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Science and Religion: New Perspective on an Old Conflict



please join me in welcoming professor Peter Harrison [Applause] well thanks Daniel for that warm welcome and a big thanks also to the faith in global engagement initiative into the faith and science collaborative research group for inviting me it's a real pleasure to be here and there's a large number of people to thank for the hospitable treatment that I've received and I'll be a little bit disappointed to be going home tomorrow albeit to sunny beautiful Brisbane but I'm here now and as Daniels explained to talk about science and religion new perspectives on an old conflict and I can I can give you the take-home message right now and the new perspective is that there never was an old conflict that the very idea of a conflict between science and religion is in historical terms a very new one it's one that emerges in the nineteenth century but nonetheless it's one that's taken hold of the popular imagination such that when people think about the relations between science and religion they inevitably think as daniel has alluded to in his introductory remarks they inevitably think about a long-standing historical tradition where these two ossified social forces conservative religion on the one hand and a forward-thinking science on the other are kind of locked into forms of inevitable conflict in the case of Galileo is is regarded as emblematic of this conflict the case of Darwin is also regarded as emblematic of this conflict so what I want to do in the talk today is to what this evening is is to cover three areas I'm going to talk about how we got this story about I'll talk very briefly how we got this story of conflict into our heads and then what I want to do is to say that story for historical purposes is not because people only started to think in terms of these two categories science and religion relatively late that is to say not really until the 19th century were people able to think of these two compartmentalized aspects of human culture science and religion that could be in any kind of relationship so one response to this would be to say science and religion have always existed but they weren't in conflict that's not the story I'm going to tell this evening the story I'm going to tell this evening is rather a story about how these particular ideas science and religion came into being and the process that gave them birth actually determined the kinds of relationships that were possible between them so there are the three things let me first of all then talk about what is the conflict story and it's one that you're probably familiar with and here is one of the key contemporary components of Richard Dawkins who for a time was my colleague and I used the term loosely perhaps at Oxford where he held the chair in the public understanding of science and his views about the relations between science are well enough science and religion are well known and here he says don't fall for the idea that science and religion occupy separate spheres and are concerned with separate questions for Richard Dawkins they're not and here's the claim religions have historically always attempted to answer the questions that properly belong to science so here's the point if you conceptualize science and religion as competing to answer the same sets of questions then some kind of competition or conflict is inevitable but again my suggestion tonight will be that we need to think about these activities in rather different ways and not think of them as competing to explain the same kinds of things because if we think of them in those terms conflict is indeed somewhat inevitable now there we could multiply instances of this understanding of conflict indefinitely but I'll just give you one more and this is to give you some local flavor well though it's from some time ago as you'll see in 2005 it's it's from the the standard and this story has all of the versions of historical conflict that typically arise so you see there the Catholic Church held that the earth was flat I could give a lecture on this story but no one ever thought the earth was flat by the way that was something that was invented in the 19th century the idea that the Middle Ages believed in a flat earth but there you go confronted Galileo with the instruments of torture that regrettably is true but nonetheless it's true also the Catholic Church had very good arguments to mount against Galileo but that again is another story that perhaps we can go into in the question time if you're interested but then again what leads to people trotting out this conflict narrative typically it's conflicts between evolution and evangelical Christianity very often in the u.s. context and that's the discussion that's been going on here although it's intelligent design in this case so there's there's some common components here that whenever we have some flare-up usually relating to evolution this brings along with that a host of historical associations Catholic churches against science Galileo is persecuted by the Inquisition the idea that medieval people believed in the Flat Earth when did this idea of conflict first arise it did not arise in the Middle Ages it did not arise in the era of Galileo Galileo interestingly was a committed Catholic to the time of his death and in fact he was a member of the secular clergy and as I said there's a lot more to the Galileo story but I'll save that for later in case we need it but the story of conflict really arises in the 19th century and 2 of the key proponents were one was John Draper and the clue is in the title history conflict between religion and science and here what Draper attempts to do is to set out the history of as he puts it these two contending powers that's what science and religion are they're two powers that necessarily come into conflict with each other and Draper's version of events is backed up later in the 19th century by Andrew Dixon white who was at the time president of Cornell University and here again we have the notion not of two contending powers but of two epochs in the evolution of human thought and so forth for these two individuals science and religion are like fixed features of culture locked into combat and both of these gentlemen believe that ultimately science will be victorious over religion because the progressive way in which society develops is that we move through a religious phase into a scientific phase but that process is one that's always riven by conflict and it's this view of an eternal conflict that I want to unpick this evening and I wonder one pick it by looking at the very categories in which it's expressed and that is to say the category science and the categories religion now I'm going to give you an analogy now and it's one that if you've some of you may have read my book the territories of science and religion and it's an analogy I use there so forgive me for repeating it but let's think about the intellectual territories or the cultural territories of science and religion and if someone would amount the claim that in the the 16th century there was a conflict between Israel and Egypt we would know without even consulting any historical documents that that was false and we would know it was false because although the territories that now make up Israel and Egypt existed in the 1500s the boundaries around those states that we now of Israel and Egypt did not exist so there could not be a conflict between Israel and Egypt because in one sense they didn't exist in another sense they did because we can see them here on the map the geographical territory the various features the rivers some of the cities indeed some of the languages to some extent but these two things were at that time part of a single Empire the Ottoman Empire so that conflict between them would be impossible what would make conflict between Israel and Egypt would be the artificial construction of a set of borders or boundaries and the process by which those boundaries are formed could be the thing that would give rise to something like a conflict and for those of you you know and that's probably most of you the history of the way in which the State of Israel was formed in the wake of the Second World War will realize that the boundaries of Israel were drawn not as a function of any natural geographical fault lines as it were but through a set of historical contingencies and political expediency and various other things more than that those boundaries have changed over time famously as a consequence of the six-day war when Israel regained took the territory of the Gaza Heights for example and that's been a matter of contention ever since so my point in relation to science and religion is one that's very similar but there cannot be a long history of conflict between science and religion because the activities that make up scientific practice and religious practice well though they existed in the past they were not categorized in the way they are at present and what makes the conflict possible is the way in which we now categorize them rather than anything that's to do intrinsically with the nature of the activities that go on under the banners of science and religion so if I stay went that religion did not exist prior to the 17th century what I mean by that is not that people not engaged in worship and belief and ritual practices yes they were but the way in which those various things were categorized understood as a specific religion that didn't happen until the 17th century and with science it came much later there are a range of scientific practices but they were only regarded as science where science excluded reference to the moral and the religious in the nineteenth century and it was the construction the way in which these borders or boundaries were drawn around these activities that's given rise to what is undoubtedly instances of conflict in the present but these do not reflect any long-standing conflict and the fact that they don't represent any long-standing conflict gives us some confidence or hope that there's a way in which these apparent difficulties might be in the present resolved better than they have been in the past so I hope you get the basic idea of where we're I'm going to go so there's a number of ways in which we could understand how we get our modern idea of religion and I'm just going to give you a few straws in the wind as it were just a few indications I'm not going to be able to give you a knock them down case for how religion gets put together but I'm going to be able to give you a few clues a few hints about how how we came to understand religion as a set of beliefs and practices and science as a set of beliefs and practices such that both could be in some kind of relationship with each other and I'm going to do that by looking at the words religion and the words science as I say this is not a complete argument but it'll give you some idea of my basic contentions about religion as being a modern idea and science as being a modern and let me go back to Thomas Aquinas you see his dates they're probably the leading one of the leading philosophical and religious thinkers of the Western Middle Ages and he has a long section in his masterwork the Summa theologia Logie I where he deals with the virtues in fact Aquinas writes more about human virtues than anything else and in this treatise on the virtues he describes religion as a virtue and the chief of the moral virtues and here is his description of it and you can read it for yourself but the general point is that for Aquinas religion is not about beliefs it's not about ritual practices but it's an internal quality or property it's one of the virtues and he understands virtues in a kind of Aristotelian sense but we don't need to go into that the key thing is for Aquinas virtue is an interior quality of the individual now interestingly in the same treatise Aquinas talks about another set of virtues that he calls intellectual virtues and here we have science is one of the intellectual virtues so for Aquinas science we see at this Ginty er is not a set of practices it's not a set of beliefs about the world it's a particular habit or a quality that individuals have and he goes on this is that that second paragraph is is the Aristotelian but these are the virtues for both Aristotle and Aquinas are things that perfect the human individual the exercise of the virtue leads the individual towards particular ends that lead to their perfection so that both religion and science are about perfecting making whole the individual and they each have their role one at the intellectual level and one at the moral level okay could there be a conflict between science and religion that would be absolutely nuts not possible why because they're not the kinds of things that come into conflict rather they are the kinds of things the kinds of qualities of individuals that together help make a complete kind of person okay that's the general story now to get from there to our contemporary conceptions of science and religion what has to happen is that these interior qualities to be objectified and reified and they become specific things specific sets of beliefs and practices and that's a process that begins in the modern period and I'll tell you about that in a moment but what I want to do is now to go back very briefly and look at what what people understand by religion before Aquinas and then after him but I wanted to use him just to set up this notion that science and religion were very different things for this leading middle thinker of the Middle Ages it's a striking feature that although we tend to think about world religions in in a fairly uncritical way and religion as a generic category as a kind of universal feature of human cultures that idea as I said is very new the canonical documents of the major religions really speak about religion at all and so is their religion mentioned in the New Testament we do find in the first English translations of the New Testament for references to religion in the New Testament and the the New Testament translators used the word religio religion to translate the Greek word Thrace kiya which strictly speaking means a form of worship and I said there are four references with four references to religion in those first English translations and there are four references they map directly onto this word thrice Kai two of them are in James and if we look at this passage from James what's he talking about he's really using it in the original Greek sense of worship and the true form of worship he says is to be engaged in charitable acts okay that's how we would pass that sentence so clearly for this is 50 percent of the references to religion in the New Testament okay it's not about beliefs and practices it's about the right form of worship and that that's going to shift around a little how did the first Christians think about themselves do they imagine themselves to be part of a religion where a religion is this generic thing of which they are a specific subset and that religion consists of beliefs and practices they don't here's here's one of the very first non-canonical documents the Epistle to diagnosis it's an apologetic work and what what is going on in here is this an attempt to explain what it is that this Christianity is what is it and this is the question that's being asked and this is the answer provided in the Epistle you're anxious to understand the religion failure Savior the service or worship of God and the Christians the God what God do they trust how do they worship him there's that word thrice higher again and you wonder to why this new race or way of life or this way it's a kind of way of training is another way of translating this word so what's going on in this is that there's this / the writer of this we don't know in much about is grappling with the right terminology to explain what it is that the first Christians are what are they but one of the dominant modes of self understanding was this last one a new race or a new kind of race typically right so the racial metaphor was very strong they don't imagine themselves to be a religion constituted by reliefs and practices but something like a new race and there are other versions that some of you will be familiar with the notion of a new Israel okay is another one but notice it's about the God they trust not the God they believe in the God they worship okay again not so much the God they believe in so that just gives you some idea of what's going on when the first Christians are self-consciously trying to work out what they are and they're not thinking that the category religion as we understand is not available to them that's the point I'm wanting to make let me give you just a few further examples I don't I said I'm not going to give you the the knocking down an argument I'm just going to give you a set of ideas from key thinkers to help us understand what this notion of Christian identity how its conceptualized in this early period so I'm going to jump now to Augustine of Hippo probably the most important thinker aside from Aquinas Thomas – who we saw earlier in this period between the New Testament writers and depending if you if you're a Protestant you think Calvin and Luther are probably the next in a lot in line and if you're a Catholic you're probably stuck with Augusta and Aquinas which is not a bad place to be but anyway so what is what is it quite what does how does Augustine think about this notion of religion so here he says true religion means worship of the one true God so he's still dealing with this standard classical conception of religion true religion is not a set of true propositions to which we agree or give assent it's about the act of worship so true religion is religion is worship that's directed towards the true God that's what's going on here and here again this very interesting claim from Augustine who's usually regarded as a conservative some people think it's a rather nasty person right but anyway it makes no difference that people worship with different ceremonies in different places if what's worshipped is holy and then different things in different places are held together by one and the same religion okay he's clearly here he's not talking about religion as defined in terms of exclusive beliefs as we now think about religions but but the key thing is that the worship be rightly directed and he makes that point I think here in this final section and I've put that in brackets for reasons I'll explain in a second what's now called called Christian religion existed evolved was never absent from the beginning of the world Christianity has always existed says Augustine but when Christ came true religion which had already existed began to be called Christian so the correct mode of worshiping God is then labeled Christian after the time of Christ this is Augustine's view and just to explain what's going on here this is in Latin Latin does not have articles it doesn't have that what up so when you're translating from Latin you have to decide whether to use an article or not what's interesting is that most of the translations of Augustine you will read put that in but I think that's a mistake they should leave that that out because the Christian religion is suggestive of a generic thing religion of which Christianity is a particular form but what if we leave those articles out what Augustine is really saying here if we think about religion as rightly directed worship rather than the sets of beliefs and practices then true religion going right up to the very first definition of true religion the right forms of worship that's the true religion these become Christian after Christ okay so that Krista is know that Christian religion this Christian religion which is a form of correct worship war or piety okay moving on as I say these are largely straws in the wind the other terminology we need to get a little bit clear on is what counts is belief in this period because belief sounds very much like agreeing with a set of propositions and belief clearly is an important aspect of early Christian self understanding but what I want to suggest here very quickly is that belief in this context is pretty much as we see in the Old English sense to have confidence or faith in and consequently to rely on or trust in a person so belief is to have a particular relation of trust rather than and this that there's a long story here but part of the reason we tend to associate belief with agreeing with a set of propositions is because when the Greek Greek word for faith pestis comes across into Latin it can be translated in different ways and the different ways a credo to do with belief video is to do with faith and a census to give a cent or agree and what tends to happen as our modern conception of religion develops is that we move from a sense of faith or belief as trust to a sense of faith or belief as to agree with the set of proposition we move in other words from a notion of few days or credo to a notion of a census okay again credo Latin dictionary to trust or confide to have confidence or trust that's the nature of the relationship okay and again in the in the OED in the original sense in English from the German believe in is to trust to have faith in to have confidence in so when we plug this back into some of our standard understandings we can see in the classical source of Seneca the first way to worship the gods is to believe in them he doesn't mean the first way to worship them is to believe that they exist what he means is the first way to wish them is to have trust in them to have confidence in them to have that kind of trusting relation with them okay that's what that's what believing means uh-huh and though he's August and again you can read that for yourself but he's saying something similar believing in God means this and then finally just to give you an ally der Christian thinker to believe in God is etc etc etc so I guess what I want the point I wanna make he is really a point that historians who are interested in concepts and ideas and words one of the real traps in doing history is to assume that people in the past use words and concepts in precisely the way that we do and that's a big mistake and if we put the work in what we find is that people use these terms and concepts in interestingly different ways and these interestingly different ways give us the capacity to think for ourselves about our own ways in which we use the terminology right so that's the kind of general lesson about how we how we do history but this is specific obviously specifically in relation to notions of religion belief and faith there's a there's a payoff and that's what I'm hoping to give you some idea of here now I'm getting to we've seen what the words I'm just going to tell other bits of this story until we get to where we are today so we're now moving into the period of the Renaissance my sealeo for Chino really interesting figure who translated a lot of Plato into from Greek into Latin so he was a key conduit for bringing platonic thought into the West but here he is just to give you a quick snippet here he is on religion and he's making precisely the same point that augustine does all religion has something good in it as long as it's object is god it's true christian religion okay and so what he means but here is that true christian religion is not identified with the historical tradition of christianity he's rather saying individuals have a universal sense of piety or reverence and when that is christ-like it is genuinely Christian okay and so in in other words people in various places who may may be as it were Christian in this sense not that they sign up to the Creed's of the Christian Church but in the fact that their attitudes to God are like that of Christ that's what the adjective Christian means in this particular context my next example is someone we often tend to think of as highly propositional in the way he approaches religion and indeed I think as a consequence of his work and you can see here he is John Calvin author John Calvin and the Protestant Reformation did indeed give rise to a notion of religion and Christianity as doctrinally oriented and proposition propositional inspired of themselves but this first book this is the most famous book that Calvin wrote we know it as the Institute's and you can see here in the original Latin Institute EO Kristiana I really giannis in four books how should we translate this we should translate it like this the institution of Christian religion where we're Christian religion is understood as Christian party so Calvin actually says in the preface to this this book that it's a training in Christian party that he's interested in inculcating in this book and interestingly when we look at the very first English translation that's precisely what we see there the institution of Christian religion notice there's no that it's not the institution of the Christian religion so in this book is then essentially about instituting all constituting or forming individuals in Christian party it has a propositional content yes but the reason we engage with that is to be formed in a particular kind of way right to be made in the form of Christian piety that's what's going on but interestingly if we look at the next two translations we see something different happening we see here the institution of that Christian religion in this MDC si el XIII version which is 1762 right so by the time we get into the 18th century we've got the Christian religion which suggests we have an understanding of a religion of which of that Christian religion is a version but notice we've still got the institution and then the final one the one that we're most familiar with this Institutes of the Christian religion which is suggestive of a set of propositions that constitute the essence of Christianity right the Institute's that's the content and the Christian religion is that this as the sociology of say a rarified thing an objectified thing so where does the course require us and indeed the tradition up to and including Calvin thought about Christianity in terms of an inner state we now have the notion of an objectified Christianity that Christian religion which we can understand in terms of beliefs and practices and propositions okay so just to give you some idea and I've tracked the English uses of the relevant expressions so first of all with this so what is this you can word search all of every book published in England from when it started in the late 15th century right up to the end of the 19th century but it's it's easier for the this this period we know all the printed books and we can search most of them and we can determine the relative frequency of these terms now so two things to note about this craft no one talks about religion much before well before about here really okay so although many of the books in this period are on what we would call religious topics the terminology of religion is not much in use so the first thing to notice about the graph is that from here on people are talking a lot about religion religion comes to be a concept or a notion that people begin to talk about for the first time in the 17th century but notice the other thing its meaning is going to change over time as well and so that Christian religion is initially the dominant use Christ like party but increasingly that is overtaken by a more objectified rarefied notion the Christian religion a thing that we can identify that we have boundaries or borders drawn around and that is understood in terms of beliefs and practices that second bit of I'll come to in a moment okay so we've got that good so why does this happen why does this happen historians will say it's over to term and there are lots of reasons okay and I can't give you them all but he is one I think that is key it's the Protestant Reformation and it's not so much the arguments of the Protestant reformers but what happens to Europe in the wake of the splitting up of Christianity not merely into Catholic and Protestant but into a myriad of Protestant sects and versions of Protestantism and just to give you an idea here is the map of Europe with the different versions of Christian he mapped out and these different versions represent the what what are called the religions of what used to be the Holy Roman Empire at this at the time of this peace treaty why do we need a peace treaty here because this is the the end of the 30 Years War the 30 Years War are the so called Wars of Religion how do we solve the Wars of Religion what we do is we divide up the territories of Europe according to the religions of the people who occupy them and we keep them apart from each other but what that requires is for religion to be defined in objective terms and it is it's defined in terms of the beliefs and practices of the people who are represented here in Europe and we get the famous principle of this treaty whose reign whose realm is really up it's there in English okay his religion so the Prince of the area if they were Lutheran or Calvin Calvinists or Catholic that's what the religion of the people would be and how do we understand Lutheranism or Calvinism or Catholicism we understand them in terms of sets of beliefs and sets of practices so this document the treaty requires the legal definition of discrete religions that are understood as distinct why because they have different sets of beliefs and practices that okay so that's one reason we get for the first time for practical legal reasons the objectification of religion as a kind of legal construct and from then on we get the creation of the world religions and so here for example is one of the very first work 1695 of what we would now call comparative religion and notice what Turner is talking about here theory and practice that's how we are understand religions the theoretical bit the propositions and the practice and we take this this idea that was first formed in the West and then we project it onto the whole world so the whole world gets constructed in terms of these religions an ish that's them there's jewish-christian Mohammed and ancient even modern heathen and the rest diabolical okay so it's not bad I mean the diabolical obviously a little bit problematic so we're gonna we're going to get more sophisticated with the modern heathen and the diabolical and here they are here are the modern world religions as they come into existence Buddhism is the earliest and then Hinduism and then Taoism and Confucianism and I say the invention because these these are terms of the English invent and that they project onto the peoples generally of the colonial world and those of you who are familiar with the the three Chinese traditions you know it's said of Confucianism that whether it's a religion or not here's a question that the West has never been able to answer but the Chinese never able to ask and they're not able to ask it because they never had the concept right it was one that was forced and the idea that you could have three traditions more or less peacefully carrying co-existing it's kind of crazy to a conception of the westward understood religions in terms of sets of propositions that are mutually exclusive okay so there they go I'll just give you one last example and then I better talk about science okay but what I'm trying to do here is to just give you a few ideas about how we get a modern idea of religion that that sets it up in terms of both propositions sets a boundary around this group of activities in a new way that then sets the scene for the possibility of conflict with science and I'll just give you some a brief bit of theology I was accused of being a theologian earlier today this might confirm your suspicions but anyway it's really quite interesting that that within the traditions themselves that are putative lis religion religious very often this reaction against the notion itself okay so what I mean to say by that is that religion is is often an outsider's term and people who are supposed to be members of the religions will often reject it I gave you the case of Confucianism this is Karl Barth who is probably the leading Protestant theologian of the last century this is a very interesting section in his very lengthy church dogmatics which I don't recommend you read but he unless he really wanted but this is really very interesting he's he's actually on it we I'd like to say we discovered that quite as independently on this question and I so I've got something in common with Bart we both work this out Aquinas spoke of a general moral virtue religio but he had no thought of non-christian religion there's no sense of a generic idea of religion and then again his Calvin religio Kristiana but he's not conscious of making Christian the predicate of something human and neutral in a universal sense so Calvin is not thinking there's a universal conception religion and Christianity is one branch of that okay and Bart's on to it and saying that so I just use this as an example that the very notion of religion when we think about it is is often an outsider's understanding of what's going on within these traditions themselves and Bart very strong on this that's why he did against the notion of religion as it applies to Christianity and I could give you examples from Judaism and from Islam and from Hinduism and from Buddhism but I won't so there's there's the quick and dirty version of how we get a conception of religion now I want to move on very quickly to science and to some extent I could really say dito because we get a similar process of objectification of science but I'll give you the quick and dirty version loosely be even quicker and dirty but we go back to Thomas Aquinas just to remind you the philosopher with a capital P that's Aristotle Aquinas was a big fan there are the intellectual virtues so just to give you an idea of how science works for Aquinas science is this virtue that increases in us when we engage in scientific activity so he says the habit of science increases in a man okay so why do we engage in scientific activity not to accumulate a body of knowledge but because then activity performs some kind of formative work in us and makes us a particular kind of person and Aria Orient's us in the right direction that's the argument there so that's why it's a virtue and I'll just give you a few more examples going right back to Aristotle's Nicomachean ethics science then is the state of capacity to demonstrate it's the capacity to reason and rationalize in terms of propositions about the world that's what science is for Aristotle and that's why it is this as I say Aquinas will later pick up on this because he does all these commentaries on Aristotle and and then science is a virtue in short it's it's a capacity you be able to do things and then here we go just any number of examples from the Middle Ages and Renaissance this is a this is actually a kind of digestive philosophy that Descartes used to rely on to to creep up on his scholastic philosophy right rather than reading although scholastics it was all in this book but here's the definition of science you can see it there it's a habit of the mind okay and if we look in the dictionaries of the period here's another one this is the classic philosophical dictionary by goke Linnaeus science it's a habit acquired through demonstration so we go through the practices of scientific demonstration to acquire the virtue and secondly then we get a sense of there is knowledge that's acquired by this practice it's also scientific okay cut a long story short we're just to some extent scientific practice is to do with this notion of skin Tiye to some extent it's also to do with this is Newton's most famous work the mathematical principles of natural philosophy it's to do with natural philosophy so science is a philosophical the scientific practices are philosophical activities and here we need to understand one more thing about the past that philosophy was not in the past and indeed up until the modern period was not the kind of thing that happens modern analytic philosophy departments where it's little logic chopping and arguments and so on it was about a way of life and this has been most strongly argued by the French historian philosopher Piero and again the clue is in the title philosophy is a way of life what is ancient philosophy ancient philosophy is a way of life natural philosophy the study of nature was also a way of life it was not about accumulating empirical facts about the world but a particular way of being just to give you an example Ptolemy Claudius Ptolemy his dates are there he's the guy who writes the very famous Alma guests which gives us the all of the beautiful mathematics that gives you a an earth-centered solar system to make that work you have to have fantastic mathematics and this guy I had it and put that all together but here right at the very beginning of this work and this is the thing that he saw that some stories of astronomy you skip over what's the whole aim of the game it's in the bottom line to reform nature to a spiritual state that's why we study astronomy not many astronomers today will say that okay so this astronomy is very different from what we now think of as astronomy and what's missing is this key element of personal formation just one last example and this is simply kiyose who you probably don't need to know much about but he was a neo platonic commentator on Aristotle he was an enemy of the Christians at the time but nonetheless he has a similar conception of moral formation so physics and in this case is using this is interesting to infuse your logia is useful why now I must confess that in the ellipses of three dots I've left out some practical things he says physics is useful for building machines of war and so on but the more important uses of physics a ladder that leads towards knowledge of God and ideas and insights us to piety again you won't find many physicists arguing that these are the goals of physics so my point is that the way of conceptualizing the activity and that pass was radically different and indeed if you think of this conception of physics you think of the conception of religio they're really aligned in the same direction as being about the production of individuals who are genuinely realizing their true potential in that Aristotelian sense that's what's going on there okay so what happens to science and religion I've given you one reason that religions objectified it's to do with the Protestant Reformation and the legal dividing up of the territory of the Holy Roman Empire that required formal definitions of religion but science has also undergoing a similar kind of process and the Reformation is not kind of explain that again to cut a long story short what happens with the dawn of modernity in the 17th century is that ideas about the virtues largely owing to the criticism of Reformation thinkers who argued that we don't get to heaven by having the virtues we get to heaven because God reckons us to be good not because we are good that led to a criticism of the notion of the inculcation of virtually which was regarded as a plague an Aristotelian idea and that the virtues then retreat into the background as famously argued by Alastair McIntyre in this classic book after virtue what what McIntyre says is that people stop talking about the virtues and they talk about rules well they talk about duties and ultimately they talk about usefulness and utilitarianism but the old moral philosophy of virtues fades away and with that the old idea that science is a virtue that disappears now there's a long story there you'll need to read that book to get it but how do we get from science and religion as being virtues it's a lot to do with the Protestant Reformation in part an unintended consequence the division of Europe and the necessity to define religion objectively and the other one was the Protestant attack on the virtues that led to a demise of virtue theory and moral philosophy and a new way of understanding what individuals were and how they functioned okay now jumping right to the 19th century to wrap things up because that's what I want to do here in the 19th century get for the first time very tight definitions of science as excluding the moral and the formative so double in review 1865 we're moving into the second half of the 19th century we shall use the word science in the sense which Englishman so commonly give it physical and experimental science to the exclusion of the theological and the metaphysical those last two things that's that's really key it's a science skin she had included all of that now no longer does now this is English of course you have different traditions vision shaft famously in German has a much broader extension than the English science but this is really the key kind of transition now we can track it in other ways very quickly the idea about science being a form of natural philosophy goes into decline so the blue lines go down and Natural Sciences as a way of talking about this activity goes up we see that across the course of the 19th century people stopped talking about natural philosophy that's what Newton thought he was doing and then they're now start to talk about themselves as doing natural science where science is understood to exclude the religious the metaphysical the moral and that's accompanied at the same time by the notion of science is carried out by specialists so they weren't any scientists before 1830 when the word is invented for the first time the English hate it they don't like it they think it's an Americanism that's a good reason not to use it apparently but it was invented by an Englishman William Huell but it picks up by the end of the 19th century because scientists are looking for a way to identify themselves as a profession so along with this notion of science is excluding the moral we get the professionalization of science with the notion of scientists as a unique particular professional group I could do the same graph for scientific method which shows the same pattern but all of this means for the time we can now get people talking about science and religion so no one talked about that combination before the move the beginning of the 19th century and the reason is there was no such thing as science as we understand it to put it in that kind of relationship with with religion before that time okay so what I've attempted to do here is to say here are the categories science and religion religion only emerges as a category in the 17th century science in the 19th century that triggers the possibility of there being a relationship and people in the 19th century construct that such that they can either be in a friendly or oppositional relationship and for many it's oppositional I want to spend about two minutes now I know I'm pushing close to the limits of our time to close but there wasn't there's another way I could have told this story and that was to say what are those activities that in the past look science ish and those activities in the past that look religion ish although those categories don't work and if we could talk about those since the things that Newton was doing the things that Kepler was doing that were natural philosophy for them and and religious ideas how did they get on in the past and the short answer is pretty well and let's just have a look very quickly at how well for start religion provided motivations for the pursuit of natural philosophy and there's an example of Kepler saying I actually think my astronomical work is a form of theology so really they're not in opposition they're actually the same kind of activity and here's Robert Boyle Boyle's law ok the famous English chemist science natural philosophy is an act of religion he's saying so the idea that they're separate things doesn't work for these guys religious ideas also find presuppositions and the short story here is that for people like Descartes and Newton religious ideas give us the very can exception that there are laws of nature okay so if we're going to talk about religion science in the past here's a positive kind of relation I'll just give you one final example this is one we don't talk about much but science needs social legitimation when it's getting off the ground in the 17th century by that I mean science needs a set of values to give it legs and there's a much longer story here but if we asked the general question about why science takes off in the 17th century in the West we can think about other instances where science happen but didn't take off China interestingly is regarded as a typical example medieval Islam ancient Greece we get bursts of scientific activity but they never consolidate and what we see is a boom bust pattern where science has a start but but no one ever goes on with it why do people go on with it in the West and uniquely in the 17th century ok they go on with it because science is able to harness the legitimizing value of Christian religion to underpin its activities and this is a famous well it's famous amongst historians of science and bacon but what bacon is doing with this long quote here is saying that scientific activity is in essence a redemptive activity it's a way of recovering the control of nature that we once enjoyed in our perfect state in the Garden of Eden but lost as a consequence of human sin so science is as you can see here the creation rebuild as a consequence of before sciencism means of bringing under control and so it's a redemptive process and that becomes a religious reason for pursuing science give you one more example very quickly and this is the whole underpinning for what in the 17th century was called the experimental natural philosophy or we would say just experimental science why do we do experimental science Hooke says in a nutshell it's because of the original sin that sounds like it's crazy but that's we're saying original sin says hook means that we can never know nature perfectly and we've lost control of it how do we recover something of what we had in terms of a remedy experimental natural philosophy experiment is like a therapeutic regimen that helps us overcome the limitations of original sin okay now there's much bigger story I could say about that but that's essentially how science gets legitimacy it's a kind of redemptive Enterprise it's an enterprise it helps us overcome the limitations of sin and so just to sum that up oh gosh there's more okay this is another story about legitimation right how we when we study nature we see God that and that's Newton obviously here in the Principia and boil again that rational contemplation nature's philosophical worship record again these two activities natural philosophy and religion are so closely entwined that there's two things there they're not in conflict but neither does it makes sense to think of them as science and religion as we now think of them because they integrate it in that that tight way and so I do think this is the penultimate slide here's the story about the Jena mation just so you know I'm not the only person in the world who thinks this it's my colleague and Sidney is a very distinguished historian of science what's going on in the 17th century not any separation of religion and natural philosophy but they actually come together much more closely because natural philosophy can be accommodated to theological projects that's what gives science its legs in the 17th century so if I want to sum things up really two main points this evening the reason that the conflict myth the conflict story of science and religion is wrong is firstly that in the past no one conceptualized the relevant activities in that manner such that they could be in conflict one and two when we examine the sorts of activities that we now regard a science and now regardless religion we see that actually they were much more closely aligned than science and religion currently are and what all of this means for the present that's your homework but don't believe it when someone tells you that there's a long history of an old conflict between science and religion thank you in the beginning of today's stock it mentioned about how Flat Earth was not something the medieval people believed in at all and it was wrong notion so how did this notion come to be and what was what were the reasons of the motivations to create such a false are thought the such a false thought he had looked at some it's a that's a very good question so we know that the ancients including Aristotle knew that the earth was spherical and a guy called Eratosthenes made a really fantastic calculation of the circumference of the earth actually just using the shadows of places that were separated north and south in Egypt and God got it right within about 10% and all of the medieval scholars were aware of this so no one taught the idea of this a flat earth so your question is a really interesting one in relation to the story that I have told and it's it's the the myth first appears as far as we know in Washington Irving's biography of Columbus and we know the so the famous myth of course is that people didn't want to sail too far west because they thought they'd sail off the end of the world that being at the edge of the earth okay now why we have to have this Flat Earth myth for the purposes of this biography here's the true story Columbus fatally miscalculated the circumference of the earth and he thought he was going to find a trade route to Japan he died thinking that he'd found Japan and in fact had it not been for the fact that America was fortuitously interposed between Europe and Asia where he thought he'd got to his ship simply would have kept going and they all would have died of starvation so part of the story is that Columbus has an argument with the the authorities at Salamanca when this famous University in Spain when he wants to sit off on his voyage and they say you're crazy if you go there you will die because it's um it's much further than you think and Columbus insisted that it was so in order to construct Columbus as a hero rather than a dope Washington Irving has to come up with a pretext for why this argument went on and the argument also it has the bonus of making these religious authorities at the University of Salamanca look like they're anti exploration anti-scientific ignoramuses right so it serves a double function one to show that Columbus is a hero and two to reinforce this story about religious opposition do anything that's genuinely innovative and then the remarkable thing is that like the science and religion like the science religion conflict myth this is like a virus that you know people all over the place believe that people in the Middle Ages thought the earth was flat and it's it just shows you the power of these narratives because it shows and why we want to believe this is because it gives us a sense of our own superiority really to these poor benighted people in the past so that that's part of the story so thanks for giving me the opportunity to tell you about the Flat Earth how are you going to answer the question if someone asked if the science can prove there's God how am I going to ask answer that question if right hypothetically if someone were to ask it if you're asking for a friend for example I don't think so and and it's it's interesting that I mean I gave a talk this afternoon which I won't repeat now but it's essentially about this question and science as we practice that now by virtue of the way it operates it excludes reference to the supernatural and I think rightly so so when you're doing scientific research you don't invoke supernatural explanations you don't invoke explanations that refer to God so my sense is that if that's the case if we start science with the premise that we're going to exclude any reference to God on the supernatural it's not going to be a possibility for science directly to establish the existence of God all right so that's the that's the simple answer but I think if you were to to think of different versions of that and there here are some different versions is one of the implications of what we discover through science does that point us in the direction of of there being a God and that's that for example will be the classic design argument that says we discover design in nature and therefore there must be a designer right so and if we're discovering design in nature by means of science then science sort of points in that direction although it doesn't prove it now because we know the design arguments suffered a bit of a blow when Darwin appeared on the scene but there are contemporary versions of the design argument such as the anthropic principle that says the universe seems to be very finely tuned to produce human life well I don't have a view either way about the effectiveness of that argument but what I can say is that there are some people who say that scientific activity points us in the direction of God and and and there's one final thing I'd say the other thing is whether the assumptions upon which science is built assume some kind of theological premise or presupposition so there's two two different ways that we do the science and we get the results and we think well maybe that points to there's some kind of order or pattern or meaningfulness in the universe and the other one is that is science possible at all without some set of assumptions about say the intelligibility of the natural world or the case I gave very briefly here the idea that there are laws of nature so it might be that science requires some set of assumptions or presuppositions that are religious to get up and running and certainly the people I spoke about thought that both of those things with a case they thought both that you needed to have a set of religious presuppositions to make science possible and I thought that when you did the science it pointed in the direction of the existence of God but I don't think that's the case for contemporary science which is much more explicitly bracketing out theological explanations and that's part of the definition that of science that emerges in the 19th century that the boundary we now draw about around science means that we attempt to keep those questions out so long answered your question but do you think that the dichotomy of religion and science arose out of the kind of liberalism where intellectualism could be free of religion and do you think that that's a good thing that there is now a conflict say for example in understanding creation yeah can that's a look that's a really good question and so I think very very often in in discussions of science religion the assumption is that conflict is bad and is to be avoided and that we need to be thinking about having a much cozy relationship so I think we need to think maybe conflict is not always bad we need to think about what it means and where what side we might be on and there are instances the classic case of conflict and the present is evolutionary thinking versus some conservative Christian views of creation okay that's inevitable not inevitable well it's inevitable if you have a particular view of a fairly literal understanding of what Christian doctrine of creation consists in and you know I don't think science should be bending to that right but your point then about the the is has scientific thought been liberated from the strictures of of religious thinking and that is true and I think that's a good thing but I would say this also that we need to be careful that we don't overly stress set historical understanding that that that assumes that scientific thought was always in the past held in check by religious religious strictures now the case of Galileo is and you would come back to Galilei Casey Galilei is really unfortunate because that's precisely what seemed to be happening there that the church seemed to be making determinations on science in a way that was entirely inappropriate and because this is the last question I don't have time to give you my Galileo lecture but I can say it was more complicated than that but I think you're right to say that in the past the church exercised a degree of authority in a way that wasn't always helpful to scientific endeavor but against that I think we also need to understand that for the most part the church was encouraging of scientific endeavor and so we think in the case of Galileo on astronomy there was no greater support supporter for the study of astronomy from middle of the Middle Ages to the middle of the 18th century than the Catholic Church no one supported astronomical research of the extent that they did and we forget that in the context of the Galileo affair where clearly I think they did the wrong thing and there precisely a case of science not being able to sort of break out from the strictures of Catholicism but I just say that that's not the usual pattern actually I have a last question I don't know whether you can do briefly but it's something to take away because you've been talking about how this doesn't mean the history of science and religion is the conflict doesn't really exist but now that we have this conflict all right and so we've rarified these concepts and they are real I mean this is not something that is going to go away right so actually how should we then think how should we live particularly given that universities are also in many ways founded on this conflict now as well yeah it's it's a it's a really good it's a really good question and I think part of what we have to understand is that although we can describe the reification to these concepts we can't escape them and we can't just go back to the past and part of to be honest part of the success of science and the science is more broadly is there capacity to ask really narrow questions highly-specialized and the consequence of that is that it's not merely that science and religion have trouble talking to each other but that chemists and physicists have trouble talking to it so how this high degree of specialization in which in a again to go back to classical theories of modernization Max Weber beautifully described is this the necessity of routine ization and specialization and and so what happens is that all of the spheres of intellectual activity are to some extent alienated from each other and and that's why I think it's very interesting that we have so how do i sorry it's hard to answer your question beyond saying this I think that we need to keep an open mind about what what the possibilities are and we need to be very conscious in our way and for those of us who have academic careers open to the prospects of conversations with other disciplines even though they're extremely difficult because the the Disciplinary insights that we can gain from people with different perspectives can be really helpful and enlightening so there's a general story that's not just about science and religion as compartmentalized potentially in opposition but there's a story about the way in which our whole intellectual life has been fragmented into highly specialized silos and that we need to attempt to break those down even though it's difficult now that's a very idealistic response but that's that's off the top of my head but I'd make the university a university again it precise I think that just one faculty the Faculty of Arts we're all having the best okay well thank you so much Peter that was an amazing [Applause]

Otis Rodgers

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