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Monday, May 26, 2008

Can science and religion become integrated?

Can science and religion interact fruitfully with each other? I think so. I am not alone. Ian G. Barbour has been the leading voice, insisting that such cooperative interaction, or, as he puts it, Integration, is possible. He has categorized the possible interactions between science and religion as Conflict, Independence, Dialogue, and Integration, and argues that Integration is possible, and desirable. See here for scriptural reasons for Integration.

A recent issue of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science (not readily available on the Internet) considers Barbour's ideas.

Taede A. Smedes, in "Beyond Barbour or Back to Basics? The Future of Science-and-Religion and the Quest for Unity," in the March, 2008 issue, pages 235-258, has some serious criticisms of Barbour. So does Sjoerd L. Bonting, in "Is There a Future for the Dialogue?" (pp. 227-234). Bonting defines science as the natural sciences, only, excluding most psychology from the natural sciences. He says that the different areas of the natural sciences ". . . develop theories from observations and experiments, frequently aided by mathematics." Religion, however, is harder to pin down, says Bonting. Religion is:
. . . a phenomenon with several facets, such as experience of the transcendent and the sacred, belief, spirituality, mysticism, prayer, worship, moral awareness, and theology. Because of its multifaceted nature I claim that religion is not a suitable partner for the dialogue with science. (p. 228)

Barbour is not quenched. "Taking Science Seriously Without Scientism: A Response to Taede Smedes," (pp. 259-269) is his response. He concludes his contribution by expressing his continued optimism for future constructive interaction between science and religion.

If God is the author of the objects that science studies, and has also revealed Himself through the Judaeo-Christian religion, then surely there is a place for positive accommodation between them, and Christians ought to work toward such positive accomodation.

Thanks for reading.


Robert Wolfersteig said...


I discovered your blog while working on my master's at Arizona State. My program required a final project rather than a thesis.

Anyway, my project -- SCIENCE AND THEOLOGY: NEW METHODOLOGIES FOR CENTERING THE SEARCH FOR GOD AT THE BEGINNING OF THE BIG BANG -- focused on how to "integrate" science and theology.

Over the years, I have spent a considerable amount of time with Barbour, Smedes and others.

My blog is still "active" if you are interested in visiting.

Robert Wolfersteig said...

Forgot my blog address:

Robert W.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Robert Wolfersteig. I'll try to check your blog.

Thanks for your comment.