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A DYNAMIC MODEL FOR “SCIENCE AND RELIGION”: INTERACTING SUBCULTURES

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Abstract: 

I argue that for psychological and social reasons, the traditional “Conflict Model” of science and religion interactions has such a strong hold on the nonexpert imagination that counterexamples and claims that interactions are simply more complex than the model allows are inadequate to undermine its power. Taxonomies, such as those of Ian Barbour and John Haught, which characterize conflict as only one among several possible relationships, help. But these taxonomies, by themselves, fail to offer an account of why different relationships prevail among different communities and how they succeed one another within particular communities—that is, they contain no dynamic elements. To undermine the power of the “Conflict Model,” we should be seeking to offer alternative models for science and religion interactions that can both incorporate the range of stances articulated by scholars like Barbour and which can offer an account of the process by which differing attitudes succeed one another. As a step toward this goal, I propose a general “interacting subcultures model” and illustrate its applicability in a small number of mini-case studies from Early Modern Britain and France and with glances toward contemporary America.
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Keywords: Ian Barbour; Isaac Newton; Richard Hooker; conflict model; dialog; independence; integration; interacting subcultures model; master narratives; science and religion interactions

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Richard Olson is professor of history and Willard W. Keith Jr. Fellow in Humanities at Harvey Mudd College, 301 Platt Blvd., Claremont, CA 91711, USA;, Email: olson@hmc.edu.

Publication date: 2011-03-01

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