Research Interests

My primary area of research at the moment is on the work of Friedrich Schleiermacher, the early nineteenth-century German theologian.  I'm currently working on a book provisionally titled "Nothing But What is Human: Schleiermacher on Religion and the Natural Order."  In the book I argue that Schleiermacher was committed to something quite close to what we now call methodological naturalism in his writings on religion; that is, that he presented religion as a more or less entirely natural affair, explicitly giving up claims to revelation as traditionally understood.  One area of particular interest for me is Schleiermacher's thought on the dynamics of religious socialization and religious communication.  For reasons that are interesting in themselves, this is one of the most overlooked subjects in the secondary literature, particularly that written in English; I've written about this separately. 

I've also been working on a body of writing that has to do with 'suspicious interpretations of religion.'  The paradigms of such explanations lie, as Paul Ricoeur pointed out, in the works of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. However, the pattern or method that these men followed has important theoretical roots in the work of Hegel and Feuerbach, and is also well represented in the academic writing of the last several decades.  I teach a course on the subject (Suspicion and Religion) and hope eventually to produce a book that offers a structural analysis of ‘suspicious arguments' that takes advantage of developments in the field of informal logic. I'm also interested in the general area of religion and naturalism – both the varieties of naturalistic explanations of religion and religious responses to them.  In the fall of 2006, I taught a course on Religion in Scientific Perspective and will also be producing an essay, provisionally titled "Religion and Religious Ambiguity," on contemporary evolutionary theories of religion.