Religion, Rationality, and Experience: A Response to the New Rational Choice Theory of Religion



This paper is a critical response to the newest version of the rational choice theory of religion (RCTR). In comparison with previous critiques, this paper takes aim at RCTR's foundational assumption of psychological egoism and argues that the thesis of psychological egoism is untenable. Without that thesis, the normative aspects of religious commitment cannot be reduced validly to instrumental reason. On neither conceptual nor empirical grounds therefore can religion or religious commitment be defined comprehensively in terms of exchange theory. With the failure of psychological egoism as a point of departure, the paper articulates an alternative theory of religion, one based on the epistemic rationality grounded in religious experience and religious emotion.