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The Slain GodAnthropologists and the Christian Faith$
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Timothy Larsen

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199657872

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199657872.001.0001

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Edward Burnett Tylor

Edward Burnett Tylor

(p.13) 1 Edward Burnett Tylor
The Slain God

Timothy Larsen

Oxford University Press

Edward Burnett Tylor (1832–1917) is often considered the father of anthropology. This chapter presents Tylor’s main theories in the field of anthropology. One of Tylor’s major areas of interest was the use of anthropological evidence to discover how religion arose. This preoccupation resulted in his influential account of animism. Tylor’s Quaker background, later religious scepticism, and personal life are connected to his intellectual work. Assumptions such as his evolutionary view of human culture and intellectualist approach to ‘savage’ customs, his use of the comparative method, and distinctive notions of his such as ‘survivals’ are explained, and then the discussion is taken a step further in order to demonstrate how they were deployed to influence contemporary religious beliefs. Tylor argued that the discipline of anthropology was a ‘reformer’s science’. Working within the warfare model of the relationship between faith and science, the study reveals the extent to which he used the tools of this new field of inquiry to bring about changes in the religious convictions of his contemporaries.

Keywords:   Edward Burnett Tylor, animism, survivals, comparative method, Quakers, Roman Catholicism, anti-Catholicism, primitive culture

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