Letter: Science and theology: material and spiritual questions that are worlds apart

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The Independent Online
Sir: It was disappointing to see in one of your leading articles ('Two cultures converge', 18 March), such a profound misunderstanding of the nature of the relationship between hard science and theology. Any hopes for a 'fruitful relationship' are stillborn owing to the fact that the remit of science is the further understanding of the physical world (while not being to blame for the misuse of its discoveries), while theology is the construction of arguments for the metaphysical 'soul' of man. This fundamental dichotomy ensures no competition between the two as there is no overlap; there would be no fishes on the nest-building committee.

Moreover, any traffic between the two would seem to be distinctly one way, with theology making allowances for science; in effect remodelling the emperor's new clothes. In general it would be wise to follow the advice of John Searle and be sceptical of any subject that has to add science to its name for the sake of authority. Perhaps a more relevant overlap would be cognitive science for which Susan Howatch may be persuaded to finance a lectureship in theology and psychology.

Yours faithfully,

ANDREW ALTON

Department of Physics

The University

Manchester

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