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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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Introduction: Rethinking Science and Religion

Introduction: Rethinking Science and Religion

(p.3) 1 Introduction: Rethinking Science and Religion
Science, Religion, and the Human Experience

James D. Proctor (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This essay offers a novel take on science and religion by reconsidering both in light of the human experience — the unfolding of human life in its historical, political, geographical, psychological, and other contexts. Proctor rejects monism and dualism in typical accounts of the relationship between science and religion by bringing in human experience as a “third body,” an equal partner akin to Poincaré’s formulation of the three-body problem in celestial mechanics. He then summarizes each chapter in the volume, organized into four main sections of Theory, Cosmos, Life, and Mind. Proctor notes a recurrent thread in these essays — signaled by terms including relationality, complementarity, intersubjectivity, and ultimately experience — that emphasizes relations over things, and (similar to Whitehead’s critique of the bifurcation of nature) rejects a dualism between object and subject and related binaries (e.g., fact versus value, matter vs. spirit) as well as the desire for some monistic resolution. This new dynamic sense of science and religion is perhaps best approached with a tolerance for contradiction as expressed in the notion of paradox.

Keywords:   dualism, experience, monism, paradox, Poincaré, relationality, religion, science, Whitehead

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