Assessing metaphor as mediator between Christianity and science


  • Jitse M. van der Meer Redeemer University College



metaphor, science and religion, Mary Hesse, science and Christianity, error, ideology, Christian theology.


There are many studies on the mediating role of analogy and metaphor in science. But few address whether metaphor mediates between science and religion. This paper explores the implications of the work of Mary Hesse on metaphor for the interaction between scientific and religious knowledge. I focus on the mediating role of metaphor between science and Christianity because that was the focus of Mary Hesse. I take this interaction as a special case of the engagement of science and society. My thesis is that metaphor can mediate between science and religion and satisfy Hesse’s requirement that their relative independence be respected. After explaining my approach, I summarize Hesse’s views on science and religion. Next I show that standards of assessment of metaphors that mediate between science and religion are needed. Two sections follow assessing the applicability of contemporary conditions for the adequacy of metaphor in general to the mediation between science and religion. I review error correction as well as its failure in ideology and strategies for correction of the latter. I conclude that the possibilities for metaphor to mediate between science and Christianity are limited, but that it is possible while respecting the integrity of both.