Uniformity, biblical criticism and supernatural activity in the 19th century

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a black and white portrait photograph of Mareike Smolka
5th July 2022

S2 Episode 9: Measuring Meditation – the Study of Contemplative Science with Mareike Smolka

Religious practices and their effects are increasingly the subject of scientific investigation. In the field of Contemplative Science, mediative practices drawn from Buddhist traditions are united with techniques of analysis from cognitive and neurosciences. In this episode, James and Will welcome Mareike Smolka, a PhD Researcher at Maastricht University in Science and Technology Studies and Fullbright Scholar at Arizona State University, who has ethnographically explored this community. Mareike’s…

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14th June 2022

S2 Episode 8: Science and Colonial Legacies in East Africa with Professor Adam Chepkwony

In this episode, Richard and Will talk with Professor Adam Chepkwony, a Full Professor of Religion at the University of Kabianga in Kenya. Professor Chepkwony’s work covers a wide range of topics including African Religion, Inter-religious Dialogue, Science and Religion, and more. In this episode, Professor Chepkwony provides his perspective on how issues like climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic have affected, and are perceived by, people in Kenya.

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1st June 2022

S2 Episode 7: Science and Islam in the 19th Century with Dr Sarah Qidwai

In this episode, Rachael and Richard talk with Dr Sarah Qidwai, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Regensburg, Germany. Sarah’s work explores transnational and local perspectives on scientific disciplines during the long nineteenth century. In this episode, we discuss the focus of Sarah’s doctoral thesis, the Muslim polymath Sir Sayyed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898), and her latest project entitled ‘Scientism and Empire’ while examining how disciplines such as…

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a black and white photograph of Dr Bastiaan Rutjens
11th May 2022

S2 Episode 6: Science Scepticism around the World with Dr Baastian Rutjens

Understanding public attitudes towards science has become an increasingly important area of research in recent decades, and the importance of this kind of work has only been heightened by the emergence of COVID-19, and the diverse and unpredictable public responses to scientific and medical advice during the pandemic. In this episode Will and Richard talk to Dr Baastian Rutjens, who investigates public attitudes to science around the world, with…

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6th April 2022

Religious Belief and the Geohistory of the Planet: Between Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy

By Richard Fallon In September 2021, Nature-affiliated journal Scientific Reports published a striking article arguing that the Bronze Age city of Tall el-Hammam was destroyed by a cosmic airburst. The authors, Ted E. Bunch et al, speculated that the Genesis story of the destruction of Sodom preserves memories of this impact – and received intense criticism in response. Just a few months later, scholars in Geology described another…

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22nd March 2022

Science and Religion, A Very Short Re-Introduction

By Adam R. Shapiro When Thomas Dixon first asked me to work with him to revise and update his excellent 2008 book Science and Religion, A Very Short Introduction, my first thought was to ask why such a text might need a new edition. On the face of it, many of the issues we typically associate with the study of “science and religion” seem timeless, or…

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15th March 2022

S2 Episode 5: Evolution and Creation in New Zealand with Dr John Stenhouse

In this episode James Riley and Richard Grove talk with John Stenhouse, Associate Professor of History at the University of Otago, New Zealand.  John’s research interests centre on the interconnections between science, religion, race, politics and gender in the modern world, particularly using New Zealand as the major site of study. We talk about the history of creationist and evolutionary ideas in New Zealand, and how…

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8th March 2022

Engineers communicating science, and the religion and science debates in fin-de-siècle Spain

By Jaume Navarro and Javier Sierra de la Torre In 1876, two Spanish versions of Draper’s History of the Conflict between Religion and Science appeared on the market. One, a translation from the French version, issued in weekly instalments, passed largely unnoticed. But the other, a direct translation from the original version, was highly publicized by liberal and republican politicians, philosophers, and academics as a tool for the promotion of…

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1st February 2022

S2 Episode 4: Cultural Psychology of the Mind with Dr Vivian Dzokoto

In this episode, hosts Richard Grove and James Riley meet with Dr. Vivian Dzokoto, a Cultural Psychologist at Virginia Commonwealth University in the United States, to discuss her work on the cultural differences in how people think about “the mind.” Dr. Dzokoto has published research on a wide range of topics. However, one of the key characteristics of her research is the examination of culture and religion. Much of her…

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14th December 2021

S2 Episode 3: Varieties of Atheism in Science with Professor Elaine Howard Ecklund and Dr David R. Johnson

In this episode, hosts Rachael Shillitoe and Richard Grove, meet with Elaine Howard Ecklund, Professor of Sociology at Rice University and David R. Johnson, Associate Professor of Educational Policy Studies at Georgia State University, to discuss their new book, Varieties of Atheism in Science, out now with Oxford University Press. Elaine and David reflect on the findings of their study which drew on surveys and interviews with atheist scientists in the UK and…

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6th December 2021

Call for Papers: The International Research Network for the Study of Science and Belief in Society, 3rd Annual Conference

University of Birmingham and Online (hybrid conference) 13-15 July 2022 Bursaries and honoraria to support participation, whether in-person or online are available, see below for more. The International Research Network for the Study of Science and Belief in Society has been at the centre of the recent significant growth in social scientific and humanities research focusing on science, religion, and belief in society. Following our successful online conference…

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A black and white photograph of Dr Anna Halafoff
23rd November 2021

S2 Episode 2: Science, (Con)spirituality and COVID-19 with Dr Anna Halafoff

New-age spirituality, wellness and alternative health practices have been cast in a new light as the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded. The relationship between these practices and established or mainstream science and public health has tended to be an uneasy one, and this unease has only increased during the pandemic, with online spiritualist and wellness communities providing fertile ground for the growth and spread of increasingly anti-establishment and conspiratorial ideas.

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9th November 2021

Seminarians, Popes and Evolution: A View from Brazil

By Marcio Antonio Campos Pope Francis addressing an audience at the Galeão Air Force Base, Brazil 2013. Tania Rego/ABr, CC BY 3.0 BR, via Wikimedia Commons Are seminarians who know what popes have said on evolution more likely to make peace with Darwin? When Pope Francis said in 2014 that God was not “a magician, complete with an all powerful magic wand”,…

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a sepia image of five adults at seance table with ectoplasm streaming below a table
27th October 2021

S2 Episode 1 – Fingerprinting Ghosts: Science, Technology & the Occult with The Media of Mediumship Project Team

The Media of Mediumship project is running jointly at the University of Stirling and the Science Museum Group. The project team comprises Principal Investigator Professor Christine Ferguson, Co-Investigator Dr Efram Sera-Shriar and Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Emma Merkling. In this very spooky episode, Christine, Efram and Emma tell us how from the late-Victorian era, novel technologies of the…

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Newspaper cartoon from 1875 depicting Draper wearing Eastern costume
26th October 2021

Tyndall, Draper, and “Eastern” Religions

By Bernard Lightman When John Tyndall, well known physicist and superintendent of the prestigious Royal Institution, delivered his “Belfast Address” in 1874 as President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science he touched off a storm of controversy that lasted for several years.  The lecture was a tour de force, covering the entire history of science and its complicated relationship to philosophical materialism, particularly with reference…

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12th October 2021

‘For the Study of’: A one-sided agenda on religion and science?

By Willem B. Drees Is it significant that the name of the International Network for the Study of Science and Belief in Society has explicitly ‘for the study of’ in the name? It might be merely a smart move in a secularized academic context, where engagement with religious convictions is more easily accepted if the beliefs of others are the object of study, rather than seen as convictions that…

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5th October 2021

STEMM and Belief in Diverse Contexts Conference: reflections from Africa

From 7-9 July 2021 we held our annual INSBS conference, STEMM and Belief in Diverse Contexts: Publics, Praxis, Policy and Pluralism. Postponed in 2020 and held online in 2021 because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, in this post three of our members from Africa reflect on their online conference experience. Belief and Science is not always a Toxic Combination By Ganiyat…

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20th July 2021

All the Light Here Comes from Above: Edward Hitchcock, Man of Science, Man of Faith

by Robert T. McMaster Image from William S. Tyler, History of Amherst College During its First Half Century 1821 to 1871 (Springfield, Mass.: Clark W. Bryan and Company, 1873). Edward Hitchcock (1793-1864) was not the only star in the firmament of American science in the nineteenth century, but he was certainly one of the brightest. Raised among the wheat and rye fields of Deerfield, Massachusetts, he was expected to…

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3rd June 2021

Episode 9: Science and Religion in Mass Media with Dr Tom Aechtner

In the final episode of Season 1 of the Science & Belief in Society Podcast, we’re re-joined by Dr Tom Aechtner, Senior Lecturer in Religion and Science in the School Historical and Philosophical Inquiry at the University of Queensland. Tom talks us through the persuasive and rhetorical tactics used by both pro- and anti-evolutionist media and explains what science communicators can learn from their anti-evolutionary counterparts. Alongside his work on…

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24th May 2021

STEMM and Belief in Diverse Contexts: Publics, Praxis, Policy and Pluralism Online conference, 7-9 July 2021 This conference took place from 7-9 July 2021 online. The final programme can be found at the following Download link: INSBS-Conference-2021-Final-ProgrammeDownload Included in the Programme are the following two plenary events. These are public lectures. Intersectional Approaches to Diversity in STEMM: Belief, Culture, and Inclusion The lack of diversity…

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