The often contentious relationship between the fields of religion and science has figured prominently in the news in recent years, prompting vociferous debate among adherents from both sides of the divide concerning issues such as abortion, cloning, stem cell research, environmental issues, and more.
Hackney Library was recently awarded a grant from the International Society for Science and Religion (ISSR) Library Project that will help to shed light rather than heat on this debate. The grant provides Hackney Library with 220 distinct titles (in 224 volumes) of scholarly research and inquiry addressing the often controversial intersection of religion and science. The ISSR Library project is a multi-year project designed to enhance scholarly and pedagogical access to foundational texts, including those expressing key international and intercultural points of view, in this growing discipline addressing the study of both science and religion.
Titles in the ISSR Library include such varied items as Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction; Environmental Ethics, Ecological Theology, and Natural Selection; God and Contemporary Science; and Global Perspectives on Science and Spirituality, to name just a few.
Hackney Library is one of only 150 institutions world-wide that have been awarded these scholarly volumes, which are bound in distinctive black covers with gold lettering. Hackney Outreach and Public Services Librarian Ann Dolman, in collaboration with Barton religion professor Dr. Jane Webster, applied for the grant in June 2011 to supplement Hackney Library’s holdings in this area.
Serendipitously, the debate between science and religion was addressed recently on the Barton Campus by Dr. Colleen Shantz, a recent speaker at Barton College’s 2011 Allan R. Sharp Religion in Life Series. Dr. Shantz, an associate professor at St. Michael College in the Toronto School of Theology and an authority on both cognitive science and New Testament texts, summed up the current state of the debate as follows: “Religion and science have long been seen as rivals offering incompatible explanations of the world. That sense of rivalry has escalated in recent years through the work of the ‘new atheists’ so that there is less thoughtful exchange than ever.”
The International Society for Science and Religion (ISSR), which sponsored the Library Project, was established in 2002 to reintroduce such “thoughtful exchange” to the conversation: According to ISSR’s web site, its “central aim is the facilitation of dialogue between the two academic disciplines of science and religion, one of the most important current areas of debate in terms of understanding the nature of humanity. This includes both the enhancement of the profile of the science-religion interface in the public eye, as well as the safeguarding of the quality and rigour of the debate in the more formal, academic arena.”
It is this goal that prompted the establishment of the ISSR Library Project. Supported by a one million pound grant from the John Templeton Foundation, the ISSR Library Project is based at St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge University, but its editorial board and contributing editors come from a variety of disciplines and geographic locales worldwide. Its Executive Editor, Dr. Pranab Das, is a professor of physics at Elon University in Elon, North Carolina.
Our ISSR Library volumes have been cataloged and will be housed temporarily on the first floor of Hackney Library together as one collection before eventual dispersion throughout our general collection on the second floor. But even after they are relocated throughout the general collection, ISSR Library titles will still be easily identifiable as such via a pre-programmed search available on the library’s web site. Regardless of their location, ISSR Library volumes may be checked out by library patrons for a period of four weeks.
Dr. Jane Webster will be working with Hackney Library faculty to promote use of the collection as well as with other faculty on possible development of new courses that will make further use of the ISSR Library materials.
Please come by at your leisure to view (and check out!) these impressive scholarly titles that address issues being debated today in the field of science and religion. And watch this blog for more information about activities promoting this collection!