Scientific Study of Religion and Spirituality

Advanced Methodologies

in the Scientific Study of Religion and Spirituality

During much of the twentieth century, social scientists were predicting that religions would gradually diminish and disappear with the spread of science, education, and economic growth. Instead, we have witnessed a global revival of religious movements, a source of both hope and concern in the twenty-first century. Alongside this trend, the last decade saw a resurgence of interest in the scientific study of religious and spiritual phenomena among researchers in diverse fields. Psychology, sociology, and anthropology still play central roles in such studies, but these disciplines are now supplemented by economics, epidemiology, evolutionary psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and behavioral genetics, among others.

The eight contributors to this volume have brought to bear an enormous range of expertise and insight from several scholarly arenas. These pioneering thinkers propose new ways of pursuing the scientific study of religious and spiritual phenomena and present reseach that is increasingly suggestive of a profound and critical role for spirituality and religion in promoting human health and wellbeing. The essays within not only promote innovative reseach methodologies, but also develop creative insights into the forces that positively shape and expand world religions and their conceptualization of the sacred. Seasoned social scientists and their students will find much in this collection to provoke new questions and new methods for studying and understanding this enduring dimension of human life.

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Advanced Methodologies: An Introduction by William Grassie

I. Competitive Dynamics and Cultural Evolution of Religions and God Concepts

1. Returning God to the Social Scientific Study of Religion by Rodney Stark

2. Evolution, Culture, and Religion by David Sloan Wilson

3. Religious Evolution from the Perspective of Complexity Studies, by Niels Henrik Gregersen

II. Religion, Spirituality, Healing and Health Outcomes

4. Strengths and Weaknesses in the Field of Spirituality and Health by David Hufford

5. A Critical Review of Religion, Spirituality, and Health Research by Richard Sloan

6. The Cognitive Neuroscientific Study of Religion and Spirituality, by Andrew Newberg

III. Religion, Spirituality and Human Flourishing

7. The Psychology of Human Flourishing, by Robert Emmons

8. Our Natural Spiritual Religious Inclinations and the Nature of Unselfish Love, by Stephen Post


9.  References: Introduction: Grassie

10. References: Chapter One: Stark

11. References: Chapter Two: Wilson (Annotated)

12. References: Chapter Three: Gregersen

13.  References: Chapter Four: Hufford

14.  References: Chapter Five: Sloan

15. References: Chapter Six: Newberg

16. References: Chapter Seven: Emmons (Annotated)

17. References: Chapter Eight: Post (Annotated)

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