Concord Professor Publishes Book on Science and Religion

For Immediate Release: 
Aug 21 2002

Concord Professor Publishes Book on Science and Religion

Athens, W.Va. - Dr. Karl D. Fezer, a retired Concord College professor, has published a 427-page book on science and religion.

The book, Scholarly World, Private Worlds: Thinking Critically About Science, Religion, and Your Private Beliefs, discusses many principles that identify ways that we humans can go wrong in our thinking. It also discusses methods for avoiding such errors. Scholarship is defined as a concerted effort to get things right by being aware of such principles and by using such methods.

The book distinguishes "systems of thought" that have well-defined rules that serve limited goals from "worldviews," which encompass all matters of concern to an individual or group. Worldviews may be based on a religion or on a secular ideology.

Science is a scholarly, self-limited system of thought. Its self-limitation is key to its remarkable achievements. Thus, for example, science can describe many of the physical changes that occur during development of a human being. However, telling at what stage legal protection of human life should begin is outside the domain of science.

The private worldview of each person includes judgments about the adequacy of explanations offered by diverse systems of thought. Some worldviews rely more than others on the findings of scholarly systems of thought like science, but everyone's worldview contains at least some inherently controversial beliefs. A person may feel ultimate commitment to such beliefs, but they should not be called "knowledge." Understanding why some of our cherished beliefs must remain controversial should help in the formulation of public policy in a democratic, pluralistic society. Absolutist worldviews tend to lead to conflict and destruction.

The book is one of several readings in the course, Science and Religion, that Fezer still teaches at Concord. The course was once team taught with a philosophy professor, the late Dr. Jack McMichael, and now includes local clergy and a Bible scholar as guest lecturers.

The course won a John Templeton Foundation Science and Religion Course Award in 1997. This enabled the Concord College Library to acquire an extensive collection of books on this subject.

Early work on the book was aided by a 1980 Interdisciplinary Incentive Award from the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. This enabled Fezer to study as Visiting Scholar at Harvard University in the Divinity School and in the Philosophy and History of Science Departments.

Fezer has taught in Concord's Division of Natural Sciences since 1966.

Fezer's book is available in hardcover, softcover, and e-book formats, at lowest cost directly from the publisher, Xlibris Corporation (at 1-888-795-4274).

For more information call Dr. Fezer at 1-304-384-7820.