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Science, Religion, and the Human Experience$
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James D. Proctor

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195175325

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0195175328.001.0001

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The Intersubjective Worlds of Science and Religion

The Intersubjective Worlds of Science and Religion

(p.309) 15 The Intersubjective Worlds of Science and Religion
Science, Religion, and the Human Experience

Alan B. Wallace

Oxford University Press

This essay explores the possibility of intersubjective truth in science and religion to present an alternative to metaphysical realism on the one hand, and relativism and constructivism on the other. Wallace gives a summary of objectivism — the view that there is a world separate from human perceptions and concepts. As scientific naturalism proceeded to build knowledge of the objective world, religion recoiled against this naturalism as insufficient to account for God or the soul, thus maintaining a sort of mind/matter dualism. Wallace argues that the science of mental phenomena has been largely speculative and not systematically empirical, largely due to the strong emphasis of science on external phenomena. Thus, contemporary cognitive science focuses on the mechanics of mental phenomena instead of the dynamics of the mind. Wallace discusses the pioneering work of William James, suggesting that science could consider the ways that brain and mind influence each other, rather than taking mind to be simply an outcome of brain processes. He asserts that science works with the world of experience, not a world independent of human experience, though truth-claims can be organized according to their intersubjective invariance across multiple frames of experience-based reference. Wallace then discusses how one may validate scientific and religious claims made by those who are highly trained and have opportunities for extraordinary experiences of consciousness — those which outsiders cannot share nor perhaps understand; yet both apply intersubjective empirical and pragmatic criteria to determine the utility of their truths.

Keywords:   cognitive science, intersubjectivity, William James, naturalism, objectivism, realism, religion, science

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