The Metaphor of the Maps
Much interesting work has been done on
typologies relating science and religion. But as will be gathered from
different sciences - different relationships we recommend the abandoning of the
search for any sort of philosophers stone of a definition of a perfectly
appropriate relation between science and religion.
A more helpful way to think of the
relationship is in terms of the metaphor of different maps of the one world.
An atlas contains many different maps - political, demographic, climatic, etc -
of the (one) world. These different maps are no less accurate or genuine than
the physical maps of that world in terms of atoms and forces. As Mary Midgley
has recently emphasised,consciousness, and indeed society and politics and the like, are not any less
real than the atoms of which they are made, and the maps drawn of them should
not be regarded as inferior.
The image of different maps of reality
seems to us a most appropriate metaphor for the way scientific and theological
descriptions of the (one) world operate. It connotes a degree of independence,
and yet a degree of relationship. It allows for the possibility of dialogue,
and the likelihood of border disputes. And as we have noted above, each
science will have its own map, and its own relation to the maps theologians
draw (of which there will be a diversity even within one religious tradition).
(For an example of slightly different maps
drawn by theologians from within a single tradition see Peacocke and Polkinghorne compared.)
See also the metaphor of the maps and
understanding the mind.
Or click on consonances between science and
link | Feedback | Contributed by: Dr. Christopher Southgate
Source: God, Humanity and the Cosmos (T&T Clark, 1999)