Explanation pp 207-229 | Cite as

Explaining Religious Utterances by Taking Seriously Super-Naturalist (and Naturalist) Claims

Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 302)


This chapter offers some observations on the intelligibility of religious utterances, coming from the direction of the psychological study of religion. In offering criteria and çontexts for intelligibility, we will mainly rely onrel statements by religious believers. I should warn the reader at the outset that this chapter is written from the perspective of the psychology of religion, an academic tradition which is by no means widely known. The psychology of religion offers observations and explications of the phenomena of religion using the terminology and conceptual analysis of psychological theories. It studies religion both directly and indirectly, by observing religious believers and by studying their beliefs. The questions which empirical studies of religion ask and what we find today in the writings of psychologists about religion constitute really two separate traditions representing two kinds of questions:
  1. 1.

    Questions about the content and origins of religious beliefs, leading to the psychology of religion, which focuses on the psychological explanations of religious phenomena [Beit-Hallahmi 1996];

  2. 2.

    A social psychology of religiosity, studying the social and psychological correlates and context of religiosity ([Argyle and Beit-Hallahmi 1975]; [Beit-Hallahmi 1989]; [Beit-Hallahmi and Argyle 1997]).



Religious Belief Religious Tradition Religious Experience Religious Behavior Religious Believer 
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