Science and Religion Moving to a Higher State of Awareness

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Vision.org publishes a five-part series examining the foundations of modern Western thought

Recent trends in society suggest that people are paying more attention to ethics and moral values. Continuing concern over the war in Iraq and news of the Virginia Tech shooting have greatly unsettled many. So it's no surprise that people have started to examine the human experience more carefully, looking at the foundations of modern Western thought.

For centuries, religion lay at the heart of Western identity. But religion became irrelevant to many leading thinkers during the last century and a half, thanks largely to advances in science, technology and medicine. Lately, however, there's been discussion about how our species may be moving toward a wiser accommodation of both the religious and the scientific perspectives. The 2007 Books of Distinction (BOD) program, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, calls attention to twenty-one books in the categories of religion, science and social science/philanthropy that attempt a harmonization.

With concern for the current state of affairs, Vision.org offers a related five-part series, plus in-depth coverage of current social issues and insights into the philosophical, moral and ethical values in society today.

The Vision series examines some of the background and impact of six ideas that have influenced and now govern the thinking of most people. Introducing conceptual frameworks that have removed God from His role in everyday life, David Hulme comes to the disturbing conclusion that "some of the most significant 19th-century underpinnings of Western civilization are the product of flawed thinking, bringing with them catastrophic results. Even if people have only a muddled concept of them, these ideas have caused many to live in a kind of quiet despair, suspecting that life is meaningless."

In the first article, "Origin of a Specious Theory," Hulme discusses two ideas that come from Charles Darwin--the theory of evolution and its associated mechanism of natural selection.
Next is the theory and practice of dialectical materialism as conceived by Karl Marx, who may have influenced modern history more than any other intellectual. In Part Two, "A Dark Fellow from Trier," Hulme takes a closer look at what may have influenced his theories.

Part Three, "A Dream Gone Wrong," examines the ideas of the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, and how his concepts helped shape the mental framework of just about everyone, whether they have read his works or not.

The final two "dominant ideas," relativism and positivism, are associated with physics and the scientific method. We get a glimpse of two philosophical approaches that gained prominence largely as a result of 20th-century developments in science in Part Four, "Positively No Absolutes?"

Part Five, "Turning the Intellectual Tide," is the final installment in the series and reviews these ideas that set science and religion at seemingly hopeless odds against each other, thereby eliminating any reasonable basis for a moral and ethical society.

Hulme searches out and reveals a biblical perspective on the issues. He asks whether faith and reason can coexist, concluding that contrary to the message conveyed in the recent past, they are not mutually exclusive. Further, he proposes that a world in which human beings can survive physically depends not only on science and religion communicating honestly to better respond to society's problems, but on our establishing a moral and ethical framework on the basis of a meaningful convergence between the two.

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Edwin Stepp
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