This week, I’m only going to give a few more qualifications for the grounds of a dialogue between Science and Religion as they will appear on this blog (in this weekly category). Next week, hopefully, I’ll start with some constructive dialogue and get to what I genuinely wanted this series to do.
A Philosophical Assumption
I stated last week that the most fruitful ground for a dialogue between science and religion would occur via the medium of philosophy of science. That is true, and there I argued why such a category is not only particularly useful, much more so than critics would have you believe, but is also something with which scientists engage regularly, whether or not they acknowledge it.
I would add an additional qualifier here by saying that philosophy of science speaks best to religion when it does so through the medium of philosophy of religion. Now, I should probably distinguish the two. Philosophy of religion is primarily the academic study of the ideologies with which religion is concerned. It is not concerned with the reasons for belief (psychology of religion, and religion itself), nor is it concerned primarily with the actions of the believer (as religion is, and social scientific study of religion is). Instead, it evaluates the beliefs of religious systems along philosophical guidelines. Now, there is some overlap. Clearly the validity or non-validity of belief systems will factor into “reasons for belief” (as many apologists know), and they are vital for establishing the reasonableness of belief. However, Philosophy of Religion does not have the same restrictions upon it that some religious systems have. (I say some because many, like some forms of Christianity, don’t have many restrictions either). The philosopher of religion simply follows the logical line of argument, given certain assumptions about what he or she is studying. I do believe that philosophy of religion is the best ground for dialogue with philosophy of science because the two have a shared methodology and are both concerned with ultimate truth, regardless of the restrictions that may or may not be placed upon it (and yes, science has some pretty hefty restrictions as well, like you can’t question empiricism).
In theory, I could engage with any and all religions in philosophy of religion, but that’s not my personal concern. Since this is a blog and not an academic book in either of those disciplines, I can add an additional qualification.
A Theological Qualification
If you haven’t figured it out already, I have a particular perspective throughout this blog. I am an evangelical Christian who is also a Baptist. (If you want to read more about it, click the category to the right for “Orientation Posts”). I’m not really that concerned with whether what I say violates the theology of various forms of Hinduism or Buddhism. I don’t particularly care whether it speaks to Roman Catholic theology. Now, it may say something to those various groups, which is fine, but that’s not the goal or focus. I’m concerned primarily with evangelical Christianity from a Baptist perspective. That is my starting point. I think it is also where I will end up, but I am trying to be open about this thing (and so, theoretically, it could not, but I seriously doubt that will happen). This means several things:
- Monotheism will be assumed: and that is a Trinitarian monotheism. I’m not going to try to “prove God exists” because others have embarked on that journey in more detail and much better than I could
- The veracity of the bible will be a starting point (and likely ending point). By this I mean I will take the bible as true until I see evidence to the contrary (which I don’t think will happen). It describes a certain history and events as I believe them to have actually occurred.
- The theological issues will be Christian: that is I will be concerned with things like creation out of nothing (Creatio ex Nihilo), the historical incarnation, how to understand contemporary issues in physics in light of past Christian theological doctrines (and whether we should change or abandon those doctrines). While other religions may hold to some of these, others do not (for instance, only monotheistic religions seem to require a creation out of nothing, others are ok with the idea that the world just always was in some form or another).
And similar things.
Next Week: Creation out of nothing.