On Typologies for Relating Science and Religion


  • Ian G. Barbour


Geoffrey Cantor and Chris Kenny have criticized attempts to classify various ways of relating science and religion. They hold that all typologies are too simple and too static to illuminate the complex and changing historical interactions of science and religion. I argue that typologies serve a useful pedagogical function even though every particular interaction must be seen in its historical context. I acknowledge the problems in making distinctions between categories of classification and examine some alternative typologies that have been proposed. I leave as an open question whether my fourfold typology is applicable to differing religious traditions. Finally I consider some parallels between typologies for science-religion interactions and typologies for relationships between religions. Can our discussions be both interdisciplinary and interreligious without the danger of imposing the conceptual framework of one discipline or religious tradition on another discipline or tradition?