(RNS) — Among sociologists of religion, few names are as revered — and controversial — as Rodney Stark. He has authored 150 scholarly articles and 32 books in 17 different languages, and never shies away from controversy. In 2010, for example, Stark wrote a book defending the Crusades as a “justifiable response to a strong and determined foe.”

Most recently, the Baylor University professor penned “Why God: Explaining Religious Phenomena.” He explains why faith is a universal feature of human societies, and he argues against emerging theories that any system of belief about the meaning of life can be considered “religion.” That term must necessarily include a belief in a God or gods, Stark says.

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Written by Jonathan