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Psychology and Religion : An Introduction

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This is a rather unusual book on the psychology of religion. As usual I try my very best to set down what is empirically true in the light of what is now extensive evidence on this subject. But I also take a sympathetic view of religion—I have faith in both enterprises, psychology and religion, and believe that in the end they can be harmonised. And this will not be achieved by psychology’s explaining religion away. I have not solved this problem yet, but I have greatly enjoyed myself trying to. And I do not think that there is one-way traffic here where only the psychologists have access to the truth; some of it goes the other way, too. Religion is a very important part of human life and experience, and psychologists have something to learn from it.

So I hope that this book will be of value to psychologists, and also to those taking courses in religious studies, or psychology of religion for theology, or those who are justkeen to understand religion further.

I have drawn in places from an earlier book, with Benny Beit-Hallahmi, The Psychology of Religious Behaviour, Belief and Experience. Harriet Harris, Anne Lee, Nick Emler and Fraser Watts have been very helpful in reading and commenting on chapters for me. I learnt about Korean mega-churches from Young-Gi Hong. I have also learnt a lot from members and discussion groups of the Oxford University Church to whom I have presented some of these materials, particularly to Brian Mountford and  Marjorie Reeves. Also to Laurie Brown, Leslie Francis and other members of the AlisterHardy Society. Several of my colleagues in the Oxford Department of Experimental Psychology have provided valuable inputs: Gordon Claridge, Paul Harris, Mansur Lalljee.

Several of the Oxford libraries have been very helpful as always, particularly the Radcliffe Science Library, the Theology Faculty Library, the Lower Camera, and the PPE Room of the Bodleian.

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