Religion as a Model for Reality and the Interaction Between the Two: Islam as a Cultural System
Models of reality are concrete, displaying structural congruence with the depicted object, whereas models for reality are abstract, that is, they are theories, dogmas, or doctrines for a reality with which they are not in structural congruence. In religion, human conceptions of reality are not based on knowledge but on belief in an authority, which varies from one religion to another. In the monotheistic religions this authority is God and every revelation that proceeds from Him. The chapter proposes the thesis that religions, as cultural systems, are in fact symbolic systems offering a way to perceive reality. Some sociology-oriented religious researchers tend toward a reductionism that denies the partial autonomy of religions by unhesitatingly placing them as cultural systems in a virtually causal relationship with the level of development of the respective society.