Toward the Scientific Study of Polytheism: Beyond Forced-Choice Measures of Religious Belief

Submitted by James Miller on Mon, 12/10/2012 - 16:25
James Miller's picture
TitleToward the Scientific Study of Polytheism: Beyond Forced-Choice Measures of Religious Belief
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsGries, P., Su J., & Schak D.
JournalJournal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Volume51
Issue4
Pagination623–637
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Inc
ISSN1468-5906
KeywordsANCESTOR worship, Buddhism, folk religion., measurement, POLYTHEISM, religious belief, survey research, Taiwan, Taoism
Abstract

This article argues that zero-sum, forced-choice approaches to measuring religious belief do not work well outside of the Abrahamic world. Positive-sum approaches to measuring religious beliefs (in the plural) are better suited to the study of polytheistic societies. Using results from a nationally representative survey conducted in 2011 Taiwan, we demonstrate that in a polytheistic society like Taiwan, religious belief is not zero sum. We also contrast our results with those of the Taiwan Social Change Survey (TSCS), and seek to show that our positive-sum approach to measuring religious beliefs can help us better understand the disparate causes and consequences of different religious beliefs in polytheistic societies. The challenge of Christocentrism in quantitative studies of religion is also discussed.

URLhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2012.01683.x
DOI10.1111/j.1468-5906.2012.01683.x