“The Idea that wouldn’t die” the warfare between science and religion, May 2015
In the spring of 2015, the Issachar Fund and the University of Wisconsin-Madison co-sponsored an important three-day academic conference on the belief that an inevitable and irreconcilable conflict exists between science and religion. The gathering brought together more than thirty scholars – including historians, sociologists and philosophers – to consider topics such as the origin of the thesis, its reception, the responses it drew from apologists for various faith traditions, and its continued prominence in public life. Participants worked to shed light on how the conflict thesis, in a career spanning roughly a century and a half, has profoundly affected both popular culture and intellectual discourse.
Despite its clear limitations as an accurate characterization of relations between science and religion, the conflict thesis remains a potent idea in modern life that demands further scholarly attention. The chief aims of the conference were twofold: (1) to investigate historically the origins and reception of the conflict thesis and (2) to explore, through sociological data, the reasons for the continuing hold of the thesis on much of the public imagination. The conference provided perspective to the often bitter controversies that frequently surround contemporary public discussions of the relationship between science and religion.
The papers presented at the conference are currently being edited into a book, which will be published by John Hopkins University Press.