Deliberating Religion, Science and Progress in the Global Public Sphere: Introduction
Keywords:religion, science, ontology, cosmology, globalisation, communication
This introductory essay presents the framework for a collection of papers, published together here, that originated in the IAHR Special Conference Religions, Science and Technology in Cultural Contexts: Dynamics of Change, held at The Norwegian University of Science and Technology on March 1–2, 2012. There exist numerous studies of the relationship between religion, science and technology, held in general terms as well as applied in specific case studies. Although this collection spans widely diverse cases – geographically, historically, culturally, topically – it makes a distinct contribution to the field through the combined focus on global ‘systemic’ communication and transformations, and the dynamic, even instrumental, relations between ontology and politics. Thus, we show that boundaries between ‘religion’ and ‘science’ are in constant flux, subject to people’s objectives as well as state policy. We can show this by including both descriptive studies and applied, constructive argumentation for specific interpretations of ‘religious’ materials. Some might argue that ‘application’ has no place in Religious studies, only in Theology. However, Religious studies discourses are themselves implicated in constructing boundaries between ‘religion’ and ‘science’, which change over time. Including ‘application studies’ therefore does not make us ‘theologians’. Rather, it adds analytical insights into how ontology and cosmology has been, and still is, employed to achieve scientific objectives, which in turn are politically informed.
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