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Relationship between Science and Religion

Relationship between Science and Religion

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Relationship between Science and Religion

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  1. Relationship between Science and Religion

  2. Conflict Model • Science and Religion are ‘at war’ – they have different methods of examining the same evidence, and draw incompatible conclusions from this. • Examples: • 1633: Galileo v Roman Catholic Church (solar system debate) • Creationists v mainstream Science: universe only 6,000-10,000 years old • Carl Sagan, “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was, or ever will be.” • Richard Dawkins, “A case can be made that faith is one of the world’s greatest evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate.”

  3. Dialogue Model • There are comparisons of method between science and religion • Scientific study is not as objective as was once believed • Religious methods are more rational than was once believed • Both science and religion can offer different viewpoints on issues to resolve them – e.g. working together to discuss moral issues in various areas: environment, medicine (euthanasia) and scientific research (genetic engineering), etc • Alister McGrath (Oxford scientist and theologian): • All powerful God that works within the constructs science has shown • God and Evil can work together, although difficult to understand – much like light works as waves, particles, and both together. Scientists accept this, even though v difficult to understand this duality • Ian Barbour (Physicist and Theologian): • Science and religion provide a multi-level approach to reality. • Process Theology = reality is a process from beginning (ex nihilo) culminating in human consciousness. Suffering and evil necessary in this. • John Polkinghorne (theoretical Physicist and C of E priest): • “Both science and religion involve personal judgement, as both deal with information/data that is based on certain theories.”

  4. Integration Model • Sometimes called “mutual support” model • Religion gives science the proper perspective / viewpoint to study the world from • Using (real) science and linking to religion • 1600-1800, scientists Boyle and Newton held to Natural Theology – study of nature tells us something about God • Many through 20th C – see book • Recently – William Dembski (American Scientist) = ‘intelligent design’ theory • Warning from Arthur Peacocke (theologian and biochemist) that a “god of the gaps” approach is dangerous. Integration needs to go beyond this.

  5. Independence Model • Both religion and science are looking at different aspects of reality / life and should not overlap. • Religion shouldn’t try and ‘use’ science, and science shouldn’t try and tackle religious questions / ultimate reality questions • National Academy of Science 1981: “Religion and science are separate and mutually exclusive areas to human thought which, if they are presented in the same context, leads to misunderstanding of both scientific theory and religious belief.” • However, Barbour argues: “We do not experience life as neatly divided into separate compartments; we experience it in wholeness and interconnectedness before we develop particular disciplines to study different aspects of it.”

  6. Summary • Conflict: Science and Religion do not mix at all – both argue the other is fundamentally wrong • Dialogue: there is a place for both religion and science in dealing with issues from different perspectives. Both look at the same world, and use different methods of investigation • Integration: Use science to support religion / review scientific findings in light of religious ones – link the two together • Independence: both science and religion are valid, but investigate different areas of life. They should not interfere with each other.

  7. Important Point! These relationship models might come up as single 2/3 mark questions in the exam, e.g. “Explain how science and religion can have an integrated approach to knowledge.” (4). BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY they can be used to structure viewpoints style questions on AE for all Science and Belief Qs. E.g. “Scientific experiment is the only route to knowledge.” How might scientists respond to this statement? (15AE) OR “Genesis should be understood as an explanation of the origin of life.” How might Christians differ in their approach to revelation? (15AE)