Why Religions Matter

Why Religions Matter

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John Bowker
Cambridge University Press
Edition: Reissue, 5/21/2015
EAN 9781107448346, ISBN10: 1107448344

Paperback, 362 pages, 22.8 x 15.2 x 2 cm
Language: English

What are religions? Why is it important to understand them? One answer is that religions and religious believers are extremely bad news: they are deeply involved in conflicts around the globe; they harm people of whom they disapprove; and they often seem irrational. Another answer claims that they are in fact extremely good news: religious beliefs and practices are universal and so fundamental in human nature that they have led us to great discoveries in our explorations of the cosmos and of who we are. The sciences began as part of that religious exploration. John Bowker demonstrates that there is truth in both answers and that we need both to understand what religion is and why it matters. He draws on many disciplines - from physics, genetics and the neurosciences to art, anthropology and the history of religions - to show how they shed entirely new light on religion in the modern world.

1. Introduction
2. The paradox of religions
3. Religions and sciences I
'the warfare between science and religion'
4. Religions and sciences II
dogmatism and doubt
5. Religions and sciences III
the selfless gene
genetic determinism and human freedom
6. Religions and sciences IV
causes and constraints
7. Understanding religions I
issues of translation and interpretation
8. Understanding religions II
being religiously human
the internalisation of constraint in ethics and art
9. Understanding religions III
ritual and the human imagination of death
10. Understanding religions IV
communities of shared exploration and discovery.