Is the Science and Religion Dialogue a One Way Street?

Knowledge is one and created reality is one and so there must be some interrelationship between the insights and discourse of theology and the insights and discourse of science. The scientist-theologian all reject a ‘two languages’, non-interactive account of the two disciplines. There remains the question of where, within the spectrum of relationship bounded by absorption at one end and total independence at the other, a balanced account of the interaction between science and theology is to be located. ~ Sir John Polkinghorne, Science and Theology

Where lies the boundary in the relationship between science and theology? Where do they overlap and where should they be independent? These questions remain unanswered in the science and religion dialogue.

For sure, we can rule out any attempt to use the Bible as a scientific reference book, as it was never the intention of any of its authors. In fact, there are many statements in the Bible that would be considered scientifically inaccurate i.e. coneys chewing the cud.

If Christians wish to discuss physical findings, they should do so based on the physical sciences, but it won’t do for a Christian to raise questions about the discovery of X solely because he believes that a verse somewhere in Deuteronomy rules out the existence of element X. When Christians promote the Bible as a quasi-field guide for physics, botany or biology, thereby dictating what may or may not be discovered by scientific explorations, there is good reason to question how appropriately Scripture is being used. ~ Scott Hoezee, Proclaim the Wonder

The Bible was written to show us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go. ~ Cardinal Baronius, a quote cited by Galileo

On the other hand, does science have anything to say to theology?

If you want to have a sensible theology, it has to be consistent with what we know about the universe. But what we learn about the universe is independent of our theology. ~ Lawrence Krauss

So according to Krauss, science informs theology, but not the other way around. I agree with him on the first point. But I’m not so sure about the second. Does theology and philosophy really have nothing to say to science? Is the science and religion dialogue just a one way street? I’m still undecided on this one, and I’ll need to find out more.

Yet, there are also limits as to how much science can in fact say to theology. Our understanding of cosmology and evolutionary biology may have an effect on how we interpret Genesis 1 and 2, but it definitely has nothing to say about whether or not God exists, no matter how often passionate atheists like Richard Dawkins like to claim it does. And it all has to do with the limitations of the scientific method. Whatever conclusions one may have about God as a result of the sciences are just metaphysical interpretations that are non-scientific in themselves, which does not necessarily mean that they have no value.

By definition, a god is a nonmaterial being who transcends nature, so why should science, which deals only with the material world, have anything to say about whether or not a god exists? ~ Kenneth Miller, Finding Darwin’s God

The success of science does not mean it encompasses the entirety of human experience. ~ Lawrence Krauss

Evolution as a materialist philosophy is ideology, and presenting it as such essentially raises it to the rank of final cause. Evolutionists who deny cosmic teleology and who, in placing their faith in a cosmic roulette, argue for the purposelessness of the universe are not articulating scientifically established fact; they are advocating their personal metaphysical stance. This posture, I believe, is something that should be legitimately resisted. It is just as wrong to present evolution in high school classrooms as a final cause as it is to fob off Intelligent Design as a substitute for an efficacious efficient cause. ~ Owen Gingerich, God’s Universe

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