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The New Sciences of Religion: Exploring Spirituality from the Outside In and Bottom Up Paperback – November 23, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0230108776 ISBN-10: 0230108776

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (November 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230108776
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230108776
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #196,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A typically colorful and significantly original approach to religion, as contemporary science interprets it. It is rare to find a book that covers so wide a range of scientific approaches to religion, and Grassie does so without falling prey to reductionism of either the scientific or the theological kinds. A remarkable achievement."--Wesley J. Wildman, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Theology, and Ethics, Boston University and the Institute for the Bio-Cultural Study of Religion

"Grassie's new book is a timely and much needed contribution to religious scholarship. The author makes a strong case that various scientific approaches may contribute to the understanding of religion but that scientific claims to have fully illuminated religions have been considerably overblown at times. This work will prove to be of great value for scholars of religion as well as for philosophers, scientists, students, and other educated readers. Strongly recommended."--Johh F. Haught, Distinguished Research Professor and Senior Fellow of Science and Religion, Georgetown University

"The significance of this work lies in the fact that it brings together in one accessible volume relevant scientific materials that are very up-to-date, materials that have not heretofore been assembled in a single work, and it relates those materials to the profound questions concerning the study of religion -- both historically and in contemporary times. Furthermore, it engages its readers with a creative set of proposals for making sense of the mass of material it surveys. They enable the reader (including this reader) to move on to further study and reflection."--Philip Hefner, Professor of Theology Emeritus, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago; past editor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science

"Grassie transcends the current conflict between religion and science to form a new synthesis that offers maximum support to both cultures (in the words of C.P. Snow). No current work has succeeded in this reconciliation and, given Grassie's background both in terms of academic training and life experience, no one of whom I know is more qualified to succeed. Unlike prevoious efforts of this magnitude, Grassie preserves rather than negates the independent autonomy of traditional religions. It is an argument I will be happy to endorse both because it seems right and because it in no way compromises my commitment to Judaism. On the contrary, it enhances that commitment."--Norbert Samuelson, Harold and Jean Grossman Chair of Jewish Studies at Arizona State University

"From his experience leading Metanexus, Grassie has long been in a privileged position to see (and sometimes to see through) what multiple sciences have been claiming when they attempt to explain (maybe trying to explain away) religious belief. From outside in and from bottom up, comprehensively, he is quite sure-footed in keeping the dialogue open or, as he says, 'functional.' Religions can be enriched by sciences; sciences can remain open to the insights of faith."-- Holmes Rolston, III, University Distinguished Professor, Colorado State University

". . . an ambitious overview of contemporary work in the scientific study of religion. . . . Summing Up: Recommended." --CHOICE

About the Author

William Grassie is founder of the Metanexus Institute, which works to promote the constructive engagement of religion and science. Metanexus works with some four hundred universities in forty-five countries and publishes an award-winning online journal with over nine thousand subscribers. Grassie is a frequent contributor to the publication. He received his doctorate in religion from Temple University in 1994 and his B.A. from Middlebury College in 1979. Grassie has taught in a variety of positions at Temple University, Swarthmore College, the University of Pennsylvania, City College of New York, and Pendle Hill. Prior to graduate school, Grassie worked for ten years in international relations and conflict resolution in Washington, D.C; Jerusalem, Israel; Berlin, Germany; and Philadelphia, PA. He is the recipient of a number of academic awards and grants from the American Friends Service Committee, the Roothbert Fellowship, and the John Templeton Foundation. In 2007-2008, Grassie served as a Senior Fulbright Fellow in the Department of Buddhist Studies at the University of Peradeniya in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Grassie serves on the Governing and Academic Boards of the Metanexus Institute. For more information, go to www.metanexus.net and www.grassie.net.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Clayton Naff on January 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
Review: The New Sciences of Religion: Exploring Spirituality from the Outside In and the Bottom Up, by William Grassie.

Reviewed by Clay Farris Naff, Science & Religion Writer
claynaff.com
First aired on "All About Books," NET Radio, January 13, 2011
Podcast at: [...]

For millennia the study of religion was conducted from the inside. Clerics, monks, imams, and other devout and scholarly believers pored over the sacred texts of their religion to know the will of God. If they devoted any time to alternative religions, it was to learn where the others had gone wrong.

Over the last couple of centuries, however, that has begun to change. Departments of comparative religion have sprung up. The sociology of religion has emerged as a field.

The book I'd like to tell you about represents a major new step in our understanding of religion as a worldwide transcultural phenomenon. It's called The New Sciences of Religion: Exploring Spirituality from the Outside In and the Bottom Up. The author, William Grassie, is uniquely qualified for the monumental task impled by that title. Grassie, who holds a doctorate in religion from Temple University, is the founder of the Metanexus Institute on Religion and Science. That institute has brought together many of the world's leading theologians and scientists for "constructive engagement " over some of the deepest questions humanity has ever faced. Full disclosure: the Metanexus institute funded me in the early 2000s.

Grassie's book comes in two distinct but interlocking parts. The first is concerned with how science has been employed to try to explain religion. Grassie deftly sums up the early approaches of Auguste Compte, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Emile Durkheim and others.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sally K. Severino on January 24, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
William Grassie, author of "The New Sciences of Religion," writes, "The world desperately needs the constructive integration of scientific realities and religious systems of meaning, if we are to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century" (p. 159). I whole-heartedly agree with him.

As the founder of the Metanexus Institute he is the perfect person to write such a book because the Metanexus Institute has been devoted to building bridges "between different academic disciplines, different institutional forms, and different religious and cultural traditions that will help us transcend and transform our thinking and doing in wholesome and creative ways."

This book is decidedly interdisciplinary. In addition to sociological, psychological, and anthropological theories of religion, Grassie looks at economical, evolutionary, neuroscientific, and medical theories of religion. He does not end with a grand unified theory of religion. Instead, he writes a book that will delight those interested in a scientific interpretation of religion. His book will also challenge those interested in a religious interpretation of science.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By LeRon Shults on June 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
Grassie's new book is an excellent introduction to many of the hot topics in the contemporary scientific study of religion. He is a remarkably clear writer and somehow manages to balance a broad sweep of multiple disciplines with a sufficiently detailed exposition of the key issues. I also like the way he tries to find a middle way between several of the extreme positions in these often heated debates. Strongly recommended!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. W. Shropshire Jr. on February 6, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A superbly written and informative review of the history of science and religion dialogue. Gives a lot of infornmation for small discussion groups. Will becone a classic as Ian Barbour's earlier works have become for this field. Gives a hopeful outlook for future of science and religion becoming compatible.
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More About the Author

William Grassie received his doctorate in religion from Temple University and his bachelor degree in political science and international relations from Middlebury College. He has taught in a variety of positions at Temple University, Swarthmore College, and the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to graduate school, Grassie worked for ten years in international relations and conflict resolution in Washington, D.C; Jerusalem, Israel; Berlin, Germany; and Philadelphia, PA. He is the recipient of a number of academic awards and grants from the American Friends Service Committee, the Roothbert Fellowship, and the John Templeton Foundation. In 2007-2008, Grassie served as a Senior Fulbright Fellow in the Department of Buddhist Studies at the University of Peradeniya in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

Grassie is the founding executive director of the Metanexus Institute, which works to promote scientifically rigorous and philosophically open-ended explorations of foundational questions. Metanexus has worked with partners at some four hundred universities in forty-five countries and publishes an online journal. Grassie is author of The New Sciences of Religion: Exploring Spirituality from the Outside In and Bottom Up (Palgrave Macmillian, 2010) and a collection of essays Politics by Other Means: Science and Religion in the 21st Century (Metanexus, 2010). Grassie has also edited two volumes: Advanced Methodologies in the Scientific Study of Religion and Spirituality (Metanexus, 2010) and Transhumanism and Its Critics (Metanexus, 2010) with Gregory Hansell. For more information, go to www.metanexus.net and www.grassie.net.