Faith, Science, and Thinking Across Disciplines

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The ThinkerAs debates about faith and science continue, I'm reminded about the importance of learning to think across disciplines. Too often there is an academic tendency to isolate the disciplines. This is helpful to a certain extent, but not at the expense of failing to consider how views in one field relate to the views in other areas.

When it comes to questions about faith and science, at least three key disciplines come into play--philosophy, theology, and science.

Philosophy, for instance, can help grapple with questions about how science and faith relate. In particular, philosophy of science can shed light on some of the presuppositions of science, its methods, and its foundations.

The faith-science debate also relates to theology. When it comes to understanding the Bible's account of creation, for instance, conclusions often come down to theological differences of interpretation. As J.P. Moreland and John Mark Reynolds write, "What does a fair reading of the Bible most reasonably require of the believer? More importantly, how should key passages of the Bible dealing with creation be read?" (Three Views on Creation and Evolution).

Finally, the faith-science debate obviously is relevant to the discipline of science. A primary question here is whether or not one finds the evidence for evolution convincing or not. If "yes," then the options are limited to natural (atheistic) or supernatural explanations (theistic evolution). If "no," the options are narrowed to different theistic views of creation, such as young or old earth viewpoints.

Fortunately, my goal here is not to resolve this ongoing--and often heated--debate about faith and science in one blog post, but merely to point out that the questions involved in the debate are not isolated to one discipline. In fact, at the very least they are interdisciplinary questions spanning areas such as philosophy, theology, and science.

How is all this relevant to education? One of the benefits of homeschooling has to do with the freedom we have to integrate understanding across the disciplines. Instead of isolating subjects, homeschooling often provides opportunities to think across disciplines and to better understand how different subject areas are relevant to one another.

In the case of Sonlight Curriculum, our emphasis on history often leads to discussions of other disciplines, since all disciplines are part of history and will arise naturally as part of the learning process. This helps foster thinking across disciplines, rather than falling into potential tunnel vision that may come with exclusively studying subjects in isolation.

Robert Velarde

For additional insights about how philosophy, theology, and science relate to the faith and science debate, see the introduction to Three Views on Creation and Evolution.

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