Posted by: Kenn Hermann | February 28, 2006

Beware the ‘And’ in Christianity AND Science

I have added a new category “Christianity and Science.” However, I use this inaccurate locution only because of convenience and brevity. I dislike the ‘and’ in all such phrases, e.g. faith and learning, reason and revelation, science and religion, Christianity and culture, Christianity and . . ., etc. The conjunction ‘and’ gives the unavoidable false impression that a bridge needs to be built between two disconnected areas or realms of life and thought. But, of course, that is not what Christians confess to be true. In this case, I take the phrase to mean a perspective on a deepened investigation (through methods and modes of inquiry appropriate to the dimension being studied) of reality that is shaped by the Christian confession that this Reality is upheld moment-by-moment by Jesus, the Lord of All created reality. Can’t quite fit that into a brief category name, so the lame “Christianity and Science” will have to do — until I can think of something more accurate and concise. In any case, I want my understanding of reality to be faithful to the Church’s confession about the nature of that Reality.

As an historian of ‘science and religion’ I am deeply aware of the critically important historical dimension of our understanding of the meaning of ‘science,’ from Aristotle to the strong program in the sociology of knowledge. An essentialist definition of ‘science’ or one that restricts ‘science’ to physics and allied fields can only derail clarity. I much prefer the underlying meaning behind the commodious German term, Wissenschaften, that covers all forms of systematic inquiry.

I will have more to say about this understanding in later posts.

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