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Science & Education

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Arguments about the relationship between science and religion often proceed by identifying a set of essential characteristics of scientific and religious worldviews and arguing on the basis of these characteristics for claims about a relationship of conflict or compatibility between them. Such a strategy is doomed to failure because science, to some extent, and religion, to a much larger extent, are cultural phenomena that are too diverse in their expressions to be characterized in terms of a unified worldview. In this paper I follow a different strategy. Having offered a loose characterization of the nature of science, I pose five questions about specific areas where religious and scientific worldviews may conflict - questions about the nature of faith, the belief in a God or Gods, the authority of sacred texts, the relationship between scientific and religious conceptions of the mind/soul, and the relationship between scientific and religious understandings of moral behavior. My review of these questions will show that they cannot be answered unequivocally because there is no agreement amongst religious believers as to the meaning of important religious concepts. Thus, whether scientific and religious worldviews conflict depends essentially upon whose science and whose religion one is considering. In closing, I consider the implications of this conundrum for science education.


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