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date: 11 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter overviews some of the major theories and ideas about the mixing of science and religion among new religions, as well the cultural context for the development of one prominent example of a new religion movement that uses science in its discourse. Illustrating these ideas is a case study of American metaphysical religions, which demonstrates the central role of seemingly scientific epistemological claims in legitimizing new religions. Finally, I suggest that because the role of science in new religions is removed from the actual practice of science among professional scientists, that the centrality of science in establishing epistemological legitimacy is unlikely to change.

Keywords: Christian Science, Epistemology, Legitimation strategy, Metaphysical religion, Spiritualism, Village Enlightenment

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