SOC350 Midterm #1:
CONFLICT BETWEEN SCIENCE AND RELIGION WITH RESPECT TO WEBER AND GIERYN
Science and religion has an obvious conflict throughout the history of mankind. This conflict arouse a stimulation for some sociological discussions, as the reasons and timings behind such conflicts has been searched. Comparing Max Weber’s and Thomas Gieryn’s understanding of conflicts between science and religion, there are certain differences in terms of analyzing techniques and observation points. Before getting into detail, it would be better to compare the general outline and aims of the papers of these scholars. In Religious Rejections of the World and Their Directions of Weber, the general aim of the text is about the analysis of religion in relation to worldly domains; such as economic, political, esthetic, erotic and yet intellectual spheres where science and religion conflict is discussed. So, the religion has been taken as a main point. In Gieryn’s Boundary-Work and the Demarcation of Science from Non-Science however, science is taken as a main point and its relation to the “non-science” has been analyzed with several examples. “This paper offers one escape from seemingly interminable debates over the uniqueness and superiority of science among knowledge-producing activities” (Gieryn, pg. 792) To understand the struggle between religion and science, it is important to know how these aspects show similarity in intellectual and ethical sense. Weber takes religion as believing a supra-mundane God and/or creator by showing some certain amounts of ascetic and mystic aspects. Religion comes as an explanation towards the purpose of life including the aspects of origin and initial position of human. It offers explanation and a chance of salvation where it sets the ethical course to its predetermined sets of rules. “Thus understood, the prophecy or commandment means, at least relatively, to systematize and rationalize the way of life, either in particular points or totally. The latter has been the rule with all true religions of salvation, that is, with all religions that hold out deliverance from suffering to their adherents. This is more likely to be the case the more sublimated, the more inward, and the more principled the essence of suffering is conceived. For then it is important to put the follower into a permanent state which makes him inwardly safe against suffering.” (Weber, pg. 327) So what is science? As Gieryn refers to it as the “problem of demarcation”, there has been a long struggle, how to identify science and how to distinguish it from other intellectual activities such as philosophy, religion, art, and politics. Gieryn argues that distinctive facts of science given by Comte (as science is distinctive by using reasoning and observation), Popper (as science is falsifiable) and, Merton (science to extend ‘certified knowledge’) has failed by recent studies (where Gieryn refers to the studies of Bohme at this point). Gieryn also questions the (so called) objectivity of science, claiming “Analysis of the content of these ideologies suggests that ‘science’ is no single thing: characteristics attributed to science vary widely depending upon the specific intellectual or professional activity designated as ‘non- science’, and upon particular goals of the boundary-work. The boundaries of science are ambiguous, flexible, historically changing, contextually variable, internally inconsistent, and sometimes disputed.” (Gieryn, pg. 792) For him, this is mainly because of the inevitable subjectivity of the scientist rather than science. “But to reduce the ideologies to reflections or resolutions of strains forgets that scientists too struggle for authority, power, and resources” (Gieryn, pg. 792) It is important to understand this claim of Gieryn, because it will also set an important point when the reasons behind the conflict is discussed. Second aspect the both scholars searched for, is the reasons behind the tension between...
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