Studying Religion Without God


Caravaggio (1602-1603): Doubting Thomas


I read an article that addresses some of the issues that I’ve had studying religion regarding how to approach religious truth claims. Its difficult to analyze the history of a religion from the perspective of a true believer by following empirical research principles. Logically, I can’t proceed from the point of view that Jesus rose from the dead or that an angel dictated the Koran to Mohammed. So – from the perspective of my subjects, I’m not doing real research. But if I accepted my subject’s claims of truth at face value, I don’t think I would be engaging in real scholarship. Several times, people in religious studies departments have taken me to task for being “reductionist” in my thinking – trying to explain the mystical and sacred by way of the mundane and thus imposing my worldview on others.


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