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Methods for the Study of Religion; Presuppositions of the Western Traditions

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Andre Maintenay

World Religions Methods for the Study Religion; Presuppositions of the Western Traditions Reading: Ch. 11 The Nature of Religion, pp. 541-566 The history of religion is the history of European cultures Christians understood themselves to be practicing what they took to be religion Early theories of religion also wanted to understand religion in a scientific way, a way detached from the religions presentation of itself, and were interested in observing religion from the outside, through what they saw as the lens of reason & observation & scientific method Started a line of religion from a primitive line of belief to the apex of religion, which was considered to be monotheistic religion, while coming out of the biases of the Christian world, the western world monotheistic commitments. The biases emerging from the period of the enlightenment: Concerned with the application of reason The application of scientific method to all phenomena Two of the major factors influential in forming religions in the west: 1. The discovery of other cultures, religions, ways of lime (period of the enlightenment) we aware there are others in the world who think differently, practice differently, etc. 2. Darwin purposes: evolutionary line of development (questions our certainties of God, biblical account of creation, etc.) th Up until 19 century, the world is understood as being six thousand years old and that god had created it at a certain point and it was progressing along to where we are presently. Empire where Christianity dominated Darwin provoked thoughts of the understanding of the evolution of the world Questions arose about God, the biblical reliability, and chronology (whether there is one, and how should we understand humanity & God and if we begin to question the concept of God, what does this mean for religion, how should we understand society and what used to be God and humanity = questions arisen by th various theorists of the 19 century) Anthropologists developed ideas about the evolution of religion, where the discipline of religious studies begins Edward Tylor: pioneer in the field of anthropology, and his interests were in the native traditions of the Caribbean and Central America Concluded that the common denominator among cultures is a belief in spirit: coined the term animism Purposed that animism is the essential feature of all religion, from which even the most complex forms of religion develop
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