Philosophy, Religion, Spirituality, Hermeneutics, Empiricism


Current researchers are considering the relevant new knowledge that psychological studies in the past 100 years have produced concerning the psychology of religion. Experimental methods typically employed have the aim of producing value-neutral scientific results, especially in the arena of religion. How ever, methods are inextricably tied to assumptions, since how a person investigates something reflects their understanding or belief about that thing (Hood, 2013). Those methods present in psychology today take after the natural sciences in an effort to arrogate psychology to the status of a hard science. Naturalist methods are also based on naturalist presuppositions about the nature of the world; nothing exists outside of physical matter—an assumption that provides no room for a belief in God (Slife & Reber, 2009). This allows researchers a greatly limited perspective from which to approach the psychological study of religion. An argument is made for a methodological pluralism—one that begins with the assumptions of the hermeneutic tradition. Hermeneutics interpret meaning in lived experience and take the word of the individual to be a faithful account (Belzen & Hood, 2006). These assumptions are based on relationships, trust, and context, each of which will provide psychology with a more holistic understanding of religious phenomena.

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