9. Towards a Secular Theory of Religious Experience
Contemporary Views on Comparative Religion - In Celebration of Tim Jensen’s 65th Birthday - Peter Antes
Olav Hammer [+]
University of Southern Denmark
The title of this chapter is calqued on that of a book that the recipient of the present Festschrift edited together with Mikael Rothstein (Jensen & Rothstein 2000). The aim of that book was to present views on religion that were freed from theological agendas, even in their most vestigial guises. Two common elements emerge from the contributors’ papers – over and above the negative self-definition as not pursuing a religious goal. First, the term ‘secular’ is to be taken as shorthand for employing the same naturalistic and critically informed kinds of theories and methods that are found in the natural sciences, the social sciences and humanities. Second, given that the prime agent in the world of religions is the human being, and not spirits, gods or ancestors, understanding human motivations is paramount to understanding religion. The present chapter constitutes a belated voice in the same chorus that collectively made itself heard in Jensen’s and Rothstein’s volume, and argues for similarly discarding any remaining vestiges of religious agendas when approaching that staple of our discipline: religious experience.