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Disenchantment or Conflict? Egil Asprem and ‘Science and Religion’ Discourses

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In his The Problem of Disenchantment, Egil Asprem offers an interesting view of discourses on science and religion. Despite the dominance of ‘conflicts’ in public perception, the ‘independence’ approach might be more deeply rooted in modern culture. Asprem studies ‘scientific’ movements that oppose disenchantment. In this paper I raise the question of why quantum physics was successful, whereas other revisions of ‘science’ were not. Of the natural theologies discussed, this paper offers some comments on ‘emergence’ and on ‘quantum mysticism’. Asprem presents himself as a methodological naturalist; a position that is in principle open to the study of parapsychology and other ‘spiritual’ claims. He considers theism to be incompatible with such a methodological naturalism, whereas I suggest that an epistemically agnostic theism is also appropriate, combining methodological naturalism and disenchantment.

Affiliations: 1: Tilburg University, Tilburg School of Humanities, the Netherlands,


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1. Asprem Egil, The Problem of Disenchantment: Scientific Naturalism and Esoteric Discourse, 1900–1939 , Numen book series, vol. 147 (Leiden: Brill, 2014).
2. Barbour Ian G., Religion in an Age of Science (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1990).
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5. Geoffrey Cantor, and Kenny Chris, “"Barbour’s Fourfold Way: Problems with his Taxonomy of Science-Religion Relationships",” Zygon: Journal of Religion and ScienceVol 36 (2001), 765781.
6. Dixon Thomas,; Cantor Geoffrey, and Pumfrey Stephen, eds., Science and Religion: New Historical Perspectives (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).
7. Drees Willem B., Religion and Science in Context: A Guide to the Debates (London: Routledge, 2010).
8. Drees Willem B., Religion, Science and Naturalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).
9. Drees Willem B., “"Religious Naturalism and Science"”, in Philip Clayton and Zachary Simpson, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 108123.
10. Hammer Olav. Claiming Knowledge: Strategies of Epistemology from Theosophy to the New Age (Leiden: Brill, 2004).
11. Numbers Ronald ed., Galileo Goes to Jail, and other Myths about Science and Religion (Cambridge, ma: Harvard University Press, 2009).
12. Olson Richard. “"A Dynamic Model for ‘Science and Religion’: Interacting Subcultures",” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science Vol 46 (2011), 6583.

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