Heresy: Ten Lies They Spread About Christianity

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Segal characterised the discipline as "a subject matter" that it "open to many approaches", and thus it "does not require either a distinctive method or a distinctive explanation to be worthy of disciplinary status." [4] Different scholars operating in the field have different interests and intentions; some for instance seek to defend religion, while others seek to explain it away, and others wish to use religion as an example with which to prove a theory of their own. [5] Some scholars of religious studies are interested in primarily studying the religion to which they belong. [6] Scholars of religion have argued that a study of the subject is useful for individuals because it will provide them with knowledge that is pertinent in inter-personal and professional contexts within an increasingly globalised world. [7] It has also been argued that studying religion is useful in appreciating and understanding sectarian tensions and religious violence. [8] Throughout the history of religious studies, there have been many attempts to define the term "religion". [9] Many of these have been monothetic, seeking to determine a key, essential element which all religions share, which can be used to define "religion" as a category, and which must be necessary in order for something to be classified as a "religion". [10] There are two forms of monothetic definition; the first are substantive, seeking to identify a specific core as being at the heart of religion, such as a belief in a God or gods, or an emphasis on power. [11] The second are functional, seeking to define "religion" in terms of what it does for humans, for instance defining it by the argument that it exists to assuage fear of death, unite a community, or reinforce the control of one group over another. [11] Other forms of definition are polythetic, producing a list of characteristics that are common to religion.

Pages: 258

Publisher: Signal (April 24, 2012)


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