Here’s an interesting piece from the Talking Philosophy blog.
Does religion answer factual questions?
BY RUSSELL BLACKFORD ⋅ NOVEMBER 11, 2011 ⋅ In a recent article in The Guardian ’s “Comment is free” opinion section, Keith Ward defends religion as a source of factual knowledge that eludes science. Thus, Ward rejects (as do I) the principle of Non-Overlapping Magisteria (NOMA) advocated by Stephen Jay Gould – according to which, religion and science, properly construed, have separate epistemic territories or areas of authority. According to this view, religion and science investigate different sorts of questions and so can never give conflicting answers unless they stray from their legitimate roles.
Instead, Ward argues that, “Many religious statements are naturally construed as statements of fact – Jesus healed the sick, and rose from death, and these are factual claims.” I agree with this – various religions do make factual claims that could be just plain false: false in an empirical sense.
It could be – I think it most likely is – just plain empirically false that someone approximately meeting the traditional description of Jesus of Nazareth was executed by crucifixion, then rose from the dead, approximately 1980 years ago. However, it does seem like a factual issue, and one about which Christians have traditionally made claims. To that extent, Ward and I are in agreement. The claims made by religion, or at least some of them, can be seen as answers to factual questions.
Read the whole article here.