An interesting tidbit from the web tonight. Any thoughts?
Why I Hate the Science and Religion Discourse
May 22, 2010
* “Science” is not just one thing, and neither is “religion” a monolith. Not all science vs. religion discourses imply this, but most of them do. Those things grouped under the terms “scientific” and “religious” are incredibly diverse and sometimes even overlap.
* The agenda of this discourse is largely set… by the European enlightenment. The concerns of the science vs. religion discourse are not universal, either in time or space, although the discourse pretends as if they are—as if “science” and “religion” have been battling forever and will continue to battle for eternity… most of the people in human history would find this discourse to be irrelevant to them and their lives.
* The discourse often amounts to either Christian [or Jewish] apologetics or responses to Christian [or Jewish ] apologetics. (This seems to me to make the science vs. religion debate fundamentally unscholarly, since I take it for granted that religious studies scholars are not supposed to have their research agendas straightforwardly set by the people they study.)
* The discourse often treats “religion” as a series of true or false propositions, much like the new atheists do. Focusing on the truth or falsehood of an ideology fundamentally misses the social work accomplished by that ideology. The proper response to Mein Kampf is not (primarily) to point out logical contradictions, but to point to the social effects of its racist ideology. In my opinion, the best response to creationism is not to attempt a demonstration of its falsehood, but to show what sort of ideological function it might serve for those communities that support it.
The author of the rant is of course every bit as unscholarly about religion as those he thus paints, for his is clearly an anthropological take on religion. Nothing wrong with it per se, but the bias should be acknowledged.
The reason for the usual framing of the science & religion discourse is because adherents of whatever belief system believe some things to be true or false, and are bothered by their seeming or actual contradiction.
Now if the distinguished blogger would have taken, as a starting point, a scholarly analysis about how this or that religious tradition at one historical period or another was totally or mostly uninterested in theological truth claims, being interested instead only or mostly with the effect of said truth claims on the human condition, then the distinguished blogger would have opened up a new angle for research and elucidation of the unwashed religious and/or scientifically minded masses.