chapter  1
18 Pages

1 INTRODUCTION Research methods in the study of religion\s

ByMichael Stausberg, Steven Engler

It is generally agreed that methods , together with theories, concepts and categories , 1 are foundational for modern science: knowledge accepted as ‘scientifi c’ must be based on empirical materials ( data ) gathered by using methods that are accepted as ‘scientifi c’, and their analysis must proceed following rules based on ‘scientifi c’ methods by engaging concepts and theories accepted by the respective academic community. Scholars’ dreams, for example, are not accepted as scientifi c data; allegorical interpretation of such dreams is not accepted as a scientifi c method; illumination is not generally accepted as a scientifi c category; and astrology is not accepted as a scientifi c theory. 2 Of course, rules for what qualifi es as scientifi c data, methods, categories and theories are subject to change. The discussions and critiques that motivate such change are a basic task of scholarship. In addition, scientifi c data, fi ndings and theories are constantly challenged by non-scholars. Conversely, the borderlines between what is science and what is non-science, or pseudo-science, are matters of ongoing debate and negotiation.