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The question of the relation between religion and science and technology

What are science and religion, and how do they interrelate? Science and religion is a recognized field of study with dedicated journals e. Journal of Religion and Scienceacademic chairs e.

Most of its authors are either theologians e. The systematic study of science and religion started in the 1960s, with authors such as Ian Barbour 1966 and Thomas F. Torrance 1969 who challenged the prevailing view that science and religion were either at war or indifferent to each other.

Zygon, the first specialist journal on science and religion, was also founded in 1966. While the early study of science and religion focused on methodological issues, authors from the late 1980s to the 2000s developed contextual approaches, including detailed historical examinations of the relationship between science and religion e.

Peter Harrison 1998 challenged the warfare model by arguing that Protestant theological conceptions of nature and humanity helped to give rise to science in the seventeenth century.

Peter Bowler 2001, 2009 drew attention to a broad movement of liberal Christians and evolutionists in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries who aimed to reconcile evolutionary theory with religious belief.

It had contributors from philosophy and theology e. The aim of these conferences was to understand divine action in the light of contemporary sciences. Each of the five conferences, and each edited volume that arose from it, was devoted to an area of natural science and its interaction with religion, including quantum cosmology 1992, Russell et al. See also Russell et al.

The legal battles e. However, even if one were to focus on the reception of evolutionary theory, the relationship between religion and science is complex.

For instance, in the United Kingdom, scientists, clergy, and popular writers, sought to reconcile science and religion during the nineteenth and early twentieth century, whereas the United States saw the rise of a fundamentalist opposition to evolutionary thinking, exemplified by the Scopes trial in 1925 Bowler 2001, 2009.

1. What are science and religion, and how do they interrelate?

In recent decades, Church leaders have issued conciliatory public statements on evolutionary theory. Pope John Paul II 1996 affirmed evolutionary theory in his message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, but rejected it for the human soul, which he saw as the result of a separate, special creation. The Church of England publicly endorsed evolutionary theory e. Brown 2008including an apology to Charles Darwin for its initial rejection of his theory.

For the past fifty years, science and religion has been de facto Western science and Christianity—to what extent can Christian beliefs be brought in line with the results of western science? The field of science and religion has only recently turned to an examination of non-Christian traditions, such as Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, providing a richer picture of interaction. In order to understand the scope of science and religion and what interactions there are between them, we must at least get a rough sense of what science and religion are.

Indeed, they are terms that were coined recently, with meanings that vary across times and cultures. Tylor 1871who systematically used the term for religions across the world. Philosophers of science have attempted to demarcate science from other knowledge-seeking endeavors, in particular religion. For instance, Karl Popper 1959 claimed that scientific hypotheses unlike religious ones are in principle falsifiable.

They disagree, however, on how to precisely and across times and cultures demarcate the two domains. One way to distinguish between science and religion is the claim that science concerns the natural world, whereas religion concerns both the natural and the supernatural. Scientific explanations do not appeal to supernatural entities such as gods or angels fallen or notor to non-natural forces like miracles, karma, or Qi.

For example, neuroscientists typically explain our thoughts in terms of brain states, not by reference to an immaterial soul or spirit. Naturalists draw a distinction between methodological naturalism, an epistemological principle that limits scientific inquiry to natural entities and laws, and ontological or philosophical naturalism, a metaphysical principle that rejects the supernatural Forrest 2000.

Since methodological naturalism is concerned with the practice of science in particular, with the kinds of entities and processes that are invokedit does not make any statements about whether or not supernatural entities exist.

They might exist, but lie outside of the scope of scientific investigation. However, these stronger conclusions are controversial. The view that science can be demarcated from religion in its methodological naturalism is more commonly accepted. For instance, in the Kitzmiller versus Dover trial, the philosopher of science Robert Pennock was called to testify by the plaintiffs on whether Intelligent Design was a form of creationism, and therefore religion.

Building on earlier work e. Still, overall there was a the question of the relation between religion and science and technology to favor naturalistic explanations in natural philosophy. This preference for naturalistic causes may have been encouraged by past successes of naturalistic explanations, leading authors such as Paul Draper 2005 to argue that the success of methodological naturalism could be evidence for ontological naturalism.

Explicit methodological naturalism arose in the nineteenth century with the X-club, a lobby group for the professionalization of science founded in 1864 by Thomas Huxley and friends, which aimed to promote a science that would be free from religious dogmas. The X-club may have been in part motivated by the desire to remove competition by amateur-clergymen scientists in the field of science, and thus to open up the field to full-time professionals Garwood 2008.

For example, Kelly Clark 2014 argues that we can only sensibly inquire into the relationship between a widely accepted claim of science such as quantum mechanics or findings in neuroscience and a specific claim of a particular religion such as Islamic understandings of divine providence or Buddhist views of the no-self.

2. Science and religion in Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism

For example, Mikael Stenmark 2004 distinguishes between three views: Subsequent authors, as well as Barbour himself, have refined and amended this taxonomy. For one thing, it focuses on the cognitive content of religions at the expense of other aspects, such as rituals and social structures. Moreover, there is no clear definition of what conflict means evidential or logical. Nevertheless, because of its enduring influence, it is still worthwhile to discuss this taxonomy in detail.

The conflict model, which holds that science and religion are in perpetual and principal conflict, relies heavily on two historical narratives: The conflict model was developed and defended in the nineteenth century by the following two publications: Both authors argued that science and religion inevitably conflict as they essentially discuss the same domain.

The vast majority of authors in the science and religion field is critical of the conflict model and believes it is based on a shallow and partisan reading of the historical record.

Ironically, two views that otherwise have little in common, scientific materialism and extreme biblical literalism, both assume a conflict model: While the conflict model is at present a minority position, some have used philosophical argumentation e. Alvin Plantinga 2011 has argued that the conflict is not between science and religion, but between science and naturalism.

The independence model holds that science and religion explore separate domains that ask distinct questions. The lack of conflict between science and religion arises from a lack of overlap between their respective domains of professional the question of the relation between religion and science and technology.

NOMA is both descriptive and normative: Gould held that there might be interactions at the borders of each magisterium, such as our responsibility toward other creatures.

One obvious problem with the independence model is that if religion were barred from making any statement of fact it would be difficult to justify the claims of value and ethics, e.

Moreover, religions do seem to make empirical claims, for example, that Jesus appeared after his death or that the early Hebrews passed through the parted waters of the Red Sea. The dialogue model proposes a mutualistic relationship between religion and science. Unlike independence, dialogue assumes that there is common ground between both fields, perhaps in their presuppositions, methods, and concepts.

For example, the Christian doctrine of creation may have encouraged science by assuming that creation being the product of a designer is both intelligible and orderly, so one can expect there are laws that can be discovered. According to Barbour 2000both scientific and theological inquiry are theory-dependent or at least model-dependent, e. In dialogue, the fields remain separate but they talk to each other, using common methods, concepts, and presuppositions.

Wentzel van Huyssteen 1998 has argued for a dialogue position, proposing that science and religion can be in a graceful duet, based on their epistemological overlaps.

The integration model is more extensive in its unification of science and theology. Barbour 2000 identifies three forms of integration.

The first is natural theology, which formulates arguments for the existence and attributes of God. It uses results of the natural sciences as premises in its arguments.

For instance, the supposition that the universe has a temporal origin features in contemporary cosmological arguments for the existence of God, and the fact that the cosmological constants and laws of nature are life-permitting whereas many other combinations of constants and laws would not permit life is used in contemporary fine-tuning arguments.

The second, theology of nature, starts not from science but from a religious framework, and examines how this can enrich or even revise findings of the sciences. For example, McGrath 2016 developed a Christian theology of nature, examining how nature and scientific findings can be regarded through a Christian lens. While integration seems attractive especially to theologiansit is difficult to do justice to both the science and religion aspects of a given domain, especially given their complexities.

For example, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin 1971who was both knowledgeable in paleoanthropology and theology, ended up with an unconventional view of evolution as teleological which brought him into trouble with the scientific establishmentand with an unorthodox theology with an unconventional interpretation of original sin that brought him into trouble with the Roman Catholic Church. Theological heterodoxy, by itself, is no reason to doubt a model, but it points to difficulties for the integration model in becoming successful in the broader community of theologians and philosophers.

Moreover, integration seems skewed towards theism as Barbour described arguments based on scientific results that support but do not demonstrate theism, but failed to discuss arguments based on scientific results that support but do not demonstrate the denial of theism.

Natural historians attempted to provide naturalistic explanations for human behavior and culture, for domains such as religion, emotions, and morality. People often assert supernatural explanations when they lack an understanding of the natural causes underlying extraordinary events: It traces the origins of polytheism—which Hume thought was the earliest form of religious belief—to ignorance about natural causes combined with fear and apprehension about the environment.

By deifying aspects of the environment, early humans tried to persuade or bribe the gods, thereby gaining a sense of control. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, authors from newly emerging scientific disciplines, such as anthropology, sociology, and psychology, examined the purported naturalistic roots of religious belief. They did so with a broad brush, trying to explain what unifies diverse religious beliefs across cultures, rather than accounting for cultural variations.

In anthropology, the idea that all cultures evolve and progress along the same lines cultural evolutionism was widespread.

Religion, Science, and Technology

Cultures with differing religious views were explained as being in an early stage of development. For example, Tylor 1871 regarded animism, the belief that spirits animate the world, as the earliest form of religious belief. Comte 1841 proposed that all societies, in their attempts to make sense of the world, go through the same stages of development: The psychologist Sigmund Freud 1927 saw religious belief as an illusion, a childlike yearning for a fatherly figure.

The full story Freud offers is quite bizarre: The sons felt guilty and started to idolize their murdered father. This, together with taboos on cannibalism and incest, generated the first religion.

Religion and Science

Authors such as Durkheim and Freud, together with social theorists such as Karl Marx and Max Weber, proposed versions of the secularization thesis, the view that religion would decline in the face of modern technology, science, and culture.

Philosopher and psychologist William James 1902 was interested in the psychological roots and the phenomenology of religious experiences, which he believed were the ultimate source of institutional religions. From the 1920s onward, the scientific study of religion became less concerned with grand unifying narratives, and focused more on particular religious traditions and beliefs. Their ethnographies indicated that cultural evolutionism was mistaken and that religious beliefs were more diverse than was previously assumed.

They argued that religious beliefs were not the result of ignorance of naturalistic mechanisms; for instance, Evans-Pritchard noted that the Azande were well aware that houses could collapse because termites ate away at their foundations, but they still appealed to witchcraft to explain why a particular house had collapsed. More recently, Cristine Legare et al.