The paper is a philosophical argument about whether a pilgrimage can be meaningful in a scientific age. Since a scientific world-view rules out many ideas which are traditionally associated with pilgrimage, such as miracles and the effectiveness of prayer, it seems that pilgrimage might be a practice inconsistent with the modern scientific age. Attempts have been made to reconcile this conflict by arguing that science and religion do not conflict, but are non-overlapping spheres of inquiry. Thus, it is possible to make sense of pilgrimage in a scientific age, if one strips their pilgrimage of all aspects to which science might object. However, this move makes it possible for almost any activity to be interpreted as a pilgrimage activity, including many activities usually associated with consumption, tourism, materialism, consumerism, and entertainment. Using ideas developed by the philosopher William James, and others, one can argue that many of these apparently secular activities can indeed be seen as religious experiences. By identifying what all religious experiences have in common, one can interpret many different kinds of experiences as lying on a continuum with traditional pilgrimage experiences.
Haller, Stephen F.
"The Possibility of Pilgrimage in a Scientific World,"
International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage:
3, Article 5.
Available at: https://arrow.dit.ie/ijrtp/vol5/iss3/5