Colin Russell sets out four possible approaches:-
1. Independence. The idea that science and theology are totally independent of one another eliminates the various problems that otherwise might be thought to occur. It also eliminates the possibility of positive interaction. In fact, ‘such a zero-interaction model is irreconcilable with historical evidence, which points to a continuous series of strong interactions over many centuries.’
2. Conflict. While it cannot be denied that science and theology (better, some scientists and some theologians) have found themselves in conflict from time to time. However, the notion that the relationship between the two is characterised always and inevitably by conflict is a late-Victorian attempt to gain for science the cultural supremacy that had hitherto been enjoyed by the church.
3. Complementarity. This model dates back to the time of Francis Bacon (1561–1626). Bacon spoke of God’s ‘two books’, the book of nature and the book of the Bible. Because they both came from the same Author, they could not be in conflict. But they each had a different purpose, and so it was fruitless to mix the two, for example, by looking for scientific data in the Bible. Where the biblical text and scientific data seemed to clash, as in various aspects of cosmology, theologians such as Calvin appealed to the concept of ‘accommodation’ (that the Holy Spirit adapted his language to what the people of the time could grasp and understand), and in emphasising that the purpose of Scripture was to teach spiritual, rather than scientific, truths.
4. Symbiosis. This approach recognises that science and theology have developed in tandem, and each has influenced the development of the other.
Based on New Dictionary of Theology, art. ‘Science and Theology’