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    STUDIA THEOLOGIA CATHOLICA - Issue no. 4 / 2007  

  Abstract:   Four visions about the relationship between science and religion. This issue aims a critical approach of the relationship between science and religion, as it is described in the popular book written by Ian G. Barbour, When Science Meets Religion: Enemies, Strangers, or Partners? (2000). Barbour identifies four fundamental ways in which his topic is treated by interested parties. These are Conflict, Independence, Dialog, and Integration. Biblical literalists and scientific materialists are in irreconcilable conflict on the issues of science and religion. Barbour thinks we can do much better than that, and makes quick work of both sides of the issues dealt with at the Conflict level. Neither is Barbour much impressed by the next level, Independence, but he perks up when he comes to discussing the ideas of scientists and Christians who are interested in constructive dialog and even better, integration. When both sides have open minds and are not dogmatic about their religious beliefs, it is apparently not that difficult to find many promising possibilities for integration. If the basis of religion is real (the experience of the divine), then it should not be surprising at all if the Ground of Being turns out to be thoroughly saturated and mixed up in the universe revealed by science.
   While he pleads for the integration of the scientifical and theological discourses, Barbour seems to place himself close to the process philosophers and theologians. First, they contend that if metaphysics describes those general concepts or principles by which all particulars are to be explained, and if God is the chief exemplification of those principles, then talk about God is eminently meaningful and basic to the meaningfulness of everything else. Second, process theology eloquently champions natural theology. Consequently, in the third place, process theology gives clear and plausible form to a dynamic, personal view of God. Personal qualities such as self-consciousness, creatively, knowledge, and social relatedness are attributed to God in the most literal sense.
   However, process theology also has its weaknesses due to the low view of the Scripture and the Christian dogmas or questionable features by rational standards. First, one may question whether the process model does justice to the self-identity of an individual person in process. Second, process theology has some problems concerning the finitude and temporality of God. Third, there is the question of the religious adequacy of panentheism: is the most worthy object of worship of God who needs the world in order to be a complete personal being or a God who is a complete personal being prior to the world?
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