In this sweeping intellectual history, philosopher Richard H Schlagel compares the conceptual worldviews of science and religion, their distinct historical origins, their radically different experiential foundations, and their contrasting methods of justification. With great clarity and an impressive command of the historical facts, he depicts Western civilisation as a composite of two diverse traditions - the empirical-rationalistic perspective of the ancient Greek philosophers and the mystical-revelatory approach of judeo-Christian religion. Today, science, the inheritor of the Greek empirical-rationalistic approach, is clearly in the ascendancy. Looking to the future, Schlagel argues that scientific inquiry is clearly superior to faith in ancient religious doctrines to cope with the challenges of climate change, energy sources, environmental protection, population increases, and the global economy. He concludes that the health of democratic societies will depend, in large part, on an educated citizenry that appreciates the importance of science and recognises the retrograde tendencies of the fundamentalist mindset both in the United States and abroad.
Richard H. Schlagel, Ph.D. (Washington, DC), is Elton Professor of Philosophy at George Washington University and the author of From Myth to the Modern Mind: A Study of the Origins and Growth of Scientific Thought.