Ian Barbour classifies views on the relationship between science and theology into four groupings:
One view of the relationship between science and theology is that they are two conflicting views of reality.
On the science side of this point of view is Scientific Materialism; on the religious side is Biblical Literalism.
The tenets of Scientific Materialism:
Tenet 1: is a epistemological (= the nature of knowledge) assumption
Tenet 2: is a metaphysical (= the nature of reality) assumption
Acceptance of both these two assumptions imply only those things studied by science are real.
Scientific Materialism often involves reductionism:
"All science is either physics or stamp-collecting"
A statement attributed to Ernest Rutherford, discoverer of x-rays (not necessarily in the context of a discussion of epistemological reductionism, but it cogently expresses the attitude that might lead there)
Science (Scientific Method):
Religion is therefore subjective, parochial, uncritical.
22.214.171.124. Philosophical Materialism
Scientific Materialism leads to Philosophical Materialism
Jacques Monod's Chance and Necessity eloquently expresses this point of view:
126.96.36.199. Logical Positivism
Logical Positivism was a philosophic movements in 1920's to 1940's that said that:
2.3. Biblical Literalism
Most mainstream Christian denominations consider scripture a human witness to God's revelation (and hence fallible)
1970's and 1980's saw a rise in fundamentalism. Fundamentalists consider the scripture the inerrant, literal word of God. The Bible thus interpreted provided:
Modern science however clearly conflicts with a literal reading of the Bible.
This has led for example to the "opposition" movement of Creation Science or Scientific Creationism, which claims there is scientific evidence for the creation of the world in the last few thousand years.
A common and widespread point of view is that science and theology are two totally independent, autonomous activities.
The basis of this point of view is that science and theology are:
Neo-Orthodoxy was a post World War I reaction to Protestant Liberalism, which had posited an optimistic belief that human society was progressing to a better world through the progressive enlightenment of the humanity, a view that was shattered by the horrors and atrocities of the great World War.
Karl Barth was Neo-Orthodoxy's most prominent theologian. Barth emphasized that God is transcendent, unknowable except as self-revealed through Jesus Christ. Theology and science were completely independent of each other, because:
3.3.1. I-It Versus I-You Relations
188.8.131.52. I and Thou
In 1923, Martin Buber published I and Thou (the usual English translations of the German Ich und Du)
Two modes of experiencing / relating to the world:
184.108.40.206. I-It Relationships
220.127.116.11. I-You Relationships
A “person” then is someone with whom we can have an “I-You” relationship. The person of an “I-You” encounter cannot be “objectified,” or “boxed-in,” turned in “content.” A person of an “I-You” encounter is a Presence, is Presence as power.
The view of Religious Existentialism is that God is a being encountered in an "I-You" relationship, whereas Science deals only with "I-It" relationships. They are thus two independent modes of seeing the world.
3.4. Linguistic Analysis
3.4.1. The "Language Game"
Linguistic Analysis was a philosophical school that came after Logical Positivism.
It taught that different human endeavors use different types of "language" that serve different functions. You cannot "translate" from a language serving one function to a language serving another function
Wittgenstein, called this the "language game"
The language of Science functions for prediction and control.
The language of Religion, one the other hand, functions to:
Each language is valid only for the function it is designed for.
Note that Linguistic Analysis is a form of Instrumentalism: scientific theories and religious beliefs are merely human constructs for specific human purposes
4. Science and Theology are Views of Reality in Which Dialogue Is Possible
The suggestion that science and theology are views of reality in which some kind of "dialogue" encompasses a potpourri of conceptions about science and theology. The suggestion is that there are some indirect or peripheral points of contact between theology and science.
Some examples of "Dialogue" between science and theology include:
A final point of view about the relationship between science and theology (and the point of view that these presentations will presume) is that an integration is possible -- at times necessary -- between theology and science. Barbour suggests that we can find three versions of this integration:
5.2. Natural Theology
In Natural Theology, science is the starting point for the search for God. Natural Theology says that by studying nature:
“Ever since the creation of the word, his [God's] eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made”
-- St. Paul, in Romans 1:20
Arguments for the Existence of God in Natural Theology can generally grouped into one of the following:
1. The cosmological argument. There must be a "first" cause (God)
2. The teleological argument. There must be an ultimate designer (God)
5.2.3. The Cosmological Argument or "First Cause" Argument
Cosmological Argument or "First Cause" Argument (Thomas Aquinas, 1224-1274):
5.2.4. The Teleological Argument or "Argument from Design"
Teleological Argument = Argument from Design
Thomas Aquinas on the Teleological Argument:
The fifth way is based on the governance of things. We see how some things, like natural bodies, work of an end even though they have no knowledge. The fact that they nearly always operate in the same way, and so as to achieve the maximum good, makes this obvious, and shows that they attain their end by design, not by chance. Now things which have no knowledge tend towards an end only through the agency of something which knows and also understands, as in the case of arrow which requires an archer. There is therefore an intelligent being by whom all natural things are directed to their end. This we call "God"
The Cosmological or "First Cause" Argument, and the Teleological Argument or Argument from Design have in common the idea that some aspect or property of the universe is contingent or dependent on something else -- God.
Several unexplained "contingencies" in modern physics have been suggested as "rumors" of a designer, creator and/or sustainer:
(We will be discussing (1) and (2) in session 2 of this series; (3) and (4) in session 3, and (5) in session 4. What follows is a preview:)
18.104.22.168. The Laws of Physics
(1.) The Laws of Physics
(2.) The Boundary Implied by a Beginning of the Universe
Near the beginning of time, a "Big Bang" -- a great fireball of immense density and temperature -- filled all of space and started its evolution
The theories of Relativity tell us space and time are woven together in a single created fabric called space-time
Models of the Universe using General Relativity lead to a point where time = 0 where the fabric of space-time was undefined, immediately after which both space and time abruptly began to exist
(3.) The Contingency of Every Point of Space-Time
Modern physics has not yet succeeded in findings a satisfactory theory that unites the General Theory of Relativity (Einstein's theory of gravity) with Quantum Physics. There is presently no complete theory of gravity that takes into account quantum physics (The name proposed for such theories is Quantum Gravity).
Some early work in Quantum Gravity suggests that the dimension we call time becomes "fuzzy" and turns into a fourth spatial dimension as we approach "time = 0." There is thus no "beginning" to the universe -- time becomes meaningless as we "approach" "time = 0".
Whether this ultimately turns out to be true or not, it reminds us that:
22.214.171.124. The Anthropic Principle
(4.) The Anthropic Principle
Is this evidence for a Designer?
A possible fifth contingency is:
(5.) the "Ground of Being" from Quantum Physics*:
Quantum physics challenges our conceptions of the fundamental nature of physical reality. It tells us:
This leads to the metaphysical questions:
5.3. Theology of Nature
Theology of Nature holds that:
Examples of two areas of theology where physics might change "doctrine:"
(*We will be discussing these issues further in sessions 5 and 6 of this series. What follows is a preview.)
5.3.2. How Does God Work in Creation?
How does God work in the universe?
Modern physics tells us Newtonian "determinism" is dead. The universe is not the "clock" of the Deists and God is not a "clockmaker" god. The universe instead appears to have an element of chance and happenstance built into it:
Theologian such as John Polkinghorne (a particle physicist who became an Anglican priest and theologian) suggests that God made the universe as "wholly other" and gave the creation the gift of this chance and happenstance to make it a place of "true becoming". The chance, happenstance given to nature allows the universe to evolve and give rise to novelty and new forms -- to become “creative”
Eschatology = The Study of the Last Things.
Modern Cosmology tells us that:
We must conclude, and theology must take into account, that only a redemptive act of God that contravenes the laws of physics can save the universe
5.4. Systematic Synthesis
The idea that science and theology offer views of reality that must be integrated is most radically seen in those theologians and philosophers who have tried to fully incorporate views of reality offered by science into new theological theories. The two theological theories given as examples by Barbour are:
(The following material is lifted from the session Survey of Theology 1, the Doctrine of God.
126.96.36.199. Reality in Process Theology
188.8.131.52. Criticisms of Process Theology
Religion and Science. Historical and Contemporary Issues, Ian Barbour. Harper, San Francisco,1997. Chapter 4: Ways of Relating Science and Religion