The response to many questions which connected/related issues of religious beliefs and adequate/correct behaviour of academia? For instance the recent (Will ISIS attacks hurt my PhD application as a Muslim?) featured many responses that suggest the proper perspective of academia upon religion would be undiscriminatory/unconcerned one.

This being only what I read out of that I wanted to know if there is a by tradition or convention agreed-upon way that academic decisions and actions should approach when interaction with religious beliefs cause either cooperation or conflict.

cooperation: if religious generates a field of relevant interest (like the theologies) conflict: if the methods like peer review, seem to be in some sort of contradiction. Meritocratic review by peers (equality) versus potential ranking of persons according to some religious prejudice (i.e. non-believers being religiously seen as inferiors and not peers).

An answer to this question would either give insight why or why not it is by tradition, convention, methodology, etc. proper to think of a specific perspective upon religions from academia. As a third acceptable response a well substantiated suggestion on the reasons academia would be too complex to device such a repsonse would be appreciated too.

As too recently in many domains of science, mostly the "hard sciences" like natural sciences, seemed to have the notion of objectivity. In else, e.g. some social sciences, and with a post-normal science understanding the issue of normativity has become increasingly challenging. Also in this respect especially the perspective on religious was to my understanding defined as a alternating/competing setting in which both (religion) and academic knowledged may stand complementary. Anyway this is only a initial suggestion what arguments might be developed in an response, as to foster and facilitate the answerability of this question further

  • Instead of wholesale downvoting of some, maybe a comment would be helping to improve the question further/better? At least a comment would make disagreement less seem simply motivated by believes, but by reason. Right now my suspision is that disagreement is rather connected with the answer type "no academia does not / should not have a specific perspective?". If so it would help better to form that into an answer, right? Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 9:27
  • @downvoters, can you specify what excatly does disqualify this question. Both religion and science (related academia) exists and it is not political incorrect to ask about the understand. Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 9:56
  • 3
    I did not downvote, but voted to close as "unclear what you are asking". Please try to clarify what exactly your question is. Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 13:07
  • I don't understand this question either. From what I can tell, it also seems incredibly broad and unanswerable to me. See the help center, which advises asking specific, answerable questions based on an actual problem that you face.
    – ff524
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 13:45
  • @StephanKolassa, given the two answers provided, I feel modifying the question can be somewhat unfair, as I change/ modify the question, potentially impacting the validity of the answers. I will try to do so anyway, but take some more time with it. Besides especially the jakebeal answer did provide much of the inside, I even if not expressed well enough looked for. Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 15:13

2 Answers 2


I don't understand the question. It is word salad. Academia is – or, perhaps more accurately should be – secular.

Even disciplines such as religious studies are secular (for if the study of religion is not approached in a secular manner, then frankly it's not valid scientific research).

Of course, there are still tricky situations, that should be mitigated as much as is reasonable. But personal beliefs aren't relevant inside the classroom or laboratory. As long as they don't irreparably interfere with someone's capacity to take a course or do their job, they just don't matter.

  • Your answer addresses indead my question, even though you say you did not understand it. It must be you understood some part of it. Since you mention that invalidation of the research by unsecular approach can occur, another aspect of my question was met. Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 9:35
  • Can those "tricky siutations" also occur for atheist/secular students? Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 9:38
  • @humanityANDpeace The wording was confusing, but I guess I managed to understand the gist of it. And yes, they certainly can occur. What if a biology teacher insists that creationism is a valid alternative to evolution – or even that evolution is wrong? This certainly has happened at schools, though I don't know first hand about universities.
    – Moriarty
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 9:43
  • your contribution @Moriarty is the more appreciated, as it contrasts the way that many dealt with this question. Since even the term secular exists, its coining must mean people tried to specify a relationship between religion and other setups of human organisation (e.g. state). Fact is the answer gave me a correct term. maybe it was too easy an question as to create lots of discontent (downvotes), sorry Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 9:54

Historically, academia and religion were quite tightly intertwined. Consider, for example, celebrated ancient Greek philosophers such as Pythagoras and Aristotle, whose philosophy treated mystical subjects just as readily as practical ones, and indeed did not distinguish between them. Religion continued to be a prime motivator in scientific investigation for many centuries, with no particular line being drawn between theological and other investigations: see, for example, the mixtures of theology, mathematics, and physics investigated by giants such as Newton and Leibniz, whose work remains foundational to much of our knowledge today. My knowledge of the history of scientific investigation in the Islamic world, South Asia, and China is much weaker, but I would be surprised if religion did not likewise play a significant role there as well.

Along the way, however, something interesting and completely unexpected emerged. Despite the best intentions of those scientific theologians, the theological aspects of their investigations tended to be much less productive than the secular aspects of their investigations. The Pythagorean theorem and Newtonian physics work in a way that requires no belief on the part of the person using them---indeed, they work even in the presence of great skepticism about their truth. Faith turns out to be a very unreliable way of obtaining knowledge---at least any knowledge that people can agree upon, as demonstrated, for example, by the proliferation of Christian denominations with conflicting theologies. As a consequence of these emergent facts, the scientific investigations of academia have become firmly committed to methodological naturalism simply because nothing else has turned out to work.

So, where does that leave religion in today's academia? There are three main ways in which religion interacts with academia:

  1. Religion is a thing that many people do, and thus it is an entirely valid subject of study, whether from a sociological perspective or from a pragmatic perspective.
  2. Because people have a wide variety of beliefs (both religious and secular), academia, like anything other human institution, needs to make reasonable accommodations for those beliefs that do not compromise the academic mission. For example, many people do not eat meat, so it makes sense to ensure there are vegetarian options available at a scientific conference banquet.
  3. Some groups of religious believers perceive scientific work as threatening, and thus attempt to attack both science and academia in general, and to undermine them in various ways. Academia, of course, needs to try to resist such attacks.
  • I don't see why "academia" should resist attacks. You can agree with these method of acquiring knowledge or not, but are the theories behind the system and people who should be denfended
    – llrs
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 17:27
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    @Llopis Religion is a method of acquiring belief, not knowledge. You are confusing faith with fact.
    – Moriarty
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 20:28
  • No, I don't belief more for going to the Ka'aba. But from the believed with faith premises I can learn knowledge about how to act in a certain situation, that is theology: studying what I believe to learn more about what I believe. Otherwise the more I go to the mosque, the more I belief?
    – llrs
    Commented Dec 5, 2015 at 10:30

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