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"There were two ways of arriving at the truth. I decided to follow them both," declared Georges Lemaitre, one of the fathers of modern cosmology and also a Catholic abbot . "Nothing in my working life, nothing I ever learned in my studies of either science or religion has ever caused me to change that opinion. I have no conflict to reconcile. Science has not shaken my faith in religion and religion has never caused me to question the conclusions I reached by scientific methods."
What relations are there between modern science and theology, understood as a rational explanation of a religious tradition? Are the two entirely separate, do they overlap or are they just complementary?
Lemaitre, a defender of "dissonance" between the disciplines, argued that the approaches of science and religion were completely separate and insulated from each other. Because they belong to totally different areas of knowledge, he added, science and theology not only do not overlap, but are so far apart they cannot even influence one another.
This conclusion is not upheld by other supporters of dissonance. According to the NOMA (Non-Overlapping Magisteria) principle proposed by U.S. palaeontologist Stephen Jay Gould  and others, science and religion supply magisteria--fields of knowledge--that do not encroach on each other, but are not entirely separate; an intimate dialogue is possible between them. Gould uses the metaphor of oil and water, two elements that do not mix but can remain in very close contact. The contours of their separation are complex and fluid, since both can move back and forth into places occupied moments before by the other. Science and religion, in short, are inseparable but radically different, friends but never partners.
Not true say the supporters of "correspondence," who base their viewpoint on the notion that scientific data can be directly useful to religion. According to this approach, concepts in these two fields can link up or even agree, so that theories of the big bang and Creation may interact to their mutual advantage. But this position raises a host of questions, particularly over the nature of knowledge: is science not impoverished or cheapened by confusing all or part of it with religion? Does a concept such as Creation not mean very different things in different religious traditions and in the mouths of scientists, for whom it has a precise technical significance?
The essential weakness with this approach …