Acts of Faith: Explaining the Human Side of Religion by Rodney Stark

By Rodney Stark

Finally, social scientists have all started to try to appreciate non secular habit instead of to discredit it as irrational, ignorant, or foolish—and Rodney Stark and Roger Finke have performed a massive position during this new technique. Acknowledging that technological know-how can't verify the supernatural facet of faith (and as a result aren't declare to do so), Stark and Finke research the observable, human part of religion. In transparent and fascinating prose, the authors mix specific theorizing with lively discussions as they circulate from contemplating the religiousness of people to the dynamics of spiritual teams after which to the non secular workings of complete societies as spiritual teams contend for aid. the result's a entire new paradigm for the social-scientific research of religion.

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Finally, it is self-evident that people may only select from among available options, although the full range of choices actually available may not be evident to them. However, if humans all attempt to make rational choices, why is it that they do not always act alike? Why don’t people reared in the same culture all seek the same rewards? Because their choices are guided by their preferences and tastes. Preferences and tastes define what it is that the individual finds rewarding or unrewarding.

Wallace, a prominent anthropologist, asserted in an undergraduate textbook. “Belief in supernatural beings and supernatural forces that affect nature without obeying nature’s laws will erode and become only an interesting historical memory. . Belief in supernatural powers is doomed to die out, all over the world, as the result of the increasing adequacy and diffusion of scientific knowledge” (, ). A third basis of consensus among the founders of the social sciences was that religion is an epiphenomenon.

As noted in chapter , the notion that people weigh the an- RATIONALITY AND THE “RELIGIOUS MIND”  ticipated rewards of a choice against its anticipated costs is fundamental to all mainstream social scientific traditions. In , Adam Smith made rational self-interest the basis of his Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, and economists have followed in his footsteps. Even sociology has been dominated by this assumption. George Homans and the exchange theorists have, of course, emphasized rationality, but as noted in chapter , a belief in human rationality also fully underlies the work of symbolic interactionists, structural functionalists, and Marxists.

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