October 19, 2011


The Roots of Religion: Where did religion come from? Robert Bellah ponders its evolutionary origins. roots of religion image (Templeton Report, October 3, 2011)

TR: In contemporary American discussion, "religion" and "evolution" only turn up in the familiar fights over Darwinian evolution. You mean something very different by the concept "religion in human evolution."  Explain.

RB: I have found that the very mention of the words "religion" and "evolution" sets off a kind of reflex reaction among some, but fortunately not all, contemporary Americans. Among both religious fundamentalists and what might be called atheistic fundamentalists these terms set off a war to the death, with abusive language directed toward the supposed opposition. In that kind of atmosphere any rational discussion becomes impossible. What unites these two groups is the idea that religion and science are essentially the same thing:  sets of propositional truths that can be judged in terms of argument and evidence. What surprised me when I began to read the work of leading scientists in the fields of cosmology and evolution is how many of them rejected this idea and argued instead that science and religion are really two different spheres that may at points overlap but that operate in accordance with different logics. Science operates with scientific method in terms of which different theories can be tested and proved or disproved, though if Karl Popper is right, proof is always problematic and we are safer to stick to disproof.

So they are essentially the same sorts of thing.

Posted by at October 19, 2011 7:15 AM

blog comments powered by Disqus