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Science and Nonbelief

Taner Edis

Book Description

Can science and religious belief coexist?

Many people--including many practicing scientists--insist that one can simultaneously follow the principles of the scientific method and believe in a particular spiritual tradition. But throughout history there have been people for whom science challenges the very validity of religious belief. Whether called atheists, agnostics, skeptics, or "infidels," these individuals use the naturalism of modern science to deny the existence of any supernatural power. Science and Nonbelief chronicles, in a balanced and accessible way, the long history of the battle between adherents of religious doctrines and the nonbelievers who adhere to the naturalism of modern science. Science and Nonbelief provides a nontechnical introduction to the leading questions that concern science and religion today:

  • What place does evolution hold in the arguments of nonbelievers?
  • What does modern physics tell us about the place of humanity in the natural world?
  • How do modern neurosciences challenge traditional beliefs about mind and matter?
  • What can scientific research about religion tell us about the nature of belief?
  • How do skeptics react to claims at the fringes of science, such as UFOs and psychics?

The volume also addresses the political context of debates over science and nonbelief, and questions about the nature of morality. It includes a selection of provocative primary source documents that illustrate the complexity and varieties of nonbelief.

Table of Contents

1. Science, Philosophy and Religious Doubt
        Philosophers, Doubting and Devout
        The Old Science and the Old Faith
        The European Enlightenment
        Nonbelief Comes of Age
        Science and Nonbelief Today
        Scientific Naturalism

2. An Accidental World
        Why Physics is Hard
        The Nature of Modern Physics
        The Burden of Proof
        God in the Cracks of Causality
        Quantum Mysticism
        Cosmic Harmonies
        Fine-Tuning the Universe
        A Moment of Creation?
        Physics and Naturalism

3. Darwinian Creativity
        Achieving Complexity
        The Physics of Evolution
        Evolution and Religion
        Old Fashioned Creationism
        Intelligent Design
        Creation Through Evolution
        Universal Darwinism

4. Minds Without Souls
        Mind and Matter
        Cartesian Dualism
        Machines Who Think
        Genes and Memes
        The Conscious Brain
        Qualia and Subjectivity
        Mind Over Matter
        The God Module
        Parts and Wholes
        Nonbelief Adapts to Brain Science

5. The Fringes of Science
        Ultimate Explanations
        Miracles and Rejected Knowledge
        Scripture as Miracle
        From Spiritualism to New Age
        Skeptics vs. Psychics
        Miracles in the Laboratory
        UFOs and Aliens
        Direct Experience of the Paranormal?
        Paranormal Skepticism and Nonbelief

6. Explaining Religion
        Too Many Religions
        Religious Studies
        Rational Choice Theory
        The Secularization Thesis
        Religion and Group Selection
        A Virus of the Mind
        The Religious Mind
        Explaining Theology and Nonbelief

7. Morality and Politics
        More Than the Facts
        The State of Science
        The State of Nonbelief
        A Morality of Reason
        The Science of Morality
        Separate Spheres
        An Uneasy Alliance

Editions (via Amazon):

  Science and Religion, Secular Web Authors

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