The relationality of religion and science: Toward a new discourse-analytical framework

Laura Jean Vollmer

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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Rather than asking what the religion-science relationship is, this work explores how relations make ‘religion’ and ‘science.’ An examination of how these two terms have been conceptually shaped by their historical interaction with one another shows that presumptions about their relationship have actually changed their definitions throughout time. This overturns the typical view that the religion-science relationship is based on our understanding of ‘religion’ and ‘science.’ Rather, the idea of relation informs and transforms how we define our terms. Notions of mutual exclusivity gave rise to the supernaturalism-naturalism dichotomy present in many religion-science definitions, reductionist presumptions that science could provide a complete account of the world led to the notion of religion as a strictly scientific object of study, and arguments against mutual exclusivity led to the reformulation of religion-science dichotomies as complementarities, resulting in such notions as scientific religions and religious sciences. As new notions of relations emerge, so do new definitions, new traditions, and new social artifacts, demanding a new paradigm for analysis that can account for this broad spectrum of meanings for ‘religion’ and ‘science.’ This work argues that method and theory in the study of religion, and academia at large, could benefit from ‘relationality analysis,’ making relations the primary object of analysis in order to overcome the lack of clarification regarding key terms by shifting our focus from the question of what the meaning of a term is to how a term means in a discourse-analytic framework.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • von Stuckrad, Kocku, Supervisor
  • Jedan, Christoph, Co-supervisor
  • Bauman, W., Assessment committee, External person
  • Drees, W.B, Assessment committee, External person
  • Molendijk, Arie, Assessment committee
Award date8-Jun-2017
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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