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Barbour’s Typology

because of a performed commitment to

Scientific Materialism

Biblical Literalism

because of a performed commitment to

Contrasting Methods

Presuppositions and Limit Questions

Differing Languages of Discourse

possible about

Methodological Parallels

Natural Theology

Nature Centered Spirituality

can take the form of

A Theology of Nature

A Systematic Synthesis

Ian Barbour’s most recent typology of the possible relationships between science and religion.This is a slight revision of the scheme in Barbour’s 1990 Gifford Lectures, and is thoroughly discussed in his Religion and Science (London: SCM, 1998) Ch.4.

Refer to natural theology vs theology of nature to find out what Barbour means by these terms.

Barbour’s scheme at least maps out the territory, but in practice students often experience a lot of difficulty in applying his categories with any precision, or aligning themselves wholeheartedly with any particular one. For a series of articles on Barbour and his Gifford Lectures see the journal Zygon, Volume 31, Issue 1, 1996.

A related scheme is that of John Haught, who in his ingenious book Science and Religion: from Conflict to ConversationMahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1995(1995), addresses a series of key issues from the standpoints of conflict, contrast, contact and confirmation. This is a more helpful approach than Barbour’s because the categories are not simply mapped out in the abstract, but applied to particular questions.

See also critical realism in science and religion and consonances between science and religion.

Email link | Feedback | Contributed by: Dr. Christopher Southgate
Source: God, Humanity and the Cosmos  (T&T Clark, 1999)

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