Download Acts of Faith: Explaining the Human Side of Religion by Rodney Stark PDF

By Rodney Stark

Finally, social scientists have began to try to appreciate spiritual habit instead of to discredit it as irrational, ignorant, or foolish—and Rodney Stark and Roger Finke have performed a huge function during this new process. Acknowledging that technological know-how can't check the supernatural part of faith (and consequently will not be declare to do so), Stark and Finke examine the observable, human facet of religion. In transparent and fascinating prose, the authors mix specific theorizing with lively discussions as they circulation from contemplating the religiousness of people to the dynamics of spiritual teams after which to the spiritual workings of whole societies as spiritual teams contend for aid. the result's a finished new paradigm for the social-scientific examine of religion.

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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.

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