THE LAB, THE TEMPLE, AND THE MARKET Reflections at the Intersection of Science, Religion, and Development

Sharon M.P. Harper
Kumarian, IDRC
264 pgs.

This is a fascinating and highly informative book on a topic that is vital for our day. From their different faith perspectives, the authors show how urgent it is for us to recognize the fundamental links between science, religion, and commerce, if we are ever to achieve real "development" for the majority of people in the world. The authenticity of their contributions and their openness about their own experience makes the book extremely accessible and inspiring.
— Wendy Tyndale (Coordinator of the Faiths, World Faiths Development Dialogue)

What do faith, science, and the world of international development have to offer one another? Current international development discourse is starting to look at how religion affects globalization, peacebuilding, and the environment, for example. But how do the roles, approaches, and world views of science, religion, and international development intersect? And how does this intersection express itself in different cultures?

The Lab, the Temple, and the Market tackles these complex questions in four separate essays. Each essay meshes a discussion of development issues and processes with a different system of religious belief: Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, and the Bahá'i Faith. The authors — each a scientist as well as a person of faith — show how religious belief and personal faith can be deeply motivational and strikingly fruitful in scientific pursuits. Further, they emphasize how their faith has brought them a profound understanding of interconnectedness and compassion, and thus a wider perspective and greater sense of personal meaning to their research.

Fifty years of "international development," has produced some remarkable advances in health care, communication, and agriculture. But, for many, poverty continues to worsen, as the Earth suffers from the social, economic, and environmental consequences of the consumption-based model of human progress. The Lab, the Temple, and the Market furthers the search for a more "people-centred" model of development and for a scientific practice that supports tolerance, sustainability, peace, and justice for all. It will appeal to development practitioners and researchers, bilateral and multilateral policymakers, academics, religious leaders, and those who feel that current models of (and approaches to) human progress are constructed on a too-narrow definition of humanity.

Read a review of The Lab, the Temple, and the Market from One Country, the online newsletter of the Bahá'i International Community.


Sharon M.P. Harper is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and holds degrees in journalism, law, and theology. She is a lawyer and researcher with experience in human rights and discrimination issues, both domestic and international, an experienced writer and editor, and a program manager knowledgeable about mediation and arbitration techniques, gender and research-for-development issues, as well as religious and feminist perspectives on ethics and epistemology. She currently works for Canada's International Development Research Centre.