David Fergusson on Science and Religion

Reading through David Fergusson’s new book on the doctrine of creation, I was pleased with how he handled the doctrine of providence especially as it relates to evolutionary science. It seems to me that he strikes a good balance in stressing the importance for Christian theology in allowing science to be science, while also registering gentle warnings against what increasingly gets labelled as “scientism” – that is, a reductionist scientific materialism.

So, without further ado, here’s Fergusson.

David Fergusson, Creation, Guides to Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014), 88–89.

Even after science has done all its work, there will be ways of understanding and describing phenomena that draw upon different conceptual resources. There are questions, commitments, and insights that by their nature require description in terms not reducible to the methods of the natural sciences. No single discipline has an exhaustive or totalizing role to play. If the engagement with Darwinism has taught theologians one thing it might be this: the sciences must be given their place freely to investigate and hypothesize according to their methods and findings. A clearer account of the differences with theology will result in a recognition of complementarity rather than a misplaced anxiety about the directions in which science might lead us. The converse of this is that “scientific” description will itself need to be challenged when it steps beyond its boundaries by seeking to “explain away” other types of description. This clearer differentiation of forms of description does not exclude constructive conversation at important points of contact between science and religion. But it does move the debate beyond models of contest that tend to overstate the frequency of clashes between the two.

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