Scientism: Science, Ethics and Religion, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover


Science, Ethics and Religion, 1st Edition

By Mikael Stenmark


168 pages

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Paperback: 9781138263499
pub: 2016-11-15
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Can science tell us everything there is to know about reality? The intellectual and practical successes of science have led some scientists to think that there are no real limits to the competence of science, and no limits to what can be achieved in the name of science. Accordingly, science has no boundaries; it will eventually answer all our problems. This view (and similar views) have been called Scientism. In this important book scientists' views about science and its relationship to knowledge, ethics and religion are subjected to critical scrutiny. A number of distinguished natural scientists have advocated Scientism in one form or another - Francis Crick, Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, and Edward O. Wilson - and their impressive impact both inside and outside the sciences is considered. Clarifying what Scientism is, this book proceeds to evaluate its key claims, expounded in questions such as: Is it the case that science can tell us everything there is to know about reality? Can science tell us how we morally ought to live and what the meaning of life is? Can science in fact be our new religion? Ought we to become "science believers"? Stenmark addresses these and similar issues, concluding that Scientism is not really science but disguised materialism or naturalism; its advocates fail to see this, not being sufficiently aware that their arguments presuppose the previous acceptance of certain extra-scientific or philosophical beliefs.


’… as thorough a diagnosis and critique of scientism as one is likely to encounter. With unfailing logic and lucidity of presentation Stenmark destroys all pretence that science alone can give us reliable knowledge of the real. This work not only makes a significant contribution to philosophy and theology in an age of science; it also serves to liberate science from bondage to crippling beliefs.’ John F. Haught, Georgetown University, USA 'Mikael Stenmark provides a clear and helpful guide to this scientistic world. He is careful to delineate scientism in its different forms and strengths, and he helpfully extends the traditional account by considering the extension of scientistic ambition into first the moral and then the existential realms… this [book] has a refreshingly straightforward style, and its clarity of expression is admirable… anyone wanting to afford him- or herself with good, cogent arguments why some of the things Dawkins and others say should not be taken as seriously as they suppose, could do well to start here… a refreshingly straightforward style, and its clarity of expression is admirable.' Theology 'Marked by his usual clear and profound analysis, Stenmark's newest book provides an excellent summary of and response to the challenges of contemporary forms of 'Scientism' to traditional understandings of ethics and religion… Although the issues in this book are deep and complex, Stenmark's treatment of them is at once concise and compelling… I strongly recommend the book, which would serve well as a text for students, or as a reference for scholars whose work and lives are influenced by the challenges of Scientism.' Ars Disputandi 'In this important book scientists' views about science and its relationship to knowledge, ethics and religion are subjected to critical scrutiny.' '… challenges contemporary manifestations of scientism… a valuable introduction to the debate over the application of evolutionary

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; What is scientism?: Scientism within academia; Scientism within the broader society; The Limits of Knowledge and Reality: The limits of reality; The limits of knowledge; The Scientific Explanation of Morality: The Darwinian account of morality; A non-Darwinian account of morality; Debunking and Replacing Traditional Ethics with Science: Debunking traditional ethics; Scientific evolutionary ethics; The Scientific Explanation of Religion: The Darwinian account of religion; A non-Darwinian account of religion; Debunking and Replacing Traditional Religion with Science: Debunking traditional religion; Having science as one’s religion; Scientism and Fear of Religion: Some Concluding Remarks; Bibliography; Index.

About the Series

Routledge Science and Religion Series

Science and religion have often been thought to be at loggerheads but much contemporary work in this flourishing interdisciplinary field suggests this is far from the case. The Science and Religion Series presents exciting new work to advance interdisciplinary study, research and debate across key themes in science and religion. Contemporary issues in philosophy and theology are debated, as are prevailing cultural assumptions. The series enables leading international authors from a range of different disciplinary perspectives to apply the insights of the various sciences, theology, philosophy and history in order to look at the relations between the different disciplines and the connections that can be made between them. These accessible, stimulating new contributions to key topics across science and religion will appeal particularly to individual academics and researchers, graduates, postgraduates and upper-undergraduate students.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / General