Awe and Wonder in Scientific Practice: Implications for the Relationship Between Science and Religion

Issues in Science and Theology: Nature – and Beyond (2020)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
This paper examines the role of awe and wonder in scientific practice. Drawing on evidence from psychological research and the writings of scientists and science communicators, I argue that awe and wonder play a crucial role in scientific discovery. They focus our attention on the natural world, encourage open-mindedness, diminish the self (particularly feelings of self-importance), help to accord value to the objects that are being studied, and provide a mode of understanding in the absence of full knowledge. I will flesh out implications of the role of awe and wonder in scientific discovery for debates on the relationship between science and religion. Abraham Heschel argued that awe and wonder are religious emotions because they reduce our feelings of self-importance, and thereby help to cultivate the proper reverent attitude towards God. Yet metaphysical naturalists such as Richard Dawkins insist that awe and wonder need not lead to any theistic commitments for scientists. The awe some scientists experience can be regarded as a form of non-theistic spirituality, which is neither a reductive naturalism nor theism. I will attempt to resolve the tension between these views by identifying some common ground.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
DECAAW
Revision history
Archival date: 2020-03-06
View upload history
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Added to PP index
2020-03-06

Total views
55 ( #40,221 of 48,836 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
55 ( #11,810 of 48,836 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.