Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Experience of a “miracle” in my final papers

I experienced a "miracle" in my Spr'08 semester, and I have decided to pen it down just in case I forget about it in future.

I had to submit a Sociology of Religion final paper, and Theology final paper two weeks ago. The original submission date for sociology paper was three days before theology paper. But our professor rescheduled the date such that it was three days after theology paper.

As I was writing on Schleiermacher, who responded to Immanuel Kant, for my theology paper, I had to read in-depth about his "feeling or intuition of the infinite." It was after writing on Schleiermacher that I could appreciate Peter Berger in my sociology paper. Berger suggests that the nature of religion is a "human projection, grounded in specific infrastructures of human history,"[1] and therefore sociology is a study of this projected reality.

At first, I had no idea of where Berger was coming from. It was so hard to swallow his proposed definition. But after writing my theology paper, I re-read Berger's idea, and bingo! I could see the light of his interpretation. I realized that Berger's idea is post-Kantian, and a dim reflection of Schleiermacher's response.

Berger is right! As the existence of God cannot be proved or disproved, God is a necessary postulate for morality for Kant. But Schleiermacher rejects this postulate of God for morality. Instead, he claims that all of us have this experience of the infinite. This momentary intuition or feeling (German: Gefühl) , not to be confused with sensation, is the basis on which we can speak of the essence of religion. Based on this experience, we construct a religion that correlates with how we perceive and interpret this infinite. As such, religion is indeed a human construct. Now, I know where Berger is coming from.

If my sociology prof did not reschedule our submission date, I think I will never get to appreciate Peter Berger when writing my sociology paper. I thank God for this "miracle."


[1] Peter L. Berger, The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of a Religion (New York: Anchor Books, 1990/1967), 180.

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