Resolving the Tensions Between Religion and the Science of Religion

  • Ninian Smart
Part of the Philosophy of Religion Series book series


I have already made reference to the reflexive effect of Religion upon Theology. Since too there is an intersection between Religion and types of enquiry such as prehistory, history, archaeology, sociology, and so forth, as was exhibited in the first chapter, Religion is not an isolated pursuit. By the same token the Christian or other theologian is liable to feel the pressures of new knowledge upon his Expression of his faith. It is worth then considering how far there is liable to be a tension between actual religious belief, commitment, and practice, and the scientific study of religion. Here I think it is important to consider the matter from a logical or structural point of view. It is not of much concern here to consider the possible effects upon individuals of becoming devoted to Religion; from a religious and indeed also from an irreligious perspective the task of exploring or teaching Religion is a rather specialised vocation in which commitments frequently have to be suspended. But we are not specially concerned here with what sort of person is best fitted for such a peculiar occupation, or with what effects it may have upon him. Rather we are concerned with the question of how far the methods of phenomenological, historical, and sociological enquiry (etc.)


Psychological Theory Religious Experience Christian Faith Historical Method Christian Theologian 
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  1. 5.
    D. C. Lau, ‘Tao-te-Ching’ (Penguin Classics, 1963).Google Scholar

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© Ninian Smart 1973

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  • Ninian Smart

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