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What is Religion?: An Introduction [Paperback]

By John F. Haught (Author)
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Item description for What is Religion?: An Introduction by John F. Haught...

Attempts to uncover what it is that religions have in common--the archetypal human need to find meaningful routes through life and to stay in touch with their spiritual potential.

Publishers Description
Attempts to uncover what it is that religions have in common the archetypal human need to find meaningful routes through life and to stay in touch with their spiritual potential.

Citations And Professional Reviews
What is Religion?: An Introduction by John F. Haught has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Library Journal - 12/01/1989

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Paulist Press
Pages   288
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.01" Width: 6.01" Height: 0.77"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 1990
Publisher   Paulist Press
Edition  New  
ISBN  080913117X  
ISBN13  9780809131174  

Availability  0 units.

More About John F. Haught

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! John F. Haught is professor at Georgetown University and Director of the Georgetown Center for the Study of Science and Religion. He lives in Arlington, Virginia. John F. Haught is professor at Georgetown University and Director of the Georgetown Center for the Study of Science and Religion. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.

John F. Haught currently resides in Falls Church. John F. Haught has an academic affiliation as follows - Georgetown University, Washington DC.

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Product Categories

3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Roman Catholic

Reviews - What do customers think about What Is Religion: An Introduction?

Not a beginners text...  Dec 17, 2007
This is a wonderfully detailed and intense look at Religion.
However, you need to read and study the book before you are
actually ready to read and understand this book!!

Not a beginers book, but an intense journey through the
expressions, pathways, aims and critiques of Religion.
The author sets this book up to merge different points
together to understand the parts of religion and how
they work together to create the terms of a religion.

A wonderful book!!
Coherent, Readable Introduction To Religions  Jul 10, 2007
This was an articulate and easy to understand discourses of comparative religions with deeper insights. Provided clear summaries of religious thought, clearly intended for the lay person.
Too Speculative for Intro Text  Jan 30, 2006
In "What is Religion" John Haught examines religion from a liberal socio-cultural perspective. I offer the following thoughts for potential readers. Haught is a capable writer - the text is generally well laid-out and quite readable. The book is divided into three primary segments:

- An introduction and brief overview of what he considers to be the primary approaches to religion: primitive, Hinduism, Buddhism and prophetic (Judaism, Christianity and Islam);
- An examination of different types of religious behaviors: silence, mysticism, sacramentalism and action; and.
- A discussion of some of the modern challenges to a religious worldview.

The work appears to be aimed as an introductory text in a religious studies class or comparative religion course. Haught approaches religion from a socio-cultural perspective. The crucial assumption to this tact is that religious beliefs are adaptive evolutionary developments rather than outlooks that possess any inherent truth value. In accordance with this view religion is "true" because we believe it, rather than believing it because it is true. This is certainly a legitimate approach to the history of religion and is quite common amongst nineteenth and early twentieth century commentators within the field of comparative religion.

I found the discussion of religious behavior to be particularly well handled and helpful. Given that the work is intended as an introductory text, however, some qualifying comments at the outset are warranted to identify assumptions and indicate that there are opposing views. Without this type of clarification some of his comments are misleading - Haught is prone to making highly speculative statements without the slightest equivocation or justification. For example, he makes several declarative statements regarding the supposed origins and evolutionary development of religious belief. Though his thesis in this regard is consistent with his worldview it is pure speculation. When all is said and done there is an absence of historic evidence in this regard and we have just don't know a great deal on this topic. In addition to this type of conjecture he often contradicts existing evidence and scholarly opinion without the slightest qualification. For instance, he claims that Judaism was not a clearly monotheistic religion prior to about 500 B.C.E! This opinion is on the fringe of contemporary scholarship. I am not saying that he shouldn't speculate (some of it is quite interesting) just that he should note that these are controversial - a couple of footnotes would suffice.

I agree with the author that there are underlying similarities between the different traditions - e.g. risk of over attachment to the material world. I think, however, that he takes Ecumenicalism too far, seeing agreement where it does not exist, and glossing over many significant differences between the faith traditions.

Overall Haught is not without skill as a writer and with some largely stylistic changes this would not be a bad introductory-level text. As it is, however, the text is too much of a fringe work to be of much help to its intended audience.

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