Recent thinking suggests that the time is right for a reconsideration of the interface between psychology and religion. We argue that most accounts of religion in contemporary psychology (especially as typified by evolutionary theory) have been toxic to the phenomena of religious experience. This toxicity results from the adoption of a naturalistic explanatory framework that renders religious phenomena as merely results of mechanical forces and material conditions. This approach fails to take religious phenomena seriously and, thereby, dismisses their meaningfulness before any serious investigation has begun. We argue that only by taking religious experience seriously"that is by treating religious phenomena on their own terms as fundamentally meaningful expressions of human experience"can a fruitful scientific psychology of religion be possible. We propose the phenomenology of Emmanuel Levinas as a viable perspective from within which to develop such a psychology of religion.
Gantt, Edwin E. and Williams, Richard N.
"Explaining Religion to Death: Reductionism, Evolution, and the Psychology of Religion,"
Issues in Religion and Psychotherapy: Vol. 32
, Article 2.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/irp/vol32/iss1/2