Science + religion

  • Article
  • 3200 words
  • Level: high school and above

Tom McLeish argues in this 2019 article from Aeon for the importance of theology in addressing and understanding modern scientific questions. Noting that the idea of science and religion as being in conflict has long been intellectually unsupportable, McLeish, who is professor of natural philosophy in the Department of Physics at the University of York in the UK, asks:

All well and good – so the history, philosophy and sociology of science and religion are richer and more interesting than the media-tales and high-school stories of opposition we were all brought up on. It seems a good time to ask the ‘so what?’ questions, however, especially since there has been less work in that direction. If Islamic, Jewish and Christian theologies were demonstrably central in the construction of our current scientific methodologies, for example, then what might such a reassessment imply for fruitful development of the role that science plays in our modern world? In what ways might religious communities support science especially under the shadow of a ‘post-truth’ political order? What implications and resources might a rethink of science and religion offer for the anguished science-educational discussion on both sides of the Atlantic, and for the emerging international discussions on ‘science-literacy’?

McLeish concludes that—

A relational narrative for science that speaks to the need to reconcile the human with the material, and that draws on ancient wisdom, contributes to the construction of new pathways to a healthier public discourse, and an interdisciplinary educational project that is faithful to the story of human engagement with the apparently chaotic, inhuman materiality of nature, yet one whose future must be negotiated alongside our own. Without new thinking on ‘science and religion’, we risk forfeiting an essential source for wisdom today.

Click here to access this article from Aeon.