How to Relate Science and Religion: A Multidimensional Model

How to Relate Science and Religion: A Multidimensional Model

How to Relate Science and Religion: A Multidimensional Model

How to Relate Science and Religion: A Multidimensional Model

Synopsis

Today there are two very different views concerning the relation of science and religion. On the one hand is the view that there is no limit to the competency of science, including its ability to subsume the traditional domains of religion and values. On the other hand is the view that science ought to itself be shaped in a significant way by religion. In this book these opposing views are presented, critically discussed, and replaced with a badly needed conciliatory model of science and religion.

Written by Templeton Prize-winner Mikael Stenmark, "How to Relate Science and Religion points an exciting way forward in the effort to reconcile what are arguably the two most powerful cultural forces of our time. Stenmark succinctly lays out the central issues of the debate and shows what is at stake for the nature and advancement of human knowledge. The outcome of Stenmark's work is the construction of a "multidimensional model" of science and religion that refuses to automatically prioritize either. Stenmark shows the ongoing though shifting value of both science and religion played out as a dynamic, evolving relationship.

Excerpt

People throughout the ages have tried to understand the universe and their own place within it. They have developed a big picture, a worldview. Religions have traditionally played a very important role in shaping individuals’ worldviews, but ever since the scientific revolution science has also played a crucial role. But how should we understand the relationship between these two powerful cultural forces? How should we relate science and religion? This is the key question of this book.

Within the academy today we can find two very interesting, but quite opposite, ways of responding to this profound question, which is of great importance for our lives. We have, on the one hand, those who believe that there are no real limits to the competence of science, no limits to what can be achieved in the name of science. Richard Dawkins, for instance, writes that since we have modern biology, we have “no longer … to resort to superstition when faced with the deep problems: Is there a meaning to life? What are we for? What is man?” (Dawkins 1989: 1). According to Dawkins science is capable of dealing with all these questions and constitutes in addition the only alternative to superstition. Edward O. Wilson is confident that science not only can fully explain religion but can even replace religion. the evolutionary epic provides us with a new mythology, and it can constitute the key element in our new religion, what Wilson sometimes calls “scientific materialism” and at other times “scientific naturalism” (Wilson 1978: 192). Peter Atkins is no less ambitious. He does not hesitate to talk about the “limitless power of science” or about science as “omnicompetent” (Atkins 1995: 122f.).

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