Science and Religion: Is Compatibility Possible?
To raise the question of the possible compatibility of science and religion must, in light of the historical relations of the scientific and religious communities, seem utterly naive. Since the days of Galileo and Urban VIII, it can be argued, the image of conflict has appropriately dominated all discussion of the relation of religion to science. The dominant picture, as Andrew White’s famous History of the Warfare Between Science and Theology (1896) illustrates (although some what onesidedly), has been one of the religious faithful fighting the progress of the sciences, particularly when new discoveries threatened the security of cherished dogmas. And today the image of conflict is reinforced, despite the fact that contemporary scientific beliefs are more congenial to religious (and especially Christian) doctrines than those of a few generations ago,1 for the conflict, it is maintained, is basically methodological. Both science and religion, that is, seem to be playing the ‘cognition game’and yet religion, so it is claimed, seems to follow an entirely different set of rules in its achievement of ‘knowledge’from those of science.2 The point of the modern view of the conflict image, is that science provides us with a clear and straightforward paradigm for knowing — a ‘morality of knowledge’3 — which religious thinking obviously contravenes. Despite such claims, however, there is a reluctance on the part of many to accept the image of conflict as an appropriate category in discussion of the relations of science and religion, for both science and religion have made valued contributions to our lives and neither is likely to whither away in the very near future. That reluctance to deny the value of either community has inspired alternative interpretations of the meanings of science and religion that ‘entail’ compatibility. And it is the variety and significance of these various ‘compatibility systems’that I wish to look at in this chapter.
KeywordsObjective Space Religious Tradition Religious Community Scientific Thought Compatibility System
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