By Rodney Stark
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Extra resources for Acts of Faith: Explaining the Human Side of Religion
The best-known religious commands—including the Five Pillars of Islam and the Ten Commandments—oﬀer explicit guidelines for action toward others as part of the obligation of the faithful, including actions that others might describe as altruistic: to sustain the needy and to avoid actions that may bring harm to others. And here, too, the language is that of exchange. In his remarkable analysis of the “commercial-theological” terms in the Qur’a¯n, Charles Torrey emphasizes the prevalence of promises concerning moral equity: Allah is in standing account with every man.
The greater his disappointment in this life, the greater his faith in the next. (Davis , ) Marx put it rather more succinctly, identifying religion as opium, a view that prompted his collaborator Friedrich Engels to claim that early Christianity “ﬁrst A NEW LOOK AT OLD ISSUES appeared as a religion of slaves and emancipated slaves, of poor people deprived of all rights, of peoples subjugated and dispersed by Rome” (Marx and Engels , ). Hence, the received wisdom: religion appeals most strongly to the lower classes.
Next, we examine survey data on the value individuals place on money and time to see if members of strict (costly) religious bodies are distinguishable from others in this regard. Additional survey data are analyzed to see if there are grounds for claiming that when people are willing to pay high costs for their religion, they do so because they think these are oﬀset by substantial beneﬁts. Shifting our focus, we conclude the chapter by examining whether religion and science really are incompatible commitments.