Vol. 2, No. 1

Spring 2020

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What is the Socio-Historical Method in the Study of Religion?

Darren M. Slade

Vol. 2, No. 1

Spring 2020

Pages: 1-15

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$1.99

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2020.vol2.no1.01

The purpose of this article is to answer what the socio-historical method is when applied to the study of religion, as well as detail how numerous disciplines (e.g. archaeology, anthropology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, theology, musicology, dramatology, etc.) contribute to its overall employment. In the broadest (and briefest) definition possible, a socio-historical study of religion coalesces the aims, philosophies, and methodologies of historiography with those of the social and cultural sciences, meaning it analyzes the interpretation and practice of religion through the lens of social/historical contexts, scientific discovery, and from within each faith tradition. The result is that the contexts surrounding a particular religion becomes the primary subject of study in order to better understand the origin, development, and expression of the religion itself. This article explains that the socio-historical study of religion is, in essence, an eclectic methodology that focuses on describing and analyzing the contexts from which the interpretation and practice of religion occurs. The goal is to examine how different aspects of a religion function in the broader socio-political and cultural milieu. Its most fundamental postulation is that the social history of a religious community affects how it interprets and practices their faith. By approaching religious inquiry from a socio-historical perspective, researchers are better able to recognize religion as a cultural and institutional element in ongoing social and historical interaction. Three sections will help to explain the socio-historical method: 1) a definitional dissection of the term “socio-historical”; 2) an elaboration of the principles inherent to the methodology; and 3) a case study example of the socio-historical method in practice.

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Essays Introducing a Jewish Perspective on the Gospel of John

Charles David Isbell

Vol. 2, No. 1

Spring 2020

Pages: 17-26

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DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2020.vol2.no1.02

This article’s aim is to highlight the impact that plain sense readings of the Gospel of John have on educated Jewish and Christian lay persons but who typically do not aspire to learn or appropriate current scholarly theories seeking to explain sacred texts in a technical and often inordinately complex fashion. Essay topics include: 1) the anonymous author (“John”), the relationship of his gospel to the Synoptic Gospels, his interpretation of Jewish actions and customs, and his influence on a distinct group of early Christians, the “Johannine” community; 2) John’s portrayal of Jesus’ self-identification in using the divine name YHWH; 3) John’s description and interpretation of various Jewish responses to Jesus, as well as the author’s understanding of the reasons for Jews rejecting the message and person of Jesus; and 4) John’s portrayal of the early break between Judaism and Christianity, laid entirely at the feet of “the Jews.”

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Craig on the Resurrection: A Defense

Stephen T. Davis

Vol. 2, No. 1

Spring 2020

Pages: 28-35

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$1.99

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2020.vol2.no1.03

This article is a rebuttal to Robert G. Cavin and Carlos A. Colombetti’s article, “Assessing the Resurrection Hypothesis: Problems with Craig’s Inference to the Best Explanation,” which argues that the Standard Model of current particle physics entails that non-physical things (like a supernatural God or a supernaturally resurrected body) can have no causal contact with the physical universe. As such, they argue that William Lane Craig’s resurrection hypothesis is not only incompatible with the notion of Jesus physically appearing to the disciples, but the resurrection hypothesis is significantly limited in both its explanatory scope and explanatory power. This article seeks to demonstrate why their use of the Standard Model does not logically entail a rejection of the physical resurrection of Jesus when considering the scope and limitations of science itself.

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The Implausibility and Low Explanatory Power of the Resurrection Hypothesis—With a Rejoinder to Stephen T. Davis

Robert Greg Cavin and Carlos A. Colombetti

Vol. 2, No. 1

Spring 2020

Pages: 37-94

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$3.99

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2020.vol2.no1.04

We respond to Stephen T. Davis’ criticism of our earlier essay, “Assessing the Resurrection Hypothesis.” We argue that the Standard Model of physics is relevant and decisive in establishing the implausibility and low explanatory power of the Resurrection hypothesis. We also argue that the laws of physics have entailments regarding God and the supernatural and, against Alvin Plantinga, that these same laws lack the proviso “no agent supernaturally interferes.” Finally, we offer Bayesian arguments for the Legend hypothesis and against the Resurrection hypothesis.

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Imagined as us-American: Patriotic Music, Religion, and Violence Post-9/11

David Kwon

Vol. 2, No. 1

Spring 2020

Pages: 96-120

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$1.99

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2020.vol2.no1.05

With the common correlation of the patriotic music community to “America,” country music after 9/11, in many respects, could be seen as a site for the reinforcement and construction of American national identity. This article particularly explores the use of country music in the United States to represent and create a political ideology of “imagined” national identity in the time period between September 11, 2001 and the invasion of Iraq in the Spring of 2003. However, the nation, as imagined in these country song lyrics, has very specific dimensions. It is not just any nation. It is perceived (and valued, for that matter) as justifiably aggressive. It is a Christian nation defined in opposition to the Islamic “other.” This targeted racial and religious group is not just an outside foreign “other” but a heavily stigmatized foreigner from within their own country. The mapping of these particular concepts of nation and religion onto mainstream country music constitutes its primary imagined identity.

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Identifying the Conflict between Religion and Science

David Kyle Johnson

Vol. 2, No. 1

Spring 2020

Pages: 122-148

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$1.99

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2020.vol2.no1.06

Inspired by Stephen J. Gould’s NOMA thesis, it is commonly maintained among academic theists (and some atheists) that religion and science are not in conflict. This essay will argue, by analogy, that science and religion undeniably are in conflict. It will begin by quickly defining religion and science and then present multiple examples that are unquestionable instances of unscientific reasoning and beliefs and show how they precisely parallel common mainstream orthodox religious reasoning and doctrines. It will then consider objections. In essence, this article will show that religion and science conflict when religion encroaches into the scientific domain. But in closing, it will show that they might also conflict when science encroaches into domains traditionally reserved for religion.

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Agnomancy: Conjuring Ignorance, Sustaining Belief

Jack David Eller

Vol. 2, No. 1

Spring 2020

Pages: 150-180

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$1.99

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2020.vol2.no1.07

Recent years have seen an increased interest in the construction and exploitation of ignorance, with the establishment of a field of agnotology (ignorance studies). This effort has focused almost exclusively on governments and corporations, though little or none on religion. After exploring work in agnotology and introducing the concept of agnomancy (the creation or conjuring of ignorance), the present article offers a preliminary application of these perspectives to religion, investigating what light agnotology sheds on religion and when and for what reasons religion engages in agnomancy.

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Is Faith a Path to Knowledge?

Evan Fales

Vol. 2, No. 1

Spring 2020

Pages: 182-205

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$1.99

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2020.vol2.no1.08

In this paper, I consider whether (religious) faith has any role to play in conferring positive epistemic status to (especially religious) beliefs. I outline several conceptions of faith that have been historically important within Western religious traditions. I then consider what role faith might be supposed to play, so understood, within the framework of internalist and externalist accounts of knowledge. My general conclusion is that, insofar as faith itself is a justified epistemic attitude, it requires justification and acquires that justification only through the regular faculties for contingent truths: sense perception and reason. I also argue, however, that the operations of our cognitive faculties in arriving at epistemic judgments on matters of substance are sufficiently complex, subtle, and often temporally prolonged, to make it exceptionally difficult to reconstruct the cognitive process and to judge whether it meets standards of rationality.

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Faith and Epistemology: Religious Truth Claims and Epistemic Warrant

Julius Gurney III

Vol. 2, No. 1

Spring 2020

Pages: 207-216

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$1.99

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2020.vol2.no1.09

This essay argues for the rationality of truth claims arising from religious faith over against the contention that such claims are, at best, viewed as subjective “value” language or, at worst, strictly irrational. An argument will be offered for the epistemic warrant of faith-based claims, not for the objective veracity of the religious claims themselves.

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Judaism and Evolutionary Astrology: Insights from a Jewish Astrologer

Elisa Robyn

Vol. 2, No. 1

Spring 2020

Pages: 218-226

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$1.99

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2020.vol2.no1.10

While the Torah instructs Jews not to practice soothsaying or divination, the Talmud includes several discussions about the power of astrology with many Rabbis even arguing that the use of astrology is both permitted and meaningful. Add to this discrepancy the numerous astrological mosaics on the floors of ancient synagogues, as well as certain Kabbalistic practices, and it becomes clear why there is confusion within the Jewish community. This article examines Jewish perspectives on evolutionary astrology throughout Jewish history and its link to current mystical applications.

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Book Review: The Case Against Miracles, Edited by John W. Loftus

Gregory Michna

Vol. 2, No. 1

Spring 2020

Pages: 228-234

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Free

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2020.vol2.no1.11

A review of John W. Loftus’s edited volume, The Case Against Miracles.