The relationship between science and religion has been a substantial theme that has raged lots of debates and arguments among different scholars and philosophers. There are actually two opposing groups of advocates and believers, those who hold that religion and science are interdependent on each other and therefore one cannot do without the other. This was the stand of Albert Einstein who argued “Science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind” (Brook, J., 1991, Historical perspectives on science and religion). Other philosophers are in disapproval of such claims as interrelationship between religion and science. Take the case of John Williams and Stephen Gound, these two grossly criticized and refuted the views of Albert Einstein and his psycho fans. According to John Williams, the connection between religion and science remains a matter of “conflict of thesis” that is yet to settle properly into a universal consensus of reasons (Drees, W., 1996, Religion, science and naturalism). Ian Barbour is rather neutral in his judgment of these two universal concepts. He, however, argues more or less in line with. Albert Einstein, and to some extent, in agreement with Einstein (Barbour., G., 1997, Religion and Science: Historical and contemporary issues).And like some of us, Pascal is also too pessimistic about how the ability of human reason can lead to true believes (Barbour., G., 1997).This paper reassesses and critically analyses the comparative views of Ian Barbour and the pessimism of Pascal about religion and science. How does Ian Barbour argue about religion and science? To what extent are the arguments of Pascal about truth, reason and faith convincing or justifiable? These are among the few questions that this essay seeks to address more analytically.


Imagining the relationships that can exist between religion and science may not be easy as such. Literatures discussing on this subject matter, i.e. the relationship between religion and science, are overwhelming in volumes. Going into details by considering each and every argument from all the literatures is nearly impossible and therefore outside the scope of this essay. This paper narrows it down to the arguments of Ian Barbour. Barbour’s four fold paradigm of trying to help us understand the connection between religion and science is given a salient emphasis in this piece of work. The paper extends a bit further to check on what Pascal has to say about the same. Pascal’s pessimistic views on truth, faith, reason, heart and believes have all drawn attention on this essay.

Barbour’s four-fold schema on religion and Science

In his popular four-fold paradigm, Ian Barbour states and analyzes a range of feasible scenarios explaining the relationship between religion and science. The four factors constituting the Barbour’s typology includes, “conflict, independence, dialogue and integration” (Barbour., G., 1997, Religion and Science: Historical and contemporary issues).

Ian Barbour has been deemed by many scholars as the one author that has exceptionally outlined the relationship between religion and science. The followers of Barbour’s believes and arguments about religion and science have commonly been referred to as Barbourians (Brook, J., 1991). 

Barbour’s arguments about religion and science are concentrated on a four- fold schema, encompassing all the views and assertions that have been made on this subject matter by other scholars (Barbour., G., 1997).

According to Barbour, the aspect of conflict between religion and science reflects on the natural co-existence of the two subjects. In his view of independence between religion and science, Barbour posits that the two fields operate in separate but equal domains, and that “they co-exist without interacting with one another”. Stressing on the similarities between science and religion, Barbour points at dialogue. He contends that even though religion and science remain distinct enterprises, the aspect of dialogue makes them similar in terms of the presuppositions made in both cases, the methodologies applied, and concepts utilized” (Barbour., G., 1997). If dialogue portrays the similarity between religion and science, independency of the two manifests the possible differences (Barbour., G., 1997).His last concept in the four-fold schema is on the integration, in which case Barbour holds there is an attempt to merge the two fields into a single entity (Barbour., G., 1997, Religion and Science: Historical and contemporary issues).

To my opinion, Ian Barbour’s stand on the relationship between religion and science is rather too general and prone to confliction of concepts and ambiguity of conceptions. By amalgamating all into a unit, Barbour’s four-fold schema only seeks to address the problem of many unsettled views about this matter i.e. the connection between religion and science. He doesn’t state clearly how his concept of integration harmonizes the co-existence of these two fields into a single entity, as this is completely parallel to the concept of independency and that of conflict. The concept of dialogue is yet another contentious perception in this relationship. As much as dialogue brings about similarity between the two, Barbour is not apparent as to why the same dialogue factor will not bring about their differences. In the same vein, how the aspect of independency fails to bring about similarities in the relationship is not forthcoming. These single sided assumptions make the four-fold schema not convincing and justifiable.

Pascal is best known for his philosophical quotes and for being so defensive to the Western Christian philosophy. In his arguments on the limits of human rationality in philosophy, Pascal asserts that “the reason did not alone satisfy all the functions of human philosophy”. In one of his works, he states that “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing”. As per his claims, the heart seems to be independent from the reason, but the reason needs the heart, as there is no pure rationalism without either of the two (Drees, W., 1996).

Pascal states further that “We know the truth not only through our reason but also through our heart. It is through the latter that we know first principles, and reason, which has nothing to do with it, tries in vain to refute them”(Drees, W., 1996).

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Pascal believed that the human heart is in mutual relationship with the universal being, which according to him constitutes God and th

e self. More precisely, God is the source of human being. He elaborates further that “it is the heart which perceives God and not the reason…faith is God perceived by the heart, not reason”. From Pascal’s presumptions therefore, faith springs from love and emotion. He suggests that a sincere believer should “seek to hold onto the initial emotion of the heart, and use that faith and love as springboards from their source of faith and believe, not seek to find belief in reason  after the fact…emotions the first cause, rationality proceeds after the fact” (Drees, W., 1996, Religion, Science and Naturalism).

If Pascal’s argument is something to go by, then science which basically deals with facts as opposed to theories or  assumptions, will tend to be the result of faith and believe, both influenced by heart and reason, and God being the ultimate truth.

The human mind is an organ composed of “multiple systems which guides the human understanding and reaction to different realms” (Drees, W., 1996).To Pascal, none of the multiple systems may directly link to religious concepts which he regard as “supernatural concepts defined their violations of some, but not all, normal domain-level expectations” (Drees, W., 1996).He contends religious concepts “prey upon common intuitions about misfortunes that do not matter much to people’s daily lives. 

The human mind is thus exposed to many influential factors, among them religion, misfortunes and culture. All these, as portrayed by Pascal, will determine what the mind believes in and what people simply ignore or just take for granted for the lack of adequate exposure or experience to them and/or with them. Only those people so much exposed to religious concepts would accept the assertion that there are angels in heaven and fire that will burn sinners (Drees, W., 1996, Religion, Science and Naturalism).. 

Those who are not exposed will find it difficult holding the same believe, as they do no have evidence yet as to why they may have to believe in the same way of thinking. The mind sets can thus give rise to certain believes. Pascal’s views are somewhat convincing in this case.


Barbour, G. Religion and Science: Historical and contemporary issues. San 

Francisco: HarperSan- Francisco.1997

Brook, J. Science and Religion: Some Historical perspectives. Cambridge History of 

Science: Cambridge University Press.1991

Drees, W. Religion, Science and Naturalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University 


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