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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii Preface ix Introduction 1 1 What Is Religion? 20 2 What Causal Powers Does Religion Produce? 77 3 How Does Religion Work? 135 4 Why Are Humans Religious? 190 5 What Is Religion's Future? 234 Conclusion 261 Appendix: Research Questions 263 Index 275

About the Author

Christian Smith is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Sociology and director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame. His books include To Flourish or Destruct: A Personalist Theory of Human Goods, Motivations, Failure, and Evil and What Is a Person? Rethinking Humanity, Social Life, and the Moral Good from the Person Up.


"Smith uses his incredibly broad knowledge to develop a definition of religion derived from critical realist and personalist assumptions, and deploys this logic to identify the powers that religion has, how it works for people, and why people are religious in the first place. This book will take its place next to the other prominent comprehensive theories of religion."--John H. Evans, author of What Is a Human?: What the Answers Mean for Human Rights "A significant reinterpretation of religion that will be very useful to a wide range of scholars."--Ann Taves, author of Revelatory Events: Three Case Studies of the Emergence of New Spiritual Paths "One commonly hears that 'religion influences people.' In this deeply informed and accessible book, Christian Smith ignores the postmodern claims that religion is merely a discursive category and provides a critical realist account of what it means to speak of the causal power of a set of religious practices. The result is a social scientific theory that explains why religions continue to be powerful entities operating in the world."--Kevin Schilbrack, author of Philosophy and the Study of Religions: A Manifesto "Articulate, accessible, and engaging, this book is recommended for students as well as seasoned scholars."--Roger Finke, Pennsylvania State University [A] substantial, richly informed book.---James Ryerson, New York Times

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