Religion, Language, Narrative and the Search for Meaning

Anthony Campbell

Book cover

This is a book about religion from a secular standpoint which nevertheless takes its subject seriously. Contrary to some secularists I don't think religion is likely to disappear any time soon, and here I look at some of the reasons why it is likely to stay. The early chapters consider a number of explanations for religion that are current today; all provide elements of the answer though none is fully satisfactory as it stands. In the remainder of the book I try to develop a way of thinking about religion, using two main clues: language and narrative. There are remarkable similarities in the ways in which we learn both language and religion. As for narrative, I think that religion is based more on telling stories than on assent to formal belief systems. Narrative is how most religious people encounter their religions. Humans are story-telling animals and for that reason alone it is likely that religion will continue to exist. Another reason is the capacity of the human mind to give rise to altered states of consciousness; unlike, some, I think that these are important in shaping our religious ideas.

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1: Introduction
2: Reductionist explanations
3: Taking religion seriously
4: Ancestral voices
5: Religion and language
6: Religion and narrative
7: Death and beyond
8: The religious temperament

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