By Rodney Stark
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Additional info for Acts of Faith: Explaining the Human Side of Religion
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. (Mark :) And give glad tidings, O Muhammad, unto those who believe and do good works; that theirs are Gardens underneath which rivers ﬂow. (Qur’a¯n, sura :) As this last quotation suggests, however, the major world religions not only promise rewards for devotion and belief in God, they also promise rewards for doing good to others. The best-known religious commands—including the Five Pillars of Islam and the Ten Commandments—oﬀer explicit guidelines for action toward others as part of the obligation of the faithful, including actions that others might describe as altruistic: to sustain the needy and to avoid actions that may bring harm to others.
There are no exceptions. However diﬀerent the means PARADIGMS IN CONFLICT they employ, they all strive towards this goal. . This is the motive of every act of every man, including those who go and hang themselves” (Pensée no. ;  , ). Most of the world’s religious scriptures abound in the language of exchange: O Indra . . may plentiful libations of the people, and singing sages’ holy prayers rejoice thee . . ) Make for Me an altar of earth and sacriﬁce on it your burnt oﬀerings and your sacriﬁces of well-being, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be mentioned I will come to you and bless you.
The real work is yet to be accomplished. Moreover, in constructing theories of many aspects of religion, we ourselves have rarely mentioned rationality. Consequently, we object to being identiﬁed as “Rational Choice Theorists,” as if we were initiates of some theoretical “sect” of crypto economists unable to deal with the subtleties of religious realities. We ﬁnd nothing subtle in such hallowed ﬁxtures of the old paradigm as the “irrational choice” theory of religion that traces everything to ignorance or psychopathology.
Acts of Faith: Explaining the Human Side of Religion by Rodney Stark