Lecture 2 September 16 2013
Religion is around us and surrounds us in many ways.
Religion begins as an academic discipline in the 19 CE. What rules that development is
a century’s world of travels around the world, adventurers, merchants around the world,
encountering people who are different then themselves. People send their discoveries
back to Europe.
The enlighten is a big period because this is really where we see the dynamics that
produce the discipline and the various molds of inquiry. That continued and formed the
way that we think about religion and the way we study religion. There are certain central
concerns and themes, qualities, and characteristics in this period: openness, discoveries
science and art, reason, question the claims of religion and the basis in which religion
They don’t just “Accept” what the church tells them, but they examine the claims of
religion and examine if they are rational and if they hold up to logic and reason.
Different approaches to the way that we study religion:
How we as scholars of religion today, might approach the subject… the most profitable
ways of thinking about religion.
To begin with the study of religion, emerged from a very Christian perspective about
what is religion. It emerged from assumptions about God, necessities for holding as true
and certain, certain documents and “creeds” (statement of belief).
The 19 CE was when religion came about. In this period, they thought about religion in
a rational and reasonable way. Scientific method of inquiry. If we study religion as we
study anything with an scholarly/scientific objectivity, with a kind of distance from it.
Not within it, but outside of it.
There was a lot of confidence in the scientific objectivity, a lot of scholars approached the
subject from different biases, from wanting to look at it from a scholarly kind of distance.
Some of the early approached to religious studies was from anthropology. Thinking more
broadly, what is humanity? What are different kinds of humans? For ex, in the 19 CE, th
you division within the races. There were numerous theories of humanity being
composed of 3 major races. This kind of thinking was very popular in the 19 CE. It th
formed religion in a very imitiate way. That is one element influencing the study of
religion… these kinds of attitues, form the thinking the phenomenon of religion.
Another major event in the mid 19 CE; A very intellectual event that occurred in the 19
CE… the publication of darwin’s theory of the origin of humanity, origin of species.
Charles Darwin, built on varies kinds of research, humanity develops evolutionary, it
forms not only all the species of the world, but as much prominent to the development of
humanity as any other specie. Our understand of human beings and who we are is that God created humanity, and the understand of this history coming out of the book of
Genes from the Hebrew bible, is the earth and the universe is 6,000 years old and that
humanity is God’s acheievement that was created on the 6 day. This has been the
assumption about who we are for millennium. Now, here you have, as a result of the
various periods and enlightment period… an argument to the effect that humanity
actually evoles in a very different way and is AS much implicated in the evolution of the
world and universe as anything else, we aren’t anything unique or exempt. This was an
extrodinary important argument and had a lot of implications. This was extremely
important in history.
If we are questioning that God created humans and the universe, then… this begs the
question about religion it’self. If God didn’t create us, then what is this buissness of
believing in god? How should we understand religion, this throws all kinds of ideas about
religion and relationsohips. What is this creature called God? What is this buissness about
doing things according to what God wants?
It opens up a lot to the area of thinking. Our understand of religion really comes from
exploring all sorts of possibilies about what religion is. Anything is possible to entertain
scientific claims and of religious experience. Why do people believe in religion? Why
does it exist? What functions religion, how does it emerge and what purpose does it serve
in society? How can we generalize