Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The myth of secularization


After the foundations [of anthropological study] were laid by Frazer, Durkheim, and Malinowski, anthropologists long accepted the myth of scientific objectivity as their guiding principle for studying "primitive" societies—while at the same time proceeding as if the Christian heritage of the West was an intellectual and moral incubus to be subverted as a routine matter of course. Self-consciousness about the fraudulence of this posture (never adequate even in terms of the evolution of anthropology as a discipline) has grown gradually, with a major boost from the work of Mary Douglas, who used her Catholic faith to heighten anthropological acumen, and with a host of more recent figures who have subjected the scientistic myths of inevitable secularization to withering scrutiny.

from Anthropologists Discover the Bible, by Mark Noll (from Books & Culture)
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