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While theology attempts to understand the nature of transcendent or supernatural forces (such as deities), religious studies tries to study religious behavior and belief from outside any particular religious viewpoint.Religious studies draws upon multiple disciplines and their methodologies including anthropology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and history of religion.New departments were founded and influential journals of religious studies were initiated (for example, Religious Studies and Religion).
Early influential scholars included Friedrich Max Müller, in England, and Cornelius P. Today religious studies is practiced by scholars worldwide.Religious studies, alternately known as the study of religion, is an academic field devoted to research into religious beliefs, behaviors, and institutions.It describes, compares, interprets, and explains religion, emphasizing systematic, historically based, and cross-cultural perspectives.The religious studies scholar Walter Capps described the purpose of the discipline as to provide "training and practice...in directing and conducting inquiry regarding the subject of religion". Segal characterised the discipline as "a subject matter" that is "open to many approaches", and thus it "does not require either a distinctive method or a distinctive explanation to be worthy of disciplinary status." Different scholars operating in the field have different interests and intentions; some for instance seek to defend religion, while others seek to explain it away, and others wish to use religion as an example with which to prove a theory of their own.