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The Strange Tension Between Theology and Science

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May 6, 2014 Tags: Christian Unity, Creation & Origins, Earth, Universe & Time, Science & Worldviews

Today's entry was written by Emily Ruppel. You can read more about what we believe here.

The Strange Tension Between Theology and Science

Yesterday on the BioLogos Forum we heard from theologian Thomas Jay Oord about views on evolution in the Nazarene Church, as part of an ECF project called Nazarenes Exploring Evolution. In yesterday’s post, Tom talks about some of the erroneous assumptions people may hold regarding what this particular group of Christians believes; although many Nazarenes do not believe the Bible and science to be compatible, many do! And those who have found a way to integrate these two domains are largely theologians and biblical scholars who are leaders in the church.

Why might Christian leaders be more likely than laity to grapple successfully with scientific findings on evolution and the age of the earth? What’s at stake in this complex debate?

Today, we feature an essay from the Washington Post’s Michael Gerson on the importance of finding the harmony that exists between modern science and Christian faith. Gerson writes about the perceived tension between science and faith and posits a guess about why it exists: “Many conservative Christians equate modern science with materialism — a view conditioned by early 20th-century debates over evolution and human origins. Science is often viewed as an alternative theology, with a competing creation story.”

Gerson goes on to lucidly describe what both science and religion lose when this false dichotomy persists. It’s a great extension of the theme of Tom’s essay yesterday, when he writes, “These polls reveal what many scholars and pastors in the denomination have been saying for some time: the Bible should not be interpreted as a straightforward science or history book.”


As Web Editor, Emily Ruppel oversees the editorial content of the BioLogos website, including working with our many guest authors for our blog. She received a master’s degree in science writing from MIT and a bachelor’s degree in English from Bellarmine University. Since graduating MIT, she has worked as the Associate Director of Communications for the American Scientific Affiliation, where her favorite activity is editing and publishing God and Nature magazine, and as a freelance writer.


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defensedefumer - #85361

May 7th 2014

Thanks for a great summary! I guess the difficulty for many Christians (such as myself) is to separate what we observe into the natural and the supernatural, and to assume that God is only involved in the supernatural.

At times, I forget that God is passionately involved in every aspect of our lives.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #85364

May 7th 2014

Yesterday I could not find the article by Michael Gerson, because it is not above, but can be found by clicking on the phrase highlighted on blue in the first line of third paragraph beginning with “the importance of finding….”

There is much in this article that is true, but I think he along with most everyone else miss the main stumbling block.  What is true is that the problem of the tension between science and theology is not scientific, but it is philosophical.  The stumbling block is that there is no easy philosophical answer to this problem.

Right now there are basically three posible answers to this problem.

1)  Scientism which says that science works and science is based on naturalism which says that the world is physical and Reality is one, so only natural physical reality is real.

2)  A theological or ideology that claims mind over matter and therefore ideas and usually ideas based on an understanding of God are real and true.  Boko Haram.

3) A utilitarian view that says use what works in any given situation, which seems to be the answer most people give.  The Non-Overlapping MAgisteria is an example.  

Each of these positions have positive aspects, but they each also have serious drawbacks also.  None can prevail without serious conflict and intellectual problems.

The only real solution is a new world view which is not monistic or dualistic.  My suggestion is triune which has an existing spiritual, intellectual basis, but any effective basis is acceptable.   

 


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