Competing Truths by
Publication Date: 2001-08-01
Recent books about the relationship between science and theology have generally taken one of two positions. Some argue that the differences between the two disciplines are irreconcilable, and there can be no constructive conversation between the two. Others argue that there should be a genuine rapprochement between the two since they are both truth-seeking disciplines.Richard Coleman disagrees with both approaches, and argues that theology and science are sibling rivals competing for the attention of truth seekers. In Competing Truths he contends that, in the Renaissance, theology lost its place as "queen of the sciences" thanks to the combative nature of its "sibling," science. Although science did not reign in the same way as theology did-mainly because science itself was displaced by philosophy-it sought to answer the same questions that theology did. This book places the conversation between theology and science in its broadest possible context, pushing both scientists and theologians past the paradigms of comparison and contrast, opposition and competition. Coleman recommends that both siblings use the model of narrative truth to connect the word-truth of theology with the fact-like statements of science, since narrative truth has the potential to connect decisive events in a way that teases out their significance and meaning. Coleman's helpful historical surveys and his constructive arguments will galvanize scientists and theologians to challenge each other, while still seeking truth in their own particular traditions.Richard J. Coleman is a minister in the United Church of Christ, a participant in the pastor-theologian program sponsored by the Center for Theological Inquiry at Princeton, and the author of Issues of Theological Conflict. He lives in Pembroke, Massachusetts.