At first this may seem like the average, "making faith compatible with science" rant which usually follows. In Christianity, the attempt to combine reason and faith goes back as far as the early church fathers if no earlier. One of the champions of this field was St. Augustine who did his best to bring the two in harmony.
But of course we mustn't only make faith compatible with science, but also make faith hospitable for science. In order for them to be truly compatible they must both contribute to each other.
This would be a science-compatible theology, where science and theology are mutually adding to and sustaining each other. Now atheists and agnostics don't necessarily have to worry about this having no reason to combine science and faith. However since religious people still have a fair amount of influence in the world so atheists and agnostics and other non-religious people would probably be interested in a theology which does not force all society to accept their worldview, or at least subtly enough that it would still be a choice whether or not to believe in God.
So the objective of a practical science-compatible theology would be;
-- to lay a strong philosophical foundation for science
--Generate intense interest in science
--to Give science the freedom they need to explore the natural world without undermining the authority of the theology
--Be able to differentiate between scientific and spiritual questions
Therefore this religion would allow science to prosper and thrive while contributing to the religion.
Of course if we are to know how faith and science are compatible we must not just reconcile the latest scientific research and the current paradigms but the basic philosophic assumptions by which both science and faith operate. Let us first examine the foundations of science which are;
Uniformity in nature -- In order for science to work there must be laws in nature that repeat themselves in predictable patterns. So that we can test, experiment with, and observe the laws. Uniformity in nature is very important for the scientific worldview.
Objective truth -- Postmodernism (one of its many meanings being that there is no objective reality) is almost the exact opposite of the scientific worldview which states that there is an objective reality. The reason is because in order for science to work there must be a reality which we can test all ideas against, if there is no objective reality science is worthless and the necessity of science is eliminated.
The reliability of the senses and human reason -- Reason is obviously important to science, reason is how we do science. In order for science to be a trustworthy method of finding truth, reason must be reliable; because science is all about using our reasoning powers to discover the world around us. If we cannot trust our reason then science is worthless, because science is built on that crucial assumption. Also the trustworthiness of our senses goes hand in hand with this assumption since that is how we get information about the world, which our reason uses to put together of the pieces of the puzzle of existence.
Now that we know the foundations of science, how do we marry it to the philosophical foundations of faith? well what are the philosophical foundations of faith?;
That there is a reality in which the human intellect is inapplicable-- This is essentially faith, being that human reason is unreliable in gaining knowledge of this unseen world at least can only come from revelation. Now at first, this may seem to make faith and science seem like two contradictory views. But then again it is only referring to the unseen reality in which the five senses are not reliable tools for examining that reality. This does not necessarily mean all reality is undecipherable to human reason.
That there is an unseen reality which ultimately affects our reality -- This is fundamental to Abrahamic faith, since it implies a force from another reality which engulfs our own in its power, and that what happens in the other reality ultimately affect what happens in this reality and vice verca.
Objective Truth -- This objective truth is truth not established by human opinion but by the force which comes from the unseen reality, it is truth which will not change no matter how much a man wants it to.
Absolute Truth -- Even more important to faith is absolute truth. This truth unlike the uncertain truth in science is absolute and unchanging, this aspect of faith is what draws so many people to it. This truth is not found by human reason by revealed by the force from the unseen reality. So therefore it cannot change, that would upset a cardinal philosophical pillar of faith.
How do we reconcile these two views? At first they seem to be exact opposites, science says human reason is reliable and faith says the opposite; however it is clear faith only deems the unseen supernatural realm as inaccessible to human reason, and knowable only through revelation. Also both science and faith operate by the same assumption that there is an objective truth.
Well the obvious question for the Christian is, "Does the bible support science?" The bible gives strong support for using nature for the benefit of Man (Genesis 1:28) which is the the best reason for science. Also there are several verses which imply the reliability of human reason when applied to nature. One is Job 12:7-8; But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you. "Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you; And let the fish of the sea declare to you. This passage implies that our senses can be used to accurately understand the world. Also Romans 1:20 gives a clear indication that God expects us to be able to use our reason to determine his existence.
So we can say that the bible supports use of human reasoning skills from these two verses. The bible also supports uniformity in nature with passages like Genesis 8:22. Since the biblical God is unchanging and not whimsical in his moral judgements, it is not to much to extrapolate that he is not whimsical with natural law, thus allowing for science to exist. And obviously the bible supports the idea of an objective truth, otherwise the biblical worldview would be forfeit since it clearly states that there is only one truth.
So we find that;
--The bible supports objective truth
--the bible supports limited use of the mind when examining nature
--the bible supports uniformity in nature
--and the bible gives proper incentive for science.
So what would be the biblical reason for science? Well in Genesis 1:28 God gave us dominion of this planet and told us to develop it and to use its resources for our own benefit. Science is the best way to do this, at the same time science is the study of God's creation so it should be incredibly interesting to anyone who is interested in God. Because it is another revelation by which we may know God's face.
So ultimately faith and science are compatible, so let us work together to find truth. If science and religion can work together along these lines, one providing the philosophical foothold and the other gathering information about the world then we are on the right path towards reconcilliation.