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By Rodney Stark

Finally, social scientists have began to try to appreciate non secular habit instead of to discredit it as irrational, ignorant, or foolish—and Rodney Stark and Roger Finke have performed an important function during this new method. Acknowledging that technology can't investigate the supernatural facet of faith (and consequently usually are not declare to do so), Stark and Finke study the observable, human part of religion. In transparent and interesting prose, the authors mix specific theorizing with lively discussions as they movement from contemplating the religiousness of people to the dynamics of non secular teams after which to the non secular workings of whole societies as non secular teams contend for aid. the result's a complete new paradigm for the social-scientific examine of religion.

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In fact, the “selfish” premise of rationality is humanistic in the fullest sense. It acknowledges our capacity to find rewards in our dreams, hopes, loves, and ideals. It is all the more amazing that social scientists have refused to extend the rationality axiom to religion in light of the fact that religious teachers have always stressed maximizing behavior as the justification for faith—that belief is the most rewarding (and hence most reasonable) option. Blaise Pascal stated the maximizing axiom with an enthusiasm that not even an economist would dare: “All men seek happiness.

It is claimed that religion harms the individual because it impedes rational thought and harms society because it sanctifies tyrants. The introduction reviewed three centuries of claims that the causes of religion reside in abnormal psychology. Chapter  conclusively dismisses the thesis that religion is irrational. But of at least equal importance to the old paradigm is the claim that religion must always serve the ruling elite and facilitate exploitation of the masses. According to Marx and Engels, religion “is a great retarding force, is the vis inertiae of history” (, ); as they put it in the Communist Manifesto, “the parson has ever gone hand in hand with the landlord” (, ).

When asked if they ever found it difficult to witness in public, each seemed to find the question a bit absurd. Wouldn’t anyone sometimes find it hard to knock on the doors of strangers? Jehovah’s Witnesses do not pay the high costs of membership in silent ignorance or under the compulsion of fanatical faith.

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