The Matter of Religion and Science: Response to Huston Smith

Zygon 36 (2):215-222 (2001)
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Huston Smith's Why Religion Matters is the culminating reflections of one of the most respected religion scholars of our day. In this work, Smith sees modern society to be in the midst of a spiritual crisis. According to Smith, this crisis has been brought about by the advance of science and the inroads into what Smith calls the traditional worldview. While Smith's work is of some importance, I believe that several of its fundamental claims are mistaken. Smith often does not accurately portray the content of science and frequently conflates the actual practice of science with philosophical scientism. Smith wrongly blames science alone for the decline of religion among Western elites. His claim that all religions can be equivocally described in terms of the traditional worldview is also problematic. Despite this, Smith does have a clear conception of what the issues are in the relation between science and religion. It is my hope that these issues will continue to be taken seriously.



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Gregory Peterson
South Dakota State University

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