Aesthethics, religion and science in the new issue of Approaching Religion

Science and religion – opposites?

In the contemporary world, science and religion are often regarded as each other’s opposites. Not only that: the complicated relationship between these two entities has also been scrutinised by scholars and thinkers for hundreds of years. But what if the question in itself is incorrectly formulated? What if religion and science are not regarded as mutually exclusive alternatives, but instead as alternative ways of creating knowledge – narratives that build on different aesthetic premises?

Issues such as these are discussed in the current issue of the journal Approaching Religion, entitled “The Beauty Fallacy”: Religion, Science and the Aesthetics of Knowledge Formation. The guest editors Alexandra Grieser, professor of religion at Trinity College Dublin, and Dr Arianna Borrelli, research fellow at the Technische Universität Berlin, aim to show that the common jargon about a conflict between science and religion is simplistic. They argue that the discussion has become stuck in discourse where science is automatically associated with rationality and objectivity – in contrast to the irrationality and subjectivity of religion. Concepts such as religion and science cannot, however, be understood in separation from the cultural and historical context in which they are used, the authors claim. Therefore, they aim to explore how religious and scientific practices have developed through history, into the absolute opposites they are currently considered to be.

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As their analytic tool, the authors contributing to the current thematic issue use the theory formation called aesthetics of knowledge: an emerging perspective in the intersection between religious studies, the history of ideas, aesthetics and history of science. The authors review the various ways in which knowledge is produced, communicated and justified in science and religion and consider how this knowledge is shaped and coloured by the people who create it. What role is allotted to the body, sensations and aesthetic preferences? How do they influence what is ultimately considered to be knowledge and what weight it is ascribed?

With this fascinating thematic issue, we launch Approaching Religion in its new form on the portal The content is the same but the user interface and the editorial features have been developed and renewed. We hope all our loyal readers and writers will register in the new portal and continue to follow our journal!