Nowadays there is increasing concern for a dialogue between science and “religion” – which usually means Christian religion. The implications of science for religion are discussed in serious tones and tomes. But if there is genuine dialogue, then the implications of religion for science should also be considered. However, there is a problem at this point: science has no way of incorporating religion – unless it operates by the methods of science, that is, unless it becomes scientific. We can see why by a dialogue like this:
Theologian Tom: Sam, we really should talk. I’ve been reading about the theological implications of science. The boundaries between science and theology are breaking down. There should be some way that scientists and theologians can dialogue together.
Scientist Sam: Tom, you’re right. Science has much to offer religion and scientists are often religious, too.
Tom: One thing I don’t understand is what are the scientific implications of theology?
Sam: Theology is about “why” and science is about “what”. Scientific knowledge can help theology in many ways.
Tom: But Tom, I said the implications of theology for science. How can science best react to the conclusions of theology?
Sam: You don’t mean that science should consider theological explanations? That would be impossible. Scientists can’t do that.
Tom: Why not, Sam? Theologians consider scientific explanations. Why not the other way around?
Sam: You don’t understand, Tom. Science considers the evidence and develops explanations that are, well, scientific. There’s no place for religion in there.
Tom: But I thought we agreed to have a dialogue about science and theology. What’s up?
Sam: We, we just can’t do that. Scientists have rigorous scientific methods. We demand empirical proof. Theology is so, so different. We could never invoke God to explain anything.
Tom: Then it’s up to others to take scientific theories and compare them with other explanations and decide what to do?
Sam: Yes, take scientific theories and apply them anywhere you want.
Tom: But I’m talking about modifying the theories to take into consideration events like miracles that science ignores or explanations like divine agency that science doesn’t consider.
Sam: Don’t modify the theories, just apply them.
Tom: You seem to think that science has the final word.
Sam: Only about the natural world, Tom. We wouldn’t step on theologians feet when they talk about the spiritual world.
Tom: But you’re supposing that reality is neatly partitioned into two worlds, and that science covers one world and theology the other. We live in a uni-verse, Tom.
Sam: I don’t know about that. I just know that science doesn’t consider theology.
Tom: Then you’re not able to have a two-way conversation.
Sam: Well, I guess not.