Science and Religion Conflict Historical and Psychological Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Science and Religion: Conflict

Historical and Psychological Reasons for the Conflict Between Science and Religion

There is obvious controversy on the tensions between science and religion. A growing number of well-known figures deny any logical conflict between science and religion. For example, Langdon Gilkey says the following:

[T]o say that evolution' excludes God' is [. . .] merely to say that it is a theory within natural science. It is not to say that this theory is essentially atheistic or represents atheism. It is because science is limited to a certain level of explanation that scientific and religious theories can exist side by side without excluding one another, that one person can hold both to the scientific accounts of origins and to a religious account, to the creation of all things by God [. . .].

Ian Barbour believes that science and religion are "complementary languages," complementary ways of analyzing the same reality from different perspectives.

However, Seth Holtzmann, in his article "Science and Religion: The Categorial Conflict," demonstrates that there are clear reasons for a rift between science and religion. He starts by stating that it is obvious that modern science and particular religions seem to be in conflict. They clearly make differing factual claims about history and the natural world. The creation story that begins the Book of Genesis, if taken literally, conflicts with science on various points about the origin and development of the universe. When religion conflicts with science on contingent, empirical, factual claims, people tend to agree that they should side with science and either reject or reinterpret (e.g., as symbolic) the conflicting religious claims. Indeed, religions themselves have tended to find ways to accommodate themselves to the accepted factual claims of science. Science forms its factual claims very carefully, as objectively as it can, on the basis of relevant data; and science asserts factual claims to be true only provisionally, holding itself open to their possible falsification. Often people have located the felt conflict between modern science and religion at the level of contingent, empirical, factual commitments, such as whether or not the earth is at the spatial center of the universe, whether or not the universe is billions of years old, and whether or not there is evolutionary change in the biological realm.

But even if there is no real conflict at that level, there still is real conflict; for, the most serious logical tension between modern science and religion is not, and has never been, at that level. What other level is there?

A crucial implication can now be drawn: modern science is not philosophically neutral, however much some people claim that it is or wish it to…

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