What, then, about the differences between studying science and practising religion? One seminal difference is that, whereas the sciences aim to explain empirical phenomena by theoretical unification, religions are concerned with the ultimate horizons of reality, including life-orienting questions about how to attune oneself to overarching patterns of meaning. This transempirical orientation of religion comes to the fore in the idea of God. In the monotheistic traditions, God is not thought to be an empirical object, as if God “existed” as one item among others (within the world of beyond the world). Rather, God is assumed to be real and effective by being the creative source, which informs, pervades, and surrounds everything that exists. “No one has ever seen God”, as the Christian tradition soberly acknowledges (1 John 4:12). The reason is not that God is an absent reality but that God is the encompassing reality, the one “in whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

– in the foreword to Wolfhart Pannenberg, The Historicity of Nature: Essays on Science and Theology, p. xvi

Niels Henrik Gregersen on the difference between science and religion


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