Religion—One Mans Overview


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More recently, Cristine Legare et al. Psychologists and sociologists of religion also began to doubt that religious beliefs were rooted in irrationality, psychopathology, and other atypical psychological states, as James and other early psychologists had assumed.


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In the United States, in the late s through the s, psychologists developed a renewed interest for religion, fueled by the observation that religion refused to decline—thus casting doubt on the secularization thesis—and seemed to undergo a substantial revival see Stark for an overview. Psychologists of religion have made increasingly fine-grained distinctions among types of religiosity, including extrinsic religiosity being religious as means to an end, for instance, getting the benefits of being in a social group and intrinsic religiosity people who adhere to religions for the sake of their teachings Allport and Ross Psychologists and sociologists now commonly study religiosity as an independent variable, with an impact on, for instance, health, criminality, sexuality, and social networks.

A recent development in the scientific study of religion is the cognitive science of religion.

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This is a multidisciplinary field, with authors from, among others, developmental psychology, anthropology, philosophy, and cognitive psychology. It differs from the other scientific approaches to religion by its presupposition that religion is not a purely cultural phenomenon, but the result of ordinary, early developed, and universal human cognitive processes e. Some authors regard religion as the byproduct of cognitive processes that do not have an evolved function specific for religion. For example, according to Paul Bloom , religion emerges as a byproduct of our intuitive distinction between minds and bodies: we can think of minds as continuing, even after the body dies e.

Another family of hypotheses regards religion as a biological or cultural adaptive response that helps humans solve cooperative problems e.

Through their belief in big, powerful gods that can punish, humans behave more cooperatively, which allowed human group sizes to expand beyond small hunter-gatherer communities. Groups with belief in big gods thus outcompeted groups without such beliefs for resources during the Neolithic, which explains the current success of belief in such gods Norenzayan Until the nineteenth and even early twentieth century, it was common for scientists to have religious beliefs which guided their work.

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Natural philosopher Isaac Newton held strong, albeit unorthodox religious beliefs Pfizenmaier By contrast, contemporary scientists have lower religiosity compared to the general population. There are vocal exceptions, such as the geneticist Francis Collins, erstwhile the leader of the Human Genome Project.

Sociological studies e. They indicate a significant difference in religiosity in scientists compared to the general population. Surveys such as those conducted by the Pew forum Masci and Smith find that nearly nine in ten adults in the US say they believe in God or a universal spirit, a number that has only slightly declined in recent decades. Atheism and agnosticism are widespread among academics, especially among those working in elite institutions. Ecklund and Scheitle analyzed responses from scientists working in the social and natural sciences from 21 elite universities in the US.

About In contrast to the general population, the older scientists in this sample did not show higher religiosity—in fact, they were more likely to say that they did not believe in God. On the other hand, Gross and Simmons examined a more heterogeneous sample of scientists from American colleges, including community colleges, elite doctoral-granting institutions, non-elite four-year state schools, and small liberal arts colleges. They found that the majority of university professors full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty had some theistic beliefs, believing either in God Belief in God was influenced both by type of institution lower theistic belief in more prestigious schools and by discipline lower theistic belief in the physical and biological sciences compared to the social sciences and humanities.

These latter findings indicate that academics are more religiously diverse than has been popularly assumed and that the majority are not opposed to religion.

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Even so, in the US the percentage of atheists and agnostics in academia is higher than in the general population, a discrepancy that requires an explanation. One reason might be a bias against theists in academia. For example, when sociologists were surveyed whether they would hire someone if they knew the candidate was an evangelical Christian, Another reason might be that theists internalize prevalent negative societal stereotypes, which leads them to underperform in scientific tasks and lose interest in pursuing a scientific career.

Kimberly Rios et al. It is unclear whether religious and scientific thinking are cognitively incompatible. Some studies suggest that religion draws more upon an intuitive style of thinking, distinct from the analytic reasoning style that characterizes science Gervais and Norenzayan On the other hand, the acceptance of theological and scientific views both rely on a trust in testimony, and cognitive scientists have found similarities between the way children and adults understand testimony to invisible entities in religious and scientific domains Harris et al.

Moreover, theologians such as the Church Fathers and Scholastics were deeply analytic in their writings, indicating that the association between intuitive and religious thinking might be a recent Western bias. More research is needed to examine whether religious and scientific thinking styles are inherently in tension. As noted, most studies on the relationship between science and religion have focused on science and Christianity, with only a small number of publications devoted to other religious traditions e. Relatively few monographs pay attention to the relationship between science and religion in non-Christian milieus e.


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Since Western science makes universal claims, it is easy to assume that its encounter with other religious traditions is similar to the interactions observed in Christianity. However, given different creedal tenets e. Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion, currently the largest religion in the world. It developed in the first century AD out of Judaism from a group of followers of Jesus. Christians adhere to asserted revelations described in a series of canonical texts, which include the Old Testament, which comprises texts inherited from Judaism, and the New Testament, which contains the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John narratives on the life and teachings of Jesus , as well as events and teachings of the early Christian churches e.

Given the prominence of revealed texts in Christianity, a useful starting point to examine the relationship between Christianity and science is the two books metaphor see Tanzella-Nitti for an overview. Augustine — argued that the book of nature was the more accessible of the two, since scripture requires literacy whereas illiterates and literates alike could read the book of nature.

Maximus Confessor c. During the Middle Ages, authors such as Hugh of St.

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Victor ca. Given that original sin marred our reason and perception, what conclusions could humans legitimately draw about ultimate reality? He argued that sin has clouded human reason so much that the book of nature has become unreadable, and that scripture is needed as it contains teachings about the world. Christian authors in the field of science and religion continue to debate how these two books interrelate.

Concordism is the attempt to interpret scripture in the light of modern science. It is a hermeneutical approach to Bible interpretation, where one expects that the Bible foretells scientific theories, such as the Big Bang theory or evolutionary theory. However, as Denis Lamoureux chapter 5 argues, many scientific-sounding statements in the Bible are false: the mustard seed is not the smallest seed, male reproductive seeds do not contain miniature persons, there is no firmament, and the earth is neither flat nor immovable.

Thus, any plausible form of integrating the books of nature and scripture will require more nuance and sophistication. Theologians such as John Wesley — have proposed the addition of other sources of knowledge to scripture and science: the Wesleyan quadrilateral a term not coined by Wesley himself is the dynamic interaction of scripture, experience including the empirical findings of the sciences , tradition, and reason Outler Several Christian authors have attempted to integrate science and religion e.

They tend to interpret findings from the sciences, such as evolutionary theory or chaos theory, in a theological light, using established theological models, e. John Haught argues that the theological view of kenosis self-emptying anticipates scientific findings such as evolutionary theory: a self-emptying God i.

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The dominant epistemological outlook in Christian science and religion has been critical realism, a position that applies both to theology theological realism and to science scientific realism. Barbour introduced this view into the science and religion literature; it has been further developed by theologians such as Arthur Peacocke and Wentzel van Huyssteen Critical realism has distinct flavors in the works of different authors, for instance, van Huyssteen , develops a weak form of critical realism set within a postfoundationalist notion of rationality, where theological views are shaped by social, cultural, and evolved biological factors.

Murphy — outlines doctrinal and scientific requirements for approaches in science and religion: ideally, an integrated approach should be broadly in line with Christian doctrine, especially core tenets such as the doctrine of creation, while at the same time it should be in line with empirical observations without undercutting scientific practices. Several historians e. Peter Harrison thinks the doctrine of original sin played a crucial role in this, arguing there was a widespread belief in the early modern period that Adam, prior to the fall, had superior senses, intellect, and understanding.

As a result of the fall, human senses became duller, our ability to make correct inferences was diminished, and nature itself became less intelligible. Postlapsarian humans i. They must supplement their reasoning and senses with observation through specialized instruments, such as microscopes and telescopes. As Robert Hooke wrote in the introduction to his Micrographia :. As a result, the Condemnation opened up intellectual space to think beyond ancient Greek natural philosophy.

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For example, medieval philosophers such as John Buridan fl. As further evidence for a formative role of Christianity in the development of science, some authors point to the Christian beliefs of prominent natural philosophers of the seventeenth century. For example, Clark writes,. Exclude God from the definition of science and, in one fell definitional swoop, you exclude the greatest natural philosophers of the so-called scientific revolution—Kepler, Copernicus, Galileo, Boyle, and Newton to name just a few.

Others authors even go as far as to claim that Christianity was unique and instrumental in catalyzing the scientific revolution—according to Rodney Stark , the scientific revolution was in fact a slow, gradual development from medieval Christian theology. In spite of these positive readings of the relationship between science and religion in Christianity, there are sources of enduring tension. For example, there is still vocal opposition to the theory of evolution among Christian fundamentalists.

Religion—One Mans Overview Religion—One Mans Overview
Religion—One Mans Overview Religion—One Mans Overview
Religion—One Mans Overview Religion—One Mans Overview
Religion—One Mans Overview Religion—One Mans Overview
Religion—One Mans Overview Religion—One Mans Overview
Religion—One Mans Overview Religion—One Mans Overview
Religion—One Mans Overview Religion—One Mans Overview
Religion—One Mans Overview Religion—One Mans Overview
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