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Advanced Methodologies in the Scientific Study of Religion and Spirituality
During much of the twentieth century, social scientists were predicting that religions would gradually diminish and disappear with the spread of science, education, and economic growth. Instead, we have witnessed a global revival of religious movements, a source of both hope and concern in the twenty-first century. Alongside this trend, the last decade saw a resurgence of interest in the scientific study of religious and spiritual phenomena among researchers in diverse fields. Psychology, sociology, and anthropology still play central roles in such studies, but these disciplines are now supplemented by economics, epidemiology, evolutionary psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and behavioral genetics, among others. The eight contributors to this volume have brought to bear an enormous range of expertise and insight from several scholarly arenas. These pioneering thinkers propose new ways of pursuing the scientific study of religious and spiritual phenomena and present reseach that is increasingly suggestive of a profound and critical role for spirituality and religion in promoting human health and wellbeing. The essays within not only promote innovative reseach methodologies, but also develop creative insights into the forces that positively shape and expand world religions and their conceptualization of the sacred. Seasoned social scientists and their students will find much in this collection to provoke new questions and new methods for studying and understanding this enduring dimension of human life.