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Intro to Religious Studies:The Study of Religion-Methodology

by: Sophie Yano

Intro to Religious Studies:The Study of Religion-Methodology Theo 107

Marketplace > Loyola University Chicago > Theology > Theo 107 > Intro to Religious Studies The Study of Religion Methodology
Sophie Yano

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About this Document

Book notes from The Study of Religion Ch2
Intro to Religious Studies
Class Notes
Religious, Studies, methodology
25 ?




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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Sophie Yano on Monday September 12, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Theo 107 at Loyola University Chicago taught by in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 4 views. For similar materials see Intro to Religious Studies in Theology at Loyola University Chicago.


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Date Created: 09/12/16
Intro to Religious Studies: Methodology in Religious Studies ● Is Religious Studies a specific discipline or a field that draws on a range of disciplines? ○ If it is a​ ​specific discipline​ ​then it is important to demonstrate the field’s unique contribution to the study of religion ○ If it is a​ collaboration of studies ​then it is important to recognize how knowing methodologies help scholars achieve new insights into religion as a whole ● P.H. Hirst ○ Several forms of knowledge ■ Mathematics ■ Physical Sciences ■ Human Sciences ■ History ■ Religion ■ Literature and the Fine Arts ■ Philosophy ○ Combinations of these different forms are referred to as ​fields of knowledge ● The Status of Religious Studies ○ Is religious studies a “form of knowledge” or a “field of knowledge” ○ Arguing not a form of knowledge ■ Alfred Ayer and Antony Flew ● Stated that religious statements are “devoid of any cognitive meaning” ■ Religion can be practiced as well as studied ● Although you can learn from practicing, gaining knowledge is not the primary motivation for practicing religion ● The Breadth of Religious Studies ○ Many studies inform the study of religions ■ The main ones are ● Theology ● Philosophy ● Anthropology ● History ■ A good scholar should understand all of these at at least a basic level ● Theology ○ “​The insider​” who attempts to make sense of the key doctrinal features of the faith they study ○ Addresses questions of religious truth by ​belonging to the faith​ (in order to learn the doctrines first hand) and by developing explanations of the truth ○ A theologian ​writes on behalf of their tradition ○ Theology i​ ormally associated with Christianity​ but is not solely Christian ○ Unlike theology, the study of religions is neutral in regards to questions of truth ■ Contrasting or Complimentary? ■ However, a student of a religion would not have a good understanding of said religion without knowing something about the history of its doctrines ○ Theology influences religious practice ○ *interfaith dialogue is difficult if one religion insists on an absolute truth-claim* ○ Religious Pluralism ■ John Hick ● There is no benefit in having a “home religion” ■ Very little of theology could be considered pluralistic ● Philosophy ○ Philosophers of religion also address questions of truth but also ​focus on more big picture/fundamental questions ○ Students are encouraged to develop and express their opinions based on various findings ○ A philosopher of relig​ oes not need to be associated with a certain religion ○ A philosopher has the freedom to reconsider their stance without repercussions ■ Not true for theologists ● History ○ “Sociology of the past” ○ Historians ​trace patterns of human activity ​in order to find their impact on the world ○ History is not a list of events​ it is an explanation as to why events happened and what their significance is ○ Historians do not simply pass on facts about the past, they ​critically analyze the evidence ○ Historians are generally reluctant to accept the hagiographical accounts of religious leaders and actions ● Archaeology ○ Archaeology​ plays a smaller role in the the study of religion than it used to ■ Not as relevant anymore because many of the huge archeological finds have been well excavated and explored at this point ○ Archaeological finds have historically played a huge role in understanding earlier aspects of many religions ○ Archaeologist are often ​categorized by either their period or their civilizations ○ Goal: to discover and analyze the material remains of human life ● Sociology ○ Sociology ​treats religion as a social phenomenon ○ Sociology examines religious communities as societies in their own right and considers ​how religious communities influence/are influenced by society ○ So sociologist have attempted to relate religion to society by considering ​what kinds of people comprise specific religious groups ○ In the past, sociological work tends to be​ theoretical rather than empirical ○ Stark and Bainbridge ■ Argue that religion has not declined because it serves human needs ● Theory is derived from traditional monotheistic religions that offer tangible rewards in the afterlife ○ Many New Age religions focus on “​immanence” (the divine within) and “imminence” (the here and now) ■ Offer immediate spiritual rewards rather than moral “IOUs” for a future existence ○ Sociologica​ ritings tend to be more Eurocentric ● Anthropology and Ethnography ○ Anthropology-​ the study of humans ■ Study collectiv​ uman behavior with emphasis on social hierarchies, customs, and traditions ■ Traditional thinking- “Sociology is the study of dominant societies while anthropology is the study of the other societies​” ■ Modern thinking- Western culture is not superior and only primal societies offer insights on culture and religion ■ Often work in labs with simulations ■ Anthropological study​ involves assimilating oneself into the community and taking on their customs and lifestyle ● This is not necessary for students of religion because of religious pluralism ○ Ethnographers ■ Ethnographers studying religion research the increasingly broad range of religious diversity found in modern societies ● Psychology ○ Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and William James ○ Freud​ believed that religious belief was a misguided attempt to control the forces of nature ■ “Science the illusion (religion) would be abandoned in favor of science” ○ Jung​ believed that religion was strongly connected with the unconscious ■ Related mythology to dreams ○ James​ coined the term “religious experience” ○ Psychologists often worry that ​religion is a sign of mental health or psychological inadequacy ● Neuro-theological Approaches ○ A more scientific approach to religion ○ Research has been published that argues that r​eligious activities and experiences can be measured as neural activity in the brain ■ The posterior superior parietal lobe its activity during intense religious practice. This lobe helps to create a sense of separation of the self and the world in order to facilitate spatial awareness which means that the reduction of its activity allows the brain to perceive the self as endless and interwoven with everything ○ The idea of a universal experience underlying diverse religious expressions is seen as seriously flawed ● Postmodernism ○ Manifestations of postmodernism have presented challenges to religions-especially monotheistic ones ○ Postmodern culture is heterogeneous, fragmented, and pluralist  


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