With all the current controversy about Richard Dawkins' new book, The God Delusion, and the relationship between science and religion, I went back to my article on Stephen Jay Gould's book on the subject, Rocks of Ages, to remind myself what I said in the past.
Entitled "Stephen Jay Gould on Science and Religion", the article was first published in Quadrant magazine in 2000, and a copy of it now sits happily on my website (it has also been anthologised, and it can probably be found on Quadrant's site as well). I can't really improve on what I wrote then. I still think that Gould was wrong in his claim that science and religion are "non-overlapping magisteria" that can never properly contradict each other; I'm still convinced that the problem was that he wanted to impose a narrow view of the proper scope of religion, confining it to a sphere of values (though allowing it to eat up the entire field of ethics). This is not tenable. Religions have always made claims that are open to rational investigation by science. This is their prerogative - they are encyclopedic explanations of the world and the human situation - but also a potential weakness if they make claims that later seem untenable when empirical evidence is gathered.
Some religious thinkers may, indeed, retreat to making only claims that seem immune to any sort of empirical investigation, but this is not religion's essence. Such a retreat is a very recent and culturally confined phenomenon, and it leaves religious worldviews eviscerated.