We generally know the difference between up and down or high and low or distant and near. I feel cheated by the Publishers of this book! Can you describe the role of culture in the God problem and how this problem is worked out by educated Americans? In an illuminating narrative that reveals the complex negotiations many undertake in order to be religious in the modern world, Wuthnow probes the ways of talking that occur in prayers, in discussions about God, in views of heaven, in understandings of natural catastrophes and personal tragedies, and in attempts to reconcile faith with science. It may seem so to those bent on comparing the present situation with that of a golden, romanticized past. It is meaningful because we think about it—puzzle over it, interpret it, find reasons for doing it, and make guesses about what it does to us or for us. So now they expect to hear it from me. Going by the descriptions of the research here and without having read the book, would it be fair to summarize educated American middle class people described here as essentially thinking of religion in terms of what religious concepts and practices do for them in their lives, and rejecting as childish most traditional notions about: 1 religion e. The irrationality of believing in God, they argue, is not just a matter of bad logic.
Much of the recent concern about religion stems from the view that beliefs about God are irrational. A person nowadays with no education might have heard these yarns from a family member and have had no reason to question them. In other words, one needs to find a middle path between dogmatism and atheism in order to be considered reasonable in American culture. Books taking up related themes include A. But they are a minority, and even they will revert to the naturalist discourse if they find themselves in the emergency room of a hospital. It was published by University of California Press and has a total of 344 pages in the book. Those kinds of simple, common-sense assumptions about reasonableness came to the surface during our interviews.
We nevertheless strive to find the most effective ways of getting what we want. I wanted to lookvery closely at how they talked, which words they used, and what views they constructed. Our contemporary culture sometimes gives us the false impression that believing in God is not problematic at all, especially because so many people do believe and apparently consider it reasonable to believe. Wuthnow's approach relies on the earlier work done by many scholars and through popular surveys to measure religion, while also seeking to move toward new clarity through analysis of how people use language to overcome that which he terms the God problem - a seemingly paradoxical relationship between faith and reason. They would certainly disbelieve that the Bible stories should be taken literally. It is reinforced as children intone the words of childhood hymns and as teenagers and adults learn catechisms and hear sermons. They might still believe in God, and yet they would surely have doubts about many of the things people claim to believe about God.
You make a connection between reasonableness and patterns of thought and speech. A person who wants to do well on an exam knows that the rational course of action is to spend time studying. We found in our interviews that people generally do not talk about prayer in those magical, superstitious ways. But they were not exclusively Christian. The judge might not send me to prison but have me locked up in an insane asylum. Our contemporary culture sometimes gives us the false impression that believing in God is not problematic at all, especially because so many people do believe and apparently consider it reasonable to believe.
Saying it is impossible to be both is easily refuted by pointing to Isaac Newton, an example of a religious believer who was clearly well informed, or to the genomics expert Francis Collins as a current example, or to many other leaders in their fields who have combined intellectual curiosity and faith. Other constructs allow people to emphasize the compatibility between science and faith and to affirm both Christian and American ideals of freedom. One example that came up in one of our larger projects had to do with the prosperity gospel messages. Much of Dawkins' work is devoted to demonstrating that religiously-inclined people are simply uninformed about science and especially about scientific arguments that contradict faith or more easily explain natural phenomena. Compartmentalization is too easy an answer. So believers have two goals to maintain their devout belief and at the same time not sounding like an untutored bigot.
It takes us, as children, a very long time to learn language. There are numerous ways in which being informed can lead a well-educated person to have trouble with standard beliefs about God. Reasonable people affirm that Jesus has set them free from: fear and insecurity p. This site's contents are © Alan Brill 2009-2019 You can contact me at Kavvanah at gmail. Wuthnow turns to linguistics and cultural sociology.
The refinement has not come from quantification or computer software as much as from bringing together insights from literary criticism and cognitive science with qualitative methods in the social sciences. They have little knowledge of philosophy, theology, or the meaning of their words outside their utilitarian usage. My contention—which I hope to persuade readers of in the course of this book—is that well-educated, thoughtful Americans have found a way of having their cake and eating it too: of affirming their faith while also maintaining their belief in reason. I am not suggesting that a religious person cannot also be an informed person - and critics of religion generally do not make this argument either. The aim here is to observe and describe as dispassionately as possible the specific ways in which some Americans talk about important aspects of their faith.
Wuthnow makes an important point: While the schema of faith can persist and co-exist in the same mind with the schema of natural reason, it is the latter which is taken for granted in most of ordinary life. And there is no incentive to be more thoughtful. The idea that some food has metaphysical properties causally related to its physical properties seems foreign to mainstream Protestantism. It involves an awareness that the other side is praying to its God for victory and that more than one religion claims to be the only path to divine salvation. However, the question that critics of religion raise persists. You must be an authenticated member to ask questions Find out more about.
The United States is one of the most highly educated societies on earth, and also one of the most religious. ³ The emphasis on cultural evolution evident in Dawkins and many other critics of religion offers another argument about the difficulties of being well-informed and devoutly religious. But, once again, for Wuthnow things are not what they seem. Similarly, we hear a politician or athlete say that she is asking God's blessing on America or that he is praying for victory, and we somehow determine that these are just figures of speech. But they struggled to find words to describe God.
They are often the material with which scholars work to discern the core teachings of a religion. So how do believing Americans seen well-informed, reasonable, and democratic The recent dogmatic religion may be well versed in own religion but usually nothing else. The secret does not lie in mental compartmentalization, as critics of American culture sometimes argue, or in a failure of the education system. It has to be taken squarely into account. For others, whose theological framework leads them to think that God is right beside them and looking over their shoulder, it makes more sense to say that God found them a parking space. This was even the case when we asked people about divisive issues such as abortion or homosexuality. In our interviews, we found that whether people were liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, or whatever it might be, there was a great deal of agreement in how people talked.