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Colloquium Response

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More ‘Theory as Explanation’ Anyone?

image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

The problem for Study of Religions (SOR) in the academy is the dearth of successful theory-as-explanation in the field and the consequential domination of the public square by other voices namely theology, apologetics, humanist study that privileges belief and New Atheism. There is theory-as-critique aplenty and it is applied to both religious truth claims and to explanatory theories about religion. Scholars of SOR have the critical tools, methods, expertise and weight of scholarship to error check and to disprove naturalistic explanations but finding explanatory ground to stand on is very hard indeed. This piece argues that it is important to renew and revitalise the search for explanation.

Affiliations: 1: SOAS, University of London


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1. Braun Willi"Colloquium on Method and Theory: Introduction" Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 2016Vol 28 1 1 2 [Crossref]
2. Clack Brian An Introduction to Wittgenstein’s Philosophy of Religion 1999 Edinburgh Edinburgh University Press
3. Deutsche David The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World 2011 London Allen Lane
4. Deutsch David"Creative Blocks" 2016 Accessed 03/16/2016 Online at Aeon Essays
5. Dubuisson Daniel"Critical thinking and comparative analysis in religious studies”" Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 2016Vol 28 1 26 30
6. Hart Patrick"Theory, Method, and Madness in Religious Studies" Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 2016Vol 28 1 3 25 [Crossref]
7. James William The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy 1956 Dover New York
8. Lincoln Bruce"University of Chicago website faculty page" 2016 Accessed 03/10/2016 Online at
9. Martin Luther H., Donald Wiebe"Establishing a beachhead: naasr, twenty years later" 2004 Accessed 03/10/2016 Online at
10. McCutcheon Russell A Modest Proposal on Method: Essaying the Study of Religion 2014 Leiden Brill [Crossref]
11. McCutcheon Russell, Hughes Aaron W., Stoddard Brad"Podcast: Getting to know the North American Association for the Study of Religion”" Religious Studies Project 2016 Accessed 03/16/2016 Online at:
12. Wittgenstein Ludwig Rhees Rush Winch Peter"Cause and effect: Intuitive awareness" Philosophia 1976Vol 6 3-4 420 [Crossref]

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