Beyond Secularization: Piloting New Approaches to the Study of Religion, Science, and Technology in Public Life

About

"This initiative aims at illuminating how reigning ideas of progress regulate religion and science by assimilating new hybrids and marking them as acceptably secular or unacceptably religious"

About

It is a foundational commitment of modernity’s most powerful institutions that secular knowledge and spiritual belief must be segregated. This process of secularization is seen as a driver of human progress. A key corollary is that science and technology are, at once, both cause and consequence of secularization and progress.

Yet today, techno-scientific progress is widely valorized in moral and spiritual terms—e.g. biotech evangelists promise redemption from mortality, and new spiritualities leverage the authority of neurobiology. But such hybridity hides in plain sight: society lacks the capacity to critically reflect on its own visions of progress. Belief in progress as science-driven secularization regulates what is deemed to be real and good and therefore knowable and worth knowing.

This initiative aims at illuminating how reigning ideas of progress regulate religion and science by assimilating new hybrids and marking them as acceptably secular (e.g. transhumanism) or unacceptably religious (e.g. evolutionary teleology). We aim to enhance critical awareness and open new possibilities for progress by clarifying the limits of dominant ways of knowing.

Funded by a grant from the Templeton Religion Trust, this initiative pilots this new approach through empirical research, an international workshop and public outreach.

Building on more than a decade of work on religion, science and technology, the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict is spearheading this initiative, working with faculty from the School of Life Sciences, the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, the Center for Biology and Society, and the Center for Jewish Studies.