Theology and The Social Sciences—Discipline and Antidiscipline

  • Nancy Murphy Imperial College London


In this review of papers by E. O. Wilson, Philip Gorski, and Robert Segal, I apply Wilson's description of the relations between a discipline and its antidiscipline (the science just below it in the hierarchy of sciences) to the relations between theology and the social sciences. I claim (contra Gorski) that a common methodology is applicable to natural science, social science, and theology. However, despite the fact that a discipline cannot ordinarily be reduced to its antidiscipline, I claim (with Segal) that it remains to be shown that a theistic interpretation of religious phenomena is superior to a social-scientific explanation. I see this as work to be done rather than an impossibility. Insofar as it is shown that theology cannot be reduced to social-scientific explanations, support is provided for the hypothesis of the existence of God.


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How to Cite
Murphy, N. (2021). Theology and The Social Sciences—Discipline and Antidiscipline. Religious Studies: An International Journal, 9(1), 45-68. Retrieved from