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Science vs. Faith (Part Three)

Catch up on Part One and Part Two.

If both the Conflict and Independence Models pose problems, let's consider a better alternative. In Barbour's book, he describes two other models of interaction between science and religion that portray a more fruitful relationship between the two: Dialogue and Integration. However, Philosopher Garry DeWeese offers a more straightforward model that best illustrates how science and faith can and do interact: Convergence. In a lecture on the relationship between science and faith, DeWeese states:

"At any point in history, conflict is possible due to the incomplete or inaccurate theories/doctrines and descriptions in one or the other (or both) disciplines. When conflict occurs, theology may correct science, or science may correct theology, or judgment may be withheld, with decisions made on a case-by-case basis.”

According to the Convergence Model, the tensions that occur between science and faith are the result of ignorance and not of any incongruity between the two. Ultimately, both science and faith are describing the same reality, but, due to the limitations of human knowledge at any given time, errors in our understanding of theology or in our understanding of science will cause friction to arise. So, what are we to do about it?

The most important characteristic a person can have concerning these disciplines is humility. Isaiah 55:8 and Deuteronomy 29:29 serve as a reminder that God is infinite and unfathomable, and a review of scientific knowledge from the last several hundred years reveals how much scientific paradigms and theories change over time.

Additionally, the Church needs people of faith to take both science and theology seriously. The Church not only needs theologians to study the great questions of theology, but it needs scientists to study the universe that God has made. God has spoken to us both through the Bible and through nature. Psalm 19 gives a description of each. The first six verses describe the glory of God as it's revealed in the heavenly bodies: sun, moon, and stars. The final eight verses describe the knowledge of God that comes from divine revelation: the Bible. God has given us two books by which to know him, and both are essential. There may be times when our limited understanding causes tension to arise, but we can be confident that the same God who communicates to us through Scripture is the same God who speaks in nature.


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