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Book Chapter

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Cambridge University Press


'Religion' and 'theology' are not terms with fixed meanings and invariant applications. They are rather copies or commonplaces - not in the sense of the familiar and the trite, but in the classical sense of linguistic variables, terms ambiguous and capacious enough to house a vast diversity of meanings, arguments, and referents.1 The interconnection of such topics constitutes neither a determined problem nor an exact proposition. It constitutes what John Dewey called 'a problematic situation', an indeterminate area out of which problems and their resolutions can emerge only if these ambiguous terms are given specific meanings and definite applications within particular inquiries. 2 Recognising the ambiguity of both 'religion' and 'theology', this paper proposes to obtain a greater purchase on the problematic situation they together delimit, first, by offering a few precisions on 'religion' as its meaning developed through history co reach its generic consensus in late modernity; and then, by exploring how the scientific study of religion, so understood, came to engage one of the arguments of modern theology: the existence or non-existence of God.

Chapter of

Fieldsof Faith: Theology and Religious Studies for the Twenty-First Century


David Ford
Ben Quash
Janet Martin Soskice


This material has been published in Fields of Faith: Theology and Religious Studies for the Twenty-First Century edited by D. Ford, B. Quash and J. M. Soskice. This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution or re-use. © Cambridge University Press

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