Throughout its entire history, the discipline of
anthropology has been perceived as undermining, or even discrediting, Christian
faith. Many of its most prominent theorists have been agnostics who assumed that
ethnographic findings and theories had discredited religious beliefs. E. B.
Tylor, the founder of the discipline in Britain, lost his faith through studying
anthropology. James Frazer saw the material that he presented in his highly
influential work, The Golden Bough, as demonstrating that Christian
thought was based on the erroneous thought patterns of 'savages.' On the other
hand, some of the most eminent anthropologists have been Christians, including
E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Mary Douglas, Victor Turner, and Edith Turner. Moreover,
they openly presented articulate reasons for how their religious convictions
cohered with their professional work.
Despite being a major site of friction between faith and modern thought, the relationship between anthropology and Christianity has never before been the subject of a book-length study. In this groundbreaking work, Timothy Larsen examines the point where doubt and faith collide with anthropological theory and evidence.