Once people accept the historical emergence and spread of science as a unique discursive formation, it becomes nonsense to talk about the relationship between religion and science, or religion as a kind of science in societies that have not yet encountered or internalized this development. Religion and science cannot be judged or compared along a single axis of measurement, and therefore they will continue to irritate or complement each other. The de facto identification of science with abstract reason and religion with engaged performance, the incommensurability of science and religion in the modern world, the destabilization of the transcendent or foundational claims of each, and the ultimate uncertainty that their conjunction or opposition imposes, all beg for triangulation with a third construct: namely, ethics.
This chapter analyzes important approaches in anthropology that have dealt with religious change. The central question is how anthropologists identify and analyze the main factors in the conversion process. The chapter deals with the approaches in chronological order, describing their main authors and ideas, their conceptualization of religious conversion, and their methodologies. The main conclusion is that anthropologists have struggled to come to terms with religious conversion, but currently they are improving quickly. Most anthropologists have criticized modernity but have been unable to escape its gravitational pull. Another challenge for the future is developing comparative approaches to conversion to a host of religions in ways that include the indigenous understandings of the religions and explore their interactions with globalization processes. Anthropologists should capitalize on the main strengths of their discipline: their long-term perspective, their ethnographic approach, their theoretical flexibility, and their focus on the cultural context in understanding conversion cross-culturally.
Anti-Semitism refers to all anti-Jewish statements, tendencies, resentments, attitudes, and actions, regardless of whether they are religiously, racially, socially, or otherwise motivated. Ever since the experience of National Socialist ideology and dictatorship, anti-Semitism has been understood as a social phenomena which serves as a paradigm for the formation of prejudices and the political exploitation of the hostilities that ensue from them. As prejudice research, it is primarily interested in the behaviour and attitudes of different majority societies, and strictly speaking, it does not even require knowledge of the discriminated minority. This article claims that anti-Semitism research and Jewish studies are not interconnected, nor dependent on one another. However, the history of Jews, their interaction with non-Jewish majority societies, their persecution and extermination, serves anti-Semitism research as a paradigm.
Lee I. Levine
This article addresses three related, though not identical, academic fields of study that crystallized only in the twentieth century. Beforehand, it had generally been assumed, whether for political, social, or religious reasons, that Jews eschewed art and architecture, either because they were visually uncreative, preferring the audile to the visual, or owing to the restrictions imposed on them by the Second Commandment. However, there emerged in the Post-Emancipation era an awareness that, in the course of their history, particularly in the later Middle Ages and modern times, Jews had produced an impressive array of artistic, mostly ceremonial, objects worthy of appreciation and display. This realization that a uniquely Jewish art and architecture existed in the past crystallized in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, finding expression, inter alia, in the establishment of Jewish museums throughout Europe, America, and Israel.
William Sims Bainbridge
The question of the relationship between religion and science emerges again in this article. The discussion looks at the relationship between religion and irreligion and/or atheism, a much neglected theme in the sociology of religion. It argues that the study of atheism, although a minority viewpoint, is indispensable to the study of religion in that, among other things, it poses several complex and difficult questions for all theories of religion. Interestingly, the article suggests that the future of this minority position, often considered unworthy of serious attention by scholars and dismissed as something trivial compared to the belief in God, might lie in developments of cognitive science.
Science is the only path to understanding. It would be contaminated rather than enriched by any alliance with religion. Such should be the attitude of a scientifically alert atheist. This article elaborates and justifies this core attitude. There are those who consider that the domain of science is restricted to some kind of ‘physical world’, whereas religion deals with the ‘spiritual’. A scientific atheist holds that the domain of science is the physical world, but considers there is no other variety of world, and that the ‘spiritual’ is an illusion generated by a physical brain. The discussion considers the nature of this belief and distinguishes it from religious belief.
This article examines the strong correlation that currently exists between high levels of secularity in a given society positive societal well-being. By looking at the most and least theistic nations on earth, as well as the most and least theistic states in the United States, and by taking into consideration a wide array of indicators of societal well-being, the correlation is clear: the most secular societies on earth with the highest rates of non-belief fare much better, on average, than the most religious, strongly-believing societies. While understanding that correlation does not equal causation, this article still maintains that theism is clearly not the societal panacea many claim it to be, nor is atheism a source of societal degradation.
The last few years have seen a great deal of research on the association between religion, spirituality, and medical outcomes. This research has not been without controversy however, in terms of methodological and analytical issues. One particular under-researched area concerns the increasingly visible sub-population of individuals who identify themselves as ‘nonreligious’, a group that includes atheists, agnostics and individuals who believe in god(s) but do not identify with one particular religion. As a result, relatively little is known about the health and quality of life within this particular group, not only in comparison to religious individuals, but also within nonreligious populations as well. This essay covers three major issues: (1) a brief summary of the controversies concerning religion-health research; (2) what the current research does indicate about the nonreligious, particularly about affirmative atheists (as opposed to simply ‘nonreligious’); and (3) reasons for the neglect of nonreligious individuals to date and reasons for increasing attention to them.
The dazzling display of emotional intelligence that gives the Confessions, Augustine's most famous work, its resonance for students of the inner life is evident, albeit in more muted hues, in nearly everything that he wrote: sermons, letters, scriptural commentaries, polemical and apologetic works, and theological meditations. This essay examines Augustine's theology of the emotions. First, it takes a closer look at Stoicism in City of God and Augustine's eventual rejection of its theory and practice of emotion. Augustine's rejection of Stoicism is importantly symptomatic of a shift in his notion of will, from a facility for consent to a focus of internal conflict and incoherence. This essay also discusses the connection between sin and self-undoing by entering into Augustine's fascination with a first or original will to sin. The primary resources used are his psychological analysis in City of God of the Adam and Eve of Genesis and his parallel analysis of himself in Confessions, where he describes a fall of his own.
Buddhism deals directly with the emotions as a chief concern of its doctrine and practice. The Buddha's core teaching of the Four Noble Truths begins with an emotional truth, that is, that life inevitably involves sorrow, suffering, and grief. Given their foundational concern with human vulnerability to suffering, it is not surprising that Buddhist traditions developed various systems of knowledge that explore human feeling with great subtlety, and advanced certain technologies to redress the pain in our emotional experience. In the various languages used by Buddhists, however, there is no term that corresponds exactly to the generic category “emotion,” and thus emotion as such is not theorized in Buddhist thought. This article reflects on how Buddhist thinkers have shaped human experience in distinctive ways through their analysis of affective life. It first discusses the Abhidhamma texts as the most systematic rendering of early Buddhist treatments of psychology. It then considers meditation techniques and their work with mental processes and examines the nuances of friendship and the social nature of other emotions.