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The ‘Conflict’ or ‘Warfare’ Hypothesis

The conflict or warfare hypothesis on the relationship between science and religion is probably still the view most widely held among those who have not followed the recent debate in this area. It supposes that there is a conflict in which one subject is overwhelming the other, forcing it off its territory.

As John Brooke shows, this is a limited and flawed way of understanding the history of the relationship between science and religion. (See Science and Religion (Brooke) p33-42). See also Different sciences, different relationships.)

The hypothesis derives a lot of its popularity from certain 19th Century understandings of the two subjects. It was much furthered by two books originating in the 1870s: History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science by John William Draper and A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom by Andrew Dickson White.See Welch, Claude, ‘Dispelling Some Myths About the Split between Theology and Science in the Nineteenth Century’ in Religion and Science, ed. by W.Mark Richardson and Wesley J. Wildman, (London:...

Email link | Feedback | Contributed by: Dr. Christopher Southgate
Source: God, Humanity and the Cosmos  (T&T Clark, 1999)

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