Understanding our Relations to Science and Religion

Thinking with Bourdieu can illumine how we relate to science and religion as individuals. His notion of habitus is indeed illuminating. It brings light on the complex ways humans relate to science or religion. His notion, habitus being a way in which a society becomes deposited in a person in a form of lasting dispositions, trained capacities, and structured propensities to think, feel and act in certain ways offers us a great explanatory power to understand an individual and society. It is produced by the interplay of human free will and social structures over period of time. This is why our predispositions that condition our orientations to science and religion can be understood in the light of the work of Bourdieu. His concept of field assists us to view how both science and religion are accessed as social, cultural as well as symbolic capitals by individuals in a given society. Having competence in science or lack of the same offers possibilities to access science as a social capital and join the scientific community. Same is true of religion as it enables an individual to enter into relation with the religious community. Science and religion does structure individually or together humans in a given society. Science and religion does operate as forms of cultural capital as individuals with competence in science, religion and both access them in their objectified and institutional form. It is the way in which these capitals are accumulated by individuals in a given society that enables them to access and accumulate symbolic capital. Symbolic capital is profoundly personal. It position a individual person with a society offers him/her recognition of other individuals as well as communities.

Our social order is increasingly inscribed in the individuals through the habitus. We cannot think that Habitus and forms of capitals operate in a linear manner. They operate in complex circular manner. All of them operate simultaneously and not necessarily one after the other. It is our access to the forms of capital that explains inequality within our society. Habitus and the forms of capital are not accessed by the individual in a vacuum. They are accessed and accumulated within a field or fields where science and religions are cultural products alongside other such products. The ideas of field/ fields are arenas in which we express and reproduce our dispositions. It is in within these fields; we can locate the dynamism/ interplay where the individuals compete for the distribution of the forms of capital. Within the field there are those cultural products that stand together and are accessed by individual as forms of social, cultural and symbolic capital. Thus, science, secularism and atheism (anti-religion) often form an assemblage and are accessed and accumulated as social, cultural and symbolic capital. The same way on the side of religion, we may have several assemblages that may include fundamentalism, terror and violence in the name of God. It is through the complex dynamism of individuals to access and accumulate the forms of capital that we can explain inequality as well diversity of positions in a given society. We also understand why we have diversity of relations with science and religion raging from friendly acceptance of one or both and rejection of one or the other or even both.

Thinking science and religion with Bourdieu opens us to the diverse and dynamic ways human relate both science and religion. These may range into asymmetries and hierarchies:
1. Pro-science but anti- religion
2. Pro-science and neutral to religion
3. Pro-religion and anti-science
4. Pro-religion and neutral to science
5. Anti-science and anti-religion
6. Neutral to science and neutral to religion
7. Pro-science and pro-religion

This does not mean that an individual is fixated within these relations all his life. Bourdieu does teach that Habitus is not permanent and can change over period of time. He teaches that humans are reflexively able to recognise or misrecognize ones biases, beliefs and assumptions in the act of making sense of our life and our world. This self-critical power of humanity can become a powerful tool to bring about social emancipation. In the context of this study, we can notice that power enables us to understand how our positions to religion and science can and does change. The emancipative stance that is possible here is certainly a fruit of examined life. In the context of Science and religion, the emancipative stance is healthy relation of science and religion. It is dialogical position. All other positions are dialectical approaches except the neutrality science and neutrality-religion view follows a monologic of insulation or separation. It is only through a dialogical approach that both science and religion can flourish in the lives of individuals in a given society. it open an inter-field and expands the horizons that itself increases the bandwidth of our habitus that will enable us to think and feel differently. As a result , our society can flourish with the flourishing of both science and religion growing together in dialogue and not in isolation. The inter-field will bring new arenas to excess and accumulate social, cultural and symbolic capitals for the individuals and bring about the flourishing of both individual as well as society. The dialogical interplay of science and religion has several emancipative possibilities for our society and hence have to be actively promoted so that the pro-science and pro-religion dispositions are embedded as habitus in us and influence our ways of being human in the world so that human solidarity can be built not just around science or religion respectively but around the dialogue of science and religion. Such a dialogue will not just benefit humans and our society but also further progress in the fields of science as well as religion spiraling common human flourishing. Thus, the way we relate science and religion will transform our society. Therefore to transform our society, we will have to promote healthy dialogue between science and religion.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao