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Where the “Science-Religion” Dichotomy Came From

Richard Weikart


Many theistic evolutionists seem to think that science explains nature, while religion has nothing whatsoever to do with nature. The historian of science Frederick Gregory in his book, Nature Lost? Natural Science and the German Theological Traditions of the Nineteenth Century (Harvard University Press, 1992), explored the issue in nineteenth-century German theology and showed the heavy influence of Kantian philosophy on this development. Kant posited a distinction between the phenomenal realm (i.e., science, determinism, things-as-we-perceive-them) and the noumenal realm (i.e., God, free will, immortality, and things-in-themselves). This works itself out in many ways in Western intellectual history, giving rise to various dichotomies: science-religion, fact-value, knowledge-faith, objectivity-subjectivity, etc.
Most theistic evolutionists use this dichotomy to try to insulate religion from scientific and historical critiques. Of course, it also removes religion from the realm of reality, transporting it into the realm of the purely subjective. For an extensive discussion of how this dichotomy works itself out in Western culture, read Nancy Pearcey’s most recent book, Saving Leonardo.

Richard Weikart

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Richard Weikart is Emeritus Professor of History, California State University, Stanislaus, and author of seven books, including From Darwin to Hitler, Hitler’s Ethic, The Death of Humanity, and Hitler’s Religion. His most recent book is Darwinian Racism: How Darwinism Influenced Hitler, Nazism, and White Nationalism (2022). His PhD dissertation, Socialist Darwinism, earned the biennial prize of the Forum for History of Human Sciences as best dissertation in that field. He has lectured at many universities and other venues in the US and Europe. He also has been interviewed on dozens of radio shows, podcasts, and TV, and appeared in seven documentaries, including Expelled. Some of his lectures and interviews are available on YouTube.

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AllegedDarwinistsGodHebrew BibleInherit the WindKantrabbiScopes Monkey Trialtheistic evolutiontheology