Mar 21, 2011 | By

The Science – Religion Debate

This list includes a variety of useful resources on the science-religion debates. It is not, by any means, exhaustive, as a google search on the topic will demonstrate. As I come across additional materials, the list below will be updated.

Two Key Ongoing Resources:

The John Templeton Foundation , in particular the Big Questions Series, which provides short pieces by a dozen eminent scientists and theologians on the JTF Big Questions, presented in booklet form. Topics include: Does the Universe Have a Purpose?; Does Science Make Belief in God Obsolete?; Does Evolution Explain Human Nature?

On Being (Formerly Speaking of Faith), a weekly show on American Public Radio and podcast by Krista Tippett: being.publicreadio.org. Includes interviews with noted scientists and religious leaders, probing the nature and source of their beliefs and their contributions.

Books –

Krista Tippett, Einstein’s God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit. 2010. Krista Tippett has spent the past decade interviewing people about religion and spiritual ethics as the host of public radio’s “Speaking of Faith,” recently renamed “On Being. Einstein’s God is an edited selection from these interviews in which she discusses the relationship between science and religion with a number of eminent guests: some scientists, some not, some believers, some atheists—all of them leaders in their fields with interesting ideas. It’s an eclectic group of guests, and the conversations cover a very broad range of topics, including Darwin’s relationship to religion, the psychological basis of forgiveness and vengeance, and how God might have room to act within the constraints of modern physics.

Dalai Lama, The Universe in a Single Atom:  The Convergence of Science and Spirituality. (2005). From Publishers Weekly – “As the Dalai Lama observes in this wise and humble book, dialogue between scientists and those interested in spirituality is important because science is not neutral; it can be used for good or ill, and we must approach scientific inquiry with compassion and empathy. Similarly, a spirituality that ignores science can quickly become a rigid fundamentalism. Sometimes the Dalai Lama discovers similarities between the two fields. For example, Einstein’s idea that time is relative dovetails neatly with Buddhist philosophical understandings of time….. The penultimate chapter brings ethical considerations to bear on technological advancements in genetics….. ”

Francis Collins, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. 2006.
In this deeply personal book, Francis Collins tackles the “science vs. religion” debate. Since at least Immanuel Kant, we have known that this is a false dichotomy. However, modernity has in effect turned a deaf ear to Kant. In this book, Collins follows in the footsteps of the Kantian tradition, attempting the great synthesis of the empirical and the spiritual, the pure reason and the practical reason. Like Kant before him, Collins is sure to raise the ire of both sides of the aisle. And that is usually a good sign one is doing something right.

Paul Proese, America’s Four Gods. 2010. A fascinating profile of how American’s view God and how the views correspond to other facets of life. The views of God divide along the lines “how judgmental is God” and “how engaged is God in the world”. The result is four types of God-views: Authoritative (engaged – judgmental) – 31% of Americans; Benevolent (engaged – nonjudgemental) – 24%; Critical (non engaged – judgmental) – 16%; and Distant (non engaged – nonjudgemental) – 24%. Amazingly, only 5% of Americans consider themselves as Atheists who do not believe in God. The book discusses the extensive research behind the findings and explores how these beliefs affect our views of society, morals, science and politics.

Articles

Reuben Bell, “Intelligent Design” Isn’t Very Intelligent Without the New Philosophy. January-June 2011 issue of The New Philosophy journal p.967. A critical article on the debate between scientific materialists and intelligent design scientists from a Swedenborgian perspective.

Michael Graziano: “Why We See Spirits and Souls”. August 10, 2010, from The Templeton Foundation Big Questions Online.  http://www.bigquestionsonline.com/features/why-we-see-spirits-and-souls. Understanding the neurobiology of religious belief is a far cry from explaining it away.  A short rebuttal of Scientific anti-theism.

David B. Hart: “In Self Defense”, July 9, 2010, from the Templeton Foundation Big Questions Online.  http://www.bigquestionsonline.com/features/in-self-defense.    A review of Marilynne Robinson’s book The Absence of Mind which takes aim at the reductionist “parascience” that seeks to explain away ordinary consciousness as just an illusion.

Lawrence Krauss: “Faith and Foolishness”, in the Critical Mass column of the August 2010 issue of Scientific American. A critical discussion of the divide between scientific and religious belief.

Davide Castelvecchi: “Hawking vs God”, a column on the November 2010 issue of Scientific American p.21. A commentary on the critique of religion in Stephen Hawking’s newly released book The Grand Design (with Leonard Mlodinow, September 2010).

Podcasts

David Roth: “Religion and Science are Both True”.  Sermon delivered Jan 16, 2011, Boulder Colorado.  http://www.newchurchaudio.org/event/20114/popup.html. A review of the benefits we derive from science – and the benefits we derive from religion and from the Word of God – the Lord’s letter to us about living a better life.

From The Philospher’s Zone with Alan Saunders at http://www.abc.net.au/rn/podcasts/feeds/pze.xml
“The Human Machine”, Nov 11, 2010.   A discussion on the issues of materialism through the lens of the life and ideas of 18th century french philosopher Julien Offray de La Mettrie.
“Eliminative Materialism”, June 19, 2010. Pat Churchland argues that ideas about materialism may have to be modified in light of recent brain research.

One Response to “The Science – Religion Debate”

  1. George Gantz says:

    It has been pointed out that the Resources listed do not include any of the quite lucid skeptics / atheists. There are a number of candidates for inclusion on this list. One is Christopher Hutchins (God is Not Great) – although he would not be classified as among the most polite of commentators. Another is Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion). Stephen Hawking (The Grand Design) is also very well-known and has provided some very illiuniating popular revies of topics in physics and cosmology (The Universe in a Nutshell). E.O.Wilson, renowned biologist / entomologist has produced excellent works in science and evolution and is a self-described “provisional deist”.

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