Religion and Theology
The intricate and profound relationship between science and religion has been a topic which has provoked many studies and analysis which challenges the realms of human mind and knowledge. The comparative and analytical approach has been addressed very critically and in-depth by the two writers Alister E. McGrath and Mircea Eliade in their respective books “Science and Religion” and “Myth and Reality”. The concrete and materialistic approach of scientific models as discussed in “Science and religion” can be very strategically compared and analyzed in the light of religious myths as presented by Eliade in the “Myth and Reality”. It is interesting to observe the facts and methodologies in the twin light of science and religion which is mutually supporting as well as contradictory in nature.
The comparative and analytical study of the concepts which have been presented in these two highly recognized books, seem to emphasize the significance of the two extreme paths which are strong and logical in their own right with diverse approach. The profound thinking which has been stated in their exposition to connect science and religion as two extremely diverse paths which connect the thought process in meaningful representation of the physical world and universe at large. The uniqueness of their thought is irreconcilable and has many incompatibilities which are very logical in exposition and cannot be avoided when comparing and evaluating their approach. Interestingly science and religion both offer very pragmatic and convincing models which define and represent human experiences in two very unique methods.
It is interesting to find a common ground where the relationship between science and religion merge to a precise agreement where the complementary relationship can be established. They both reflect an aspect of human experience and universal phenomenon, from subtle to concrete. The common grounds and facts covered for scientific as well as religious studies are intriguingly reinforcing and supporting of the universal nature of humankind. The factual representation of the interaction between two using scientific models in McGraths’s book “Science and Religion” represents the interactions using a measurement device which defines precisely the deep connection between scientific and religious aspects of human experiences and universal phenomenon. The observation aspect of scientific methodology gives logical and concrete assumptions which are implicit to understanding and acceptance of religion which is based on blind assumptions and faith. The scientific line of questioning and the frame of mind provides for construction of models which are scientifically proven and verified and as well as valid from religious point of view. The contemporary issues related to the intolerance which has been based on the fundamental contrast in the two views scientific and religious can be resolved by merging the models and myth s to the level of universal reality. The apparent material world as perceived can be conceptualized and represented as effectively by using constructive methodology of scientific models as well as assumption and faith based narrative approach of region. The metaphors which have been used to verify and signify human experience as sublime as love and creativity, backed by scientific models and religious consideration has been assertively taken up to evaluate in this comparative analysis of the two books “Science and Religion” by Alister E. McGrath and “Myth and Reality” by Mircea Eliade.
The recent twentieth –century development has been phenomenal in confirming the point that religion also uses analogies and models to make a point. A very prominent British Philosopher Ian T. Ramsey emphasized that “religious language uses models and analogies”(McGrath, 2009). He further states that these models are not “freestanding but interact with and qualify each other”(McGrath, 2009). The objective such analogies are to define and project a different perspective and aspect of understanding. It is interesting that these analogies also have mutual interaction which aids in their understanding and modification. The consistency of the model or the analogy is the route to religious understanding and salvation. The most influential study between science and religion has been presented by Ian G. Barbour who “identified three similarities and a corresponding number of differences between religious models and theoretical models”(McGrath, 2009).
The similarities which have been noticed and evaluated are :
1. In both science and religion the nature of models are “analogical in their origin”(McGrath,2009), and they can be implied to new situations and extended to varying units.
2. It si important that models whether religious or scientific, should not be taken literally in their depiction and outcomes. They are simple symbolic representations. “They are symbolic representations, for particular purposes, of aspects of reality which are not directly accessible to us”(Barbour, 1974)(McGrath, 2009).
3. The models provide just single function to direct attention to structure and pattern of the events which reflect personal experiences and the universal phenomenon. “In science, the models relate to observational data; in the religions, to experiences of individuals and communities”(McGrath, 2009).
The three major areas of differences as identified by Barbour, has been indicative of the use of the models as used on both the spheres science as well as religion. The scientific and the religious contexts differ to the point that generalizations which are significantly observed in the nature of religious discourses are to some extent inconclusive and illogical. The points made by Barbour are valid from these angles:
The religious models are more non-cognitive and cannot be compared with parallels in sciences.
There is more personal involvement in religious models in contrast to the scientific models.
The power of influence which religious models have been based on “formal beliefs and doctrines”(McGrath, 2009), and have been derived from such sources. In contrast scientific models are more theoretical in nature.
Further comparison of religion and science based on their empirical models, are very different in their approach. In sciences the models are chosen and verified; the validity of the model has to be proven, whereas in religious model, analogy and narrative is the basis which requires no justification. The process of justification and selection; which is authenticated by validity of the theory as required in science is quite in the hands of the community which can accept it or discard it as unsatisfactory. There is also the possibility that scientific models can always be replaced by introduction of the superior model. This is into the case in the religious models consideration; here every experience is unique and independent based on its own assumptions and analogies.
The nature of religious models is less precise and requires no criterion for validity. The religious models focus primarily on human experience and universal phenomenon which is based on introspection and inquiry. It does not demand material evidence as scientific models demands for validity and acceptance. Hence religious models can also be termed as religious myths which are also representation of the reality and the truth in their own right. The observation of Mircea Eliade directs the attention on the assumption which is built on faith and affirms that religious myths have considerable significance as it relates to direct experiences of life and not just implied theories. In comparison to scientific models, religious myths based on analogies drawn from human experience developed as religious models are superior in nature of understanding universal phenomenon.
The comparative study of the extent to which scientific models has been harmonious or diverse from religious myths have been a subject of intrusive research and discussion for centuries. People, who have matured in the field of science or religion, see an interlinked connection between science and religion. This research and introspection has been an exciting road of re-discovery which extends to the two extremes of human knowledge. There have been ideals which have been united with new promises, creating two most unique realms to merge in the creative exploration of the human society and the universe on a broader spectrum of journey. The dangers along such exploration have been filled with inquisitive minds who questions the fundamentalists and assesses the dangers which have been associated with profound and strong incompatibilities. The productive integration and juxtaposition of the models have enriched the contemporary world with enough facts to validate their co-existence for humankind. The historical inquiry and trend also affirms such empirical knowledge and the grounds for their co-existence in harmonious integration.
The issue of harmonious co-existence of scientific models and religious myths have been there with there influence since the Age of Enlightenment; which marked influential scientific discoveries for mankind. The point of thinking reinforces that there is specific purpose for both scientific thinking as well as religious views. There is also complementary relationship which could be used by mankind for more valid exploration of both the fields. At any point of time the use of such inter-relation between science and religion can be more engaging in the evaluation of the universal phenomenon. The involvement in scientific exploration diminishes introspection of theological thought process and still nurtures natural relationship which is fundamental and intertwined to human experience, nature and universe. The real value of such research based on two authentic books is to develop value for understanding that contrasting theories and outlooks can still merge for the benefit of the mankind. Science with emphasis on modern science takes an intellectual stand which supports theological assumptions and arguments. They are supported by scientific and explanatory models which are harmonious with the religious myths. Religion on the contrary provides a general approach which has its own dimension of importance, and supports human experience as supreme with disregard to all subtle incompatibilities. The in-depth introspection and research affirms that there is a subtle dialogue between science and religion which merges at epistemological levels and has been supported by ontological subtleties which are behind the immediate and surface experience. The roots confirm and support the intricate link which complements their co-existence and their importance in harmonious unity with each other for the benefit of the mankind and more in-depth understanding of the universe.
The essential nature of both scientific models and religious myths is to benefit the mankind and expand the understanding of universal phenomenon. Eliade has comprehensively explored the thinking which is stimulated by mythology and theology, and interestingly McGrath has boldly connected the models with scientific formulations where there unity is very aptly presented as an essential tool for survival of the people, society and community in the present modern world. The universal phenomenon is the merging point where the roots of religious myth are and thinking unites with the scientific theories and verifications. The essential conclusion has been that the two forces religion and science are thy two compelling views of universal trends which will shape the future of the human race. It is the harmonious integration of the two forces which will impact and influence humanity and set the trends of the universe. The analogical approach where the material nature of scientific models merges with religious myths has been the based on human experience which is enveloped by the universal principles which govern both scientific models and religious myths. The investigative approach of McGrath and intuitive approach of Eliade are both complementary in the analysis of how precision of measurement and transcendence of experience merge to a point of universal phenomenon.
Eliade, Mircea.(1998). Myth and Reality. Waveland Press.
McGrath, A. E.(2009). Science and Religion: A New Introduction. Wiley and sons.