Science and Religion Organisations


Here are three lists of organisations that deal with the interactions between science and religion. Many of them have annual conferences, downloadable documents, local speakers, and other activities.  If they publish a journal, it is listed here.

List 1 is Organisations Balancing Science and Religion (7)
List 2 is Organisations Promoting Christianity and Science (4)
List 3 is Other Related Organisations (5)

Scope of these Lists

On lists 1 and 2, we include organisations that deal with the subject of science and religion and also qualify in these respects – they: operate in english; have multiple contributors and a leadership team; are national or international in scope; have significant scientific membership and content; focus on multiple branches of science and multiple issues; and have an active website presence.

On lists 1 and 2, we do not include organisations that are any of these: not in english; local in nature; programs at only one university; blatantly anti-science; promoting creationism; affiliated with only one Protestant denomination; focus on only one branch of science; focus on only one issue; whose web site is trivial or inactive; and have contributions from just one or two people.

Lists 1 and 2 likely include almost all of the qualifying organisations because: (1) a search of Wikipedia found no more; (2) a Google search found no more; (3) they include all the qualifying organisations (8 of 21) on the Science and Religion Links list of the National Center for Science Education,  www.ncse.ngo/science-and-religion-links, affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science; (4) they include all the qualifying organisations (11 of 32) on the website list of the Interdisciplinary Encyclopedia of Religion and Sciencewww.inters.org/websites, affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church; and (5) they include all the qualifying organisations (10 of 26) on the website list of Counterbalance, https://counterbalance.org/reading/index-frame.html .  There was very much overlap between all these lists.

Here are the statistics for the eleven organisations in lists 1 and 2:
Five are headquartered in the USA, four in the UK, and one each in Europe and Canada.
Eight of them publish one or more journals, conference proceedings, or articles.
Seven of them offer membership to the public, but four do not.
Seven of them started before the year 2000, and four started after 2000.
Only four of them have an annual or biennial conference.

Excluding List 2, which is limited to Christian organisations, three of the twelve sites on Lists 1 and 3 have links to the Unitarian Universalist religion, which is a non-credal very liberal religion described at  www.uua.org   Those three sites are the Institute for Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS), the Clergy Letter Project, and the Religious Naturalism Association (RNA).

1. Organisations Balancing Science and Religion

These seven organisations welcome people of any religion or none.

1.  The John Templeton Foundation, www.templeton.org, was started by the billionaire contrarian investor Sir John Templeton, ca 1970.  It’s mission is accelerating discovery and inspiring curiosity in its areas of interest. .The Foundation, located in Pennsylvania, USA, gives out research grants totaling about $150 million per annum, in its areas of interest: character virtue development, life sciences, human sciences, mathematical and physical sciences, and several other areas.   Its prestigious prize, the Templeton Prize is an annual award granted to a living person, in the estimation of the judges, “whose exemplary achievements advance Sir John Templeton’s philanthropic vision: harnessing the power of the sciences to explore the deepest questions of the universe and humankind’s place and purpose within it.”  The monetary value of the prize is adjusted so that it exceeds that of the Nobel Prizes.  From 1973 to 1993 the Templeton prizes mainly went to religious leaders.  Starting around 1993, a wide variety of scientists, philosophers and religious leaders have won the award.  Although Templeton was a Christian, their lists of research sponsored, and Templeton Prize winners, both show that the Foundation is now very open minded about religion, science and philosophy.  At least five of the  organisations in our three lists (namely FISR, ISSR, CSCA, BioLogos, and INTERS) have grants from the Templeton Foundation.  Because of its huge influence and impact in the science and religion area, the Templeton Foundation has been listed first.

2.  The Institute for Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS), www.iras.org, was founded in 1954 to promote interactions between the worlds of religion and science.  All religious traditions, including atheism, are represented in the membership.  The IRAS quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal is Zygon:Journal of Religion & Science.  Before Covid 19, their annual week-long conferences were always held on Star Island off the coast of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  This property is a Unitarian Universalist conference center.

3.  The Science and Religion Forum (SRF),  www.Srforum.org, exists to promote discussion between scientific understanding and religious thought on issues at the interface of science and religion, and membership is open to people of any religion or none.  It is based in the UK.  Their journal, Reviews in Science and Religion, has been published twice a year since the 1970s.  It primarily contains reviews of books on the relations of religion and science.  Membership gives reduced-price access to the journal published by Christians In Science (#2 below).  Annual conferences have been held in the UK since 1976.

4.  The European Society for the Study of Science and Theology (ESSSAT), esssat.net, is a scholarly, non-confessional organization, based in Europe, which aims to promote the study of relationships between the natural sciences and theological views. ESSSAT, founded in the mid-1980s, has members from almost every European country as well as members from other continents.  It publishes conference proceedings from its biennial conferences.

5.  The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion (FISR), www.faraday.cam.ac.uk, is based in Cambridge, England.  It was established in 2006 and in 2018 became an independent charitable organisation.  Their large international advisory board is almost half scientists and most of the others are philosophers and theologians.  The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion is an interdisciplinary research institute improving public understanding of science and religion. Its main focus is on the relationship between science and the Christian faith, but it also engages with those of any faith or none.  The mission of The Faraday Institute is: to shed new light on life’s big questions through academically rigorous research in the field of science and religion; to provide life-changing resources for those with interests in science and faith through research dissemination, education and training; and to catalyse a change in attitude towards science and faith, through outreach to schools, colleges, the scientific community, religious institutions and the general public.  Their web site offers downloads of their “Faraday Papers,” written by highly qualified professors, on topics such as  “Miracles and Science,”  Natural Theology,” “The Libet experiment and its implications for conscious will,” and “Nothing but a pack of neurons?”  One cannot join the Institute as a member.

6.  The International Society for Science and Religion (ISSR), issr.org.uk , is a Cambridge-based interdisciplinary research institute founded in 2002. It is a learned society for the promotion of education through the support of inter-disciplinary learning and research in the fields of science and religion conducted where possible in an international and multi-faith context.  Anyone may join as an Associate Member but Fellowship is only through nomination by existing Fellows.  Their Library Project lists the best 250 books in this area. They allow announcements on their web site.

7.  The Counterbalance Foundationwww.counterbalance.org , is a non-profit organization located in Seattle, Washington.  It works to promote multidisciplinary education on science and religion for a general audience.  The site has many articles on the subject, with strong scientific contributions.  Topics include Big Bang, Evolution, Brain, mind, and emergence, but in the spirit of counterbalance, they also include ‘creation science’.  The site has an excellent list of biographies of workers in the science and religion area, including many scientists and a few philosophers.  Although this site is run by Adrian Wyard on his own, it is included in this list because of its excellent and extensive information links and the fact that Adrian Wyard has a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Oxford.  His thesis was on the evolution-creation controversy.

2. Organisations Promoting Christianity and Science

These four organisations are mainly for Christians.

1.  The American Scientific Affiliation (ASA),  www.asa3.org, is a group of several thousand scientists who believe in God.  They see no contradiction between science and religion.  ASA’s unique mission is to integrate, communicate, and facilitate properly researched science and theology in service to the Church and the scientific community.  They have lots of meetings and activities.  They have a few young-Earth creationists, but most members accept evolution.  Their two regular publications are: a quarterly peer-reviewed scholarly journal, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, and their God and Nature magazine (only available in electronic form).  The ASA started in the 1940s.  Current membership in various categories (fellow, regular, associate, friend, student, subscriber) is about 2,200 and there are an additional 2,900 followers, for a total “active membership” of 5,100.

2.  Christians in Science (CiS),  www.cis.org.uk, is an international network of those concerned with the relationship between science and Christian faith, open to scientists, teachers, students and all those with an interest in this dialogue.  It is primarily a professional group, and primarily in the UK.   The 1000+ members of CiS must agree to a published Statement of Faith.  The aim of CiS is to develop and promote biblical Christian views on the nature, scope and limitations of science, and on the changing interactions between science and faith.  Their twice-yearly journal is Science and Christian Belief.  The American Scientific Affiliation is a sister organisation.  Their conferences go back to 1998.

3. The Canadian Scientific and Christian Affiliation (CSCA),  www.csca.ca, is a Canadian affiliate of the ASA, having access to the ASA journal and many of its activities.  It has chapters in eleven different Canadian cities.  Full voting membership is open to all persons with at least a bachelor’s degree in science who can give assent to their statement of faith. They had a grant from the Templeton Foundation.

4.  BioLogos    www.biologos.org,  BioLogos invites the church and the world to see the harmony between science and biblical faith as they present an evolutionary understanding of God’s creation.  BioLogos was founded by one of the top biologists in the world, Francis Collins, who led the Human Genome Project and now (2020) directs the National Institutes of Health.  In 2006, he wrote the best-selling book, The Language of God, in which he tells his journey from atheism to Christian belief, showing that science is not in conflict with the Bible, but actually enhances faith.  They: embrace the historical Christian faith; affirm evolutionary creation, recognize God as Creator of all life over billions of years; and strive for humility and gracious dialogue with those who hold other views.  They have many articles, courses and activities.  You cannot join this group as a member, but may fully participate in their activities.

3.  Other Related Organisations

These five sites were chosen to round out the list, and do not all match the selection criteria given above.  The first two deal with evolution as a proven scientific theory and not as one theory amongst several possibilities.  The third site promotes religious naturalism, “a comprehensive, science-based worldview premised on the idea that existence in all its dimensions and complexity is a single, natural realm, not split between the natural and the supernatural.” (from Tom Clark, www.naturalism.org ).   Finally, the Catholic and Muslim organisations listed at the end are included more for completeness, but they mainly promote their respective religious understandings.

1. AAAS Evolution Resources, www.aaas.org/news/evolution-front-line, reports on situations where the American Association for the Advancement of Science argues against bringing into public schools religious arguments against evolutionary science and climate change science.  See also their Program of Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion.

2. The Clergy Letter Project, www.theclergyletterproject.org, was organized by biologist Michael Zimmerman for the United States only.  As of Oct 2020 it lists 15,647 members of the Christian clergy who have signed a strong statement promoting the teaching of evolution in public school systems – as scientific truth and not as ‘one theory among others’.  The website also hosts comparable statements signed by 831 rabbis, and by 685 Unitarian Universalist clergy.

3. The Religious Naturalist Association (RNA, pun intended),  http://religious-naturalist-association.org   is  a non-profit US corporation formed in the summer of 2014 to create a worldwide “home” for those who self-identify as religious naturalists.  One purpose is to encourage the development and spread the awareness of the religious naturalist orientation.  A ‘naturalist’ is one who thinks that only the natural world exists and there is no truly supernatural world.  A ‘religious naturalist’ is a naturalist who finds that their sense of awe and amazement at the natural world gives a sense of humility, reverence, joy, and gratitude – for just being alive at all.  Their web site has articles, news items, etc. but they do not publish a journal, nor do they host their own meetings.   Membership is free, and members are encouraged to contribute inputs to the web site: blog entries; articles; links to their own website &/or blog; and information on their RN projects.  Their current President is Dr. Ursula Goodenough, a professor of Biology at Washington University, St. Louis, and author of the bestselling book, The Sacred Depths of Nature.  Oxford University Press (2000).  They have a nine-member Board of Directors and a 22-member Advisory Board.  Several of those people are connected to IRAS and have published in it’s journal, Zygon.   Of their six hundred members, about one hundred (and five of the advisory Board) have ties to Unitarian Universalism, a non-credal very liberal religion.

Their sister website, www.religiousnaturalism.org  offers information, ideas, short essays, and links to a range of topics related to religious naturalism.  See also, Tom Clark’s own web site, www.naturalism.org .

4. The Interdisciplinary Encyclopedia of Religion and Science (INTERS), www.inters.org, is a free, on-line-only encyclopedia, consisting of extensive documents by scholars who are accomplished in both scientific and humanistic research work.  They deal with the relationship between theology, philosophy and scientific thought.  Most contributors are European. Founded in 2002, it is run by the Pontifica Università della Santa Croce (Pontifical University of the Holy Cross) in Rome, and partly funded by one of the Templeton charities.  Over half of the 84 topics available online were contributed in 2002; the remainder were mainly contributed from 2008 to 2019.  The topics on this web site are about one third religion (Catholicism), one third philosophy, and one third science.  Given this split, this site does not have enough science.   Most relevant Catholic documents are on the web site too.

5.  The Center for Islamic Sciences (CIS), https://cis-ca.org/, was called the Center for Islam and Science from its start in 2000 until 2013, when the new name was adopted.  The location of its headquarters is Sherwood Park, Alberta.  The site information shows that the site became inactive around 2017. They had an international advisory board.  It’s Journal of Islamic Sciences explored, from Islamic perspectives, religious and philosophical implications of data and theories originating in the physical, biological, and social sciences.  It was published semi-annually from 2003 to 2017, when it ceased publication.  Those articles are available on the web site.  There are good articles on reconciling Islam and modern science, by, for example, asserting that this universe and we human beings were created by God for a purpose.