Religion and Science (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
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Alvin Plantinga 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 expertise.
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 Barbourboth 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 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 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 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 Chardinwho 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.
Cultures with differing religious views were explained as being in an early stage of development. For example, Tylor regarded animism, the belief that spirits animate the world, as the earliest form of religious belief. Comte proposed that all societies, in their attempts to make sense of the world, go through the same stages of development: The psychologist Sigmund Freud 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.
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This, together with taboos on cannibalism and incest, generated the first religion. 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 was interested in the psychological roots and the phenomenology of religious experiences, which he believed were the ultimate source of institutional religions.
From the s 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. Psychologists and sociologists of religion also began to doubt that religious beliefs were rooted in irrationality, psychopathology, and other atypical psychological states, as James and other early psychologists had assumed. In the United States, in the late s through the s, psychologists developed a renewed interest for religion, fueled by the observation that religion refused to decline—thus casting doubt on the secularization thesis—and seemed to undergo a substantial revival see Stark for an overview.
Psychologists of religion have made increasingly fine-grained distinctions among types of religiosity, including extrinsic religiosity being religious as means to an end, for instance, getting the benefits of being in a social group and intrinsic religiosity people who adhere to religions for the sake of their teachings Allport and Ross Psychologists and sociologists now commonly study religiosity as an independent variable, with an impact on, for instance, health, criminality, sexuality, and social networks.
A recent development in the scientific study of religion is the cognitive science of religion. This is a multidisciplinary field, with authors from, among others, developmental psychology, anthropology, philosophy, and cognitive psychology. It differs from the other scientific approaches to religion by its presupposition that religion is not a purely cultural phenomenon, but the result of ordinary, early developed, and universal human cognitive processes e.
Some authors regard religion as the byproduct of cognitive processes that do not have an evolved function specific for religion. For example, according to Paul Bloomreligion emerges as a byproduct of our intuitive distinction between minds and bodies: Another family of hypotheses regards religion as a biological or cultural adaptive response that helps humans solve cooperative problems e.
Through their belief in big, powerful gods that can punish, humans behave more cooperatively, which allowed human group sizes to expand beyond small hunter-gatherer communities. Groups with belief in big gods thus outcompeted groups without such beliefs for resources during the Neolithic, which explains the current success of belief in such gods Norenzayan Natural philosopher Isaac Newton held strong, albeit unorthodox religious beliefs Pfizenmaier By contrast, contemporary scientists have lower religiosity compared to the general population.
There are vocal exceptions, such as the geneticist Francis Collins, erstwhile the leader of the Human Genome Project. They indicate a significant difference in religiosity in scientists compared to the general population. Surveys such as those conducted by the Pew forum Masci and Smith find that nearly nine in ten adults in the US say they believe in God or a universal spirit, a number that has only slightly declined in recent decades.
Atheism and agnosticism are widespread among academics, especially among those working in elite institutions. Ecklund and Scheitle analyzed responses from scientists working in the social and natural sciences from 21 elite universities in the US.
In contrast to the general population, the older scientists in this sample did not show higher religiosity—in fact, they were more likely to say that they did not believe in God.
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On the other hand, Gross and Simmons examined a more heterogeneous sample of scientists from American colleges, including community colleges, elite doctoral-granting institutions, non-elite four-year state schools, and small liberal arts colleges. They found that the majority of university professors full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty had some theistic beliefs, believing either in God Belief in God was influenced both by type of institution lower theistic belief in more prestigious schools and by discipline lower theistic belief in the physical and biological sciences compared to the social sciences and humanities.
These latter findings indicate that academics are more religiously diverse than has been popularly assumed and that the majority are not opposed to religion. Even so, in the US the percentage of atheists and agnostics in academia is higher than in the general population, a discrepancy that requires an explanation. One reason might be a bias against theists in academia. For example, when sociologists were surveyed whether they would hire someone if they knew the candidate was an evangelical Christian, Another reason might be that theists internalize prevalent negative societal stereotypes, which leads them to underperform in scientific tasks and lose interest in pursuing a scientific career.
Kimberly Rios et al. It is unclear whether religious and scientific thinking are cognitively incompatible. Some studies suggest that religion draws more upon an intuitive style of thinking, distinct from the analytic reasoning style that characterizes science Gervais and Norenzayan On the other hand, the acceptance of theological and scientific views both rely on a trust in testimony, and cognitive scientists have found similarities between the way children and adults understand testimony to invisible entities in religious and scientific domains Harris et al.
Moreover, theologians such as the Church Fathers and Scholastics were deeply analytic in their writings, indicating that the association between intuitive and religious thinking might be a recent western bias. More research is needed to examine whether religious and scientific thinking styles are inherently in tension. Science and religion in Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism As noted, most studies on the relationship between science and religion have focused on science and Christianity, with only a small number of publications devoted to other religious traditions e.
Relatively few monographs pay attention to the relationship between science and religion in non-Christian milieus e. Since western science makes universal claims, it is easy to assume that its encounter with other religious traditions is similar to the interactions observed in Christianity. However, given different creedal tenets e.
It developed in the first century AD out of Judaism from a group of followers of Jesus. Christians adhere to asserted revelations described in a series of canonical texts, which include the Old Testament, which comprises texts inherited from Judaism, and the New Testament, which contains the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John narratives on the life and teachings of Jesusas well as events and teachings of the early Christian churches e.
Given the prominence of revealed texts in Christianity, a useful starting point to examine the relationship between Christianity and science is the two books metaphor see Tanzella-Nitti for an overview. Augustine — argued that the book of nature was the more accessible of the two, since scripture requires literacy whereas illiterates and literates alike could read the book of nature.
During the Middle Ages, authors such as Hugh of St. Given that original sin marred our reason and perception, what conclusions could humans legitimately draw about ultimate reality? He argued that sin has clouded human reason so much that the book of nature has become unreadable, and that scripture is needed as it contains teachings about the world. Christian authors in the field of science and religion continue to debate how these two books interrelate. Concordism is the attempt to interpret scripture in the light of modern science.
It is a hermeneutical approach to Bible interpretation, where one expects that the Bible foretells scientific theories, such as the Big Bang theory or evolutionary theory. However, as Denis Lamoureux Thus, any plausible form of integrating the books of nature and scripture will require more nuance and sophistication. Theologians such as John Wesley — have proposed the addition of other sources of knowledge to scripture and science: Several Christian authors have attempted to integrate science and religion e.
They tend to interpret findings from the sciences, such as evolutionary theory or chaos theory, in a theological light, using established theological models, e. John Haught argues that the theological view of kenosis self-emptying anticipates scientific findings such as evolutionary theory: The dominant epistemological outlook in Christian science and religion has been critical realism, a position that applies both to theology theological realism and to science scientific realism.
Barbour introduced this view into the science and religion literature; it has been further developed by theologians such as Arthur Peacocke and Wentzel van Huyssteen Critical realism has distinct flavors in the works of different authors, for instance, van Huyssteendevelops a weak form of critical realism set within a postfoundationalist notion of rationality, where theological views are shaped by social, cultural, and evolved biological factors. Peter Harrison thinks the doctrine of original sin played a crucial role in this, arguing there was a widespread belief in the early modern period that Adam, prior to the fall, had superior senses, intellect, and understanding.
As a result of the fall, human senses became duller, our ability to make correct inferences was diminished, and nature itself became less intelligible. They must supplement their reasoning and senses with observation through specialized instruments, such as microscopes and telescopes.
As Robert Hooke wrote in the introduction to his Micrographia: As a result, the Condemnation opened up intellectual space to think beyond ancient Greek natural philosophy. For example, medieval philosophers such as John Buridan fl.
As further evidence for a formative role of Christianity in the development of science, some authors point to the Christian beliefs of prominent natural philosophers of the seventeenth century.
For example, Clark writes, Exclude God from the definition of science and, in one fell definitional swoop, you exclude the greatest natural philosophers of the so-called scientific revolution—Kepler, Copernicus, Galileo, Boyle, and Newton to name just a few. In spite of these positive readings of the relationship between science and religion in Christianity, there are sources of enduring tension. For example, there is still vocal opposition to the theory of evolution among Christian fundamentalists.
Additionally, it refers to a culture which flourished within this political and religious context, with its own philosophical and scientific traditions Dhanani As the second largest religion in the world, Islam shows a wide variety of beliefs. Beyond this, Muslims disagree on a number of doctrinal issues. The relationship between Islam and science is complex. Today, predominantly Muslim countries, such as the United Arabic Emirates, enjoy high urbanization and technological development, but they underperform in common metrics of scientific research, such as publications in leading journals and number of citations per scientist see Edis Moreover, Islamic countries are also hotbeds for pseudoscientific ideas, such as Old Earth creationism, the creation of human bodies on the day of resurrection from the tailbone, and the superiority of prayer in treating lower-back pain instead of conventional methods Guessoum The contemporary lack of scientific prominence is remarkable given that the Islamic world far exceeded European cultures in the range and quality of its scientific knowledge between approximately the ninth and the fifteenth century, excelling in domains such as mathematics algebra and geometry, trigonometry in particularastronomy seriously considering, but not adopting, heliocentrismoptics, and medicine.
A major impetus for Arabic science was the patronage of the Abbasid caliphate —centered in Baghdad. The former founded the Bayt al-Hikma House of Wisdomwhich commissioned translations of major works by Aristotle, Galen, and many Persian and Indian scholars into Arabic. It was cosmopolitan in its outlook, employing astronomers, mathematicians, and physicians from abroad, including Indian mathematicians and Nestorian Christian astronomers.
Throughout the Arabic world, public libraries attached to mosques provided access to a vast compendium of knowledge, which spread Islam, Greek philosophy, and Arabic science. The use of a common language Arabicas well as common religious and political institutions and flourishing trade relations encouraged the spread of scientific ideas throughout the empire.
Some of this transmission was informal, e. The decline and fall of the Abbasid caliphate dealt a blow to Arabic science, but it remains unclear why it ultimately stagnated, and why it did not experience something analogous to the scientific revolution in Western Europe. Some liberal Muslim authors, such as Fatima Mernissiargue that the rise of conservative forms of Islamic philosophical theology stifled more scientifically-minded natural philosophers. This book vindicated more orthodox Muslim religious views.
As Muslim intellectual life became more orthodox, it became less open to non-Muslim philosophical ideas, which led to the decline of Arabic science.
The study of law fiqh was more stifling for Arabic science than developments in theology. The eleventh century saw changes in Islamic law that discouraged heterodox thought: Given that heterodox thoughts could be interpreted as apostasy, this created a stifling climate for Arabic science.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, as science and technology became firmly entrenched in western society, Muslim empires were languishing or colonized. Scientific ideas, such as evolutionary theory, were equated with European colonialism, and thus met with distrust. In spite of this negative association between science and western modernity, there is an emerging literature on science and religion by Muslim scholars mostly scientists.
The physicist Nidhal Guessoum holds that science and religion are not only compatible, but in harmony. Nevertheless, Muslim scientists such as Guessoum and Rana Dajani have advocated acceptance of evolution.
In contrast to the major monotheistic religions, Hinduism does not draw a sharp distinction between God and creation while there are pantheistic and panentheistic views in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, these are minority positions.
Many Hindus believe in a personal God, and identify this God as immanent in creation. This view has ramifications for the science and religion debate, in that there is no sharp ontological distinction between creator and creature Subbarayappa Philosophical theology in Hinduism and other Indic religions is usually referred to as dharma, and religious traditions originating on the Indian subcontinent, including Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, are referred to as dharmic religions.
One factor that unites dharmic religions is the importance of foundational texts, which were formulated during the Vedic period, between ca. More gods were added in the following centuries e. Ancient Vedic rituals encouraged knowledge of diverse sciences, including astronomy, linguistics, and mathematics. Astronomical knowledge was required to determine the timing of rituals and the construction of sacrificial altars.
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Linguistics developed out of a need to formalize grammatical rules for classical Sanskrit, which was used in rituals. Large public offerings also required the construction of elaborate altars, which posed geometrical problems and thus led to advances in geometry.
Classic Vedic texts also frequently used very large numbers, for instance, to denote the age of humanity and the Earth, which required a system to represent numbers parsimoniously, giving rise to a base positional system and a symbolic representation for zero as a placeholder, which would later be imported in other mathematical traditions Joseph In this way, ancient Indian dharma encouraged the emergence of the sciences.
Around the sixth—fifth century BCE, the northern part of the Indian subcontinent experienced an extensive urbanization. The latter defended a form of metaphysical naturalism, denying the existence of gods or karma. The relationship between science and religion on the Indian subcontinent is complex, in part because the dharmic religions and philosophical schools are so diverse. Such views were close to philosophical naturalism in modern science, but this school disappeared in the twelfth century.
He formulated design and cosmological arguments, drawing on analogies between the world and artifacts: Given that the universe is so complex that even an intelligent craftsman cannot comprehend it, how could it have been created by non-intelligent natural forces?
From toIndia was under British colonial rule. This had a profound influence on its culture.
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Hindus came into contact with Western science and technology. For local intellectuals, the contact with Western science presented a challenge: Mahendrahal Sircar — was one of the first authors to examine evolutionary theory and its implications for Hindu religious beliefs. Sircar was an evolutionary theist, who believed that God used evolution to create the current life forms. Evolutionary theism was not a new hypothesis in Hinduism, but the many lines of empirical evidence Darwin provided for evolution gave it a fresh impetus.
While Sircar accepted organic evolution through common descent, he questioned the mechanism of natural selection as it was not teleological, which went against his evolutionary theism—this was a widespread problem for the acceptance of evolutionary theory, one that Christian evolutionary theists also wrestled with Bowler The assimilation of western culture prompted various revivalist movements that sought to reaffirm the cultural value of Hinduism.
Responses to evolutionary theory were as diverse as Christian views on this subject, ranging from creationism denial of evolutionary theory based on a perceived incompatibility with Vedic texts to acceptance see C.
Brown for a thorough overview. Authors such as Dayananda Saraswati — rejected evolutionary theory. More generally, he claimed that Hinduism and science are in harmony: Hinduism is scientific in spirit, as is evident from its long history of scientific discovery Vivekananda Sri Aurobindo Ghose, a yogi and Indian nationalist, who was educated in the West, formulated a synthesis of evolutionary thought and Hinduism. He interpreted the classic avatara doctrine, according to which God incarnates into the world repeatedly throughout time, in evolutionary terms.
He proposed a metaphysical picture where both spiritual evolution reincarnation and avatars and physical evolution are ultimately a manifestation of God Brahman. Brown for discussion.
During the twentieth century, Indian scientists began to gain prominence, including C. Raman —a Nobel Prize winner in physics, and Satyendra Nath Bose —a theoretical physicist who described the behavior of photons statistically, and who gave his name to bosons. However, these authors were silent on the relationship between their scientific work and their religious beliefs. By contrast, the mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan — was open about his religious beliefs and their influence on his mathematical work.
He claimed that the goddess Namagiri helped him to intuit solutions to mathematical problems. Likewise, Jagadish Chandra Bose —a theoretical physicist, biologist, biophysicist, botanist, and archaeologist, who worked on radio waves, saw the Hindu idea of unity reflected in the study of nature.
He started the Bose institute in Kolkata inthe earliest interdisciplinary scientific institute in India Subbarayappa Contemporary connections between science and religion Current work in the field of science and religion encompasses a wealth of topics, including free will, ethics, human nature, and consciousness. Contemporary natural theologians discuss fine-tuning, in particular design arguments based on it e. Collinsthe interpretation of multiverse cosmology, and the significance of the Big Bang.
For instance, authors such as Hud Hudson have explored the idea that God has actualized the best of all possible multiverses. Here follows an overview of two topics that generated substantial interest and debate over the past decades: This doctrine of creation has the following interrelated features: Differently put, God did not need any pre-existing materials to make the world, unlike, e. Rather, God created the world freely.
This introduces a radical asymmetry between creator and creature: Third, the doctrine of creation holds that creation is essentially good this is repeatedly affirmed in Genesis 1. The world does contain evil, but God does not directly cause this evil to exist.
Moreover, God does not merely passively sustain creation, but rather plays an active role in it, using special divine actions e. Fourth, God made provisions for the end of the world, and will create a new heaven and earth, in this way eradicating evil. Related to the doctrine of creation are views on divine action. Theologians commonly draw a distinction between general and special divine action.
Unfortunately, there is no universally accepted definition of these two concepts in the fields of theology or science and religion. One way to distinguish them Wildman Drawing this distinction allows for creatures to be autonomous and indicates that God does not micromanage every detail of creation.
Still, the distinction is not always clear-cut, as some phenomena are difficult to classify as either general or special divine action. Alston makes a related distinction between direct and indirect divine acts. God brings about direct acts without the use of natural causes, whereas indirect acts are achieved through natural causes. Using this distinction, there are four possible kinds of actions that God could do: God could not act in the world at all, God could act only directly, God could act only indirectly, or God could act both directly and indirectly.
In the science and religion literature, there are two central questions on creation and divine action. To what extent are the Christian doctrine of creation and traditional views of divine action compatible with science?
How can these concepts be understood within a scientific context, e. Healing Communities draws its strength from its size as affordable housing is generally larger scale. Their small scale housing structure makes them a unique organization according to Chris Wilcynski, Director of Community and Social Services.
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