Religions: Are There Any?

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kevin Schilbrack Ph.D., Professor of Religious Studies and Department Chair (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
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Abstract: Several scholars have recently argued that the concept of “religion” is manufactured, constructed, invented, or imagined, but does not correspond to an objective reality, “out there” in the world. This paper seeks to evaluate that critique. I argue that the critique is composed of three levels or threads: that “religion” is a social construction, that the term distorts one’s perceptions of the reality it seeks to name, and that it is ideologically poisonous. Granting the partial truth of these three arguments, the paper agrees with the critics that a naive realism about religion is indefensible. However, some of the critics draw the conclusion that “there is no such thing as religion” or “there are no religions,” but I reject this conclusion. I seek, instead, to develop a critical realist view of the concept of religion that is able both to take into account the history of the semantics of the concept and, nevertheless, to see the study of religion as the study of patterns of behavior which are independent of the scholar.

Additional Information

Schilbrack, Kevin. 2010. "Religions: are there any?" Journal of The American Academy Of Religion 78, no. 4. (Dec 2010). [ISSN: 0002-7189] The published version of record is available from Oxford University Press at [DOI:10.1093/jaarel/lfq086]
Language: English
Date: 2010

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