In the nineteenth century the new disciplines in the social sciences and the humanities were ‘emancipated’ from Christian theology. To an important extent these new forms of inquiry were connected to the rise of modern, industrial society and the nation-form. They were secular in nature—that is, they were part of a secularization of the mind and a de-clericalization of science and scholarship. The most important aspect of this transformation was, obviously, the study of religion itself. This is perhaps clearest in the development of a “science of religion,” an attempt to create a scientific study of religion without Christian theological suppositions. Its claim to scientific truth was based mainly on comparative linguistics and evolutionary theory. Religion was no longer left to Christian theologians but was now the province of anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, and “scientists of religion.”Read the rest of Christianity and its others.
Peter van der Veer
Peter van der Veer is Director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity at Göttingen. Among his major publications are Gods on Earth (LSE Monographs, 1988), Religious Nationalism (University of California Press, 1994), and Imperial Encounters (Princeton University Press, 2001). He also contributed a chapter to the forthcoming SSRC volume Rethinking Secularism (Oxford University Press).