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Science, Theology, and Tea Kettles

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May 12, 2009 Tags: Christianity & Science - Then and Now

Today's entry was written by the BioLogos Editorial Team. You can read more about what we believe here.

Science, Theology, and Tea Kettles

Can there be meaningful interaction between the realms of science and religion? Many would argue that the two live in different worlds, and encompass completely different worldviews.

In their book Questions of Truth, John Polkinghorne and Nicholas Beale agree that religion may not be a proper partner for science. Theology, however, is, because its "concern is with intellectual reflection on human encounters with the sacred."

Science asks, "How?" Theology asks, "Why?" Yet both are questioning the nature of reality. Polkinghorne and Beale use the image of a boiling kettle to illustrate the concept:

"The kettle is boiling because burning gas heats the water.The kettle is burning because I want to make a cup of tea, and will you have some too? We do not have to choose between these two answers, and, in fact, if we are fully to understand the event of the boiling kettle, we need both."

                                                                                               - Questions of Truth, page 8

For more insightful responses to questions on God, science, and belief, be sure to check out Polkinghorne and Beale's Questions of Truth.

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Sean - #11516

April 28th 2010

When attempting to attribute a “why” to the nature of reality, it is important to keep in check our natural human tendency to anthropocentricaly observe the nearly insignificant portion of the natural universe we inhabit.  This may prevent us from disproportionatey incorporating humanity in any answer to the “reason behind” the nature of reality.

Using Polkinghorne and Beale’s example, (using seemingly intuitively obvious reasoning) if my purpose is to make a cup of tea and to share it with you, I need not provide evidence of me turning on a light in a house on Pluto to do show my purpose evidentially; instead burning gas to heat the water to its boiling point will be evidentially quite sufficient.  In the same vein, I would argue that the incredible expanse and volume of the universe in total sufficiently undermines any answer to the question of the nature of reality which significantly involves humanity.

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