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Review of Peter Harrison’s The Territories of Science and Religion

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We’ve been short on religion news recently, due to many new atheists seemingly going to relationship counselling instead of going to law with each other or having rows in elevators , and Richard Dawkins deciding to rant constructively for once (about the decline of intellectual freedom at universities) 😉

But here’s a review worth reading of a book on science and religion:

This brings us back to an earlier question: who stands to benefit from this reconfiguration of religio as “religion” and scientia as “science”? And who benefits from the endurance of the conflict myth? This is where Harrison’s nuanced attention to contingency is perhaps most illuminating. As he persuasively points out, in 17th-century England we see Christianity sowing the seeds of its own destruction. “It seems hardly necessary to point out,” Harrison writes, “that developments of this kind, while initially pursued in support of the doctrines of Christianity, were to render ‘the Christian religion’ susceptible to new avenues of criticism that focused on the rationality of its propositional contents.” The “faith” that the new science wanted to prove turned out to be one worth losing — a scaled-down system of largely deistic belief that asked little of adherents and added little to what the new “science” could tell us by other means.

Conversely, the emerging “new science” gained respectability by association with religion. As Harrison puts it, the benefits of this early modern collaboration were overwhelmingly one-sided More.

The benefits were overwhelmingly one-sided because the claims about conflict were false to begin with.

My favourite is “religion is about faith and science is about facts.” But, it turns out, “faith” includes the evidence of changed lives and “facts” include the multiverse and evolutionary psychology.

The actual conflict is between people who think evidence matters and people who hope that’s not true and are looking for an alternative.

One Reply to “Review of Peter Harrison’s The Territories of Science and Religion

  1. 1
    Robert Byers says:

    If on topic I would say all this jazz about religion and science is no more then the claims mase that scientific investigation has proven this or that is not true in the bible. Or/and God is not proved to exist or proved to not exist, Then there is a rebuttal from the faiths.
    Its just about a few conclusions in a few subjects.
    Well then prove your point about what science proves is wrong about God and genesis.
    You haven’t proved it WE say. Don’t say we have a problem with science.
    In fact its a obnoxious insistence to say there is a problem between science and religion. Thats just the side who denies the criticisms of the faiths.
    Science was created in the most religious civilization that ever existed.

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