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June 30, 2022

Added Identifying the Conflict between Religion and Science (2022) by David Kyle Johnson to the Science and Religion page in the Modern Documents section of the Secular Web Library.

Inspired by Stephen J. Gould’s NOMA thesis, it is commonly maintained among academic theists (and some atheists) that religion and science are not in conflict. In this essay David Kyle Johnson argues, by analogy, that science and religion undeniably are in conflict. It begins by quickly defining religion and science and then presents multiple examples that are unquestionable instances of unscientific reasoning and beliefs, and shows how they precisely parallel common mainstream orthodox religious reasoning and doctrines. The essay then considers objections before showing that religion and science conflict when religion encroaches into the scientific domain. It wraps up by showing that religion and science might also conflict when science encroaches into domains traditionally reserved for religion.

Recommended reading: Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters (2021) by Steven Pinker

Today humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding—and also appears to be losing its mind. How can a species that developed vaccines for COVID-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, medical quackery, and conspiracy theorizing? In Rationality Steven Pinker rejects the cynical cliché that humans are simply irrational—cavemen out of time saddled with biases, fallacies, and illusions. After all, we discovered the laws of nature, lengthened and enriched our lives, and set out the benchmarks for rationality itself. We actually think in ways that are sensible in the low-tech contexts in which we spend most of our lives, but fail to take advantage of the powerful tools of reasoning that we’ve discovered over the millennia: logic, critical thinking, probability, correlation and causation, and optimal ways to update beliefs and commit to choices individually and with others. These tools are not a standard part of our education, and have never been presented clearly and entertainingly in a single book—until now. Rationality also explores its opposite: how the rational pursuit of self-interest, sectarian solidarity, and uplifting mythology can add up to crippling irrationality in a society. Collective rationality depends on norms that are explicitly designed to promote objectivity and truth. Rationality matters. It leads to better choices in our lives and in the public sphere, and is the ultimate driver of social justice and moral progress.