Straw men and scientific nostalgia : a response to Luther H. Martin and Donald Wiebe

Source document: Religio. 2012, vol. 20, iss. 1, pp. [55]-61
  • ISSN
    1210-3640 (print)
    2336-4475 (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license
This article argues that Luther H. Martin and Donald Wiebe present a position that is based on many unwarranted and romantic assumptions. To begin with, the authors underestimate (the potential of) the academic rigor of a critical study of religion. This underestimation of the study of religion goes along with an overestimation of the scholarly rigor of the natural sciences. Martin and Wiebe do not seem to take notice of critical scholarship in the historiography and epistemology of science and stick to a naïve image of the natural sciences that most historians of science would deconstruct today. The authors have written a polemic against relativist positions in the humanities, but their argument is itself undertheorized, which turns their critique of "postmodernism" against themselves. Finally, it is noted that Martin and Wiebe's argumentation appears to be self-contradictory. For instance, when the authors claim that the human species' anti-science proclivity is as true of professional scholars of religion as of other intellectuals, one wonders why the authors assume that scholars who engage in cognitive research are an exception to that rule, as they apparently resist the anti-science proclivity.