chapter  5
12 Pages

A New Age theodicy for a new age

ByCOLIN CAMPBELL

Max Weber’s scheme for the classification and analysis of the world’s religions was based on his extensive research on Christianity, Ancient Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Chinese religion (Weber, 1951; 1952; 1958; 1965). He assumed that the world-views contained in these religions had a certain inner logic that determined their development, a ‘directional logic’ in Guenther Roth’s terms (1987, p. 87), and that the engine that drives this logic is the tension between the world-view itself and reality, that is between the expectations that world-views create in people and the experiences they actually undergo. This discrepancy, and hence the tension arising from it, is not only inevitable but, the more systematized and logically coherent the world-view, the greater it is likely to be. The meaning puzzle presented by this discrepancy Weber referred to as ‘the problem of theodicy’. Consequently this term, although originating in natural theology, has come to have a special significance within the sociology of religion, such that it is this ‘problem’, together with the various solutions offered by the world religions, which, as Bryan Turner (1981) suggests, ‘is central to Weber’s sociology of religion’ (p. 148).1