Karl Marx

This essay has a total of 391 words and 2 pages.

Karl Marx

According to Karl Marx, religion is like other social institutions in that it is dependent
upon the material and economic realities in a given society. It has no independent
history; instead it is the creature of productive forces. As Marx wrote, "The religious
world is but the reflex of the real world."

Religion can only be understood in relation to other social systems and the economic
structures of society. In fact, religion is only dependent upon economics, nothing else
— so much so that the actual religious doctrines are almost irrelevant. This is a
functionalist interpretation of religion: understanding religion is dependent upon what
social purpose religion itself serves, not the content of its beliefs.

Marx's opinion is that religion is an illusion that provides reasons and excuses to keep
society functioning just as it is. Much as capitalism takes our productive labor and
alienates us from its value, religion takes our highest ideals and aspirations and
alienates us from them, projecting them onto an alien and unknowable being called a god.

Marx has three reasons for disliking religion. First, it is irrational — religion is a
delusion and a worship of appearances that avoids recognizing underlying reality. Second,
religion negates all that is dignified in a human being by rendering them servile and more
amenable to accepting the status quo. In the preface to his doctoral dissertation, Marx
adopted as his motto the words of the Greek hero Prometheus who defied the gods to bring
Continues for 1 more page >>