What do scientists actually think about religion? And what do religious people actually think about science? The stereotypical answers to these questions will come up short once you’ve looked at sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund’s books.
You have heard of the White and Draper “conflict thesis” about the historical relationship between religion and science, right? It is a myth historians have debunked, but recent scholarship suggests that in debunking it they have missed some fascinating complexity.
Does history show a conflict between religion and science? According to Peter Harrison, a careful study of history finds a very different narrative.
Philosopher Alvin Plantinga’s 2011 book, Where the Conflict Really Lies, makes a case for the reasonableness of religious belief. As the publisher summary says, “The theme of this short book is that the conflict between science and theistic religion is actually superficial, and that at a deeper level they are in concord.”
Of course, history reminds us that for every abolitionist like cousin Emily, there is at least one story of a slave owner who was also motivated by faith. The history of Christianity, like any family history, is terribly complex with examples that make us proud and others that remind us of the need for confession and forgiveness. This, of course, is also true of the history of Christianity and science.