Identifying the Conflict between
Religion and Science

David Kyle Johnson

Johnson is professor of philosophy at King’s College (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) who also produces lecture series for The Teaching Company’s The Great Courses. His specializations include metaphysics, logic, philosophy of science, and philosophy of religion. His “Great Courses” include Sci-Phi: Science Fiction as Philosophy, The Big Questions of Philosophy, and Exploring Metaphysics. Kyle has published in journals such as Sophia, Religious Studies, Think, Philo, and Science, Religion and Culture. He has also written numerous book chapters, including eleven entries in Bad Arguments: 100 of The Most Important Logical Fallacies in Western Philosophy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2018). He is also the editor-in-chief of The Palgrave Handbook of Popular Culture as Philosophy (Palgrave, forthcoming), and the editor of Black Mirror and Philosophy: Dark Reflections (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019). He maintains two blogs for Psychology Today (Plato on Pop and A Logical Take), and most of his academic work is available for free download on

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Article Information:

Author: David Kyle Johnson

Title: "Identifying the Conflict between Religion and Science"

Journal: Socio-Historical Examination of Religion and Ministry

Journal Issue: Volume 2, Number 1

Date: Spring 2020

Pages: 122-48



Inspired by Stephen J. Gould’s NOMA thesis, it is commonly maintained among academic theists (and some atheists) that religion and science are not in conflict. This essay will argue, by analogy, that science and religion undeniably are in conflict. It will begin by quickly defining religion and science and then present multiple examples that are unquestionable instances of unscientific reasoning and beliefs and show how they precisely parallel common mainstream orthodox religious reasoning and doctrines. It will then consider objections. In essence, this article will show that religion and science conflict when religion encroaches into the scientific domain. But in closing, it will show that they might also conflict when science encroaches into domains traditionally reserved for religion.


Keywords: Science, Religion, Stephen J. Gould, NOMA, Science-Religion Conflict, Petitionary Prayer, Miracles, Divine Intervention, Phlogiston, the Soul, Skeptical Theism, Sathya Sai Baba, Peter Medawar, The Limits of Science, Mythical Truth, Mystery Therefore Magic

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(footnote) David Kyle Johnson, “Identifying the Conflict between Religion and Science,” Socio-Historical Examination of Religion and Ministry 2, no. 1 (Spring 2020): 122‒48,

(bibliography) Johnson, David Kyle. “Identifying the Conflict between Religion and Science.” Socio-Historical Examination of Religion and Ministry 2, no. 1 (Spring 2020): 122‒48.


Johnson, David Kyle. “Identifying the Conflict between Religion and Science.” Socio-Historical Examination of Religion and Ministry, vol. 2, no. 1, Spring 2020,, pp. 122‒48.


Johnson, D. K. (2020). Identifying the Conflict between Religion and Science. Socio-Historical Examination of Religion and Ministry, 2(1), 122‒148. Retrieved from

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