One Nation, United? Science, Religion, and American Public Opinion

Wikimedia Commons - Public Domain
By Shiri Noy and Timothy L. O’Brien

Debates about science and religion—whether they conflict and how they factor into public opinion, policies, and politics—are of longstanding interest to social scientists. Research in this area often examines how those in elite positions use science and religion to justify competing claims. But, more generally how do members of the public incorporate science and religion into their worldviews? Continue reading One Nation, United? Science, Religion, and American Public Opinion

Studying Public Perceptions of Evolution and Religion from a Multidisciplinary Perspective

On Monday 24th April the Centre for Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society and the team from the Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum project hosted a one day symposium in central Birmingham. In this video, project Principal Investigator Dr Fern Elsdon-Baker opens the symposium by introducing and contextualising the research being undertaken by the team. Continue reading Studying Public Perceptions of Evolution and Religion from a Multidisciplinary Perspective

Old Categories, New Territories, and Future Directions: A Response to Bernard Lightman

Map of the universe, from Petrus Alphonsi, Dialogi cum Moyse Judaeo. Shelfmark: MS. Laud Misc. 356, fol. 120r

By Peter Harrison

A note from the editor: In a previous article on this site, historian of science Bernard Lightman offered a reflection on the new work of Peter Harrison. Harrison’s book, The Territories of Science and Religion, seeks to outline how conceptions of science and religion have changed throughout history, and details the inadequacy of projecting our present categories onto the past. In his reflection, Lightman raised four points about Harrison’s work: concerning the influence of Darwin’s evolution, the role of ‘professionalization’, the impact of evolution on natural theology, and how Harrison’s Territories relates to the ‘complexity thesis’, the current dominant idea in the historiography of science and religion. Below is Harrison’s response to Lightman’s post:

I’m grateful to Bernie Lightman for his thoughtful and perceptive comments on The Territories of Science and Religion. Lightman is a leading authority on science and religion in the nineteenth century, and a scholar from whom I have learned a great deal. Accordingly, I was interested to see his assessment of my treatment of a pivotal period in which he has a particular expertise. Fortunately, it seems mostly to have passed muster, although Lightman has issued a few challenges and identified some important issues that warrant further attention.  Continue reading Old Categories, New Territories, and Future Directions: A Response to Bernard Lightman

Reimagining both the peg and the hole in the conversation between Christianity and science

Have you noticed that within many of the current leading classifications of the religion-science relationship (such as those proposed by Ian Barbour, Willem Drees, Philip Hefner, Ted Peters, or John Haught), there is an implicit or explicit goal within the author’s classification? For some, it could be demonstrating the plausibility of a deity. For others, it could be upholding the relevance of Christianity, or the authority of science. If left at that, there would be no problem, as these thinkers would merely be arguing from a particular point of view. Instead, however, more often than not, you find each universalizing their own categories, suggesting not so much a description about the religion-science nexus, but ultimately a prescription of how it actually ought to be. Continue reading Reimagining both the peg and the hole in the conversation between Christianity and science

Where is the Evidence? Privileging Science over Religion

When I examine comment sections online in response to stories about religion in Canada, remarks almost inevitably spiral into a religion versus science debate. In my book, The Meaning of Sunday: The Practice of Belief in a Secular Age – based on ninety interviews with those in Canada who identify with a Christian group and attend church weekly (active affiliates), those who identify as Christian and attend services mainly for religious holidays or rites of passage (marginal affiliates), and those who do not identify with any religion and never attend religious services (religious nones) – I explore what explains higher and lower levels of religiosity. Continue reading Where is the Evidence? Privileging Science over Religion