Article

Contributions from the Social Sciences

Robert A. Segal

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science

Published in print April 2008 | ISBN: 9780199543656
Published online September 2009 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199543656.003.0020

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Contributions from the Social Sciences

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There has long been tension, not between social scientists and practitioners of religion, but between social scientists and scholars of religious studies, referred to here as ‘religionists’. Religionists have conventionally assumed that the social sciences are guilty of multiple sins, none of them forgivable: ignoring the proverbial believer's point of view; denying the irreducibly religious nature of religion; analysing religion exclusively functionally, reductively, and explanatorily; analysing religion exclusively materially and behaviourally; and denying the truth of religion. This article maintains that the social sciences – anthropology, sociology, psychology, and economics – are guilty of none of these charges, which rest on their misconstrual. Ironically, those religionists who contend that contemporary social scientists have come round to accepting the religionist approach likewise misconstrue the social sciences.

Keywords: religionists; social sciences; religious studies; religion; anthropology; psychology

Article.  7881 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religion and Science ; Sociology of Religion

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