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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

On the roles of science and theology, by John F. Haught

I have read John F. Haught's Is Nature Enough: Meaning and Truth in the Age of Science. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006) I highly recommend the book. It is well written, by a knowledgeable scholar who is unquestionably a believer in a transcendent and omnipotent God, understandable, and only 215 pages long. Here's a key quote:

Theological explanation can coexist quite comfortably and noncompetitively with scientific explanation. How so? To begin with, theology does not emulate the kind of explanation that science gives with respect to natural causes. Although theology must be conversant with the methods and fruits of scientific discovery, it cannot imitate the scientific way of explaining things without losing its own identity. Discourse about divine action, moreover, must begin with metaphor or analogy,or else it is likely to appear as though the notion of divine creativity is competing with scientific accounts of natural causes. A major reason why "Intelligent Design Theory" draws so much justified animosity from both scientists and theologians today is that it attempts to situate divine action, barely disguised as "Intelligent Design," in an explanatory slot that is customarily reserved for science. Theology has a legitimate explanatory role in an extended hierarchy of explanations, but it is not an alternative to scientific understanding. (p. 60)

Thanks for reading. Read Haught! (Here's a later post on the same book, covering more issues.)

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