Science and Religion: Getting Ready for the Future

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Abstract:

Abstract

I explore three challenges for the current dialogue between science and religion: the challenges from hermeneutics, feminisms, and postmodernisms. Hermeneutics, defined as the practice and theory of interpretation and understanding, not only deals with questions of interpreting texts and data but also examines the role and use of language in religion and in science, but it should not stop there. Results of the post-Kuhnian discussion are used to exemplify a wider range of hermeneutical issues, such as the ideological potential of scientific concepts, the dynamics of interdisciplinarity, and the significance of the socioeconomic situatedness of science and religion. Feminist research analyzes the consequences of the interplay of masculine, feminine, and gender typologies in religion and science. Examples from the history of science as well as current scientific conceptualizations indicate that beliefs in the inferiority of woman form part of our inherited scientific, religious, and metaphysical framework. It is argued that postmodernism in its most constructive form shares the best fruits of modernity, especially of the Enlightenment, while avoiding some of its most serious mistakes. In conclusion, reflecting on the three publics engaged in the dialogue between science and religion—academe, religious communities, and societies—I offer constructive suggestions and critical observations concerning the future of this dialogue.

Keywords: Enlightenment; construction; feminism; future; hermeneutics; ideology; interdisciplinarity; language; post-Kuhnian debate; postmodernism; principle of permanent critique; rationality; religion; science; socioeconomics; theology

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9744.00496

Affiliations: 1Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology/Religion and Science at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and director of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science.   ajackele@lstc.edu.

Publication date: June 1, 2003

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