I believe that there is a deep and often unappreciated connection between religion and science and that dogma in either is bad for thinking. In 1996-1997, I taught an undergraduate seminar on Judaism, Ecology and Evolution; one of the things that we did was write a response to an article about the moral case against environmentalism (this is Kelman et al found below). My colleague Tammi Benjamin and I discovered deep new connections between the Ten Plagues and statistical science as a way of thinking (T. Benjamin and M. Mangel. 1999. The ten plagues and statistical science as a way of knowing. Judaism 48:17-34; get it here). My reviews of books on these topics point towards understanding the connection.
Lawrence Hoffman, in his book The Art of Public Prayer (Skylights Paths Publishing, Woodstock, VT; 2nd edition 1999) notes the following
“Science builds upon the patterns that it finds in nature…scientific knowledge depends upon the discovery of order either firsthand (we observe the same thing happening over and over again) or mathematically (we work out an equation that predicts the pattern in question, whether it has yet been observed or not)…Both religion and science are alike in that they respond to their anomalies by insisting that there is some overall pattern nonetheless, even if we cannot figure out what it is yet.
Patterns exist in an ascending order of increasing abstraction. Any fool can observe first order patterns by just holding a crab and noting its symmetry….it is relatively easy to hold a crab in one hand and a lobster in the other and observe the second order pattern that unites them both. By the time we get to third order patterns, however, we are hardly in the realm of empirical evidence at all, since we are comparing not the animals themselves, but the similarity of relationships between the animals…
Theoretically, we can go even farther — into the realm of fourth order patterning, where the patterns of patterns of patterns are held together in still one more pattern…the metapatternsof the universe” (pg 118-121)”
In addition to the general issue of connections between science and religion, I am more specifically interested in golemology (see Henry Gee’s piece in Nature 414:848, 2001) since that forces us to think about questions such as the definition of life and the ethical implications of artificial intelligence.
Other than the article on the plagues, most of my writing on this topic has been and essay or reviews of books:
1997 Kelman, E., Rapoport, M., Segal, J., and M. Mangel. Is there a moral case againstenvironmentalism? Leviathan (Spring 1997): 9, 27
2001 Mangel, M. Required reading for (ecological) battles. (Review of N Eldredge. The Triumph of Evolution….and the Failure of Creationism). Trends in Ecology and Evolution 16:110
2005 Mangel, M. A failure to communicate. A review of R. Crawford Is God a Scientist? A Dialogue between Science and Religion. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 20:161
2007 Mangel, M. New views on religion and science. Reviews of E.O. Wilson The Creation, F.S. Collins The Language of God and J. Roughgarden Evolution and Christian Faith. BioScience 57:273-277
2015 Mangel, M. Sensible thinking about science and religion. Review of K. Thomson Private Doubt, Public Dilemma BioScience. doi:10.1093/biosci/biv098