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Why God?: Explaining Religious Phenomena (Paperback)

Why God?: Explaining Religious Phenomena By Rodney Stark Cover Image
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Description


Why is it that the majority of people, from all socio-economic, education, and ethnic backgrounds, ascribe to some sort of faith? What draws us to religion? What pushes us away? And what exactly is religion anyway?
Defining religion over the past century has, ironically, led to theories that exclude belief in God, proposing that all systems of thought concerning the meaning of life are religions. Of course, this makes it impossible to distinguish the village priest from the village atheist, or Communism from Catholicism.  Worse yet, it makes all religious behavior irrational, presuming that, for example, people knowingly pray to an empty sky.
Renowned sociologist of religion Rodney Stark offers a comprehensive, decisive, God-centered theory of religion in his book, Why God: Explaining Religious Phenomena. While his intent is not to insist that God exists, Stark limits religions to systems of thought based on belief in supernatural beings—to Gods.  With this God-focused theory, Stark explores the entire range of religious topics, including the rise of monotheism, the discovery of sin, causes of religious hostility and conflict, and the role of revelations. 
Each chapter of Why God? builds a comprehensive framework, starting with the foundations of human motivations and ending with an explanation of why most people are religious. Stark ultimately settles what religion is, what it does, and why it is a universal feature of human societies.
Why God? is a much needed guide for anyone who wants a thorough understanding of religion and our relationship to it, as well as a firm refutation to those who think religion can exist without the divine. 
 

About the Author


Rodney Stark is the distinguished professor of the social sciences and codirector of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. He also is an honorary professor of sociology at Peking University in Beijing, China. He was previously professor of sociology and of comparative religion at the University of Washington, and a research sociologist at the University of California, Berkeley. His PhD is from UC, Berkeley. Many of his previous books have won national and international awards, and many have been translated into a total of seventeen foreign languages.
Rodney Stark is the distinguished professor of the social sciences and codirector of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. He also is an honorary professor of sociology at Peking University in Beijing, China. He was previously professor of sociology and of comparative religion at the University of Washington, and a research sociologist at the University of California, Berkeley. His PhD is from UC, Berkeley. Many of his previous books have won national and international awards, and many have been translated into a total of seventeen foreign languages.

Praise For…


"Why God? is a dazzling answer to the question of religion’s persistence in the world despite one premature obituary after another. Everyone who wonders what the future holds for Christianity should read this book—and for that matter, every other book by the essential Rodney Stark."

–Mary Eberstadt, author of How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization

"Stark makes a strong case that the main causal power of religion comes from belief in a conscious supernatural being with whom humans can communicate, and that other conceptions of the supernatural greatly weaken churches and their social effects. The book effectively synthesizes a lifetime of Stark’s religious theory and research."

–Randall Collins, author of Interaction Ritual Chains

"With his usual combination of insight and brio, Rodney Stark demonstrates why most of the prevailing theories of religion in the social sciences are inadequate—or simply worthless—because they fail to take seriously the role played by the divine. Drawing on a lifetime of work which has shown the centrality of the supernatural in the social scientific study of religion, Stark reveals why the search for explanations and rewards shapes the faith in and guides the exchanges that people seek with supernatural beings."

–Steve Pfaff, PhD, professor of sociology, University of Washington – Seattle

"Professor Stark returns to theory construction in a domain—the study of religion—that tends to avoid it. He has no patience for the ‘least common denominator’ approach to understanding religious belief. Stark is not afraid of being wrong, and that makes him far more apt than his peers of getting it right."

–Mark Regnerus, PhD, associate professor of sociology, University of Texas at Austin

"Another milestone publication in the scientific study of religion, Rodney Stark explains the nature and values of religion under modernization and globalization through his exceptional logic and latest data. Readers all over the world will be inspired and deepen their understanding of religion in twenty first century."

–Dedong WEI, professor of studies of religion, Renmin University of China

“Religion is alive and well across the globe, and Why God? presented an excellent theory as to how and why religious belief is an enduring aspect of human life. In the book, Stark suggested that his ideas are a sociological theory of religion, and he encouraged further research to prove him wrong and develop an even more nuanced understanding of religion. . . . As long as humans have hearts to demand moral goodness and minds to wonder at the universe, they will also have a need for God, Stark suggested. Religion, it seems, is as unavoidable as death and taxes.”

– Tyler O’Neil, PJ Media

“Sociologist of religion Rodney Stark offers a sympathetic explanation of why people might come to believe in God that is refreshingly free of jargon and a corrective to more hostile accounts of belief, and which will still illuminate much for those of us within the walls of churches.”

– Nick Mattiske, Journey

“Starks book is worth reading. . . There is plenty of helpful information and food for thought in here.”

–Nick Peters, Deep Waters

“An informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking guide for anyone who wants a thorough understanding of religion and our relationship to it, as well as a firm refutation to those who think religion can exist without the divine, will find Why God? to be an absorbing read from beginning to end. A masterpiece of seminal scholarship”

– Able Greenspan, Midwest Book Review



Product Details
ISBN: 9781599475530
ISBN-10: 1599475537
Publisher: Templeton Press
Publication Date: March 30th, 2018
Pages: 304
Language: English