This is a discussion of David Ray Griffin’s book: “Two Great Truths: A New Synthesis of Scientific Naturalism and Christian Faith” (here identified by “TGT”) with a foreward by Howard J. Van Till.
It’s all over the media, in synagogues, mosques, churches, scientific labs, and universities everywhere: there’s gigantic conflict between science and religion. Well, of course there is! It’s a huge and direct conflict, after all, EVERYBODY knows it is. (Argumentum ad Populum) Well, David Ray Griffin (and process philosophy/theology in general) would rather delve deeper into both science and religion and take a more informed, synoptic view.
He argues that scientific naturalism and religion, as they are conceived by the masses on both sides of the debate, are both distorted. When each is conceived in a way that does better justice to both, i.e., in a more open and inclusive (and more logical) sense, the direct conflict between the two falls away. This isn’t to say they both become the same or somehow meld together into one view. They each retain their particular view, yet both focus on different aspects of a total truth.
Briefly, in a generic or minimalist sense, scientific naturalism is simply the view that the natural causal connections in the universe aren’t interrupted in a supernatural sense–they aren’t interrupted at all. This is a view that religious persons can and should hold. Griffin differentiates this view from a more radical and distorted form of scientific naturalism–one that is NOT compatible with religion. Unfortunately, this distorted form of science is quite popular. On the other side of the coin, the distorted form of Christian faith, which features an omnipotent God, and the non-biblical doctrine of “creation out of nothing,” leads to the “problem of evil” and other religious problems. The folks that hold the distorted scientific view attack those who hold this distorted view of Christianity, and each needlessly slams away at the other, ad infinitum. Griffin’s treatment of both does more justice to both:
“The fact that I see both truth and distortion on each side means that my treatment of the apparent conflict between science and Christian faith differs from most popular treatments, which tend to see mainly truth on one side and mainly error on the other… My perspective suggests that there has been about the same amount of error on both sides of the debate but that there is also a very great truth being defended by each side–which helps explain why the debate has been so intense and seemingly interminable.” (TGT xxi)