On the Models between Science and Theology

Last week’s post was about a conversation I had several years ago with my pastor. Various comments served as a clue to me that I should post about the other models; so here is a short summary of four models illustrating the interchange between science and theology.

#1: Conflict
Science and theology are in opposition in the Conflict Model as one field sees the other as an invader of their knowledge domain. This model of hostility and conflict signifies the science-or-God decision, although the two are not comparable terms.

This model not also describes creationism, but also the scientists who proclaim that science so accurately describes the natural world, science explains everything – thus there is no need for religion – although science cannot confirm or deny God’s existence.  As each side within this model tosses bombs at one another, this model drives public perception about the interaction between science and theology – probably because of media coverage of this fight.

#2:  Non-Overlapping Magisteria (NOMA)
NOMA has science and theology respectfully operating as watertight-independent disciplines without overlap and without conflict. Although each has its own expertise, the interaction between them occurs within an individual as they process science and theology. Interestingly, evolutionary writer Dr. Stephen J. Gould came up with the name – and he was either an atheist or agnostic. In last week’s post, this was my point in the conversation with my pastor.

#3: Complementary
The Complementary Model has science and theology working together from different perspectives, which was my pastor’s position. Although each works within their own processes, the overlap represents one field using information for the other.

Whereas Galileo explained that theology is about how to go to heaven, but not how the heavens go (thus the NOMA model), the Complementary Model can produce greater insight toward our quest for understanding of our world and life. Viewing these content rings from the side shows a space between science and theology – the creative tension of respecting their own space. Let us not forget that the degree of overlap is another question.

#4: Fusion
The Fusion Model has science and theology working together and influencing each other. There is no question in my mind that this is the most complex model because it requires a deeper level of understanding about the science-theology interchange than most people possess.

Interestingly, many people (and probably, in my opinion, most) are only aware of the Conflict Model. However, several comments last week unknowingly indicated the NOMA model.

What do you think?