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Rodney Stark
Born (1934-07-08) July 8, 1934 (age 81)
Jamestown, North Dakota
Education BA, journalism, University of Denver, 1959
MA, sociology, University of California, Berkeley, 1965
PhD, sociology, University of California, Berkeley, 1971[1]
Occupation Professor of Social Sciences
Employer Baylor University
Website Homepage, Baylor University
rodneystark.com

Rodney William Stark (born July 8, 1934) is an American sociologist of religion. He is Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor University, co-director of the university's Institute for Studies of Religion, and founding editor of the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion.[1]

Stark has written over 30 books, including The Rise of Christianity (1996), and more than 140 scholarly articles on subjects as diverse as prejudice, crime, suicide, and city life in ancient Rome.[2] He has twice won the Distinguished Book Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, for The Future of Religion: Secularization, Revival, and Cult Formation (1985, with William Sims Bainbridge), and for The Churching of America 1776–1990 (1992, with Roger Finke).[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Stark was born in 1934[3][4] and grew up in Jamestown, North Dakota, in a Lutheran family. He spent time in the United States Army, before graduating in journalism from the University of Denver in 1959. He worked as a journalist for the Oakland Tribune from 1959 until 1961, then pursued graduate work, obtaining his MA in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1965 and his PhD, also from Berkeley, in 1971.[1]

Career and research[edit]

Positions held[edit]

After completing his PhD, Stark held appointments as a research sociologist at the Survey Research Center and at the Center for the Study of Law and Society. After teaching as Professor of Sociology and of Comparative Religion at the University of Washington for 32 years, Stark moved to Baylor University in 2004, where he is co-director of the Institute for Studies of Religion.[2] He is an advocate of the application of the rational choice theory in the sociology of religion, which he calls the theory of religious economy.[3]

Stark–Bainbridge theory of religion[edit]

During the late 1970s and 1980s, Stark worked with William Sims Bainbridge on the Stark–Bainbridge theory of religion,[3] and co-wrote the books The Future of Religion (1985) and A Theory of Religion (1987) with Bainbridge. Nowadays their theory, which aims to explain religious involvement in terms of rewards and compensators, is seen as a precursor of the more explicit recourse to economic principles in the study of religion as later developed by Laurence Iannaccone and others.[5][6]

On the growth of Christianity[edit]

Stark has proposed in The Rise of Christianity that Christianity grew through gradual individual conversions via social networks of family, friends and colleagues. His main contribution, by comparing documented evidence of Christianity's spread in the Roman Empire with the history of the LDS church in the 19th and 20th centuries, was to illustrate that a sustained and continuous growth could lead to huge growth within 200 years. This use of exponential growth as a driver to explain the growth of the church without the need for mass conversions (deemed necessary by historians until then) is now widely accepted.

Stark has suggested that Christianity grew because it treated women better than pagan religions. He also suggested that making Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire weakened the faithfulness of the Christian community by bringing in people who did not really believe or had a weaker belief. This is consistent with Stark's published observations of contemporary religious movements, where once-successful faith movements gradually decline in fervor due to the free rider problem.

On the theory of evolution[edit]

In 2004 The American Enterprise, an online publication of the American Enterprise Institute, published an article by Stark, "Facts, Fable and Darwin," critical of the stifling of debate on evolution. Stark criticized the "Darwinian Crusade" and their "tactic of claiming that the only choice is between Darwin and Bible literalism." Though not a creationist himself, he believes that though "the theory of evolution is regarded as the invincible challenge to all religious claims, it is taken for granted among the leading biological scientists that the origin of species has yet to be explained." He suggests that governments "lift the requirement that high school texts enshrine Darwin's failed attempt as an eternal truth."[7]

Personal religious faith[edit]

In their 1987 book A Theory of Religion, Stark and Bainbridge describe themselves as "personally incapable of religious faith".[8] While reluctant to discuss his own religious views, he stated in a 2004 interview that he was not a man of faith, but also not an atheist.[9] In a 2007 interview, after accepting an appointment at Baylor University, Stark indicated that his self-understanding had changed and that he could now be described as an "independent Christian." In this interview Stark recollects that he has "always been a “cultural” Christian" understood by him as having "been strongly committed to Western Civilization." Of his previous positions he wrote: "I was never an atheist, but I probably could have been best described as an agnostic."[10]

Selected works[edit]

Books[edit]

Articles[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Curriculum vitae, Baylor University.
  2. ^ a b "Rodney Stark". Baylor University. 15 March 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d André Nauta, "Stark, Rodney", Encyclopedia of Religion and Society, 1998.
  4. ^ http://www.encyclopedia.com/article-1G2-2507100129/stark-rodney-1934-rodney.html
  5. ^ Alan E. Aldridge (2000). Religion in the contemporary world: A sociological introduction. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 95–97. 
  6. ^ David Lehmann, "Rational Choice and the Sociology of Religion", in Bryan S. Turner (ed.), The New Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Religion, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010, pp. 181–200.
  7. ^ Rodney Stark, "Fact, Fable, and Darwin", The American Enterprise, September 2004.
  8. ^ Lehmann, p. 183.
  9. ^ JKNIRP.com The National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood, 2004
  10. ^ Cesnur.org Center for Studies on New Religions
  11. ^ James T. Richardson (1998). "New Religious Movements". Encyclopedia of Religion and Society. 

Further reading[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_Stark — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
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Baylor ISR - Rodney Stark - CESNUR Conference (June 4-7, 2014)

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In God's Battalions, award-winning author Rodney Stark takes on the long-held view that the Crusades were the first round of European colonialism, conducted ...

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Rev. Dr. George Madathiparampil served as the Vicar General of the Syro Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago till 2011 for 10 years. Visit: www.

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Baylor ISR: Templeton Research Lectures Vanderbilt University, Rodney Stark, Part 2 of 4 (2006)

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9143 videos foundNext > 

1511 news items

Breitbart News

Breitbart News
Wed, 02 Sep 2015 15:18:45 -0700

The Southern Baptist Convention website lists Baylor as a Baptist university affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Baylor is the home base of Professor Rodney Stark, the nation's leading academic expert on the sociology of religion.

Catholic Online

Catholic Online
Tue, 18 Aug 2015 20:19:02 -0700

Christianity is spreading rapidly in China, and it could be because of how well the faith fits in with modern scientific technology. According to the renowned sociologist Rodney Stark, the number of Christians in China is growing at an impressive ...
 
Jamaica Gleaner
Tue, 25 Aug 2015 22:03:45 -0700

Dr Patrick White keeps diminishing the role played by Christianity in the development of science. I make reference to his articles published on August 3 and 21, 2015. This sent me to read again Chapter 2 of Professor Rodney Stark's book, For the Glory ...

Jerusalem Post Israel News

Jerusalem Post Israel News
Sun, 30 Aug 2015 11:57:14 -0700

Indeed, scholars such as the sociologist Rodney Stark have produced compelling arguments to suggest that it was precisely because Judaism and Christianity prevailed over the Greco-Roman pagan religions that capitalism first developed and eventually ...
 
PJ Media
Thu, 20 Aug 2015 14:22:30 -0700

Baylor University sociology professor and author of 20 books Rodney Stark argues that converts are most attracted not to religious ideas, but by social connections with believers in their new religion. After conversion, new believers say they were ...

World Magazine

World Magazine
Thu, 06 Aug 2015 23:16:31 -0700

Rodney Stark and Xiuhua Wang's A Star in the East: The Rise of Christianity in China (Templeton, 2015) succinctly tells of what may be the world's best hope of avoiding a future war between the United States and China. Guy Sorman's The Empire of Lies: ...

FrontPage Magazine

FrontPage Magazine
Thu, 06 Aug 2015 21:18:17 -0700

“The rise of science,” observes social scientist Rodney Stark, “was not an extension of classical learning. It was the natural outgrowth of Christian doctrine: nature exists because it was created by God. In order to love and honor God, it is necessary ...

FrontPage Magazine

FrontPage Magazine
Thu, 13 Aug 2015 21:19:13 -0700

See, for example, Rodney Stark's The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success. Hirsi Ali does not discuss in any serious detail previous attempts to liberalize Islam, although she does mention in passing the ...
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