Last week I gave a talk in Little Compton Rhode Island on the complexity involved in the conversation between the scientific and theological enterprises. There were two big take-aways I hoped people would leave with.
First was that the difficulty in conversation stems primarily from the different methodologies the two systems use in discriminating between opposing claims. Science uses the lab bench. It’s not clear what the final referee is in theological conversation is, but I made a few suggestions.
(The question in theology isn’t simply answered by claiming that you use the Bible to resolve all disputes – people interpret and use the Bible differently for one thing, and there are a number of modern questions that the Bible only speaks about tangentially if at all.)
The second take-away was that there must be a conversation. Truth is truth whether it is found within the scientific enterprise or the theological. The two “rival” systems have to take account of what the other claims. To simply ignore a claim is to place oneself into an ideological zone that strives to keep oneself pure (at best) and segregated (at worst). Essentially, when one system decides to ignore the other system’s work, we are creating intellectual ghettos (in the old sense of the word) and I will not accept that God created us to live in such ways.
If you’ve got an hour of free time and you’d like to see the talk in its entirety, the people of St. Andrew’s by the Sea Episcopal Church in Little Compton recorded the presentation and have posted it:
Richard Dujardin, a reporter for the Providence Journal attended the talk as well, and did a write up that was published in the Sunday paper.
“Now I would love to tell you that there is no conflict between science and religion at all,” [Knisely] told the gathering, “but I’m afraid there is.”
He says there has been some overreaching by both sides.
Richard did a great job of presenting a rather esoteric talk in a way that I think is accessible to the general public. That’s a skill I’m not sure I’ve mastered!