Science Beyond Scientism & The Abraham Kuyper Centre for Science and Religion
TWCF Number
Project Duration
January 1 / 2013
- December 31 / 2015
Core Funding Area
Big Questions
Amount Awarded
Grant DOI*

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Rene Van Woudenburg
Institution VU University Amsterdam

Scientism is the view that science, and science alone, can give us knowledge, tell us what exists, and answer our moral, existential, and religious questions. The central question in the proposed research project is:   What are the problems of scientism and how can it be overcome? We propose that scientism is not only false, but also harmful. False, because there are other sources of knowledge besides science. Harmful, because it undermines notions that are central to human self-understanding and flourishing, and to various social and professional practices; notions such as free will, rational decision-making, moral character, and religious belief.

To find out what the problems of scientism are, and how they can be overcome, we ask three subsidiary questions to be addressed in three parts of the research project: 1. How does scientism manifest itself in research about free will, rational decision making, moral character, and religious belief and how does it affect social and professional practices informed by these areas of research? 2. How can scientism be analysed in a philosophically rigorous manner, what are the arguments for and against it, and how good are these arguments? 3. What does a non-scientistic framework for integrating scientific knowledge with other sources of knowledge look like?

In order to conduct the project, we aim to establish The Abraham Kuyper Centre for Science and Religion at VU University Amsterdam, which can accommodate national and international scholars, organise conferences and workshops, maintain a website, and communicate with the press. This Centre will be of great interest in itself during the project as well as assure the impact of the project beyond the funding period. Through this project, we hope to bring about a dismantling of scientism and explicate what science without a commitment to scientism looks like. The enduring impact of the project is that it will free minds, inside and outside academia, to acknowledge various limits of science, as well as to acknowledge extra-scientific sources of knowledge.  

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