The expanding dialogue between science and religion is still in its infancy and will likely include more non-Western religious concepts and involvement in the near future, writes Kevin Sharpe in Science & Spirit magazine (May/June).
Sharpe, a proponent of challenging traditional religious views with scientific insights, sees signs of non-Western interest in the dialogue between these two fields, as.science and religion conferences sprouting up in Africa drawing many Third World participants, as well as in Alaska for the Innuit people. This new participation will shift the approach away from trying to understand or spell out received theological doctrines in the light of science (what he calls “apologetics”) to one that “may not emphasize as strongly the separation between God and the world ([such questions] already differ between western and Orthodox Christian perspectives).”
The Internet will likely accelerate the encounter between believers and scientists from other cultures. The apologetic approach to science and religion will “gradually die as the pressure to defend and explain received doctrine wanes. The barriers upholding the unquestioned power of religion will come down, replaced by an acceptance of a questioning attitude, with ever-deeper delving into the historical and political backgrounds of `holy traditions,’” writes Sharpe.
He adds that the “emphasis on wholeness, so characteristic of the new approaches to spirituality, will continue to increase in importance in the science-religion dialogue and will be closely tied to environmentalism.” On the other side of the dialogue, science will change as “new scientific methods such as journaling, case study reporting, and biographical accounts will present a more emotional or subjective side to science. The science and religion field will gradually move out of the “academic and physical sciences niche and into the realm of politics and the social sciences,” particularly as government agencies will increasingly see how “religious beliefs have links to the causes of poverty and social unrest. It will change social science because it provides scientific reasons why certain behaviors occur — biological pressures not moral depravity.”
(Science & Spirit, P.O. Box 1145, Concord, NH 03302-1145)