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Science and Religion

Christian and Muslim Perspectives

David Marshall, Editor; Afterword by Archbishop Rowan Williams

Publication Year: 2012

Science and Religion is a record of the 2009 Building Bridges seminar, a dialogue between leading Christian and Muslim scholars convened annually by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The essays in this volume explore how both faith traditions have approached the interface between science and religion and throw light on the ongoing challenges posed by this issue today. The volume includes a selection of relevant texts together with commentary that illuminates the scriptures, the ideas of key religious thinkers, and also the legacy of Charles Darwin.

Published by: Georgetown University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi-xiv

The opening address given on the first day by Archbishop Rowan Williams is included in this volume as ‘‘Building Bridges in Istanbul.’’ After some remarks on the Building Bridges dialogue process, he briefly introduces the seminar’s theme, insisting that the histories of both Christianity and Islam...

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Building Bridges in Istanbul

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pp. 1-4

By way of introduction I want to say a few words first about the nature of the Building Bridges seminar and then about the subject matter that we shall be addressing over the coming days. First of all, the Building Bridges seminar itself. This is the eighth of the seminars under this title. The first was convened...


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Science and the Christian Tradition: A Brief Overview

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pp. 7-21

The many fine achievements of Muslim scientists from the ninth to the sixteenth centuries, recently discussed by Ahmad Dallal, are consistent with Newton’s remark. Understanding the universe as a creation certainly did regulate thinking in much of early modern science. But the view that Christianity...

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Science and Religion in the History of Islam

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pp. 22-34

Beyond beginnings, however, the scale of Islamic scientific activities is vast. Science in medieval Muslim societies was practiced on a scale unprecedented in earlier or contemporary human history. In urban centers from the Atlantic to the borders of China, thousands of scientists pursued careers in diverse...

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Science and Religious Belief in the Modern World: Challenges and Opportunities

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pp. 35-45

Indeed, one of the great surprises to many of my older secularized scientific colleagues in Britain has been the vigor of religion, not just as a private belief but also as an influence to be reckoned with out in the public domain. On the other hand, Western Europe in particular does remain a relatively secularized...


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Biblical Texts

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pp. 49-52

18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible...

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pp. 53-58

Canaanite hymn to the sun god. If so, the hymn was subsequently adapted to the monotheistic claims of Israel’s faith and amplified by a subsequent section (omitted here) devoted to revelation through Torah. The bright sun and the nighttime sky offered the ancients of the Levant unmistakable evidence of the...

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What Is Creation? Subtle Insights from Genesis 1 Concerning the Order of the World

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pp. 59-65

For some time now in our Western cultures, these ideas have been drawn together and reduced to a very abstract and meager conception, that of a primal cause or of ‘‘being caused,’’ a conception behind which one can neither venture nor inquire: God is ‘‘the ground of all being,’’ ‘‘the all-determining...

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Qur’ānic Texts

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pp. 66-68

In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of night and day; in the ships that sail to the sea with goods for people; in the water which God sends down from the sky to give life to the earth where it has been barren, scattering all kinds of creatures over it; in the changing of the winds...

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pp. 69-73

When, with this background in mind, we look at the Qur’ānic texts presented in this volume, we wonder how these texts can at all be relevant to an investigation of the science–religion dialectic at which the whole volume aims. We are faced with the question: Are we trying to draw from the Qur’ān answers...

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Classical Christian Texts

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pp. 74-80

One day, doubtless, their terrible condemnation will be the greater for all this worldly wisdom, since, seeing so clearly into vain sciences, they have wilfully shut their eyes to the knowledge of the truth. These men who measure the distances of the stars and describe them, both those of the North, always shining brilliantly...

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Commentary: Science and Religion in the Classical Christian Tradition

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pp. 81-88

The most notable attitudes in Christian tradition toward the relationship between faith and science had already emerged in the second and third centuries. Because the faith of the Church about the origins, the nature, and the future of the world was primarily informed by its interpretations of...

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Classical Islamic Texts

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pp. 89-101

I realized that to refute a system before understanding it and becoming acquainted with its depths is to act blindly. I therefore set out in all earnestness to acquire a knowledge of philosophy from books, by private study without the help of an instructor. I made progress towards this aim during my hours...

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Commentary: The Importance of al-Ghazālī and Ibn Rushd in the History of Islamic Discourse on Religion and Science

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pp. 102-110

Both Arabic titles are well known in the history of Islamic thought, no doubt partly due to the eminence of their respective authors. Both works are generally viewed by modern scholars of classical Islamic thought as important sources of information about how Muslim minds of the eleventh and the twelfth centuries...

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Charles Darwin

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pp. 111-119

If, however, we include under the term ‘‘religion’’ the belief in unseen or spiritual agencies the case is wholly different; for this belief seems to be universal with the less civilised races. Nor is it difficult to comprehend how it arose. As soon as the important faculties of the imagination, wonder, and curiosity...

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Introduction to Darwin and the Selected Texts

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pp. 120-127

There is a well-known irony in Darwin’s biography that he recognized himself. During his time at Cambridge University, which followed an abortive start to a medical career at Edinburgh, Darwin’s intention was to become a clergyman in the Church of England. He said of his beliefs at that time that...

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Early Arabic Views of Darwin

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pp. 128-133

In the third chapter of Descent, from which the above passage is excerpted, Darwin laid out the ‘‘comparison of the mental powers of man and the lower animals’’ as part of his ‘‘evidence for the descent of man from some lower form.’’ Among the powers he listed were the emotions, memory, imagination...

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Modern Islamic Texts

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pp. 134-142

The significance of the new moon may be viewed in more than one way. Some reports suggest that the Prophet Muḥammad was asked why the moon goes through its various phases. Others say that he was asked why the new moon appears in such a regular fashion, which would have been more consistent...

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Introduction to Quṭb and al-Sha‘rāwī

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pp. 143-151

Sayyid Quṭb was born in 1906 in the Upper Egyptian village of Musha in Asyut, where he was raised by a devout family, and he had memorized the Holy Qur’ān by the age of ten. After years of imprisonment, Quṭb was executed by Nasser’s regime in 1966, on charges that he had conspired against the...

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Pope John Paul II

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pp. 152-166

The three hundredth anniversary of the publication of Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica provided an appropriate occasion for the Holy See to sponsor a Study Week that investigated the multiple relationships among theology, philosophy and the natural sciences. The man so honoured...

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pp. 167-172

This basic stance of openness to the insights of modern science flows most naturally from a wider appreciation within the Roman Catholic tradition of the value of reason as such. The opening remarks of the 1998 encyclical Fides et ratio make clear that faith and reason are ‘‘like two wings on which the...

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pp. 173-177

If we tease out a little further what is and is not being claimed in the metaphysic that is largely common to Christianity and Islam, it would be something along these lines. The finite world is not a realm of necessity; only God is what he is ‘‘necessarily,’’ in the sense that God is subject to no other...


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pp. 179-189

E-ISBN-13: 9781589019447
E-ISBN-10: 158901944X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781589019140
Print-ISBN-10: 1589019148

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Religion and science -- Congresses.
  • Christianity -- Doctrines -- Congresses.
  • Islam -- Doctrines -- Congresses.
  • Bible -- Criticism, interpretation, etc. -- Congresses.
  • Koran -- Criticism, interpretation, etc. -- Congresses.
  • Christianity and other religions -- Islam -- Congresses.
  • Islam -- Relations -- Christianity -- Congresses.
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