20 Faith-Based Resources Exploring the Intersection of Science, Philosophy, and Religion


The landscape of belief in the U.S. is changing. In 2007 and again in 2014, the Pew Research Center published the results of the largest surveys on religious affiliation in America, both involving more than 35,000 respondents. The surveys show the U.S. as one of the most religious nations in the world, with 76.5% of respondents being affiliated with Christian or non-Christian faiths as of 2014.

Yet, even if belief in God is less prevalent in European and East Asian countries, there is no question that we live in a world where the worship of a deity and belief in the supernatural remain strong. Perhaps surprisingly, the great scientific advances of the past four centuries have not radically diminished the number of believers. In fact, outside of a handful of countries (including most of the Nordic countries, Czechia, France, Vietnam, and Japan), atheists and agnostics account for less than half of the populations of all nations in the world.

An Essential Human Trait

In the U.S., the proportion of nonbelievers is growing, from 16.1% in 2007 to 22.8% in 2014. It probably ranks even higher now. The main reason for this change is generational. Younger people tend to be less affiliated with organized religion or supernatural belief in general. Yet nonaffiliated spirituality is on the rise. As Princeton University anthropologist Agustín Fuentes argues in his excellent book, Why We Believe, “Belief is the most prominent, promising, and dangerous capacity that humanity has evolved.” It is an inescapable human trait. As Fuentes writes, “We are human, therefore we believe.”

Where does this trait come from? We can define faith as belief without proof. To critique religious faith based on a lack of empirical evidence, as Richard Dawkins and others have done in the past, is just plain silly. The faith that billions place in a supernatural deity or deities, or on powers beyond our understanding, does not need to be falsifiable by the scientific method, nor does it need its validation. More than that, as Fuentes notes, this capacity for abstract belief in the existence of an unknowable realm is one of the most fascinating aspects of being human.

We believe because we evolved the need to believe. Witness the cathartic power of rituals in any religious practice — the dancing, the singing, the drumming, the shouting, the ecstatic trance-like states these acts elicit from participants — and you realize that this is not about understanding human behavior through our rational faculties. It is about being human in ways beyond our power to reason about reality. It is about crafting a visceral connection with the transcendent — a connection that is both moving and necessary. It is about celebrating awe as a portal for personal and communal growth. It is about our need for meaning.

Belief Runs Through Science’s Canon

Apart from our deep need for social engagement and belonging, belief springs from our helplessness in dealing with things we cannot control, predict, or understand. If we are nothing more than flesh and blood, a mere assembly of molecules subject to the laws of nature, then we have no choice but to follow the course of material things and die, disintegrating into dust. How much more wonderful it is to believe in the afterlife, in nonmaterial entities capable of bypassing the rigid limitations imposed by materialistic reasoning.

If science is to help us, in the words of the late Carl Sagan, by providing a “candle in the dark,” it will have to be seen in a new light. The first step in this direction is to admit that science has fundamental limitations as a way of knowing, and that it is not the only method of approaching the unattainable truth about reality. Science should be seen as the practice of fallible humans, not demigods. We should confess our confusion and acknowledge our sense of being lost as we confront a Universe that seems to grow more mysterious the more we study it. We should be humble in our claims, knowing how often we must correct them. We should, of course, share the joy of discovery, the achievements of human inventiveness, and the importance of doubt.

Perhaps more importantly, we should acknowledge that there are faith-based myths running deep in science’s canon, and that scientists, even the great ones, may confuse their expectations of reality with reality itself. This is where faith-based belief emerges in science, as we imagine possible worlds beyond our present grasp. What principles guide us as we extrapolate ideas beyond the known and venture into unexplored territories of reality? We cannot use reason alone in our journey to these unknown lands — there is no clear path to follow. We can only explore the unknown using what we do know.

A scientist, therefore, must base their approach on an imponderable process that some call a hunch or an intuition. This is an intellectually guided expression of faith in how the scientist imagines the world to be. There is no way to venture into the unknown without this guiding light, and that light comes from a source that is not completely known. This is where science meets faith.

20 Faith-Based Resources: Exploring the Intersection of Science, Philosophy, and Religion

In this series of articles, we will explore the intersection of science, philosophy, and religion. We will delve into the deep questions that arise when these three realms come together and examine how they can inform and enrich our understanding of the world and our place in it. To aid in this exploration, we have compiled a list of 20 faith-based resources that offer a diverse range of perspectives and insights. These resources include books, articles, podcasts, and online platforms that explore the interplay of science, philosophy, and religion, and provide valuable resources for those seeking a deeper understanding of these complex and interconnected subjects.

  1. “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief” by Francis S. Collins
  2. This book, written by the renowned geneticist and devout Christian Francis Collins, explores the compatibility of science and faith, presenting a compelling case for the harmony between these seemingly disparate realms.

  3. “The Varieties of Religious Experience” by William James

  4. In this seminal work, psychologist and philosopher William James explores the nature of religious experiences, delving into the different ways individuals experience and interpret their spiritual encounters.

  5. “Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction” by Thomas Dixon

  6. This concise introduction provides an overview of the history and current state of the science and religion dialogue, offering key insights into the ongoing conversation between these two disciplines.

  7. “The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy” by Nancy R. Pearcey and Charles B. Thaxton

  8. This book examines the historical relationship between Christianity and science, arguing that the Christian worldview provided the intellectual foundation for the development of modern science.

  9. “Theology for Beginners” by Frank Sheed

  10. In this accessible introduction to theology, Frank Sheed provides a foundational understanding of key theological concepts, exploring how these ideas intersect with science and philosophy.

  11. “The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog” by James W. Sire

  12. This comprehensive guide to worldviews provides an overview of different philosophical and religious perspectives, offering readers a framework for understanding the diverse ways people approach questions of ultimate reality.

  13. “Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution” by Kenneth R. Miller

  14. In this thought-provoking book, biologist Kenneth R. Miller explores the compatibility of evolution and religious belief, arguing that these two seemingly conflicting ideas can coexist.

  15. “The Philosophy of Religion: An Introduction” by William L. Rowe

  16. This introductory text offers an overview of the major philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God, providing readers with a foundation for engaging in the ongoing debate between atheism and theism.

  17. “The Language of Science and Faith: Straight Answers to Genuine Questions” by Karl W. Giberson and Francis S. Collins

  18. In this accessible book, Karl W. Giberson and Francis S. Collins address common questions and misconceptions about the relationship between science and faith, offering clear and concise answers from both scientific and religious perspectives.

  19. “The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss” by David Bentley Hart

    • In this philosophical exploration, David Bentley Hart contemplates the nature of God and the ways in which humans can experience the divine, providing insights into the intersection of theology and philosophy.

These resources only scratch the surface of the rich and diverse literature available on the intersection of science, philosophy, and religion. Whether you are a scientist seeking to reconcile your faith with your scientific pursuits, a philosopher grappling with the ultimate questions of existence, or a religious seeker searching for a deeper understanding of the natural world, these resources offer valuable insights and perspectives. The exploration of faith-based resources is an ongoing journey, and by engaging with these materials, we can continue to deepen our understanding of the complex and interconnected nature of science, philosophy, and religion.