Essays on Religion, Science, and Society Herman …

This final section will look at two examples of work in science andreligion that have received attention in the recent literature, andthat probably will be important in the coming years: evolutionaryethics and implications of the cognitive science of religion. Otherareas of increasing interest include the theistic multiverse,consciousness, artificial intelligence, and transhumanism.

The International Society for Science and Religion has created a foundational library of

Penn, D. C. and D. J. Povinelli. 2007. On the lack of evidence that non-human animals possess anything remotely resembling a 'theory of mind.’ Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences 362(1480), 731–744.


Essays on Religion, Science, and Society (Paperback ..

French, R.D. 1975. Antivivisection and Medical Science in Victorian Society. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Peek, Charles W., Mark A. Konty and Terri E. Frazier. 1997. Religion and ideological support for social movements: The case of animal rights. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 36(3): 429-439.


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The lack of conflict between science and religion arises from a lackof overlap between their respective domains of professional expertise.(2001: 739)

Religion and Science (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

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.

Conflicts & agreements between science and religion

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.

Overview: Where science and religion conflict

Because “science” and “religion” defydefinition, discussing the relationship between science (in general)and religion (in general) may be meaningless. For example, Kelly Clark(2014) argues that we can only sensibly inquire into the relationshipbetween a widely accepted claim of science (such as quantum mechanicsor findings in neuroscience) and a specific claim of a particularreligion (such as Islamic understandings of divine providence orBuddhist views of the no-self).