Acts of Faith: Explaining the Human Side of Religion

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He also shows that the very ideas about God that sustained the rise of science led also to intense witch-hunting by otherwise clear-headed Europeans, including some celebrated scientists. This conception of God likewise yielded the Christian denunciation of slavery as an abomination--and some of the fiercest witch-hunters were devoted participants in successful abolitionist movements on both sides of the Atlantic. For the Glory of God is an engrossing narrative that accounts for the very different histories of the Christian and Muslim worlds.

It fundamentally changes our understanding of religion's role in history and the forces behind much of what we point to as secular progress. Account Options Sign in. Top Charts. New Arrivals. Finally, social scientists have begun to attempt to understand religious behavior rather than to discredit it as irrational, ignorant, or foolish—and Rodney Stark and Roger Finke have played a major role in this new approach.


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Acknowledging that science cannot assess the supernatural side of religion and therefore should not claim to do so , Stark and Finke analyze the observable, human side of faith. In clear and engaging prose, the authors combine explicit theorizing with animated discussions as they move from considering the religiousness of individuals to the dynamics of religious groups and then to the religious workings of entire societies as religious groups contend for support.

The result is a comprehensive new paradigm for the social-scientific study of religion. Reviews Review Policy. Published on. Flowing text, Original pages. Best For.

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Acts of Faith: Explaining the Human Side of Religion

Read Aloud. Learn More. Flag as inappropriate. In part 1 of their volume, Stark and Finke provide a historical review of the emergence and development of the social scientific study of religion while challenging secularization theory in a no-holds-barred fashion. With this goal in mind, Stark and Finke move on to discuss the dynamics of the religious individual part 2 and the religious group part 3.

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Their work in these sections oscillates between the statement of clear, conveniently numbered propositions concerning religious behavior and erudite exegeses of each proposition. While proposition-based argumentation can make for dry reading, such is not the case here.

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Readers well versed in the previous work of these collaborators will find familiar concepts — exchange relationships, rewards, and religious commitment — defined and reintroduced here. At the same time, much new ground is plowed. While their perspective still owes much to rational choice theory, they have begun to incorporate phenomenological underpinnings — a focus on meaning, emotion, and expressive elements of religious culture — into their framework.

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Part 4 of the volume, focused on religious economies, is the most persuasive portion of this standard-setting work. Here Stark and Finke offer pointed rejoinders to their critics and survey religious economies in nations throughout the world. With vigor and lucidity, they explain how religious economies that prima facie seem to disconfirm their theory e.


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  • Acts of Faith: Explaining the Human Side of Religion by Rodney Stark.
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Even with this compelling critique of the secularization thesis, the new paradigm is not without its own foibles. Perhaps the greatest challenge now facing the new paradigm will be the development of a more nuanced If the problem persists, please try again in a little while. No cover image.

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Read preview. Synopsis Finally, social scientists have begun to attempt to understand religious behavior rather than to discredit it as irrational, ignorant, or foolish--and Rodney Stark and Roger Finke have played a major role in this new approach.

Acts of Faith

Acknowledging that science cannot assess the supernatural side of religion and therefore should not claim to do so , Stark and Finke analyze the observable, human side of faith.