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A. Typologies (‘Ways of Relating Science and Religion’)

A number of typologies have been suggested to classify various ways of relating science and religion. We will start with a brief review of them, since they illuminate the underlying assumptions often taken for granted which strongly shape the public as well as scholarly conversations. They can be quite useful both to specialists wishing to clarify subtle distinctions between positions and to non-specialists, including the media, educators, and clergy, by providing a basic orientation to the field. In some cases these ways are meant as mutually exclusive, such as “conflict”The "conflict" metaphor has come under increasing criticism by historians. See Part III, versus “two worlds”; in other cases, one way might lead to and become incorporated within another, such as “dialogue” and “integration.” In some cases, each way is meant as a characterization of the relation between science per se and religion per se; in other cases, they only apply to specific topics in science and in religion.

Ian Barbour’s typology, called “ways of relating science and religion”, was first published in 1988,Ian G. Barbour, "Ways of Relating Science and Theology," in Physics, Philosophy, and Theology: A Common Quest for Understanding, ed. Robert J. Russell, William R. Stoeger, S.J. and George V....expanded slightly in 1990Ian G. Barbour, Religion in an Age of Science, Gifford Lectures; 1989-1990. (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1990), Ch. 1.and in 1997,Ian G. Barbour, Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997), Ch. 4. and used to restructure the material from his 1990 Gifford lectures for a wider audience in 2000.Ian G. Barbour, When Science Meets Religion (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000).It remains the most widely used typology in the field. Barbour lists four types of relations, each with subtypes: conflict (scientific materialism, biblical literalism); independence (contrasting methods, differing languages); dialogue (boundary questions, methodological parallels); and integration (natural theology, theology of nature, systematic synthesis). His rich discussion is essential reading.In the 1988 version Barbour listed two subtypes: doctrinal reformulation and systematic synthesis. In the 1990 version, the primary examples of doctrinal reformulation were recategorized as ‘theology...

The 1980s saw other typologies, though they were less widely effective. In 1981 Arthur Peacocke published an eightfold typology. A. R. Peacocke, The Sciences and Theology in the Twentieth Century (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981), xiii - xv; Arthur Peacocke, "Intimations of Reality: Critical Realism in Science...It listed both differences and similarities in realms, approaches, languages, attitudes, and objects; it also allowed for the integration of science and religion and for science to generate a metaphysics in which theology can be formulated. I later reformulated his typology as a four-dimensional model which allows for a continuum between opposite positions.Robert John Russell, "A Critical Appraisal of Peacocke's Thought on Religion and Science," Religion & Intellectual Life II no. 4 (1985): 48-51 (New Rochelle: College of New Rochelle). See...In 1985, Nancey Murphy appropriated H. Richard Niebuhr’s classic five-fold typology of relations between Christianity and culture and applied it to science and religion. Her distinctive claim was that theology could be a transformer not only of culture in general but even of science in particular.Nancey Murphy, "A Niebuhrian Typology for the Relation of Theology to Science," Pacific Theological Review XVIII, Three (Spring 1985): 16-23.

In the 1990's, a variety of new topologies appeared, many responding directly to Barbour’s work. John Haught’s 1995 typology includes conflict, contrast, contact, and confirmation.John F. Haught, Science & Religion: From Conflict to Conversion (New York: Paulist Press, 1995), Ch. 1.The first three parallel those of Barbour; the fourth describes theology as providing some key philosophical assumptions underlying science.These include such ‘fiduciary’ assumptions (vis. Polanyi) that the universe is rational, coherent, ordered, whole, and grounded in love and promise. In Haught’s (somewhat misleading) formulation,...Haught then addresses nine key issues in science and religion and illustrates how each of his four approaches respond to them. In 1996, Willem B. Drees offered a nine-fold typology generated as three new realities (new scientific knowledge, new ideas in philosophy of science, and new attitudes towards nature) influence three distinct areas (religious cognitive claims, experiences, and traditions).Willem B. Drees, Religion, Science and Naturalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), Ch. 1.5, p. 39-53. Note his use of George Lindbeck interpretation of religion. For an earlier, nascent version,...According to Drees, Barbour’s typology deals with the interaction between religious cognitive claims and new scientific knowledge.Drees offers an insightful critique of Barbour along with helpful examples of his own model throughout the book. In his six-fold typology, Philip Hefner includes the infusion of religious wisdom into scientific concepts, the construction of new metaphysical systems for science and the evangelical reaffirmation of traditional religious rationality.Unpublished. While writing on the doctrine of creation in 1991, Anne Clifford developed a detailed typology for the relations principally between Roman Catholic theology and the natural sciences, including continuity, separation, and interaction.C. S. J. Clifford, Anne M., "Creation," in Systematic Theology: Roman Catholic Perspectives, 336 pp, ed. Francis Schüssler Fiorenza and John P. Galvin (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991), 1:193-248....

Ted Peters’ 1998 eight-fold typology includes several refinements to Barbour’s scheme. He first distinguishes between ‘scientific materialists’, who claim that science supports atheism, and ‘scientific imperialists’, who claim that science offers a path to God but, like scientific materialists, argue that science alone produces genuine knowledge. He also distinguishes between Roman Catholic ‘ecclesiastical authoritarianism’, which stretched from the nineteenth century until Vatican II and sought clerical control over secular knowledge, and twentieth century ‘scientific creationism’, a form of Protestant fundamentalism which sees itself as genuine science though it is based on a literal reading of Genesis. Peters’ typology also includes ethical overlap, New Age spirituality and what Peters advocates, ‘hypothetical consonance.’Ted Peters, Ed., Science & Theology: The New Consonance (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1998), p. 13-22. Mark Richardson’s recent three-fold typology illuminates the striking difference in literary genre between: intellectual/rational texts (in which the laws of science reveal the mind of God); romantic/affective & aesthetic/mystical texts (here science reunites us with nature as sacred); and tradition-centered texts (where scientific theories are integrated into the systematic theologies of world religions).Mark Richardson, "Research Fellow's Report," CTNS Bulletin 14 no. 3(Summer 1994) (Berkeley: The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences). I have modified his terminology slightly in light...Many other books and articles suggest relevant typologies of approaches to, relations between, and goals and aims for the interaction;See for example Richard H. Bube, Putting It All Together: Seven Patterns for Relating Science and the Christian Faith (Lanham: University Press of America, 1995); Mark W. Worthing, God, Creation, and Contemporary...a particularly helpful resource is the very recent textbook edited by Christopher SouthgateChristopher Southgate, Celia Deane-Drummond, et al., eds., God, Humanity and the Cosmos: A Textbook in Science and Religion (Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 1999).and colleagues.

Contributed by: Dr. Robert Russell

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