An introduction to religion-and-science
Co-va-lence (n): A chemical bond formed by the sharing of one or more electrons, especially pairs of electrons, between atoms.
If the name is any indication, this is not your typical magazine on the web or otherwise. As the definition suggests, the theme of this effort is a bond — the bond missed by most between religious faith and scientific theory. This bond is perhaps the perfect image for the concept of what a number of theologians and scientists involved in the religion and science dialogue have classified as a unique area of study called “religion-and-science.”
The chemistry behind the bond between religion and science and the hyphenation can be found in key questions: Who are we as humans? What is our role in the universe? How will we shape our future? Why did we evolve to become such curious creatures to begin with?
So the unique formation of this bond can be found in our studying of our origins, the origins of the universe, medical ethics and the need for the general public to be educated about scientific research and its impact on their lives.
Recent efforts to put religion-and-science in the forefront have swung a wide pendulum including organizations of scientists and theologians active in academia to county school boards embroiled in public debate on evolution. From the university quad to the global media frenzy surrounding intelligent design and the proclamations of atheists such as Richard Dawkins, there has been little effort to promote a combined focus called “religion-and-science.”
This is where Covalence comes in. Covalence shares more than just a few viewpoints with both scientists and theologians. The aim is to show how religion-and-science is defined in both academic terms and how it plays out in the public sphere. The plan is to tell stories of scientists with an interest in theology as well with theologians with some scientific views.
The hope is that ultimately people of faith can know that knowledge and faith are not mutually exclusive, and just like religion and science are mutually dependent on one another in impacting society's actions and forming beliefs of one's self and one's world.
This all encompassing religion-and-science worldview holds within it a large amount of irony, according to Philip Hefner, a Lutheran theologian and long time editor of Zygon, an academic journal dedicated to religion and science. “Irony is less graspable, less subject to rational analysis and more threatening,” he wrote. “This is understandable when we considered just what is involved when we juxtapose incommensurate realities: We dare to go beyond scientific knowledge and invest uncertain beliefs with existential certainty.”
Within the covalent bonds of religion-and-science there is uncertainty, but also the building blocks of a dialogue that is so rich in history, controversy and ultimately promise.
Covalence, July / August, 2010