In recent weeks, I have been discussing contemporary challenges to religious belief with college students. Specifically, we have been making a case for Christianity, and our most recent discussion centered on the relationship between faith and science.
They also relayed that they understood scientific challenges to religious belief were serious indeed, and a source of doubt among others they knew, and even for themselves.
But Alister McGrath, a skilled theologian who was trained in the natural sciences at Oxford, has proposed a different avenue, perhaps one that falls within either the integration or dialogue models mentioned above.
Here is McGrath's proposal:
I therefore propose that we should challenge the dominant narrative of our time - the outdated "conflict narrative", sustained more by uncritical repetition than by historical evidence - and replace it with a narrative of enrichment. This narrative recognizes that, as human beings, we can be studied and understood at multiple levels - physical, biochemical, psychological and sociological. Yet none of these is adequate in itself, to give us a full understanding of who we are, and what we must do if we are to achieve fulfilment.
Christian theology offers an enrichment of a scientific account of the world. It is able to engage the four critical issues identified by the social psychologist Roy Baumeister as central to the human quest for meaning: identity, value, purpose and agency.
Read the entire presentation here. I have long found McGrath helpful, and you will likely encounter a challenge or two in this lengthy, but illuminating piece.
It is my perception that the conversation on the streets about science and religion remains stuck in the old framework, despite claims by McGrath and others that arguments in the disciplines of both the philosophy of science and philosophy of religion recognize that the old, Enlightenment models for science and religion are crumbling.
A partial way forward for all Christians to demand a new model, a new way of thinking about these things, that is both historically rooted and intellectually rigorous. McGrath gives us a start.