#onsci: 15th December – Science and Religion

Kristin: In preparing last month’s topic on whether we care about science, I came across this reference to a book called “Why Religion is Natural and Science is Not“. The book description states:

In Why Religion is Natural and Science Is Not, Robert N. McCauley, one of the founding fathers of the cognitive science of religion, argues that our minds are better suited to religious belief than to scientific inquiry. Drawing on the latest research and illustrating his argument with commonsense examples, McCauley argues that religion has existed for many thousands of years in every society because the kinds of explanations it provides are precisely the kinds that come naturally to human minds. Science, on the other hand, is a much more recent and rare development because it reaches radical conclusions and requires a kind of abstract thinking that only arises consistently under very specific social conditions. Religion makes intuitive sense to us, while science requires a lot of work.

This description, read in conjunction with Craig Cormick’s talk (that we also explored last month – how values might make us reject science) is worrying – does religion make more sense?

Alternatively, there’s Sam Harris’s TED talk on how science can answer moral problems. Is there a role for science in guiding us to what is just and right?

As Christmas draws close we’ll explore the links between science and religion. How does faith intersect with science? Do atheism and science go hand-in-hand? What role might religion play in science and vice-versa?

And best yet – from supernovas to faster-than-light-travel – we’ll ask you to put forward your scientific theories to explain the stories of Christmas!

#onsci: Thursday 15th December: 9pm AEDT, 10am GMT, 5am EST

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