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Webs of Reality: Social Perspectives on Science and Religion [Hardcover]

By William A. Stahl (Author), Gary Diver (Author) & Yvonne Petry (Author)
Our Price $ 50.15  
Retail Value $ 59.00  
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Item Number 140363  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   254
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.58" Width: 6.42" Height: 0.99"
Weight:   1.2 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jun 10, 2002
Publisher   Rutgers University Press
ISBN  0813531063  
EAN  9780813531069  

Availability  0 units.

Alternate Formats List Price Our Price Item Number Availability
Hardcover $ 59.00 $ 50.15 140363
Paperback $ 29.63 $ 29.63 140362 In Stock
Item Description...
Science and religion are often thought to be advancing irreconcilable goals and thus to be mutually antagonistic. Yet in the often acrimonious debates between the scientific and religious communities, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that both science and religion are systems of thought and knowledge that aim to understand the world and our place in it.

Webs of Reality is a rare examination of the interrelationship between religion and science from a social science perspective, offering a broad view of the relationship, and posing practical questions regarding technology and ethics. Emphasizing how science and religion are practiced instead of highlighting the differences between them, the authors look for the subtle connections, tacit understandings, common history, symbols, and implicit myths that tie them together. How can the practice of science be understood from a religious point of view? What contributions can science make to religious understanding of the world? What contributions can the social sciences make to understanding both knowledge systems? Looking at religion and science as fields of inquiry and habits of mind, the authors discover not only similarities between them but also a wide number of ways in which they complement each other.

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Guess whose coming to dinner?  Oct 5, 2003
Webs of Reality: Social Perspectives on Science and Religion is a model of what social science should be. By assembling a team of co-authors such as a physicist, an historian, and an educator, sociologist William A. Stahl has possibly written a classic work on science and religion. The authors discuss three models of the relationship between science and religion: 1) Ian Barbour�s continuum of conflict, independence, dialogue, and integration; 2) Stephen Jay Gould�s Non-Overlapping Model; and 3) Ronald Cole Turner�s web model. The authors opt for the web model, hence the title of the book. Lead author and sociologist Stahl laments that social science has not been invited to the party when it comes to the lucrative annual Templeton prizes on religion and science and the prestige that comes with publication in Zygon, the journal of religion and science. This is in part the fault of sociology itself with its fetish for quantification in order to gain the same prestige as the natural sciences. As the eminent sociologist Peter Berger has written: (quote) Methodological fetishism has resulted in many sociologists using increasingly sophisticated methods to study increasingly trivial topics (end). Additionally, inviting sociology to the table of the science � religion debate is like inviting your socially deviant and destitute relative to dinner � your�e embarrassed that your relative always is trying to manipulate his family for assistance. Sociology�s partisan role as an apologist and ideolgical propagandist for the welfare state hardly makes it a good candidate for playing a role in the science-religion dialogues. That is until Stahl and his co-author�s book appeared on the scene. An ironic weakness of the book is that it is sociologically naïve that hard scientists and theologians would allow the social sciences to invade their respective turfs. Webs of Reality transcends the acrimonious culture war of the 1990�s between the natural and social sciences by what might be called role alternation. Science is viewed and analyzed from a religious point of view using classical sociologist Max Weber�s five categories of religion. Part 1 entitled Soteriology looks at science as a form of salvation and progress. Part 2 entitled Saintliness looks at scientists as embodying saintliness and charisma. Part 3 addresses what is called Magical Causation by showing that the boundaries between magic and science are perhaps less distinct than thought. In Part 4 entitled Theodicy, science like religion is often called upon to give explanations of suffering and death. And in Part 5 entitled Mystery, the authors point out that truth is lost when either mystery or objectivity is abandoned. Another impediment to inviting sociology to the science-religion table is sociology�s tendency to use abstract and overly theoretical professional language. In Webs of Reality you will not find the typical socio-babble and obfuscation of such sociologists such as Foucault, Derrida, or Habermas as is frequently the case in current sociological works. Stahl and his co-authors write clearly and concretely. Included in the book is an interesting case study of the scientific production of knowledge about the death of the dinosaurs in evolutionary history. Given the caliber of Stahl and his co-author�s book, my guess is that sociology may soon shed its deviant social status and be invited to the science-religion banquet circuit. Unlike many books in sociology or science, I did not find Webs of Reality boring. Highly recommended.

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