“Thou Shall Not Freeze-Frame,” or, How Not to Misunderstand the Science and Religion Debate

Bruno Latour

in Science, Religion, and the Human Experience

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780195175325
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199784707 | DOI:
 							“Thou Shall Not Freeze-Frame,” or, How Not to Misunderstand the Science and Religion Debate

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This essay aims to subvert typical assumptions about science and religion as a necessary preface to rethinking their relationship. Latour likens religion to love as a performative (vs. merely referential) manner of speech that brings immediacy, not the distant God as is generally assumed. He similarly flips science on the head of general assumptions, arguing that it is concerned not with the immediate stuff of life, but with largely invisible worlds (the supposed domain of religion). He then addresses representation in science and religion, suggesting how science is not the simplistic matter of corresponding words to world, but an unending process of cascading chains of transformation by which matter becomes form. Latour also critiques the traditional notion of religious images as pointing toward the invisible and not being sacred in themselves. Rather, he argues that religious images work to distort and confuse general notions of direct apprehension of the distant and invisible, thus placing re-emphasis on the immediate, a (literal) re-presentation. In both cases, Latour argues for a dynamic notion of truth, cautioning against “freeze-framing” truth as a static world of scientific reference or a static incarnation of the sacred in historical time.

Keywords: freeze-framing; immediacy; religion; representation; science; truth

Chapter.  10411 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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