Lies, Damned Lies, Science, and Theology: Why Everyone Needs to Know the Truth About Science and Religion
A deep concern for the pursuit of truth needs to underlie both the philosophy and the practice of education if we are to enable students to move beyond the widespread prevailing conflict model of the relationship between science and religion to a more nuanced understanding which better reflects the academic literature on the science and religion interface. This chapter will begin by illustrating the pervasiveness of the conflict caricature in popular culture, using examples from the Twittersphere, comedians, popular novels, films, and documentaries. It then argues that the lack of space in much current science education for engaging in any real depth with the history and philosophy of science has allowed students to persist in their belief in the conflict model. This does not do justice to the richness of the academic debate about the relationship between science and religion. The conflict model can be further reinforced in students by some approaches to religious education which effectively embrace an understanding that true knowledge is only properly defined through empirical science. In order to move beyond this persistent conflict model, we need a more holistic philosophy of education in which the pursuit of truth has a much more central position. This involves the interaction of multiple languages: scientific, mathematical, musical, poetic, artistic, philosophical, and theological. These languages are not directly translatable from one to another, nor are they reducible to a single basic language. But it is both possible and vital to relate them one to another. This relationship between science and other disciplines draws on the insight of Aquinas that religio and scientia are essentially virtues, mental habits which assist in the pursuit of truth rather than being objectivised intellectual systems. It can also be illustrated by trying to describe what it means to be human, using multiple different languages and exploring how they relate to one another in building up the fullest picture of reality and truth.
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