New textbook – ‘Philosophy, Science and Religion for Everyone’

Routledge has just published Philosophy, Science and Religion for Everyone, the new textbook for our MOOC in Philosophy, Science, and Religion, edited by myself and Duncan Pritchard, and authored by many of the course tutors and lecturers. It’s available from the Routledge website, or from Amazon, but as a taster, here’s the text of the Introduction: –

Introduction (Mark Harris and Duncan Pritchard)

The science-and-religion discourse is so significant that it’s hardly possible to live in the Western world and not hold an opinion on it. The discourse is, however, almost universally construed in terms of a ‘debate’, and a debate that’s characterised by ‘conflict’ above all. The fact that the discourse underlies some highly-volatile social and political disagreements adds fuel to the fire (and these disagreements are especially live in North America, especially concerning climate change, the place of ‘evolution versus creation’ in high school education, and in bioethics concerning ‘pro-life versus pro-choice’). Arguably, there’s too much heat, and little light in these disagreements. Adding philosophy to the mix (‘Philosophy, Science, and Religion’), this book takes the view that the science-and-religion debate can move beyond hostility, to become a major force behind a new kind of intellectual enlightenment in modern culture. Continue reading

The Catch-22 of Science and Religion

731px-b-25_of_catch-22_fame_making_a_low_pass_at_elmendorf_7674536434Last night I spoke at a debate organised by the British Science Association about science and religion, entitled ‘What do Science and Religion have to offer each other in the 21st Century?’ I’m often asked to speak at events like this, and I’ve increasingly begun to feel that, as well as providing an opportunity to introduce audiences to the richness and complexities of the field, it comes with a certain cost to that same field. In short, there’s a Catch-22. Here’s the text of my talk, where I attempt to explain – Continue reading

Science and religion: Clash of worldviews?

I recently spent an excellent week in the Faraday Institute at Cambridge, lecturing at their summer course (July 2016). They filmed my talks, and here’s the first one – “Science and Religion: Clash of Worldviews?”

Here’s a potted summary –
  • Many people in our world today believe that science and religion are at war. In this talk I argue that it’s not a foregone conclusion that science and religion should be in conflict with each other. Neither do I believe that they represent incompatible worldviews. There are many other ways of looking at this problem, and I suggest that the view that science and religion have to be clashing worldviews is, in fact, a worldview of its very own. Along the way, I look at the main models of interaction that have been suggested for relating science to religion. I suggest that, while these models all contain elements of the truth, they are also limited in their own ways. The point is that the relationship between science and religion is much more subtle than it’s given credit for. This is the starting point for a much richer investigation of how the two areas relate, something which the Summer Course did in depth.