Reasoning and Religion: The Relevance of the Academic Study of Religion to Critical Thinking Pedagogy
Goldberg, I. Y. (2011). Reasoning and Religion: The Relevance of the Academic Study of Religion to Critical Thinking Pedagogy (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/5325
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/5325
In this thesis I inquire into method and theory debates within the academic study of religion, arguing for the potential of this broad field to enrich critical thinking pedagogy, especially with regard to worldviews and problems associated with the influences of worldviews on reasoning. I highlight the growing recognition within critical thinking literature that critical thinking pedagogy ought to include a sizable component devoted to worldviews, and argue for the relevance of the academic study of religion to this worldview component. An inquiry into three popular method and theory debates within the academic study of religion concerning the definition, comparison, and evaluation of religion(s), and into interreligious dialogue, helps cement this assertion. In my treatment of definition I attempt to put the close connection between religions and worldviews on firm ground. I also describe common misconceptions of religion and worldviews that should be of concern to critical thinking educators, and for which the academic study of religion is particularly apposite. Next I concentrate on how comparison of religions and worldviews is justified within the academic study of religion and on good and bad forms of comparison. My discussion of evaluation repeats this pattern: I look at debates over what constitutes good and bad evaluation in and of religions and worldviews, and the relevance of this subject to critical thinking. My foray into interreligious or cross-worldview dialoguing focuses on difficulties that are germane within the critical thinking domain. Although I do recommend the inclusion of these four subjects within critical thinking pedagogy, I take them primarily as a sample of a wider field of inquiry. This sample is meant to support a broader recommendation, namely: Just as education should be infused with critical thinking, so too should critical thinking be infused with the philosophy of the academic study of religion, and the fruits of its inquiry. This recommendation does not come without reservation. In the last chapter I discuss some of the problems that my suggestions bring up, first among which is the religious bias evident in much of what can be found under the auspices of the academic study of religion.
University of Waikato
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