Science, Religion, and Sexuality

Science, Religion, and Sexuality

Questions of gender and sexuality remain among the most important and least understood areas in discussions of science and religion. Whether approached from a religious or a scientific standpoint, approaches of gender and sexuality continue to be fraught with gendered biases and cultural stereotypes. Moreover, questions of gender and sexuality became some of the more politically, and generationally divisive issues such as infertility and abortion, gay marriage, and gender-reassignment surgeries. Despite the enormous strides being made towards equality, gender-based violence continues to be perpetuated on a daily basis and stereotypes about the differences between the sexes still hold women back from achieving true equality, and perpetuate discrimination against queer individuals.

In this research module, we are interested in investigating how communal and individual understandings and practices of sexuality influence scientific and religious thought and practice. In addition, we explore how, in turn, scientific and religious views on normality/abnormality, right/wrong, virtue/non-virtue influence the perception and practices of sexuality leading to different forms of societal and cultural phenomena such as inclusion/exclusion, marginalization, medicalization, and legitimation. We ask, among other things, how have cultural narratives about our evolutionary pasts influenced contemporary debates on the "natural" and "cultural" in the realm of human sexuality? And further, how do strands of religious teaching, tradition, culture, and evolutionary narratives intertwine to produce, constrain, and frame the language of debate and conversation on human sexuality? We are also interested in gender-based discrimination including gender and sex-based violence, and how such practices intersect with questions of race, ethnicity and sexuality.

Topics in this module include

  • Evolution and Gender)
  • Sex and Gender-based violence                                                                                                   
  • Normality and Normativity in science and religion
  • Sex-change and Gender-shifting                                                                       

To learn how you can become involved, please email us at srcp@hds.harvard.edu