The Science of Religion: A Defence

Essays by Donald Wiebe

Series:

Editor: Anthony Palma
Donald Wiebe, Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Trinity College, University of Toronto, has spent much of his academic career arguing for a clear demarcation between Theology and Religious Studies. The Science of Religion: A Defence offers a brilliant overview of Professor Wiebe's contributions on methodology in the academic study of religion, of the development of his thinking over time, and of his intellectual commitment to 'a science of religion'.

The work is divided into three parts. The first part identifies pertinent connections between 'religion', 'religious studies', and 'science' and why 'reductionism' in the academic study of religion, when properly applied, can bridge the explanatory gap between the sceptic and the devotee. The second part treats conceptual debates in the academic study of religion, with particular reference to the place of 'belief', 'understanding', and 'meaning' in the modern study of religion. The third part addresses the theological resistance to the scientific study of religion and how that resistance can be overcome. Finally, two new essays are included: a critique on ‘The Preconceptions of a Science of Religion’ by Anthony J. Palma, and an accompanying reply by Donald Wiebe.

The Science of Religion: A Defence is an essential resource for both scholarly and non-scholarly audiences alike, and will be of particular interest to both defenders and critics of a scientific study of religion.
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Biographical Note

Donald Wiebe, Ph.D. (1974), Lancaster University, is Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Trinity College, University of Toronto. He is the author/editor of a number of books and articles on the study of religion in the modern university, including The Irony of Theology and the Nature of Religious Thought (McGill-Queens, 1991), The Politics of Religious Studies: The Continuing Conflict with Theology in the Academy (Palgrave, 2000), and Religion Explained? The Cognitive Science of Religion After Twenty-Five Years (Bloomsbury, 2017). Anthony J. Palma, Ph.D. (2014), University of Toronto, is a Sessional Instructor in the Department of Arts, Media, and Culture at the University of Toronto Scarborough. His dissertation focused on the writings of Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor.

Table of contents

Contents Introduction Anthony J. Palma

Religion, Religious Studies, and Science

1 Explanation and the Scientific Study of Religion Donald Wiebe 2 Is a Science of Religion Possible? Donald Wiebe 3 Theory in the Study of Religion Donald Wiebe 4 Beyond the Skeptic and the Devotee: Reductionism in the Scientific Study of Religion Donald Wiebe 5 Postscript: on Method, Metaphysics, and Reductionism Donald Wiebe

Conceptual Debates in the Academic Study of Religion

6 The Role of Belief in the Study of Religion: a Response to Wilfrid Cantwell Smith Donald Wiebe 7 Disciplinary Axioms, Boundary Conditions, and the Academic Study \emph{of} Religion: Comments on Pals and Dawson Donald Wiebe 8 On the Transformation of `Belief' and the Domestication of `Faith' in the Academic Study of Religion Donald Wiebe 9 `Understanding' in Religious Studies: a Gnostic Aberration in the Modern Study of Religion Donald Wiebe 10 Beyond Thick Descriptions and Interpretive Sciences: Explaining Religious Meaning Donald Wiebe

In Defence of a Science of Religion

11 `Why the Academic Study of Religion?': Motive and Method in the Study of Religion Donald Wiebe 12 `Taking Religion Seriously': Eric Sharpe's Comparative Religion -- a History as Apology Donald Wiebe 13 On Theological Resistance to the Scientific Study of Religion: Values and the Value-Free Study of Religion Donald Wiebe 14 Dissolving Rationality: the Anti-Science Phenomenon and Its Implications for the Study of Religion Donald Wiebe 15 Transcending Religious Language: towards the Recovery of an Academic Agenda Donald Wiebe Conclusion. An Encroaching Spirituality: What Hope Remains for a Science of Religion? Donald Wiebe Critique. The Preconceptions of a `Science of Religion' Anthony J. Palma Reply. Preconceptions about a Science of Religion? My Response to AnthonyPalma Donald Wiebe Index

Readership

The Science of Religion: A Defence, aimed at scholarly and non-scholarly audiences alike, will be of particular interest to both defenders and critics of a scientific study of religion.

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