Jim Nelson Ph.D.
Arts and Sciences
Western culture has seen a separation between two once-connected disciplines: the scientific and the religious. The religious is part of the humanities, thus it utilizes imagination, while the world of the scientific is based in objective facts. However, this description of the separation between these disciplines does not suffice. I posit that both of these realms use an aspect of the imagination, just with different ends in mind and different mindsets. In order to show this, I will be utilizing the psychological framework developed by Jerome Bruner in his book, Actual Minds, Possible Worlds, focusing on pragmatic and narrative mindsets. I will also be relying heavily on the work done by Garett Green in his book, Imagining God, who attempts to breach this same divide by looking at it from a purely theological perspective. Crossing the gap can be done by seeing science and religion as both using the world-making tool of imagination. This paper will begin with an examination of Bruner’s framework, followed by an analysis of how each of these mindsets utilize their own form of imagination as a tool in their respective disciplines: the pragmatic in the scientific world, and the narrative in the religious. After this I will examine how one can communicate across this seemingly growing divide between worlds, opening the way for further collaboration between science and religion, as well as assisting in reducing conflict between them.
Koetke, Jonah, "The Role of the Imagination in Religion and Science" (2018). Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE). 754.