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.
In addition to summarizing key concerns in Theravāda Buddhist Economics by scholars such as E. F. Schumacher and the Thai monk Payutto, this essay explores how descriptions of the West, Western development, and the “science” of economics serves in that literature to construct Occidentalist versions of Southeast Asian traditionalism and religious orthodoxy. It then introduces the previously unstudied work of Shérab Tendar, a prominent Tibetan Buddhist scholar in the contemporary People’s Republic of China who has written prodigiously on what he considers to be a scripturally based Mahāyāna and Tantric Buddhist Economics. Comparing these three influential iterations of Buddhist Economics, this essay argues that this movement has less to do with economics proper than with what I call trans-Buddhist “scales of value”: site-specific desires and measures of sought after outcomes that here privilege the economy and economic behavior as a technique for individual, social, and environmental well-being and emancipation.
Maxwell E. Johnson
To study the rites of Christian initiation in the early church is to encounter not one but several liturgical traditions in development. This article seeks to provide an introductory overview of the sources, issues, and problems encountered in the development and interpretation of the rites of Christian initiation within early Christianity. It proceeds in two parts: from the first century to the Council of Nicaea; and from the Council of Nicaea to Augustine of Hippo. Augustine of Hippo serves as a fitting conclusion to this focus since, as a result of his controversies with both Donatism and Pelagianism, a new article in Christian initiation begins and continues throughout the medieval and even Reformation periods of church history.
For more than half a century, Rousas John Rushdoony and his followers have articulated and disseminated what they understand to be a biblical worldview, based in aspects of traditional reformed theology and both the Old and New Testaments. This worldview seeks to apply biblical law to every aspect of life and to transform every aspect of culture to establish the Kingdom of God. While some components of their vision are so extreme that Christian Reconstructionists are often dismissed as an irrelevant fringe group, other aspects of their vision have taken root in conservative American Protestantism, especially in the Christian homeschool movement, and therefor influenced American conservatism more broadly. This essay outlines that worldview and points to some of those areas of influence.
This essay explores philosophical and theological frameworks for the development in Christianity of notions of “head” religion and “heart” religion. Such notions are the product of a complex and sustained historical interplay of ideas about the soul, body, matter, spirit, thinking, acting, and feeling. While not exclusively the province of Christianity, ideologies of head and heart in religion nevertheless have developed distinctive forms within the Christian cultures of the West, changing over time and leading, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, to an engagement with scientific theories of emotion. In discussing head and heart, this essay focuses on Apollo, the Greek god of reason, and Dionysius, son of Zeus and Bacchus. The essay also looks at representative key historical figures and their theories, namely, Plato, Aristotle, and Augustine as well as Thomas Aquinas, Rene Descartes, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, and Edmund Husserl.
Lorne L. Dawson
This article attempts to refine the classification of religious collectivities into churches, denominations, sects, and cults. While convinced that it remains a useful typology, the discussion recognises that its ethnocentric character largely limits its use to the Western context. It suggests that researchers revisit their writings to gain a better-informed understanding of their ideas, which will provide them with a universally applicable way of categorising religious organisations, based essentially on the variable of mode of membership. The article also examines the relative merits of the two main methodological options used in the creation of typologies: multi- versus uni-dimensional approaches.
This chapter covers the question of organized religions in the complex global modernity. It explores a range of interactions between the rise of cities as key global spaces for economic, political, and cultural conditions, and the rise of religion as a major force in setting where it was not quite so in the twentieth century, which saw the rise of the secularizing state. The chapter develops the urbanizing of war, as it feeds a particularly acute and violent bridging of cities with religious conflicts, and then takes two specific instances of asymmetric war, one in Mumbai and one in Gaza, to investigate the variable and contradictory elements in this bridging. Religion has emerged as one key organizing and legitimating passion, even as it is often not the cause. The Mumbai attacks had succeeded in drawing a conventional inter-state conflict into the specifics and momentary event that was that attack. Gaza displays the limits of power and the limits of war. The chapter makes visible the territorial conflict driving some of the current religious conflict, even as both sides make use of this long history to justify their actions.
Jeppe Sinding Jensen
This article surveys the nature and role of conceptual models in the study of religion. It aims to replace prior ideas of religious ‘phenomena’ as given, self-evident data. The argument presented here deliberately goes against the intuitive, positivist idea that people work with obvious and immediately accessible ‘facts’ presented on the serving trays of history and society. It is important to recognise how cognitive competence and interpretive understanding depend on what people already ‘have in mind’ and the socio-cultural explanatory repertoires at disposal. The discussion focuses on the semantic aspects of models because of the emphasis on the intersubjective and communicative properties of the models employed in the research. It also looks at the philosophy of science.
Nancy T. Ammerman
From the perspective of the sociology of religion, this article looks at what is a relatively new kind of religious collectivity: the congregation. This form of religious association consists of a locally situated, multi-generational, voluntary group of people who see themselves as distinct and engage jointly in religious activities. While closely associated with contemporary religious practice in the United States, where there are well over 3,000 such congregations, 80 per cent of which are Protestant in persuasion, this form of gathering may have had its origins among the Jews in exile in Babylon in 586
Since the 1970s, social scientists increasingly have cast human emotions in the arenas of culturally or linguistically constructed expression. A wide spectrum of theoretical terminology has been employed, including “constructionism” and “constructivist.” This essay reviews constructionist theories that bear on the study of religion and emotion. It analyzes constructionist theories as both determinist and relativist. It focuses on the recent historical ethnographic work of an important anthropologist of emotion, William M. Reddy. It also examines how religious emotions get constructed and what forms serve to give them expression. Generally, religious ritual is a form that can function in such a way so that the emotional lows of loss and grief are made less low. Conversely, ritual can heighten the feelings of joy and happiness at times of celebration. The construction of ritual form reflects specific religious traditions, yet cultures also share more broadly emotional forms for handling death, birth, marriage, and personal formation.