Eileen Barker, an expert on religion, once teased her audience with the suggestion that perhaps the scientific study of religion was a contradiction in terms. She quickly stopped teasing. The phenomenon of religion can be studied scientifically. Social science is not particularly concerned with the truth or falsity of religious doctrine. Was the universe ‘made’ in six days, and is it five thousand years old? An honest answer from most people would express doubt about both propositions. However, there is nothing in the training of social scientists, and in the cumulated knowledge of social science, that can enable practitioners to do better than lay people with these questions. Natural science is better placed to provide answers as to the literal truth of much of religious doctrine.
KeywordsReligious Belief Religious Affiliation Sexual Attitude Religious Service Church Attendance
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