Re: Separation of science and religion

Thomas S. Jones (
Tue, 18 Nov 1997 12:03:09 -0500

Moorad Alexanian wrote:

>The subject matter of theology and science are quite distinct. Of course,
>you may have a hybrid theory to explain everything, the physical as well as
>the spiritual, but such a theory cannot be written down the way we write
>down theories in physics. The statement is that religion, whose subject
>matter is the spiritual, when making scientific statements is going outside
>its bounds into another discipline, science. The virgin birth is not a
>scientific statement. It is a historical event although the whole event
>deals with physical occurrences. The only thing science can say is that in
>all our observations we have not seen such a thing. However, science can
>never say that it did not occur. The scientific method is useless to study
>Scripture. Physics, for instance, deals with generalizing historical
>events---it does not deal with unique events. Of course, cosmology deals
>with a unique event but it is certainly not an experimental science. Can we
>say that the present state of affairs is the result of a Big Bang? Maybe,
>best. We can say nothing with absolute certainty. The same is true of
>evolutionary theory. That is all I expect people who deal in those fields
>admit and state.
>I do not think science will ever answer oncological questions. For
>the value of the fine-structure constant is not derivable from any known
>physical theory. If such a theory is found, then that theory is not really
>answering an ontological question. Science will remain descriptive never
>prescriptive. Think about it, a physical theory written with pen on paper
>that can predict the existence of the matter which makes up the pen and
>paper. Hard to envision. The most science can do is to connect different
>phenomena under one umbrella, but it can never bring those phenomena into
>Take care,
>p.s. I believe as you do that God created all and sustains it. But that is
>not science. I find it very hard to develop a physical theory from our
>Christian beliefs.

As this thread has developed, I have wondered if you have had the
opportunity to read Richard Bube's book titled "Putting it all together:
Seven Patterns for Relating Science and Christian Thought" or something like
that. Sorry if I missed the title a bit, but I'm doing this for memory.
The book is (or was) available through ASA and addresses the various ways
one might think about the relationship between science and Christian
beliefs. You seem to be arguing for Pattern four, I think, perhaps it is
three. In any case, it is the pattern which holds that there is no
relationship -- that the two are distinct and tell us different things about
different things.

A pattern I prefer is pattern seven which holds that science and
Christian beliefs (as taught in scripture) tell us different kinds of
information about the same reality and that in the final analysis both are
valid forms of input and provide us with truth. When these two appear to be
in conflict we have misunderstood the meaning of one or both sources of
information and we should examine our understanding of each and try to
understand how the two sources of information interrelate. In general,
science tells us what and Christian beliefs tell us Who and sometimes why.

My apologies to Dr. Bube for butchering an explanation of his book, but
I think it relates well to what you are saying and I recommend that you read
the book rather than rely on my explanation.


Thomas S. Jones
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