Science and religious faith are not new concepts, as they form one of the subjects with continued debate on their nexus and interconnectedness. Many scholars and scholars try to establish the relationship between the two concepts while showing their compatibility, complementarity, and absolutely no ties, among others. Religious faith is simply the belief in supernatural beings and entities, while science refers to the study of nature and behavior of natural things (Cruz). The debate on the relationship and compatibility of science and religious faith is consistently explained using many models. Various interaction models have been developed by different scholars to show the relationship between the two concepts. Hence, the relationship between science and religious faith is viewed to be independent, conflicting, integrated, and dialogue.
Independent Relationship Model
The independent model argues that science and religious faith are two different concepts and do not overlap at all. This means that they explore separate themes and domains, thus asking different and distinct questions. According to this model, religious faith explores realms and asks questions revolving around spiritual meaning, morality, and ethical values. On the other hand, science explores domains and asks questions about the natural world and the universe (Cruz). A common distinction between science and religious faith commonly used is that science focuses on explaining the natural occurrences and is based on facts, reasoning, and evidence. However, religious faith deals with ethical values, morality, and faith in supernatural entities. The definition clearly shows that some authors and scholars believe science and religious faith are independent, and no relationship exists between them. The lack of overlapping is due to the concentration and focus on different domains.
While researching science and religious faith, the common questions were on the limitations of science, since many believed science could explain and describe anything. A significant limitation of science and a fact that shows science can be independent of religious faith is that it cannot explain morality or ethical values. The religious facts and Holy Scriptures can reveal the will of wrong and right easily (Cruz). For instance, the Ten Commandments in the bible show what is wrong and right. Religion can easily tell when some actions are wrong and right before God or Prophet Mohammed, and the teachings are used to shape the morality and good living among believers and Christians. However, science cannot explain what is right or wrong easily, as making value judgment is limiting and difficult. It is easy for science to study phenomena such as global warming and report the causes and effects. However, stating that people with regular bulbs and not fluorescent bulbs are irresponsible or responsible. This shows that science and religious faith are independent concepts, and either cannot be used to describe the other’s domain. This argument is challenged, and the independent relationship model deemed inaccurate, in that these two concepts overlap on various occasions, which results in the contact or integrated relationship model.
Conflicting Relationship Model
Barbour, who argues that science and religious faith are in perpetual conflict, developed the conflicting model. Barbour uses two different situations, namely the trial of Galileo and the Darwinism theory, to show the source of disagreement between the two concepts (Irvine). The trial of Galileo shows the collision between religious faith and science in the creation of the universe. He defended his argument by contradicting the Holy Scriptures that stated that the sun is motionless and static. According to Galileo, the sun moves and not at the center of the earth. This contradiction is used to show the conflicting of science and religious faith in the creation and development of the universe (Irvine). Religious faith teaches that a supernatural being created the universe in sequential order, and the sun especially is motionless and at the center of the earth. The creation and development of the world become different opinion brought about by science and religious faith. The conflict is seen in the Big Bang theory and Genesis.
Secondly, the conflict is seen in the source of life among human beings. For instance, the Darwinism theory shows the evolution of man, where he argues that every species of organisms developed from small microorganisms. Through their development and natural selection, competitive and robust organisms survive and reproduce. Charles Darwin, who is a renowned biologist, naturalist, and commonly referred to as the father of evolution, states in his theory that natural selection, drives evolution and development of life in organisms. When describing the evolution of man, he shows the different stages man has undergone to become the Homo sapiens we have today (Irvine). However, religious faith has a conflicting idea on the conception and development of human life and man. According to religious belief, Christians believe that God created man on the final day of the creation. These two stories depict the conflicting relationship between science and religious faith. They become conflicting since they have a different orientation when discussing the same domain. As seen when talking about the onset of life and man as well as the creation of the universe, the two concepts have different or somewhat conflicting beliefs.
Thirdly, unexplained occurrences of things and nature whereby religious faith will refer to a miracle while science will apply it to a natural cause and seek answers to derive answers. Unexplained phenomena are seen as miracles, and they prompt or reinforce religious faith among religious believers, while scientists are curious to explain these phenomena through studies in the quest to find answers (Cruz). Science seeks evidence to explain why an event occurred, but faith and belief in the supernatural entity lead believers to term the ordeal as a miracle since God is capable of miracles. In such a situation, the conflict exposes itself whereby the answer to the unexplainable ordeal could be a natural occurrence or a miracle. Thus, only one school of thought is correct and the other wrong. However, these two schools of thought can never be right or wrong. One is designed to conflict with the other.
Fourth, religious faith and science conflict on absolutism and skepticism. Science lacks absolutism and allows room for doubts and uncertainty. This is because there is no absolute knowledge in science since authors and scientists have their theories challenged and amended. For instance, Albert Einstein modified newton’s theory of gravity, and this modified theory is vulnerable to more contest and challenge. Scientists work with the likelihood of constants and equations (Cruz). The Big Bang theory and Darwinism have been subject to many theories and schools of thought trying to approve or contradict the arguments. On the other hand, religious faith does not condone skepticism as; the faith is built on the absolute belief in the supernatural entities. Having doubts in the supernatural entities means a compromise to the faith and belief. For instance, no one doubts, challenges, or amends the belief and holiness of the Koran or the prophecy of Mohammed in Islam (Irvine). Besides, in Christianity, the death and resurrection of Christ have a single purpose of saving Christians from their sins. This faith has ever received any challenges or amendments
Integrated Relationship Model
The integration or contact relationship model is the exact opposite of the independent model. The integrated model establishes a close relationship and unification of science and religious faith. The model tries to show the similarity and overlapping nature of the two concepts, meaning that they are compatible and complement each other. Primarily, there is a unification of religious faith and science in the natural theology, where the existence of God is based on scientific facts and pieces of evidence and not divine interpretation or faith-based revelation (Manuel E. Cortés). For instance, the existence of God can be confirmed through the universe has a creator and has temporal origin elements in addition to the ability of the cosmology and universe to hold and permit life. In contrast, other cosmological laws do not allow life. This shows that the existence of God is explained through science, hence, establishing the harmonious and unified relations between the two concepts.
Secondly, religious faith and science have similar elements that complement each other. For instance, religion is based on faith and beliefs that only God can prove to be true. However, unless that happens, religion is found and taken through faith. On the other hand, science has identical characteristics, whereby scientific theories can never be proven correct or wrong. A theory is a group of accepted beliefs and organized ideas used to explain a phenomenon (Manuel E. Cortés). Scientific arguments also have beliefs and scientific faith that is not proven 100%. A scientist can collect all evidence to support the theory, but it is accepted by faith. Besides, many of these theories have been amended, challenged, and even criticized with different opinions and ideas. This shows that scientific theories are also not proven just as religious-based facts and beliefs.
Finally, religious faith and science have coexisted peacefully in the past and in the contemporary world to try to explain reality. These two subjects are systems that initiate theories that people have faith in or believe. For instance, scientific theories will describe and predict the universe and natural things. On the other hand, religious faith focuses son explaining the world. They work together to explain reality by complementing each other’s weaknesses and limitations. Just as in the conflict relationship model that shows, they work in different domains, is a source of complementarity (Manuel E. Cortés). Science describes the natural universe, and religious faith explains the supernatural entities, morals, and ethical values; when put together, they form the “theory of everything” which covers all the basis and grounds required for human comprehension. Whenever any event or phenomenon occurs, either can explain it, thus continued complementarity and integrated relationship.
Dialogue Relationship Model
The dialogue relationship model argues that science and religious faith coexist mutually, meaning that their existence benefits each other. The dialogue relationship model makes assumptions on the existence of the common ground between the two subjects. An excellent example of a dialogue between science and religious faith is the creation story (Cruz). It is through the doctrine of creation that scientists begun investigating the orderly and intelligible manner creation came about (Dragos Constatin Sanda). Scientists assume that the designer who is God created the world in six days, thus there must be laws and facts worth discovering, studying, and experimenting. The mutual relationship is clearly defined, whereby religious faith instigates human inquiry that leads to scientific investigations and study. This results in other scientific theories that try to contradict or support religious faith.
Dialogue between science and religious faith is seen when science has the questions, and religious faith has the answers and vice versa. Moreover, theological and scientific inquiries are termed as model-dependent, showing that their separate models communicate with each other, and help answer questions asked. For instance, the Holy Trinity in the Bible illustrates how Christians interpret the book of Genesis (Dragos Constatin Sanda). The interpretation is made through metaphors, coherence, and models. On the other hand, science uses similar methods, assumptions, presuppositions, and even concepts and models to interpret and comprehend. Concisely, religious faith and science have many epistemological overlaps that can be used concurrently to establish a mutual agreement in various studies and experiments.
Studying the relationship between religious faith and science in some way tries to not only identify the conflicts but the mutual benefits or dialogue models present. Science and religious belief have been used to study each other. For instance, when studying the history of churches, paleography, and translating old church texts, and biblical archeology, among others, have been made present by the use of scientific methods and models (Dragos Constatin Sanda). The mutual benefit arises when scientific research and frameworks are essential in reviving theological knowledge. These disciplines, such as church history, biblical archeology, and text paleography, have been termed as theological, scientific disciplines. In addition, theology is classified into empirical theology, which employs scientist measures to report the experiences of the uncreated and academic theology that focuses on explaining the experiences of the uncreated.
between religious faith and science vary depending on the context at hand, as
well as an individual. One may describe the relationship to be independent,
conflicting, integrated, or a dialogue based depending on the type of faith
they have. People assign either to religious dogma or to scientific faith.
Cruz, Helen De. “Religion and Science.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2017).
Dragos Constatin Sanda, Luana Alexandra Smarandoiu, & Costea Munteanu. “The Dialogue between Science and Religion: A Taxonomic Contribution.” Religion (2017): Vol 8(3), 35-40.
Irvine, Ronald Desmet & Andrew David. “Alfred North Whitehead.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2018).
Manuel E. Cortés, *Juan Pablo del Río, & Pilar Vigil. “The harmonious relationship between faith and science from the perspective of some great saints: A brief comment.” Linacre Q. (2015): Vol 82(1): pp: 3–7.
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