Religion and Science: The Basics  book cover
2nd Edition

Religion and Science: The Basics

ISBN 9781138562769
Published October 10, 2018 by Routledge
214 Pages

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Book Description

Religion and science are arguably the two most powerful social forces in the world today. But where religion and science were once held to be compatible, many people now perceive them to be in conflict. This unique book provides the best available introduction to the burning debates in this controversial field. Examining the defining questions and controversies, renowned expert Philip Clayton presents the arguments from both sides, asking readers to decide for themselves where they stand: 

• science or religion, or science and religion?

• history and philosophy of science

• the role of scientific and religious ethics – modifying genes, extending life, and experimenting with human subjects

• religion and the environmental crisis

• the future of science vs. the future of religion.

Thoroughly updated throughout, this second edition explores religious traditions from around the world and provides insights from across the sciences, making this book essential reading for all those wishing to come to their own understanding of some of the most important debates of our day.

Table of Contents


1. The basic question: science or religion, or science and religion?

The debate that no one can avoid

A naturalist and a theist in debate

Taking stock

2. Expanding the options

Theism and naturalism at odds

God, design, and delusion

A broader (and more interesting) exchange

Constructive skepticism: Michael Shermer

Theistic evolution: Francis Collins

Agnostic naturalism: Neil DeGrasse Tyson

New vistas

3. Science and the world’s religions






Conclusions and further questions to explore

4. Physics

Why the religious interest in cosmology?

Fundamental physics

Fine-tuning and the multiverse

What physics does and doesn’t show

5. The biological sciences

The origins of life

Evolution and creation

Are genes the fundamental units of evolution?

Are humans unique?

6. The neurosciences

Brains, minds, and consciousness

Can thoughts and intentions do anything?

Whatever happened to the soul?

Challenging the boundaries between mind and brain

Religious experience

7. Religion and science in historical and philosophical perspective

The history of religion and science

Are science and religion intrinsically at war?

The philosophy of science

Is science really objective?

Separationists and Integrationists

Change the names, solve the problem?

8. Science, technology, and ethics

Stem cell research

Modifying our genes

Ethical issues at the end of life

The rights of subjects in scientific experiments and medical care

Warfare technologies

9. The future of science and religion

Summarizing the options

Making the case for partnerships

They’re your questions now...



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Philip Clayton is Ingraham Professor and Director of the Center for Spirituality and Sustainability at Claremont School of Theology, and affiliated faculty at Claremont Graduate University, USA. Author or editor of several dozen books, he is widely recognized internationally as a leading figure in the field of religion and science.


'Religion and Science: The Basics is a fantastic primer that engagingly conveys clear historical, scientific, and religious-ethical approaches to key topics at the intersection of western science and religions. Clayton's approach is accessible to those who are new to the topic, and it is useful and engaging for experts and teachers. Spanning topics from physics to biology and research ethics to warfare technologies, readers will find important information and questions to consider from several world religious traditions, with an emphasis on monotheisms.'

Christiana Zenner, Fordham University, USA

'This well-written introduction to the relationships between religion and science by a leading scholar of the field is an excellent choice for undergraduates. Compact yet comprehensive, and engaging with both Western and Eastern faiths, this guide ranges through a series of contemporary topics, including the interaction between religion and physics, biology, the mind sciences and medical ethics. A new chapter on historical and philosophical dimensions of science and religion relations complements an updated discussion of contemporary debates about belief and unbelief that resonate in popular culture. Deftly handling the warfare thesis and other models for the interaction of science and religion, the book also looks to the future of this interaction and offers incisive questions for classroom discussion.'

 Stephen D. Snobelen, King’s College, Halifax, Canada