Explanation AND Understanding in the Psychology of Religion: Paradigms, Methodologies, and the Future of a Burgeoning Field (pp. 287-316)
Authors: Andrew R. Hatala
Abstract: Contemporary discourse within the psychology of religion is increasingly recognizing a “crisis” within the field due to methodological and theoretical limitations. Consequently, researchers are searching within two broad paradigms—explanation and understanding—with the hopes of addressing the current challenges. Some authors contend that a reformulation of objective-empirical methods (explanation) is required. Others, however, suggest the future rests in adopting phenomenology and hermeneutics (understanding).
As both paradigms have valid contributions for the field, the purpose of this paper is to outline these respective paradigms and suggest that—rather than turning wholeheartedly towards the explanation or understanding paradigms exclusively—future research could instead examine, within a dialogical community, their potential complimentarity. It is hoped that this ‘holistic’ position can potentially dissolve the current crisis and provide a basis for strengthening the methodological and theoretical breath within this burgeoning field.
Two spirits dwell at odds within my breast, and each would gladly from the other part; the one seems with the single urge obsessed to keep the friendly earth within my heart; the other draws me forth in willful quest of visions to a finer world apart.