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Essays on Science and Religion

Several typologies characterize the interaction between science andreligion. For example, Mikael Stenmark (2004) distinguishes betweenthree views: the independence view (no overlap between science andreligion), the contact view (some overlap between the fields), and aunion of the domains of science and religion; within those views herecognizes further subdivisions, e.g., the contact can be in the formof conflict or harmony. The most influential model of therelationships between science and religion remains Barbour’s(2000): conflict, independence, dialogue, and integration. Subsequentauthors, as well as Barbour himself, have refined and amended thistaxonomy. However, others (e.g., Cantor and Kenny 2001) have arguedthat it is not useful to understand past interactions between bothfields. For one thing, it focuses on the cognitive content ofreligions at the expense of other aspects, such as rituals and socialstructures. Moreover, there is no clear definition of what conflictmeans (evidential or logical). The model is not as philosophicallysophisticated as some of its successors, such as Stenmark’s(2004). Nevertheless, because of its enduring influence, it is stillworthwhile to discuss this taxonomy in detail.

Creative Tension: Essays on Science and Religion

As with many such collections, there is a certain amount of overlap between the essays. Topics such as the mystery of the comprehensibility of the universe, the status of mathematics, and the need to make a distinction between the scientific description of Big Bang origins of the universe and the creation question of interest to theologians, are revisited several times. To readers new to the field of science and religion such reinforcement of these arguments could be valuable, but for those already familiar with the field, such repetition can be less than ideal.

Creative Tension: Essays On Science & Religion by …

Get this from a library! Creative tension : essays on science and religion. [Michał Heller]

In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, authors from newlyemerging scientific disciplines, such as anthropology, sociology, andpsychology, examined the purported naturalistic roots of religiousbelief. They did so with a broad brush, trying to explain what unifiesdiverse religious beliefs across cultures, rather than accounting forcultural variations. In anthropology, the idea that all culturesevolve and progress along the same lines (cultural evolutionism) waswidespread. Cultures with differing religious views were explained asbeing in an early stage of development. For example, Tylor (1871)regarded animism, the belief that spirits animate the world, as theearliest form of religious belief. Comte (1841) proposed that allsocieties, in their attempts to make sense of the world, go throughthe same stages of development: the theological (religious) stage isthe earliest phase, where religious explanations predominate, followedby the metaphysical stage (a non-intervening God), and culminating inthe positive or scientific stage, marked by scientific explanationsand empirical observations.

The voice of a renowned professor of philosophy in Poland, who is also a Roman Catholic priest, is introduced to the United States in this collection of his provocative essays on the interplay of science and religion. Michael Heller progressively outlines systematic steps that might lead to a peaceful coexistence of these traditionally separate fields of study. Some essays have their roots in the author's work in physics and cosmology, while others present his theories on the language of God, creation, and transcendence, inspired by his work in the applications of so-called noncommutative geometry, an emerging field of study.

Creative tension essays on science and religion pdf

Creative tension essays on science and religion pdf 1

From the 1920s onward, the scientific study of religion became lessconcerned with grand unifying narratives, and focused more onparticular religious traditions and beliefs. Anthropologists, such asEdward Evans-Pritchard (1937/1965) and Bronislaw Malinowski(1925/1992) no longer relied exclusively on second-hand reports(usually of poor quality and from distorted sources), but engaged inserious fieldwork. Their ethnographies indicated that culturalevolutionism was mistaken and that religious beliefs were more diversethan was previously assumed. They argued that religious beliefs werenot the result of ignorance of naturalistic mechanisms; for instance,Evans-Pritchard noted that the Azande were well aware that housescould collapse because termites ate away at their foundations, butthey still appealed to witchcraft to explain why a particular househad collapsed. More recently, Cristine Legare et al. (2012) found thatpeople in various cultures straightforwardly combine supernatural andnatural explanations, for instance, South Africans are aware AIDS iscaused by a virus, but some also believe that the viral infection isultimately caused by a witch.

Until the nineteenth and even early twentieth century, it was commonfor scientists to have religious beliefs which guided their work. Inthe seventeenth century, the design argument reached its peakpopularity and natural philosophers were convinced that scienceprovided evidence for God’s providential creation. Naturalphilosopher Isaac Newton held strong, albeit unorthodox religiousbeliefs (Pfizenmaier 1997). By contrast, contemporary scientists havelower religiosity compared to the general population. There are vocalexceptions, such as the geneticist Francis Collins, erstwhile theleader of the Human Genome Project. His book The Language ofGod (2006) and the BioLogos Institute he founded advocatecompatibility between science and Christianity.

Creative Tension: Essays On Science & Religion Michael Heller 2
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Creative Tension Essays on Science and Religion

While integration seems attractive (especially to theologians), it isdifficult to do justice to both the science and religion aspects of agiven domain, especially given their complexities. For example, PierreTeilhard de Chardin (1971), who was both knowledgeable inpaleoanthropology and theology, ended up with an unconventional viewof evolution as teleological (which brought him into trouble with thescientific establishment), and with an unorthodox theology (with anunconventional interpretation of original sin that brought him intotrouble with the Roman Catholic Church). Theological heterodoxy, byitself, is no reason to doubt a model, but it points to difficultiesfor the integration model in becoming successful in the broadercommunity of theologians and philosophers. Moreover, integration seemsskewed towards theism as Barbour described arguments based onscientific results that support (but do not demonstrate) theism, butfailed to discuss arguments based on scientific results that support(but do not demonstrate) the denial of theism.

Creative Tension: Essays On Science and Religion [EPUB]

He identified science’s areas of expertise as empiricalquestions about the constitution of the universe, and religion’sdomains of expertise as ethical values and spiritual meaning. NOMA isboth descriptive and normative: religious leaders should refrain frommaking factual claims about, for instance, evolutionary theory, justas scientists should not claim insight on moral matters. Gould heldthat there might be interactions at the borders of each magisterium,such as our responsibility toward other creatures. One obvious problemwith the independence model is that if religion were barred frommaking any statement of fact it would be difficult to justify theclaims of value and ethics, e.g., one could not argue that one shouldlove one’s neighbor because it pleases the creator (Worrall2004). Moreover, religions do seem to make empirical claims, forexample, that Jesus appeared after his death or that the early Hebrewspassed through the parted waters of the Red Sea.

Creative Tension: Essays On Science & Religion - …

The voice of a renowned professor of philosophy in Poland, who is also a Roman Catholic priest, is introduced to the United States in this collection of his provocative essays on the interplay of science and religion. Michael Heller progressively outlines systematic steps that might lead to a peaceful coexistence of these traditionally separate fields of study. Some essays have their roots in the author's work in physics and cosmology, while others present his theories on the language of God, creation, and transcendence, inspired by his work in the applications of so-called noncommutative geometry, an emerging field of study.

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