Beyond Barbour’s Four Models




15:00 - 16:00


 - Prof Peter Harrison




 - FaSCoRe, HKU



When we talk about science and religion, we often talk as though we know what ‘science’ and ‘religion’ are. And even if we are not sure exactly how to pin them down, we assume that the categories ‘science’ and ‘religion’ are meaningful and largely distinct.

This may be a good working assumption modern-day western societies, but it does not hold for all times or all places.

This discussion group brings together historians (to move away from modern-day perspectives) and Asian scholars (to move away from Western perspectives). From these vantage points we will attempt to construct a way of framing the discourse which moves beyond Barbour’s Four models  for relating science and religion - Opposition, Independence, Dialogue, and Integration - and which achieves a more indigenously Asian framing.

About the speaker

Peter Harrison is an Australian Laureate Fellow and Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities. Before coming to the University of Queensland he was the Idreos Professor of Science and Religion and Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre at the University of Oxford. He has published extensively in the field of intellectual history with a focus on the philosophical, scientific and religious thought of the early modern period, and has a particular interest in historical and contemporary relations between science and religion.

Background reading

The following readings will help get participants up to speed with any parts of the discussion with which they are not familliar.

Ian Barbour came up with four models:
 - Barbour, Ian G. (1998) “Ch 4: Ways of Relating Science and Religion,” in Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues, pp. 77-104. San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins.

These are, in certain senses problematic:
 - Harrison, Peter (2006) “Science and Religion: Constructing the Boundaries,” The Journal of Religion 86 (1): 81-106.

There are other ways of framing the discourse:
 - Csikszentmihalyi, Mark (2011) “Early Chinese Religions,” in John Hedley Brooke and Ronald L. Numbers (Eds.) Science and Religion Around the World, pp. 175-194. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
 - Feierman, Steven, and Janzen, John M (2011) “African Religions” in John Hedley Brooke and Ronald L. Numbers (Eds.) Science and Religion Around the World, pp. 229-251. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Related events

Prof Harrison will be involved in several events in October. These include
Seminar on 12th October:
Naturalism, Supernaturalism, and Scientific Explanation.

Public lecture on 12th October:
Science and Religion: new perspectives on an old conflict.