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Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction Paperback – August 1, 2008
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Dixon argues that casual observations about the war between religion and science ought to take several points under consideration. First, it's not at all clear that it makes sense to talk of either science or religion simpliciter. Both are extremely complex terms that accommodate a large number of interpretations. Second, it's not at all clear what the boundaries of either science or religion are. Neither falsification nor testability are, by themselves, sufficient criteria to designate science from pseudoscience, and defining religion is even more problematic. Finally, what frequently gets interpreted as a clash between religion and science is frequently a deeper social or political clash that's opportunistically fought on the science/religion battlefield. It is true that science/religion conflicts, when they can be identified, are disagreements about epistemic authority. But even that is complicated.
To flesh out these claims, Dixon examines the Galileo incident (chapter 2), the reaction of Victorian England to Darwinism (chapter 4), and the current U.S. phenomenon of Intelligent Design (chapter 5), demonstrating how each is much more involved than merely a battle between theists and scientists.Read more ›
Perhaps the broadest lesson one can glean from the book is that science and religion have always had a messy multidimensional relationship, with many areas of potential agreement and disagreement. Part of the reason is that both science and religion are unavoidably framed in sociocultural and historical contexts, dialectically both affecting those contexts and being affected by them. Moreover, science and religion both have fuzzy boundaries, and both face many similar epistemic difficulties with respect to justifying their beliefs (despite the common but mistaken notion that science is purely objective whereas religion rests purely on faith and subjectivity).
The book lays all of this out with the help of many examples, and thereby gives a sense of how complicated matters are, but doesn't provide any final answers. This gives the impression that some disagreement and tension will probably always exist between science and religion, despite whatever progress might be made in finding reconciliations. However, if one wishes to be optimistic, there is still the prospect of finding (creating?) more and more common ground between the two, possibly resulting in worldviews which increasingly draw on the strengths of both, and of course there's already much precedent for this.Read more ›
The first thing that needs to be said is that this is a well written treatise and you will read right through it just to see what the author says next. These prose are further enhanced greatly by the masterful use of interesting examples and engaging quotes. All-in-all, I would say this book is a page turner.
I do however have my gripes with the book. To include such an ambitious amount of content, the author had to give a gloss over of some important issues. The first case of this is in his discussion of Galileo. While he does introduce Galileo as a historical figure, he spends way too much time talking about the realism vs. anti-realism debate in the philosophy of science. If I wrote it, I would have ditched this discussion all together and would have focused more on Galileo.
Another major concern is his section on miracles. While I think it is highly relevant to discuss god acting in nature, I thought the parts on the "first mover" and the "fine-tuning argument" were distracting. It would have been much better if the author would have just stuck to the discussion of Hume, miracles, and the laws of nature. This is already a massive topic without this other stuff.
Even given these complaints, I thought that the discussions on evolution and creationism were outstanding. In these parts, he does a very good job of introducing the theory and why creationists get so mad about it. There is also an excellent "further reading" list that includes a lot of essential reading.
Overall, I gave this book a 4 because I averaged the content (3 and 1/2) with the writing (4 and 1/2)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Apparently this one can! Got this book for a class, but it was surprisingly enjoyable. It arrived in perfect condition and on time. Absolutely no complaints.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Excellent way to write the support for scientific view, and elegant way to put the lack of support of religión standpointPublished 23 months ago by Lauro Garcia
I wish scholarly authors would state their presuppositions from the outset of their respective works. Read morePublished on May 27, 2014 by Frank Lovera
Author Thomas Dixon says that most books written about the relationship between science and religion aim to make the reader either more religious or less religious. Read morePublished on February 15, 2014 by Robin Friedman
A very concise book that gives various theories about science and religion. Very informative and interesting book for the whole family to read.Published on December 6, 2013 by Maria Carolina Paraventi
I have found the Oxford Short Introductions to be one of the most convenient sources of information on topics from pre-Socratic philosophy to quantum theory. Read morePublished on November 1, 2013 by Martin Katahn
I just have yet to receive it. I suspect I will like the book, but I have been waiting 33 days to receive it. Read morePublished on September 12, 2013 by Elisabeth