The network of groups pressing for a dialogue between religion and science that has mushroomed in the U.S. is now spreading to Europe, reports Science & Theology News (February).
Until recently, largely secular Europe and post-Communist Eastern Europe have resisted the movement that they say smacks of church-state collaboration. But today are several major initiatives that bring religion, science and medicine into conversation. Most of the attention to religion and science has been in initiating a dialogue between the two fields rather than generating new research, and such efforts are usually sponsored by the American Metanexus Institute and the John Templeton Foundation.
The little research that has been done is in the area of mental health. For instance, the Netherlands has recently produced a major study on the role of prayer in dealing with depressive symptoms. In Switzerland, the University Hospital of Geneva conducted a study finding that clinicians who work with psychotic patients underestimated the importance of religion in their lives.
The research was welcomed by the hospital’s clinicians. Secularization may not be the only reason for the resistance to the science and religion interchange, according to the article. In Germany, there is still the fear that a larger role for any ideology, including religion, in academia and culture may bring back concerns from the country’s Nazi past.
(Science & Theology News, P.O. Box 5065, Brentwood, TN 37024-5065)