The relationship between religion and science has been a subject of study since Classical antiquity, addressed by philosophers, theologians, scientists, and other commentators. Perspectives from different geographical regions, cultures and historical epochs are diverse. Recent commentators have characterized the relationship as one of 4 categories: conflict, independence, dialogue, and integration. Discussions of what is science and what is not science, the demarcation problem in the philosophy of science, have intersected with discourse on religion in some instances and both have had complex relations in their historical interactions.
The conflict thesis, which states that there is an intrinsic intellectual conflict between religion and science, remains generally popular for the public, though most historians of science no longer support it anymore. Other contemporary scientists such as Stephen Jay Gould, Francisco Ayala, Kenneth R. Miller and Francis Collins hold that religion and science are non-overlapping magisteria, addressing fundamentally separate forms of knowledge and aspects of life. Some theologians or historians of science, including John Lennox, Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme and Ken Wilber propose an interconnection between them.
he kinds of interactions that might arise between science and religion have been categorized, according to physicist, theologian and Anglican priest John Polkinghorne are: 1) conflict between the disciplines, 2) independence of the disciplines, 3) dialogue between the disciplines where they overlap, and 4) integration of both into one field.
This typology is similar to ones used by theologians Ian Barbour and John Haught. More typologies that categorize this relationship can be found among the works of other science and religion scholars such as theologian and biochemist Arthur Peacocke.
A modern view, described by Stephen Jay Gould as "non-overlapping magisteria" (NOMA), is that science and religion deal with fundamentally separate aspects of human experience and so, when each stays within its own domain, they co-exist peacefully. While Gould spoke of independence from the perspective of science, W. T. Stace viewed independence from the perspective of the philosophy of religion. Stace felt that science and religion, when each is viewed in its own domain, are both consistent and complete.
According to the Archbishop John Habgood, both science and religion represent distinct ways of approaching experience and these differences are sources of debate. he views science as descriptive and religion as prescriptive. He stated that science and mathematics concentrates on what the world ought to be, like in the way that religion does, may lead to improperly ascribing properties to the natural world as happened among the followers of Pythagoras in the sixth century B.C. In contrast, proponents of a normative moral science take issue with the idea that science has no way of guiding "oughts". Habgood also stated that he believed that the reverse situation, where religion attempts to be descriptive, can also lead to inappropriately assigning properties to the natural world. A notable example is the now defunct belief in the Ptolemy planetary model that held sway until changes in scientific and religious thinking were brought about by Galileo and proponents of his views.
Thomas S. Kuhn asserted that science is made up of paradigms that arise from cultural traditions, which is similar to the secular perspective on religion.
Michael Polanyi asserted that it is merely a commitment to universality that protects against subjectivity and has nothing at all to do with personal detachment as found in many conceptions of the scientific method. Polanyi further asserted that all knowledge is personal and therefore the scientist must be performing a very personal if not necessarily subjective role when doing science. Polanyi added that the...
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