by Frank L. Pasquale, Research Associate at ISSSC
“Science” and “religion” are foundational concepts in Western thought. They are widely spoken of, and conceived of, as monolithic and adversarial phenomena. They are both, however, in the words of anthropologist Beatrice Whiting, incredibly complex “packaged variables.” As such, they are meaningful generalizations, but also misleading and sometimes counterproductive ones, rather than homogeneous realities. They are particularly counterproductive in the form, “religion versus science.” Upon close scrutiny it becomes apparent that—depending upon the defnitions of “religion(s)” or “the sciences” being employed—there is no necessary or wholesale confict between something called “religion” and something called “science.” There are, rather, particular “religious” ideas and ideologies of time, place, and culture that have conficted with particular facts, fndings, or theories emerging from the natural sciences on particular subjects.