Science versus Religion: The War That Never Was

Presented by Joshua Moritz, Ph.D.
Many think the relationship between science and religion—especially the Christian religion—has been one of conflict, debate, or even all-out warfare. This common notion, that science and religion have experienced a long history of conflict or warfare is called the conflict thesis by historians of science and religion. This presentation examines the historical roots and social context of the origin of the conflict thesis and then evaluates three historical cases that are often cited in support of the conflict thesis: 1) that Christopher Columbus was persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church for holding that the Earth is a globe and not flat; 2) that the Church hounded, tortured, and imprisoned Galileo Galilei (and Nicolaus Copernicus before him) for suggesting that the sun is the center of the solar system; and 3) that John T. Scopes—the defendant in the famous 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial—was a “martyr for science” who heroically taught evolution and paid the price by being thrown behind bars. Investigation of these three cases will show that the language of warfare falls far short of historical reality. A more accurate understanding of these events reveals a complexity of interactions characterized by both creative tension and constructive dialogue.

March 14,  1-3PM

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