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Secularization: what has science got to do with it?

Unsworth, Amy (2020) Secularization: what has science got to do with it? In: Lightman, Bernard and Elsdon-Baker, Fern, eds. Science, Religion, and the Public. University of Pittsburgh Press. (In press) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)

Abstract

Some insist that the rise of science has been catastrophic for religion; yet, according to many sociologists, science has played a minimal role in the decline of religion. However, sociological accounts of secularization have tended to focus on impersonal forces of modernization, ignoring the roles played by activist individuals and their organisations. In this chapter I first draw on examples from modern history in the USSR, eastern Germany and Turkey to examine the ways in which various actors have been inspired by a narrative of scientific progress, and have promoted science in various ways to try and bring about secularization at the level of individual belief and practice. The differences in outcomes in these different contexts demonstrate that the success of this strategy is strongly contingent on a range of other factors. I then turn to analyse survey data from present-day Britain, interrogating whether formal scientific education or popular scientific atheism (“New Atheism”) may have played a role in the decline of religion. I conclude that while the acquisition of scientific knowledge is not linked to religious deconversion, the rhetorical use of science as “not-religion” can be important for atheist identity-formation, and this may play a role in secularization.

Item Type: Book section
Uncontrolled keywords: science, religion, non-religion, atheism, New Atheism, Richard Dawkins
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages
Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > Religious Studies
Depositing User: Amy Unsworth
Date Deposited: 08 Jul 2019 16:26 UTC
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2020 04:19 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/75262 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Unsworth, Amy: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0395-1106
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