Science, Religion, and the Human Experience

Science, Religion, and the Human Experience

Science, Religion, and the Human Experience

Science, Religion, and the Human Experience

Synopsis

The relationship between science and religion is generally depicted in one of two ways. In one view, they are locked in an inevitable, eternal conflict in which one must choose a side. In the other, they are separate spheres, in which the truth claims of one have little bearing on the other. This collection of provocative essays by leading thinkers offers a new way of looking at this problematic relationship. The authors begin from the premise that both science and religion operatein, yet seek to reach beyond, specific historical, political, ideological, and psychological contexts. How may we understand science and religion as arising from, yet somehow transcending, human experience? The volume is divided into four sections. The first takes a fresh look at the relationshipbetween science and religion in broad terms: as spheres of knowledge or belief, realms of experience, and sources of authority. The other three sections take on topics that have been focal points of conflict between science and religion: the nature of the cosmos, the origin of life, and the workings of the mind. Ultimately, the authors argue, by seeing science and religion as irrevocably tied to human experience we can move beyond simple either/or definitions of reality and arrive at a morerich and complex view of both science and religion.

Excerpt

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.

—Albert Einstein

Prolegomenon: "Science"? "Religion"?

Is science without religion lame, and religion without science blind? Einstein's famous statement finds many supporters: here, at last, the conflict between science and religion is laid to rest, and both are upheld for their different yet complementary roles. Others, however, may be less enthusiastic with Einstein's proposition that religion is necessary to give legs to science, or science to give eyes to religion. For them, the issue is indeed one of science versus religion, reason versus faith, realism versus idealism, matter versus spirit. Still others may wish Einstein had made the stronger statement that science and religion are parallel quests revealing similar truths. To this group of people, declaring science and religion to be separate but equal is to miss their metaphysical common ground. Reminiscent of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," then, some may find Einstein's position to be just right, while others may find it to be too hot or too cold.

This volume reconsiders these and other major positions on the relationship between science and religion. But a fundamental question underlies any such position: what is meant by science and by religion? Einstein's argument is illustrative. In the same text where the above statement is found, Einstein defines science as "the century-

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