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Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Paperback]

Thomas Dixon
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

24 July 2008 0199295514 978-0199295517
The debate between science and religion is never out of the news: emotions run high, fuelled by polemical bestsellers like The God Delusion and, at the other end of the spectrum, high-profile campaigns to teach 'Intelligent Design' in schools.

Yet there is much more to the debate than the clash of these extremes. As Thomas Dixon shows in this balanced and thought-provoking introduction, many have seen harmony rather than conflict between faith and science. He explores not only the key philosophical questions that underlie the debate, but also the social, political, and ethical contexts that have made 'science and religion' such a fraught and interesting topic in the modern world, offering perspectives from non-Christian religions and examples from across the physical, biological, and social sciences.. Along the way, he examines landmark historical episodes such as the trial of Galileo by the Inquisition in 1633, and the famous debate between 'Darwin's bulldog' Thomas Huxley and Bishop Wilberforce in Oxford in 1860. The Scopes 'Monkey Trial' in Tennessee in 1925 and the Dover Area School Board case of 2005 are explained with reference to the interaction between religion, law, and education in modern America.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) + Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) + Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (24 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199295514
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199295517
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 10.9 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 154,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


A rich introductory text...on the study of relations of science and religion. (R. P. Whaite, Metascience)

A marvellous book that should be required reading for dogmatic fundamentalists of every persuasion. (Patricia Fara, British Journal for the History of Science)

Dixon shows great skill in composing a book which combines coherence and clarity with a strong forward momentum... The interested reader need not hesitate. (Michael Fuller, The Expository Times)

Bracing initiation (Observer.)

The relationship between science and religion, past and present, is much more varied and more interesting than the popular caricature of conflict. Thomas Dixon gives us the richer picture, and he does it with clarity and verve. This is an ideal introduction to a fascinating subject. (Peter Lipton. University of Cambridge)

Thomas Dixon has made a delightful contribution to this OUP series of Very Short Introductions. (Church Times)

About the Author

Thomas Dixon is Lecturer in History at Queen Mary, University of London. A member of the International Society for Science and Religion and an expert on modern intellectual history, he writes regularly for the Times Literary Supplement, and has published books about the history of psychology and about Victorian moral philosophy.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A refreshingly balanced overview 13 Feb 2009
By Jon E
This entry in the "Very Short Introduction" series is an absolute gem. Thomas Dixon is neither a scientist nor a theologian, but, as an academic and member of the International Society for Science and Religion, he writes with authority and clarity on a debate that has been topical at least since the time of Galileo.

Dixon provides an entertaining overview of the debate as it has shaped up from the heresy trial of Galileo in 17th Century Rome, through the seismic upheaval wrought by Darwin's theory of evolution in the 19th Century to the contemporary clashes between neo-Darwinists and the creationist and intelligent design theorists who oppose them. The book presumes no in-depth knowledge of either scientific theory or religious teachings, but provides brief but helpful explanations of how developments in the various branches of science that have taken place since Copernicus first posited a sun-centred astronomy in 1543 have impacted on religion and theology across the different traditions (though the focus is very much on the theistic religions). Dixon shows how the on-going discussion has been shaped by deeper socio-political currents, so that the truth claims made by participants on either side of the debate cannot be understood in isolation from their historical or cultural context. For example, the form and emphases that the debate has taken in America has been largely shaped by the US Constitution and its First Amendment which enshrines the principal of the separation between Church and State.

Above all, what makes this book such a valuable resource for anyone interested in exploring the debate in further depth is the balance that Dixon strives to keep.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A balanced approach to the subject 18 April 2011
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 500 REVIEWER
The subject matter of the interaction between science and religion is one fraught with misunderstandings. For a while now, there has been a growing tendency to view these two disciplines as polar opposites of each other, and to characterize the interaction as that of a conflict. It does not help that many scientists are atheists, and many believers are not well versed in science. Consequently, each field is perceived as a caricature of itself when viewed through the eyes of its opponents. And yet, what each one offers in its own right and with the respect to other is much more nuanced and rich than these caricatures would imply. The recent spate of neo-atheist books has rekindled interest in the connection between the two. This new atheism bases itself largely on scientism, the idea that religion is false because it is not science.

There is a paucity of good books that do justice to both fields, which makes it difficult for the serious and intellectually honest novice to receive an objective and yet comprehensive account of them. Thomas Dixon's "Science and Religion - A Very Short Introduction" is a welcome exception and probably the best first introduction to the subject. In line with the other "very short introduction" books, this one is sophisticated and does not condescend to its readers by calling them "dummies" or "idiots." Nevertheless it is a very accessible book that sheds a lot of light on its subject. It would be unreasonable to expect a book this slim to cover all of the different approaches to religion and science, and some adjustments need to be made. For the most part, it uses Christianity as the primary example of religion, and discusses those scientific theories and discoveries that have historically posed the greatest challenges to the Christian worldview.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great, balanced little book 13 Aug 2010
By Amy
I really enjoyed this book. Clear, concise and most of all balanced - a quality that is hard to come by when science and religion are discussed together. Thomas Dixon gives a thoughtful and objective overview of the relationship between science and religion. I am interested in reading about what theology and science each bring to the big questions such as how did life come about? Why are we here at all? For me, discussions are all the richer for both perspectives being present. I don't want to be converted to particular belief (theistic or atheistic), I'm not interested being part of a 'them and us' culture. This book, for me then, felt like a real breath of fresh air as it encouraged the reader to develop a similarly balanced, yet questioning approach, to both science and religion. More like this please!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant little book 12 Sep 2010
If you're thinking about the relationship between science and religion this is a fun and gently persuasive guide to the issues that succeeds in complicating any lazy "science vs religion" construal of the interaction.

Dixon's book, as you might have guessed, is basically a tour of the big questions in the debate. Dixon has a knack for raising big themes in a a fun way. The chapter on how science has been used to promote moral agendas does this nicely. Dixon mentions a pamphlet warning of the perils of onanism, which reports the ruinous effects of self-abuse on a person's mind and body.

Dixon's demolition job of the Intelligent Design movement is worth the price alone. Dixon traces the tendency of its proponents to hop from one "irreducibly complex" phenomenon to the next. Behe and co tend to focus on what is currently a problem in area in scientific research, only to jump to another when the mystery starts to unravel. They once talked about biochemical cascades, now they talk about the bacterial flagellum motor. In addition to exposing this dodgy use of difficulties in current research, Dixon also illuminatingly discusses the cultural forces driving what is really an American thing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesesting
This gives a good overall history of Science and Religion although it can be used for academic reasons it is very suitable for someone with just an interest in the subject.
Published 29 days ago by Mrs. C. L. Radcliffe
4.0 out of 5 stars Science and Religion in the Very Short Introduction Series
Author Thomas Dixon says that most books written about the relationship between science and religion aim to make the reader either more religious or less religious. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Robin Friedman
4.0 out of 5 stars A good explanation of the dichotomy between Science and Religion
There are obviously sincere,in the sense of non-hypocritical,religious believers.However,I would contend that,ultimately,human beings must follow the evidence and accept as valid... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Stevie
4.0 out of 5 stars I think the story may be a little different
I enjoyed this book - it goes over a number of the classic religion and science "battles" - from Galileo to Creationism and Intelligent Design. Read more
Published 17 months ago by J. Mann
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and thought provoking
Studying in the sciences myself I find the issues of science and religion highly interesting. This book offers a well informed overview of many issues, current and in the past, and... Read more
Published 22 months ago by ADElliott
5.0 out of 5 stars A balanced and unbiased review of the interlinked role of science and...
This is an excellent book for someone seeking to expand their knowledge on the arguments for both science and faith in the interpretation and the understanding of our existence in... Read more
Published on 30 Nov 2011 by N Louis
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, balanced and recommended
The book can perhaps be best summed up in this quotation by the author, Thomas Dixon:

"The story (of religion and science) is not always one of a heroic and open-minded... Read more
Published on 14 Jan 2011 by N. Street
4.0 out of 5 stars Science and Religion
This book does what it's title says ie serves as an introduction to the Science and (versus?) Religion debate. Read more
Published on 19 Sep 2010 by Doced
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended Introductory Read
From the previous reviews this little book has attracted nothing but recommendations. I do no more than add my support to these views. Read more
Published on 22 Dec 2009 by Peregrinus
5.0 out of 5 stars Science and religion: A philosophical view
Science and Religion: A very short introduction by Thomas Dixon, Oxford, 2008, 168 ff.

Science and Religion - a philosophical view
By Howard A. Read more
Published on 15 Aug 2009 by Dr. H. A. Jones
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