impersonal, calculating image based in
rules and scientific laws. Hence, this attitude seeks the “mean-
ing of inner-worldly occurrences” through empirical and scien-
tific thought. Thus, it is pushing back religion and the super-
natural into the realm of the irrational, reducing human rela-
tions to an objective and impersonal stance resulting in: 1)
world control through calculation; 2) the need for humanity to
understand world occurrences; 3) methodical rules of order; and
4) disenchantment to be understood as the modernization and
secularization of religious thought.
Moreover, Weber understood the disenchantment and secu-
larization of the Calvinist creed of hard work and the accumu-
lation of wealth for the purpose of “good works” acts to elimi-
nate the traditional magical/mystical outer-worldliness phi-
losophy, and replacing this world image with the objective,
rational, and empirical stance. Indeed, this stance has meta-
morphosed into modern capitalism.
It is the position of this original work that the secularization
(disenchantment and demystification) of the Judaic ethical code
of behavior created a human identity which seeks to understand
the world through a systemic orderly stance. This orderly stance
is a major factor in the culmination of the ideology of science.
Weber suggested that the vessel of God doctrine leads its’
followers in pursuit of “world adjustment and world flight”.
This produces a human identity that is passive to the masteries
of nature and world occurrences rendering humanity to accept
God’s actions without recourse. Translating human identity into
a passive being in relationship to “world occurrences”, thereby
reducing the human spirit to a single sentence “it is God’s do-
ing, nothing can be done”.
Finally, disenchantment is the quintessential impersonal and
objective human culture. Indeed, this culture rejects and con-
demns the irrational acts of world adjustment and world flight.
Furthermore, the disenchanted attitude favors, in fact demands
world mastery, shaped and modeled by human free will. Hence,
this work suggests that the ideology of world mastery found in
science is based upon the conviction of the objective, imper-
sonal efficiency, certainly not by the conviction of transcen-
dental faith and world adjustment. Lastly, it must be noted that
there is no formal data or scholarship in this topic, hence this
original effort is ripe for further scholarship and criticism.
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