Sometime later today my next post over at Reality Base will appear. I am focusing on the first step, for me at least, in getting past the traditional debate and that is emphasizing experience over theory in thinking about science and religion. "Experience" as a category in thinking about what happens in spiritual endeavor goes back to the 1700s and Friedrich Schleiermacher. The best, most universal exposition of the idea and it's best connection for thinking about the Science vs. Religion debate comes from William James who I discuss more in the post.
In thinking about Religion James was not interested in a person who has
“his religion … made for him by others, communicated to him by tradition, determined to him by fixed forms by imitation, and retained by habit.”
Instead it was the original experience that mattered for that was sat at the base of all human religions.
“Personal religion will prove itself more fundamental than … theology….” James writes “Churches, when once established, live at second hand upon tradition but the founders of every church owed their power originally to the fact of their direct personal communion with the divine".
James, being the empiricist, gave considerable latitude to his definition of the divine and in the end it is the experience that matters more than some theory of what stands behind it.
The category of "Religious Experience" can be fruitful as way of casting the whole debate about how Science and Religion relate to each other and the search for both Truth and Meaning. It is of course an idea which must be treated with care (an experience of what?) and I recommend Wayne Proudfoots writings on the subject for a critical view
The Great Pant Rip Episode of 2012
4 years ago