Interview participants needed for new research into Catholicism and science

My name is James Riley, I’m a PhD student at Newman University, Birmingham, researching Catholicism and science. As part of my research I am currently carrying out face-to-face interviews with individuals in England who identify as Catholic. Continue reading Interview participants needed for new research into Catholicism and science

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

Podcast: Religion, Science and Evolutionary Theory

***This podcast first appeared on The Religious Studies Project on 30 January 2017***

Science and evolution in Muslim societies is a complicated topic. Among members of the public, what does evolution mean? Is there one ‘Muslim view’ on evolution, or are there a great variety of views on evolution in Muslim majority contexts?

In this podcast for The Religious Studies Project SRES’s Dr Stephen Jones interviews Dr Salman Hameed about recent research on Muslim perceptions of science and evolution.
Continue reading Podcast: Religion, Science and Evolutionary Theory

Spiritualism, religion and mathematics in the Victorian period

Late nineteenth-century British culture was somewhat preoccupied with the presence of ghosts. Conjuring spirits at séances was a popular pastime, with the exploits of some spiritualists, such as the medium Henry Slade, the fodder of press gossip and celebrity. Communicating with spirits became of deep interest to some scientists, including the physicist William Crookes and the naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who debated their peers about aberrant physical phenomena and whether certain observations confirmed the reality of spirits or not. Continue reading Spiritualism, religion and mathematics in the Victorian period

Henry Neville Hutchinson: Dinosaurs, Evolution, and Faith

By Richard Fallon

No one could accuse the Reverend Henry Neville Hutchinson (1856-1927) of being close-minded. He belonged to the Geological Society, the Anthropological Institute, the Royal Geographical Society, the Zoological Society, the Folk-Lore Society, the Palæontographical Society, and the Hampstead Scientific Society. He wrote a great number of popular science books, especially during a prolific period in the 1890s. He sculpted models of dinosaurs and gemstones, made scientific instruments, and even proposed designs for gas fittings that would leave a room smelling ‘fresh and sweet’.

Hutchinson was also a clergyman. Admittedly, due to illness, for most of his adult life he was an unbeneficed clergyman and worked as a writer. But, as his Geological Society obituarist observed, the ‘expository power which his ill health lost to the Church was a gain to science’. Amongst the most famous—and, according to some reviews, infamous—of Hutchinson’s popular science books were the lushly-illustrated, dinosaur-filled Extinct Monsters (1892) and controversial Prehistoric Man and Beast (1896).

Continue reading Henry Neville Hutchinson: Dinosaurs, Evolution, and Faith

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

The Bible and Qur’an in the Light of Modern Science

Sacred texts are central to many faith traditions, but how do they retain their authority as divine revelation in a supposedly rational age? What happens when the Word of God appears to contradict modern scientific knowledge about the world? And how do individual believers reconcile these potential conflicts?

These are the questions that we are exploring at the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion in Cambridge, in a new research project entitled ‘Science and Scripture in Christianity and Islam’. Rather than attempting a direct comparison between these two world religions, our intention is to bring them into fruitful dialogue with one another on a question that is of mutual concern: that of scripture and its relationship to modern science. Continue reading The Bible and Qur’an in the Light of Modern Science

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

Talking about science, religion and oneself

Copyright The British Library

Joseph Farman: “Well I mean as Scouts one went to church […] I don’t think I ever found it very attractive and […] when you sort of kept saying, ‘You use these three letters together, g-o-d, and I haven’t yet fathomed out what on Earth you mean by it’ and then they just say, ‘Well forget all about that, you know, it will come, it will come.’ [Laughs] To which the answer is […] that if you think in the silly ways which I do, I guess it never comes at all. [Laughs] There’s no room for it.  […] Science is thinking you know how things work. And so you make something work and it either works as you think it does, or it doesn’t work as you think it does, and now you move on. It’s no good sort of praying to God and if something doesn’t happen so – I mean this isn’t a test of anything.” Continue reading Talking about science, religion and oneself

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