Contemporary Debates Essay


Contemporary Debates

The philosophical study of religion has faced resistance from the religious communities mainly on the perspective that psychology purposes for explanatory reduction. In other terms is that religious beliefs will be reduced or described away as psychology. Such ideas are observed in some reductionist approaches to religion, for example, that of Sigmund Freud. Psychologists such as James Williams emphasize that religion is a phenomenon with its own integrity and unique aspects that should be respected and recognized.

According to Freud, he has confidence that religious belief is established on delusion while, on the other hand, James appreciates religion and has a positive opinion. (McGrath, 2020). Freud highlights that people are not even the master of their destiny in their demonstration. He emphasizes that human beings were created by hidden psychological forces positioned in the human conscious. Freud established a concept of humanity being the prisoners of its inner demons and claiming that religion could be accounted for the psychoanalytic. 

Freud claims veneration of the father figure and concerns for proper rituals are the key elements in all religions. He traces the root of the religion to the Oedipus complex. According to him, the father figure had limited sexual rights over the female in his society. The sons were bitter because of the state affair, and they planned and killed the father figure. Afterward, the secret of parricide haunted them, and it normally connected to the sense of guilt. Freud argues that religion is rooted in this pre-historical Parricidal situation, and for this reason, the major motivating factor is guilt. Freud has a negative approach towards religion, and he is recognized for a hostile and reductionist approach to religion.

Case Studies in Science and Religion

Barbour was born in Beijing, China, on fifth October 1923. He concentrated his area of studies on physics and obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1950. He started his first job as a professor of physics at Kalamazoo College, Michigan (McGrath, 2020). Barbour also had a strong interest in religious studies, and therefore he ends up pursuing the course at Yala University, resulting in a BD in 1956. Lastly, he became a science, technology, and society professor at Winifred and Atherton Bean College.

            In 1960, Barbour developed the traits concerning religion and science, which led to the book’s publication famous known as issues in science and religion in 1966. According to the book, it focused on his teaching experiences in both science and religion fields, thus teaching interests that he could preserve throughout his entire academic career. In the early 1970s, he developed further interests through a program of ethics, public policy, and technology that recognition

His work on science and religion issues was considered an authoritative, clearly written and publication which led to the introduction of many interesting questions connected to this field. He received an award because of his work and creating a dialogue between the universe of religion and science. Barbour’s key feature of the theology is the dismissal of the classical creeds of God omnipotence, which states that God is just one agent amongst many and not the supreme lord of all (McGrath, 2020).  He highlights a concept affirming God of persuasion rather than compulsion and influences the universe without determining it. Therefore, the process of theology identifies the root of the suffering and evil within the universe to a radical limitation upon the power of God. Persuasion is focused on exercising power in the right way, and others’ freedom is respected.

According to Barbour, he emphasized that God aims the best for the creation and acts in its best interest, although the option about pressing that everything to do the divine will not be exercised. As a result, certain things happening such as war, holocaust, and famines cannot be prevented by God. However, they also not things that he desires. God also cannot be responsible for evil acts. According to metaphysics, some limits are placed upon God, including preventing any interference in things’ natural order.

Quantum Theory

 The billiard ball model is a particle model dominating the typical physics of matter. In the 19th century, the theorist applied another model, which involved waves in continuous media aimed at various phenomena, including light and electromagnetism (Barbour, 1997).  Currently, there are various experiments observed to be calling application of both particle and wave models.

According to waves, they are continuous and interacting in phases, while particles are discontinuous, localized, and interacting in momentum terms. According to Quantum, there they are no unified model that has been established. The atom’s earlier Bohr model could be observed easily, and then electrons that look like particles following orbits around the nucleus similar to the miniature solar system. It is challenging to visualize the atom of quantum theory.


Einstein’s theory of relativity is another major revolution theory in the 20th century that surveys the new understanding of space and time and matter. According to Newton, space and time can be separated and absolute since classical physics. Space is regarded as the unfilled vessel in which every object has a certain location. On the other hand, time passes evenly and collectively the same to all the viewers. 

Einstein proposed special relativity. According to his findings on symmetry in the equation for moving electromagnetic areas and the Michaelson-Morley investigation, the light enabled Einstein to present the constancy of the velocity of lights to every viewers. The cosmos may be finite, curved, or unbounded according to the general relativity conclusion. According to time and the claims founded on relativity indicate that time is illusory and occasions are determined. Sometimes graph is drawn, indicating time as another spatial dimension.

Order and Complexity

The recent work entails thermodynamics and chaos theory and effects for our understanding of order and complexity. All the interactions reversible in time regarding classical and relativistic physics: for instance, when watching colliding billiard ball films, the picture is either running forward or backward (Barbour, 1997).  One cannot indicate the initial direction since the two sets of motion focus on mechanism laws. In another phenomenon, the huge number of particles is irreversible and adjusts from order to disorder, thus indicating the time’s direction.

Chaos theory has challenged determinism and reduction. Chaotic systems are nonlinear, and very small alternations lead to a very change later. Deterministic describes dynamic physical systems. When one assumes that an exact set of original conditions, the equation can be run on a computer to determine the result, the chaotic systems, an infinitesimally small uncertainty regarding the initial conditions can result in huge uncertainties in forecasting subsequent behavior.

Metaphysics implications

Some authors argue that Quantum physics has the mental trait of realism. The role of the mind is one of the metaphysics implications. The second metaphysics implication is life freedom and God. The response is to whether there is a relation among atomic level indeterminacy and biological life, human freedom, or God’s action in the universe.

The third metaphysics implication is Physics and Eastern Mysticism. Various books that claim close parallels between current physics and eastern mysticism. The most significant volume and the most read is “The Tao of Physics” by Capra which begins by setting forth epistemology parallels. He highlights that the Asian religions and physics both identify the limitation of human thought and language.

The conflict between creation and evolution.

According to “The Blind Watchmaker” by Richard Dawkins, whose subtitle is “why evidence of revolution reveals without design,” The volume is specific and provides a powerful demonstration of present evolutionary model and shield of orthodox Neo-Darwinism against the scientific ideas. Dawkins responds to the disagreement that several parts of the eye could not be products of separate chance variation since one part would be of no use without the other parts. He stresses that the only possible source of complexity is natural selection.

The independence of creation

It is not challenging for the neo-orthodoxy to accept evolution since science and religion are given to separate domains. There is a claim that God acts in human history through Christ as a person and not generally through the natural domain. The design arguments and all other natural theory forms are criticized since they depend on humans’ reasons and not from the divine revelation.

Dialogue about creation and evolution.

A dialogue between theologians and the scientist can be encouraged and the integrity of each initiative maintained by pursuing the Neo-Thomist difference between primary and secondary causality. God as the main cause acts through the secondary causes, which is described by science.  Position of neo- Thomist is pleasing since it indicates respect for science while upholding a lot of the classical guidelines.

The integration of creation and revolution.

There are three types of integration which include natural theology, a theology of nature, and systematic synthesis. According to natural theology, the argument is that there is the possibility of deriving theistic conclusion from the evolutionary theory. In contrast to the creationist, the writers are knowledgeable in current biology and take the long evolutionary theory. Although sometimes, they appear to be misinterpreting the scientific proof in explaining the limitations of evolutionary theory.

Theology of nature is founded on the experiences and life of the religious community however involves the reformulation of the traditional guidelines in the light of science. Through our acceptance of the relation of God to nature, all the time indicates our opinion of nature. The theology of nature is an extension of the new concepts from science that suggesting several ways in which God might interact with the universe. The last type of integration is systematic synthesis, and it is the synthesis of evolution and creation within a comprehensive metaphysical system.


According to the Monarchical models, it emphasizes transcendence, power, and God is sovereign. The qualities relate to the spiritual experience of holy (Barbour, 1997).   The model existed in the scriptural perspective of God as lord and sovereign. However, this model’s explanation in classical principles of omnipotence and predestination contradicts the proof of evil and suffering, and human freedom.

Regarding the neo-Thomist model of worker and tool, it shares the strength of the monarchical model. Also, it is established in the notion of the primary and secondary cause, which operates separately. Some scientists welcome the concept because it defends the integrity of natural casual. God’s part is to keep the natural order. Thus, all the situations are indirectly predetermined in the divine strategy.

Another model that seems to be promising is God as a communicator. It emphasizes the importance of information in various areas such as science involving the genetic code, computer science, and thermodynamics. Biblical ideas of the divine recognize the theological application of this model. 

I can’t entirely agree with Barbour’s conclusion because none of the models provide a complete picture of reality. It would be better to explain the concept using one model since the universe is diverse with differing aspects.


Barbour, I. G. (1997). Religion and science: Historical and contemporary issues.

McGrath, A. E. (2020). Science & religion: a new introduction. John Wiley & Sons.

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