Science and religion

Various aspects of the relationship between religion and science have been cited by modern historians of science and religion, philosophers, theologians, scientists, and others from various geographical regions and cultures. Even though the ancient and medieval worlds did not have conceptions resembling the modern understandings of "science" and "religion", certain elements of these modern ideas are found throughout history.

It was in the 19th century when the phrases "religion and science" or "science and religion" first emerged in literature. This coincided with the refining of "science", from the studies of "natural philosophy", and "religion" as distinct concepts in the last few centuries partly due to professionalization of the sciences, the Protestant Reformation, colonization, and globalization. Since then, many have characterized the relationship as either conflict, harmony, complexity, or mutual independence.

Both science and religion are complex social and cultural endeavors that vary across cultures and have changed over time. Most scientific and technical innovations prior to the scientific revolution were achieved by societies organized by religious traditions. Elements of the scientific method were pioneered by ancient pagan, Islamic, and Christian scholars. Roger Bacon, who is often credited with formalizing the scientific method, was a Franciscan friar.

Hinduism has historically embraced reason and empiricism, holding that science brings legitimate, but incomplete knowledge of the world and universe. Confucian thought has held different views of science over time. Most Buddhists today view science as complementary to their beliefs. While the classification of the material world by the ancient Indians and Greeks into air, earth, fire and water was more philosophical, medieval Middle Easterns used practical and experimental observation to classify materials.

Events in Europe such as the Galileo affair, associated with the scientific revolution and the Age of Enlightenment, led scholars such as John William Draper to postulate a conflict thesis, holding that religion and science have been in conflict methodologically, factually and politically throughout history. This thesis is held by some contemporary scientists such as Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Peter Atkins, and Donald Prothero. The conflict thesis has lost favor among most contemporary historians of science.

Many scientists, philosophers, and theologians throughout history, such as Francisco Ayala, Kenneth R. Miller and Francis Collins, have seen compatibility or independence between religion and science. Biologist Stephen Jay Gould, other scientists, and some contemporary theologians hold that religion and science are non-overlapping magisteria, addressing fundamentally separate forms of knowledge and aspects of life. Some theologians or historians of science, including John Lennox, Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme and Ken Wilber propose an interconnection between science and religion, while others such as Ian Barbour believe there are even parallels.

Public acceptance of scientific facts may be influenced by religion; many in the United States reject evolution by natural selection, especially regarding human beings. Nevertheless, the American National Academy of Sciences has written that "the evidence for evolution can be fully compatible with religious faith", a view officially endorsed by many religious denominations globally.