Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 154:613 (Jan 1997)
Article: Periodical Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Periodical Reviews

“Theology and Science: Where Are We?” Ted Peters, Zygon 31 (1996): 323-43.

Lutheran theologian Ted Peters is justifiably regarded as one of the more astute theological commentators on the progress of natural science. In this article he summarizes the present state of scientific and theological interaction. Claiming that the “warfare model” of previous generations is no longer appropriate to describe the conversation between scientists and theologians, he first surveys eight alternative models and then further investigates the ramifications of the hypothetical consonance model, the one he advocates.

While many people still think of science and theology as mutually hostile endeavors, Peters points out that the more apt description of their relationship for the past few generations is provided by the two-language model. Advocated by such luminaries as Karl Barth and Albert Einstein, this model holds that science and theology speak to different domains of concern, and thus should not come into conflict as a matter of principle. This uneasy truce comes at the price of disunity in understanding the world, however, and Peters is correct to lament the maintaining of “separate ghettos of knowledge” (p. 324). If there is just one reality, then both science and theology should reflect it.

After surveying eight models of interaction between the two fields, ranging from creation science to scientism, Peters settles on the hypothetical consonance model, which seeks “correspondence between what can be said scientifically about the natural world and what the theologian understands to be God’s creation” (p. 328). At this point scientists and theologians are merely asking common questions, and their answers may differ. This is a vast improvement over the days when scientism held sway, however, for scientists are now being led by their physical research to ask questions about transcendence, queries that would have been unthinkable under the earlier paradigm of scientism.

Before surveying the work of individual thinkers, Peters sets forth the assumptions that determine the rest of the study. The first is that science is ultimately as much a matter of faith as theology, at least with respect to its basic principles. The second is called “critical realism,” and is the assumption that theological concepts, though metaphorical to some extent, actually refer to a transcendent reality, namely, God. This principle is a sign of rapprochement between science and theology unheard of under the paradigm of scientism.

Peters next surveys the work of theologians and scientists such as T. F. Torrance, Wolfhart Pannenberg, and John Polkinghorne to see...

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