In the newspapers and textbooks one usually reads about ‘religion’ and science. Advocates defend religion; its opponents attack it. Both sides tend to assume that there is an essence, a single viewpoint, ‘religion,’ which either is or is not compatible with science. But is there such a thing as ‘religion’? The goal of this chapter is to bring to light the very different kinds of concerns that are raised across the world’s religious traditions. The order of presentation is particularly important here. Most readers in the West will implicitly have Christianity in mind when they begin reading a text on religion and science. A particular group of recurring topics tends to set the agenda for debates about Christianity and science: an initial creation ‘out of nothing’ by God; the purpose or directionality to evolution; human uniqueness and the existence of the soul; the question of miracles; the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ; the possibility of divine revelation; and the Christian concern with signs of the ‘eschaton’ (the Second Coming of Christ, which is said to bring about the transition from this order to the next). Perceptive readers will recognize that something similar to this set of issues formed the backdrop for the previous two chapters; it determined the framework for the sometimes harsh debates that we examined there. But what about religions other than Christianity? It turns out that radically different concerns arise when other religions enter into dialogue with science. In many cases, the relationships with science that emerge are not nearly as conflicted as the ones we have observed so far. This helps explain the frustration that members of other traditions frequently voice about Western books on religion and science:

You are preoccupied with a very peculiar list of Christian concerns. When you encounter conflict with science, you mark all religions with the same branding iron and dismiss them all as a result. But this approach is both inaccurate and unfair. Why don’t you study our traditions in their own light, and not just in the shadow of Christianity?