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Between Addition and Difference: A Place for Religious Understanding in a World of Science

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Abstract:

Among contemporary religious believers, some follow in the footsteps of Newton, allowing their religious understanding to fill in gaps left by the sciences. Others take a more Wittgensteinian approach, discretely separating religious from scientific ways of thinking. Because neither of these relatively irenic positions captures the important element of cultural reform that is prevalent in so much of the religious life of the past, George Lakoff's recent work in cognitive studies is used to suggest ways that religious ideas may be used to challenge and enrich scientific thought. A scrutiny of Richard Dawkins's biological analyses of human behavior reveals the distorting limitations of exclusively scientific understanding, thereby clearing conceptual space for genuinely religious values, actions, responsibilities, and forms of human life.

Keywords: AIDS; George Lakoff; Ludwig Wittgenstein; Pierre-Simon Laplace; Richard Dawkins; Sir Isaac Newton; cognitive models; cultural critique; human behavior; image schema; metaphor; science and religion; time

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/0591-2385.00176

Affiliations: Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY

Publication date: 1998-12-01

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