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2023 Abstracts Stage 2

The Commandments of Satoshi: Establishing the Religiousity of Bitcoin

The brainchild of an anonymous entity shrouded in mystery; Bitcoin grew from being a revolutionary technological breakthrough to a radically transformative moment. The creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, envisioned a world where trust in banks or governments was no longer necessary. Instead, Bitcoin offered a glimpse of hope, an opportunity to unshackle the financial system from government mandate and towards a currency run by it’s holders. Bitcoin’s code and complimentary philosophy has reached every corner of the earth, inspiring tens of millions to unite in the belief that change is essential.

Both Bitcoin enthusiasts and skeptics have likened the movement to a religious phenomenon. This essay is explorative and aims to examine the core philosophy and beliefs of the individuals and communities within this movement by applying various interpretations of religion to the Bitcoin phenomenon. Firstly, an introduction to and exposition of Bitcoin will help to pinpoint reoccurring symbols, practices and feelings that will later be compared to the following theories of religion, in turn. To explore the impact the movement has had on individuals I will be applying William James’ conception of religion, which emphasizes subjective experience. Furthermore, Emile Durkheim’s theory of religion, which focuses on collective practices and shared beliefs will be utilized to assess the ideals and customs of the Bitcoin community. After these theories are outlined and utilized, the fourth part of this essay will summarize the philosophical significance of the beliefs and practices surrounding Bitcoin.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

‘it’ for what ‘it’ is, do Nietzsche and the Buddha say the same things?

Both Buddhism and Nietzsche’s philosophy point in the direction of nothingness. Nietzsche studied Buddhism at a young age due to his training as a classical philologist and it most likely accompanied him throughout his life as one of the cornerstones to his thought alongside his great educator Schopenhauer. Buddhism as a philosophy lacks breadth and depth, unlike Nietzsche who is a far-reaching philosopher writing on many topics in a variety of ways. It is an articulation of the application of emptiness and becoming onto all things in the universe – subtle in its poetic method of reducing many things’ Being to empty becoming. Buddhism is direct yet allusive in its brevity, a feat somewhat lacking in Nietzsche’s numerous aphorisms: there is so much character and enthusiasm in Nietzsche’s many articulations of nothingness and his many affirmations of life, forcing the discussion at hand to demand that portions be ignored, to allow other parts to make sense. So that Nietzsche may compliment Buddhism and Buddhism may compliment Nietzsche, the discussion will dissect Nietzsche’s most pure nihilisms from his array of articulations and applications of nihilism, in order to be able to compare their likeness to one another. The discussion will likewise only have eyes for Madhyamaka interpretations of the Buddha’s doctrine through Nagarjuna. Importantly, Nietzsche and the Buddha will be discussed within the milieu of their contextual origin, which will poke at the purpose of their philosophy: the Buddha’s extinction through nirvana demanded by his Indian peers (post-Brahmanical annihilation), and Nietzsche’s edified affirmations of life, attempting to provide the facilities for all to see ‘it’ for what ‘it’ is, in Europe upon God’s death. This discourse is a deliberately polemical approach to nihilism for the sake of being able to discuss Nietzsche’s selected philosophy and Buddhism mutually, improving ones ability to see where the two agree and disagree at the cost of excessive hyperbole.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 2

Can medieval European women’s religious asceticism be compared to the modern secular idealisation of slenderness?

The desire for control is the aetiological thread that links the asceticism of medieval women and the asceticism of the anorexic woman. The lives of medieval women are characterised by a lack of control of the self. They were defined by their role as ‘body’ where men were ‘spirit’ and therefore destined to become subservient wives valued on their bodily processes. Like the medieval ascetic, the anorexic seeks to conform to the slenderness ideal that originated in response powerful intuitions exerting power over women. To be slender meant to resist democratic forms of power such as consumerism and to control desire where the regulation of such felt out of one’s control. Through Nietzsche’s notions of The Ascetic Ideal, it is understood that asceticism forms out of human suffering and conflict and focuses on empowering existence through control. Control of the body by abstaining from food therefore becomes an active yet inward facing form of resistance over institutions that have dominated women’s lives.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

On Sympathy: Animal Ethics after the Death of God

Animal rights are commonly understood as the rights of non-human animals to live freely from human interference and exploitation. These rights are, however, frequently violated by industries which use non-human animals to create products such as food, clothing, and cosmetics – regardless of the suffering caused to the individuals involved.

It is the purpose of my project to explore the human being’s inability to sympathise with this suffering, arguing that this inability has originated in Christian doctrine and philosophy, and can only be overcome after the death of God.

This project draws upon work from a variety of thinkers – including David Hume, Friedrich Nietzsche, Charles Darwin, Lawrence J. Hatab, Peter Singer and Gary Steiner – to investigate the role of sympathy in the creation of moral values and the Christian narrative of human dominion.

Such discussion entails a revaluation of both our moral values and the value we place on our species, concluding that the advent of nihilism in the West creates an opportunity to recognise our shared kinship with all sentient creatures, and therefore our need to sympathise with them.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

There must be limits to tolerance to avoid the subjectivism and ‘anything goes’ nature of postmodernism. Discuss

Territory: Society
Object: Religious commitment/belief
Concepts: Liberalism, Pluralism, Tolerance

Today, society is more liberal than ever; everyone has an entitled opinion. Is subjectivity the inevitable result of the postmodern? This question will be answered with a focus on religious commitment, as we know it can lead to conflict. Religion has a different order of commitment than other statements; it is part of your identity. This work considers where the line should be drawn when it comes to clashing views, as we have to find ways to live harmoniously.

I consider the Charlie Hebdo shooting, what went wrong and how people reacted. John Rawls’ ‘Political Liberalism’ will follow, explaining that toleration is necessary for a stable society. Focussing on his overlapping consensus between reasonable individuals. However, it is not universal as not everyone will except putting liberalism at the centre. Gianni Vattimo’s ‘weak thought’ (il pensiero debole) wants a weaker metaphysical understanding. For him, to think correctly is to be tolerant from the beginning.
Nevertheless, it is difficult to know where the boundaries lie. Relativism still proves to be a problem with Vattimo’s argument. Both philosophers have strong ideas, yet neither approach provides a fault-proof solution to the issues that arise in this current pluralistic era.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Are the philosophical ideas on education from John Dewey and Aristotle present in our education system? A discussion into our current education system at GCSE level.

My project aimed to investigate whether the theories of education in philosophy could still be found in our current education system. I chose to specifically look at the subject of Religious Studies at GCSE level as I believed it had the closest link philosophy. I also wanted to incorporate my beliefs that the current education system needs to become just as focused on making moral human beings as it is intellectual ones. I sourced my information from books, real lessons from real teachers and some articles.
Aristotle believes:
– Education should help to create good citizens.
– Education should be the bridge between family life into society.
– Virtue is the highest form of knowledge and relies on drama to be taught.
John Dewey believes:
– Education should enable us to continue to grow for the rest of our lives/there is no end to our education.
– Best way to learn is through doing/being in the lesson.
– Should adapt the way we teach to each individual child’s experiences.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Liberal neutrality, attack on identity

My project will posit the notion that society is entrapped in a one dimensional mode of thinking due to the technological rationality of our time. I will dissect the notion of neutrality and how it is simply a facade to cover the logic of domination. This will be evidenced by the impositions on religious beliefs and the oppression of the Islamic community and voice, highlighting that the commodification of high culture into mass culture has reduced us to a society where there is no critical angle left. A society in which one cannot argue against the supposed ‘rational’ a society that follows the history of domination yet we are all deluded into believing it is more progressive than ever. Furthermore I will reflect on case studies to illustrate the repressive nature of this society and focus on Frankfurt school critical thinkers: Marcuse and Adorno. The use of critical theory is necessary as it will enable dialect thought that will hopefully allow for the the individuals real liberty.

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2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Tolerance over time: ‘If we knew nothing about where we’d end up what sort of society would it feel safe to enter?’

‘If we knew nothing about where we’d end up what sort of society would it feel safe to enter?’

Aims:
How does secularisation affect the religion?
Why Britain become more secular?
How does the rise of terror by Islamic extremists affect the Islamic community?
What is the purpose of the EDL and why is it so against the Muslim community?
How has the role of the woman changed throughout modernity?
Why do measures still exist that prevent women from achieving equality?

Methods:
I intend to explore Rawls’ view of tolerance by using various approaches; these include: a Historical Approach and an Axiological Approach. The Historical Approach has been chosen as a means of depicting to the reader the changes and transformations in both the role of the woman in society, as well as the role religion plays in a seemingly secular society. As a result, I will trace the historical, social and political changes affecting both issues at hand. Furthermore, an Axiological Approach will be used to assess whether there are challenges that both religion and women have faced is just throughout contemporary society.

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2017 Abstracts Stage 2

A Post-Modern Pilgrimage: Can any type of travel be meaningful in the same way pilgrimage is?

Is there any way in which non-religious forms of travel can be as meaningful as religion? My project aims to investigate concepts such as pleasure, disappearance, purpose and perspectivism to form a discourse for how we can talk of a post-modern pilgrimage.

Pilgrimage is an important part of any religion. Those with religious beliefs seek to connect with other’s who are similar to oneself and God, to help reinforce their sense of self and their place in the universe.

Baudrillard believes disappearance is symbolic as well as physical. The absence from our normal life is crucial for personal development, as our mind needs a break to recuperate.

Sartre believes ‘existence precedes essence,’ meaning that we are not born with a purpose. Instead, we are to decide our own purpose and our own meaning for life. This can be found through travelling. We move away from the everyday life and the familiarity and we experience new objects and many unfamiliar and difficult challenges, we learn more about ourselves and so we reflect on our own meaning of life.

Mill discusses the quality of pleasures in his views of utilitarianism. The highest pleasures are the most valuable, those which exercise the mind.
When travelling, we may feel curious to learn more about the country we are in. Gaining knowledge of the world through experiencing this country’s culture directly, satisfies the human mind, as the understanding of the world can shape our ideas of the world.

All three philosophers can apply to De Botton’s views on perspectivism, which is that we begin to look at the world in a different way, by focusing and appreciating the small things. This brings in all concepts of pleasure, absence and purpose, which is demonstrated throughout this project.

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2013 Abstracts Stage 2

The Church of Scientology

One of the fastest growing new religious movements in history, The Church of Scientology claim they possess the ultimate answer to existence, inviting the individual to sign a billion year contract to aid L Ron Hubbard and his missionaries on the road to total freedom. Scientology is a highly controversial movement, labelled by many as a dangerous and abusive religious cult. What is it about Scientology that attracts the masses? Psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung posited a clinical viewpoint on religious belief and practice.

Philosophers in their own right, their psychological theories of religious belief can be applied to religious cults such as Scientology. Freud judged religious faith to be a neurotic need, with belief bringing some comfort to our search for a father figure. In contrast Jung posited religious belief has underlying therapeutic value, giving the agent a chance to achieve emotional closure and human ‘wholeness.’ Nietzsche and Dawkins argue such benefits come at the cost of delusion. Cults appear to bring contentment – at a cost.

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2013 Abstracts Stage 3

The Function and Utility of Disciplinary Power within the Primary Faith School

The aim of my project is to investigate the function and utility of disciplinary power within the primary faith school. In investigating this, the key differences between a faith and non faith school have been examined. The study of disciplinary power has been examined with reference to the work of Michel Foucault, who developed an in depth and striking analysis on how power functions within society. The reason I have chosen to use Michel Foucault, and in particular his piece of work, Discipline and Punish (1977), in my study is that his work on power is directly linked to the study of disciplinary power within educational institutions.

Key Points
 Is the main function of primary faith school education to educate, or is it primarily to pass on religious beliefs?
 Is a disciplinary society entirely functional?
 Do disciplinary institutions maximize utility?
 How do we maintain disciplinary power?
 Is Foucault’s theory applicable to primary faith schooling?
 Are we no longer a disciplinary society but a society of control?

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2013 Abstracts Stage 2

‘Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty’. Is Science the Only Way to Truth?

Using a variety of historical texts and books written by key thinkers within the advancements made in knowledge, I will explore what is considered as true knowledge today and whether or not this is a strength or a weakness to our search for truth.

Religion – was once the dominant discourse of its time. It allowed other forms of knowledge a role in its teachings to an extent, for instance it used literature and often allowed science a say if it agreed with its teachings. However, it is arguably because of Christianity in the Western world that the notion of science as the only way to truth came about.

Enlightenment – Kant’s views on empowerment and emancipation ridding us of the Dark Age. Giving us more values and starting off progress in scientific thought.

Science – Move from Descartes and Newton’s thought and Darwin who still respected a God; to Einstein, Freud and Dawkins. No need for God, no intended purpose and a very monistic approach.

Mary Midgley- Her inspiring view that we do not need to fight for authority, we must work together (pluralism). Her disregard for the scientific notion that it stands alone – which will be my concluding remark.

Lyotard’s Postmodern – Shows how science refutes itself (link back to Kant). I will also explore the notion that advancements and modernity have taken away magic from the world – Roland Barthes (Paris doctors of post modernity).

A general discussion of whether purpose is important to us, whether we need it to function, to be ethical. How important is it to knowledge?

I will conclude that purpose is important and therefore perhaps the paths of knowledge I have discussed cannot give us both purpose and freedom. I offer literature as a new path to truth. It is unbiased and puts magic in the world, through appreciation. Keats – ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty’. Greeks agreed with this notion and it teaches society essentials.

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2012 Abstracts Stage 3

The Seven Sins: Deadly or Necessary? Are We Born Mad or Are We Damaged Goods?

DAMAGED GOODS. A Journey Through Hell makes for a Moral Sinner.

“The misguided acts of my past have brought me here to the virtues of my present and will hopefully lead me to the grace of my future.

Sin is mistakes in the face of youthful abandon. I found my moral limit because I crossed my own line and did not feel good about it.” Corey Taylor, Seven Deadly Sins.

Sin isn’t a transgression but a natural human characteristic that allows for moral development.

BORN BAD. The Apple doesn’t fall far from the Tree.

“That repulsive spectacle of fraud…his face was the face of any honest man, it shone with such a look of benediction; and all the rest of him was serpentine.” Dante, Inferno.
The idea of Original Sin, with Eve and the snake.

Evil exists because we have free will. How can we avoid it? “Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.” Augustine, Confessions.

REDEFINE SIN.
“Sin is a matter of opinion, and in my opinion sins are only sins if you are hurting other people. So if you’re not hurting anyone else, where’s the damn sin?” Corey Taylor, Seven Deadly Sins.

“The only absolute either/or there is, is the choice between good and evil.” Kierkegaard, Either/Or.

We must moderate sin, so that we do not live in a life of repression or chaos.
We must make the sins relevant to modernity, to find the right balance between what really is deadly, and what is just a natural part of life.

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2012 Abstracts Stage 3

Can the Exclusion of Women from Becoming Priests in the Roman Catholic Church be Justified?

Key points to consider:
– What are the reasons why the Roman Catholic Church prevents women from joining the priesthood? 
– Why do other Christian Churches allow and encourage women to enter their priesthood? 
– Can the exclusion of women be considered in any way just? 
– Is it fair that the Roman Catholic Church do not treat the role of men and women as equal? 
– Is this justifiable according to John Rawls and his theory of justice?

Why don’t the Roman Catholic Church ordain female Priests?
Reasons include: 
– Church Traditions. 
– Religious Beliefs and Teachings. 
– The role and duty of women is different, but equal to men. 
– The main reason for this is due to their belief that Jesus was a male and those who become priests are carry out the work of Jesus. 
– Also the 12 apostles chosen by Jesus were all male and therefore priests should all be male. 
– This is a deep rooted teaching within the Roman Catholic Church which has yet to be changed or even considered for alteration.

Why do the Church of England allow women to become Priests?
 Equality in the Church.
 Fairness in the religious teachings.
 Trust in the individual’s faith rather than the gender.
 A belief that the Bible contains the core of all Christian faith and thought.
 They belief that the gender of the individual does not matter as long as they have the faith it takes to become a member of their priesthood.
 A firm commitment to the ministry of all of God’s people both lay and ordained together.

John Rawls.
– Leading figure in moral and political philosophy. 
– Published his Theory of Justice in 1971. 
– Rawls aimed to outline what is justice. 
– From his theory we can understand which actions are justifiable and which are not.

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2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Genesis Vs The Big Bang Theory

‘Isn’t it enough to see that the garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?’ (Adams, 2009)

Object of study – Which creation story appears to be more valid in our society. I will compare Genesis and the Big Bang theory. I will critically analyse whether science assumes that Genesis is an explanatory theory, when perhaps it is not. It is very much a scientific discourse.

I plan to find that The Big Bang theory is a better explanation of creation in today’s society, and whether an atheist can explain creation.

Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion
Kant – The Critique of Pure Reason
David Hume – Meditations concerning natural religion
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Nagel – The View from Nowhere

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2011 Abstracts Stage 3

New World Order: Atheism in Religion, Anarchy in Politics and No Property in the Economic Sphere, Possible or Improbable?

Understanding NWO is a giant geo-cycle political picture. Things are happening with the use of subliminal indirect and reversed psychological propaganda Some say it is made to be confusing. It is theorised that the Illuminati, the ones who call themselves the enlightened ones, had gained positions of power; through means such as controlling the banking system.

The coined phase ‘New World Order’ is the term used to describe a unity of the world’s superpowers to rule, secure, and maintain the principle of “global peace.” The concept is to bring the world under submission to one supreme government, enforce one controlled common religion and one worldwide economic system. (The EU has already instituted this with the ‘Euro’ currency.) The common conspiracy theory about the New World Order is that there is secret power elite with a globalist agenda that is conspiring to eventually rule the world with an authoritarian government. Absolute Obedience. In actuality, it is a move towards a socialistic, controlled, and godless world.

Preliminarily, this dissertation is focused on the concept of emancipation and capitalism and how the New World Order is apparently attempting to overcome such issues. Involvement of the banking system and especially the role of power in relation to money has been considered as the state of the economic society can tell us a lot about the New World Order regime. It has referred predominately to the work of Karl Marx ‘father of communism’ and his work on Capitalism. Throughout this work on capitalism, the concept of religion and attack on society will come into play as the New World Order presents us with a new atheistic view on religion. The main material to be used and referred to throughout this dissertation is that by A. Ralph Epperson “The New World Order” and Marx’s “Capital and other writings”. Hegel also shows us the importance of his Dialectic theories in relation to the new World Order by presenting us with a thesis, antithesis and synthesis that can be applied to conflict throughout history.

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2009 Abstracts Stage 2

Sacrifice, Martyrdom and the Sacred

In my project, I wanted to explore the notion of sacrifice in relation to Christianity, specifically looking at the idea of martyrdom. I wanted to contrast this with Bataille’s ideas on religious sacrifices and his notions of the sacred. My aim for my project was so that I could understand the reason as to why people are willing to sacrifice their lives for their beliefs. To understand martyrdom in Christianity, I decided to look at their beliefs and values that they uphold and teach. I then looked at the meaning of martyrdom, and how it has changed from meaning martus, ‘to witness’ to die for a purpose or a cause.
To illustrate this point, I looked at Simone Weil as an example. She starved herself to death as a protest to the treatment of French citizens under Nazi-Germany. I wanted to explore her biography and her philosophy so I could understand her values and her beliefs. I then wanted to contrast Christian thoughts, with Bataille. He argued that sacrifice is religion portraying the heterogeneous. It breaks the means-end lifestyle for those who witness it, however, for the person martyring their self, he argued that they want to do it to break away from ‘things’. After looking at Bataille, I wanted to finally look at Yukio Mishima. I wanted to see whether his death was for a greater ‘good’ or belief he supported, or whether it was an attraction to the heterogeneous.

Key Books for my Project
Christian Beliefs and Martyrdom— “Christian Beliefs and Modern Questions” by O.Quick-Chase and “Martyrdom—The Psychology, Theology, and Politics of Self-sacrifice” by R.M Fields.
Simone Weil—”Simone Weil” by S. Pétrement and “Gravity and Grace” by S. Weil
Bataille—”Theory of Religion” by G. Bataille and “After Bataille – Sacrifice, Exposure, Community” by P. Ffrench
Mishima— “Life and Death of Yukio Mishima” by H. ScottStokes and “The Sea of Fertility” by Y. Mishima

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2009 Abstracts Stage 2

A Case for Humanism – what would be the more moral world to live in? One that adhered to the ideals of Humanism, or one that followed organized religion?

In my project I shall explore whether Humanism would set out a better form of morality for the world. I shall examine this with reference to Pico Della Mirandola, who founded renaissance Humanism and who firmly believed that Humanism and Religion could live side by side, and Bertrand Russell, whose philosophy emphasises the importance of scientific empiricism. Humanism is a branch of ethical philosophy that aims to emphasise the importance of human beings being able to determine their own ends. Humanisms rejects the need for belief in religion, and prescribes the worth and dignity of all human beings. Humanists believe that beliefs come from our values, which are determined by our life experience. This life experience can be drawn upon and used to create morals that bring about the dignity of human being’s, and the use of empirical investigation to discover facts about the world around us. I will explore whether religion is to blame for religious hatred and wars. For my case study, I shall examine the religious war in Palestine, between the Palestinians and The Israelis, for occupation of the ‘Holy Land’. I shall explore whether this is a ‘just’ war and whether Humanists would call accuse this war of being unfounded and unjust. Furthermore I shall investigate how Humanism defines spirituality and morality without religious doctrine and whether following Humanism can be spiritual rewarding. I shall also explore: • The History Of Humanism • Life without God • Life without Religion • The Problem of Religion • Morality and ethics of Humanism

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2009 Abstracts Stage 2

The Problematic Case of Alchemy: Science or Superstition?

The project is driven by the intuition that in the modern age there is a conflict between science and religion. This conflict/ value distinction is proved problematic; in which domain does alchemy lie? Context: Alchemy as a historically changing concept. Thinkers: Kant, Hegel, Kuhn. Change/ Contrast: Historical contrast between our views/ intuitions of alchemy, science and religion respectively; from the Ancient world view, to the Enlightenment and the Modern age. – Why is there a value distinction between the two? Alchemy defies this hierarchy. – Can science and religion reconcile their positions?

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2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Atheism and the Relationship of Science and Religion within the Search for Epistemological Certainty

Territory: Richard Dawkins. Concepts: Atheism; the search for epistemological certainty; and the interaction of science and religion. I explore the following questions; Is there truth to the claim of Dawkins’ that atheism is necessitated by the natural sciences and is the only option for the serious, progressive and thinking person of our time? Where did this claim emerge from? How was it that the western mind moved from confidence in objective truth to an outright denial of objective truth? Why is nature conceptually malleable and is open to such different interpretations? Are science and religion locked in a battle to death? Is God relegated to the irrational, to the margins of culture, where he is embraced by deluded fanatics? The question of whether there is a God has not, despite the predictions of neo-Darwinists, gone away since Darwin. There may be minds on both sides of the argument that are closed, however the evidence and the debate are not. Scientists and theologians have much to learn from each other; perhaps a proper and right understanding of religion could give a good epistemological grounding to understand science by.