Integration of Science and Religion: A Hermeneutic Approach

Journal of Unification Studies Vol. 19, 2018 - Pages 101-132

Note: This article is based on the author's work Multi-Dimensional Hermeneutics for the Integration Science and Religion.

This article takes a hermeneutic approach in articulating a thesis for the unity of science and religion. It examines interpretive frameworks in Unificationism and how it shapes our understanding of religion, science, and their integration. Since the concept of truth is a critical factor in one’s interpretive framework, the article touches upon concepts of truth and as it presents a multi-dimensional hermeneutics as a framework for the idea of the “unity” of science and religion in Unificationism.


Three Views of the Relationship between Science and Religion

As the term “Unificationism” indicates, unification is the key characterizing idea of the Unification Principle (UP), and the unity of religion and science is one of the central theses of the UP. Exposition of the Divine Principle explains that one of the missions of the “new truth” that is UP is the unity of science and religion: “The new truth should be able to unify knowledge by reconciling the internal truth pursued by religion and the external truth perused by science.”[1]

In the philosophy of religion, the relationship between science and religion is one of the central issues. There are three views of their relationship: 1) conflict, 2) independence, and 3) integration.

1. Conflict

The first view sees the relationship between science and religion as one of conflict. This view is exemplified by the dispute between the Ptolemaic geocentric view of the cosmos that at one time was endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church, and the Copernican heliocentric view. It led to the house arrest of Galileo, who held the heliocentric view, by church authorities. Another example is the dispute between those who believe in Darwinian evolution and those who believe in creationism. In the United States, the dispute took the form of court cases over what teachers can teach at public schools.[2]

Why and how does conflict arise between science and religion? The conflict model frames them as two opposite views of reality, one held by scriptural literalists the other by scientific materialists, both who proffer “factual” descriptions of the world. The scriptural literalists interpret biblical narratives as descriptions of literal, historical facts. Scientific materialists see science as the sole source of knowledge about the reality of the world and view religion as having nothing to do with the factual reality.

The dispute exists often on two levels: first, over which discipline or knowledge is qualified to describe the factual reality of the world; second, over what are the “facts.” Scriptural literalists argue for the supremacy of divine authority, while scientific materialists argue for the supremacy of scientific knowledge. Based on their view on the authority of knowledge, scriptural literalists accept all biblical narratives including miracles as factual events. Scientific materialists reject divine authority and miracles, and argue for the authority of the sciences and hold those findings as facts.

Here, there are two problems. First, there is no such thing as pure, un-interpreted fact. From phenomena, we choose and select some of them as facts and link them in a certain order or pattern. Human perception, cognition, and understanding are only possible based on the process of selecting and choosing certain phenomena as facts. In this process of cognition and comprehension, certain selection criteria are at work in human mind. Without a cognitive mechanism for categorizing perception and understanding, we cannot discern certain phenomena as facts.

Both biblical literalists and scientific materialists fail to recognize this hermeneutic dimension in human understanding. The biggest problem is their naïve dogmatism, which fails to account for some critical reflection to recognize the presence of a hermeneutic dimension. Such blindness is an impediment to the advancement of knowledge.

The real disputes are: 1) what constitutes an authority of knowledge, and 2) what are facts. These disputes are neither religious nor scientific, but rather they are a question of one’s philosophical position. This conflict between science and religion can thus be a starting point for reflection and critical examination of one’s philosophical assumptions.

2. Independence

The second view holds that science and religion are totally independent forms of knowledge. Protestant neo-orthodoxy and logical positivism are two examples of this view of science and religion.

Karl Barth (1886-1968) was a Protestant neo-orthodox theologian. Barth argues that: religion and science are two distinct, disparate, and dissimilar types of knowledge; their aims, methods, and the origin of authority are totally distinct. He separates God and human knowledge about God: God is transcendent and unknowable, and we come to know God to the extent God discloses Himself through revelation.

Logical Positivism, which is rooted in Wittengstein’s method of linguistic analysis, was one of the most influential movements in the philosophy of science in early twentieth century. They divided knowledge into three kinds: 1) knowledge that is verifiable by empirical science; 2) formal knowledge, such as logic and mathematics; 3) the rest of know ledge, including religion, ethics, literature, etc. Logical positivists argue: A statement is cognitively meaningful as far as it is verifiable by empirical sciences; verifiability is the criterion by which to assess whether a statement is cognitively meaningful; statements in religion, ethics, and literature are cognitively meaningless, since although they may have poetic or emotional value, their truth or falsity is not verifiable by empirical sciences.

Logical positivism lost its popularity in the late 20th century for several reasons, which I will explain later. Nevertheless, the view of science and religion as two disparate, totally separate “language-games” remains influential in the philosophy of science. Under this view, religious language provides moral recommendations for a particular way of life, and scientific language provides prediction and control over natural phenomena; their purposes and functions are disparate and there is no interaction between science and religion; finally, there is no mechanism to translate one into the other and no common denominator.
What issues are present in the view of science and religion as independent of one another? Each discipline has its relative autonomy. Each has its methods of validating knowledge. Although there are disputes over what counts as valid methods and forms of knowledge, each discipline has relative autonomy and its own integrity.

The human being, however, is a unified phenomenon. Each discipline is a specific way to abstract a certain aspect of phenomena and simplify it based on conceptual tools/schema from each discipline. But once it is so simplified, human beings fit it into a unified narrative. In other words, while each discipline yields knowledge based in its specific way to interpret phenomena and its particular perspective, human beings seek to understand how one type of knowledge informs another type of knowledge. This tendency for the integration of knowledge is intrinsic to human beings.

It is a mistake to think that knowledge from one specific discipline can present the whole reality of phenomena. Reality is a complex, synthetic unity. Each discipline is an abstraction or a one-sided view of the world from a specific perspective; and to depict the reality of the world it is necessary to find the relationships among multiple disciplines. By discovering how one discipline informs other types of knowledge, we can come closer to the reality of the world. Such endeavors toward the discovery of the complex reality of the world is the hermeneutic of hermeneutics, that is, the interpretation of interpretation.

3. Integration

The third view sees the relationship between science and religion in integral way. This model is an attempt to integrate above mentioned two views, the conflict view and independence view. Like the independence view, it recognizes that religion and science have different approaches and different types of knowledge. It also recognizes conflicts between them and tries to resolve them. In other words, this approach is an attempt to present a consistent and coherent explanation that can resolve the conflicts based on the differences between science and religion.

In a sense, philosophy is historically an endeavor to find a way to integrate all knowledge. The metaphysics of Plato, Aristotle, and medieval thinkers, epistemology in modern philosophy, phenomenology, analytic philosophy, pragmatism, and deconstructionism are attempts to find the best approach to capture the complex reality of the world. While each discipline is an attempt to find specific knowledge, philosophy is an attempt to discover meta-knowledge—the knowledge underneath all knowledge. For this reason, when we inquire into the integration of knowledge, we are, one way or another, led to a philosophical field as we critically examine each discipline and seek to integrate knowledge.

Natural Theology and Process Theology

In the integration of religion and science, there are two major approaches in theology: natural theology, and developmental-type theologies such as process theology. This typology is not a sharp distinction but simply a general tendency: the former is more traditional and the latter is innovative.

Natural theology is distinguished from revealed theology. While revealed theology takes the primary source of knowledge from what is understood as revelation—primarily Scripture, natural theology is the attempt to justify beliefs by using reason and experience. Many pay attention to the development of science and try to incorporate scientific knowledge in an approach to theology. For example, Richard Swinburne, a contemporary theologian, uses probability theory to support the argument from design for the Creator God.[3] One of the platforms of natural theology is the Gifford Lectureships, established by Adam Lord Gifford (1820–1887) to “promote and diffuse the study of Natural Theology in the widest sense of the term—in other words, the knowledge of God.”[4] Natural theologians try to show how sciences can support their beliefs.

A common criticism of natural theology is that its use of science is selective or partial; natural theologians pick and select unfairly those scientific findings that can support their claims and ignore the rest. Such critiques lead us to the question of what we understand by scientific knowledge. This leads us to the whole question of what science is, including a cluster of questions including what we mean by verification, falsification, observation, proof, and more.

New theologies, notably process theology, take a different approach to knowledge. Process philosophy was developed by Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947), a philosopher and mathematician, and his line of thought was developed into process theology by Charles Hartshorne (1897–2000) and John B. Cobb (1925~).[5] They identified the issue not as one of compatibility between scientific findings and faith, but as a problem with the assumptions, concepts, and frameworks of thought upon which both science and religion operate.

Whitehead presented a philosophical framework within which we can see both faith and science under a new light. The scope of his critique includes the concept of being (applicable to both God and the world), time, and truth. In other words, he argues that conflicts between science and religion are not resolvable on the level of claims or findings in religion and science; integration is possible only when we go deeper into philosophical assumptions and frameworks. An exposition of his innovative approach and a comparative study with Unificationism deserves a separate and thorough discussion on another occasion.

There are other attempts to explore an integral approach by taking contemporary developments in science as the basis to explore approaches to religion. For example, contemporary physics presents a number of challenges to the concepts of time, space, and the reality of being that require interpretation. Some theorists try to establish a model that can integrate science and religion/spirituality. Such attempts are based on redefining and broadening the concept of religion by going beyond doctrines of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and many try to integrate an Eastern religious dimension.

Steps toward Integration

Unificationism seeks an integrated model. Within the framework of Unifica tionism, some may pursue a natural theology model by finding supportive claims in science to justify religious beliefs. However, this model cannot avoid the charge of an unfair selection of convenient “findings” to justify certain beliefs. It may have some appeal to those who already share the same belief, however it does not have much appeal beyond certain faith communities. For Unificationism which boldly claims the unity of science and religion, this model is not sufficient. To carry out the task of integration, a more fundamental approach is necessary.
To find a better approach for integration, we would like to delve into the issue a little further. We will consider how conflicts between science and religion emerge, and in particular two questions: 1) What kinds of issues do science and religion conflict about? and 2) Where do those conflicts come from? For the first question, religion and science differ over the factual reality of the world. Further questions arise in answering the second question: what are the mechanisms, authorities, and methods to gain knowledge about the factual reality of the world? Some believers may hold the absolute authority of God and supremacy of faith over reason in determining the factual reality of the world. Opponents may reject these theses and recognize science as the sole, legitimate form of knowledge for understanding reality.

The whole issue raises a cluster of questions concerning the bodies of knowledge called religion and science: What do we mean by facts? What exactly do we mean by proof, evidence, and verification? How do theories and assumptions, and observations and experiments work together?

So far, we assumed that we understand what we mean by science and what we mean by religion. When we step back and reflect on science and religion at a fundamental level, we encounter basic questions about what science is and what religion is. For example, what are the defining charac ter istics of science and religion? What makes a body of knowledge science or religion? The issue is a hermeneutic task: how to interpret science, religion, and their relationship. Further, what are the steps we need to take in order to explore an integrated approach, particularly from a Unificationist perspective?

We will take the following four steps. First, we will examine the distinct approaches to truth in science and religion, presented by the UP as two approaches to truth. Second, we will examine the characteristics of science by briefly tracing the development of the philosophy of science. Third, we will turn our attention to religion and critically examine our approach to it, and in particular our interpretive frameworks for it. Fourth, we will try to articulate what we mean by the integration of science and religion in the UP.

This examination will present multiple perspectives through which to interpret religion and science. Although the UP makes certain claims, how to interpret them is an open question. There are in fact multiple ways to interpret the UP.

The path we explore here is merely one possible path among many. No view, in principle, can be an infinite, exhaustive perspective. Even if one particular perspective may proffer a holistic picture, it is still a partial and limited view. Every view is limited by its angle of analysis and horizon and context of interpretation. One may take a different path, for instance that of another discipline such as psychology or sociology. For example, Carl Jung presented how religions are tied to the unconscious realm of the human psyche in his psychology; his “analytic psychology” displays his unique integral approach to religion and science. In philosophy, one may take a linguistic analysis approach. 

What I present here is a hermeneutic approach which focuses on “interpretation.” It holds that a change in the framework of interpretation may lead to the discovery of new ways to interpret science and religion, and even open new possibilities for understanding the UP.


The Unification Principle and Theories of Truth

In philosophy here are four major theories of truth: 1) correspondence theory of truth; 2) coherence theory of truth; 3) pragmatic theory of truth; 4) existential/experiential theory of truth. Each theory captures a specific aspect of the complex and diverse phenomena of truth. If UP can bring about the unity or integration of science and religion, one must determine whether UP can integrate various theories of truth.

We can view science and religion or each discipline as a specific way to discover and present truth. The idea of the unity of science and religion necessarily entails the unity of truth; as we need to clarify what we mean by unity, we need to investigate what we mean by the unity of truth. The following analysis, though far from complete, will show how the UP relates to major theories of truth and what the unity of truth means in the UP, as a step towards envisioning UP’s integration of science and religion.

1. The Correspondence Theory of Truth and the Concept of Resemblance in the UP

The correspondence theory of truth defines truth as the correspondence or agreement between ideas and reality. Yet, problems arise when we try to get to the true reality. There are two problems. First, how do we know that the knowledge we have is the final, true reality? The quest for the final thing-in-itself leads to infinite regress. As Kant noted, the thing-in-itself is more like a regulative idea than constitutive idea. Second, human understanding is necessarily perspectival. Conceptual frameworks, the concepts we use for our understanding, contribute to what we see. There is no such thing as pure, perspective-free comprehension.[6] Even in seemingly interpretation-free mystical experiences in religious practices, one frames the experience within a limited narrative and conceptual scheme available to the person at that time.

The problem of the correspondence theory of truth lies in the idea of perfection or complete finality. Problems arise when we interpret corres pondence as an exact or perfect match with the definitive, true reality. Here, the UP presents the concept of resemblance.[7] Wittgenstein illustrated his approach with the concept of “game.”[8] You cannot define game by something that is common to all games, because there is no essential feature common to all. Games are more or less similar and they partially overlap, like family members. Wittgenstein called this a “family resemblance”:

I can think of no better expression to characterize these similarities than "family resemblances"; for the various resemblances between members of a family: build, features, colour of eyes, gait, temperament, etc. etc. overlap and criss-cross in the same way.—And I shall say: ‘games’ form a family.[9]

Although ideas, statements, and realities are not the same, UP speaks of correspondence among them with the concept of resemblance. It is not an exact, perfect match, but denotes a degree of approximation or similarity. The concept of resemblance links ideas, linguistic representations, and reality, not as an exact, perfect match but with a degree of approximation.

Yet rejecting a perfect-match interpretation of resemblance does not lead to relativism. We can determine the validity of a resemblance by the degree of correspondence. While we can affirm some as highly probable and others as not, there is no claim of finality or infallibility in our knowledge of reality.

UP classifies degrees of resemblance into three levels: symbolic, image, and substance.[10] When we interpret correspondence in terms of resemblance, we can talk about the degree of correspondence. No matter how accurate the description may be, language is not reality, but rather a symbolic representation. In other words, turning reality into symbols and images is an of interpretation.

2. The Coherence Theory of Truth and UP

The coherence theory of truth defines truth as coherence and consistency among the claims, statements, beliefs, observations, experiences, other constitutive components of a theory. This criterion is used for a wide range of theories in various disciplines. It is hard to “make sense” if a theory is incoherent, inconsistent, and full of contradictions.

Problems arise, however, when attempting to compare and assess equally coherent, yet mutually incompatible, competing theories. Even if the assumptions are absurd and false, you can still develop a theory with certain degree of coherence and consistency.

The Divine Principle tries to give a more coherent and consistent interpretation of biblical passages than traditional Christian views. The underlying appeal of its interpretation is its coherence.

Coherence as a measure of truth is probably the most universal quality that any theory, whether religious or scientific, needs to have. This is likely due to the nature of human understanding. In order to understand the myriad things in front of us, we try to select and put them together so as to make a coherent body of knowledge or a coherent narrative. Human understanding requires this synthesis, and the guiding idea underneath all synthesis is the quest for coherence and consistency.

Just as correspondence should be understood as an approximation, the coherence of any theory should be understood as a matter of degree. Every theory has ambiguity, contradiction, and inconsistency; no theory is perfectly coherent and consistent. This also applies to the UP.

Since the UP strives for the unity of science and religion, giving a coherent account to diverse claims and findings is an enormous task. Religions, both in theory and practice, have mutually exclusive and contradictory claims and beliefs. The idea of the unity of religions is a nearly incomprehensible idea if we consider mutually exclusive, logically incompatible claims among them. In each field of science, there are likewise contradictory claims and approaches.

Without having some degree of coherence and consistency, no plausible theory is possible. The UP certainly gives a coherent and consistent account at some level, although it also has contradictions and ambiguities.

The UP holds the unity of knowledge as its ideal. At this stage, it is best to interpret the idea of unity in the UP as a process of collaboration and a quest for cross-disciplinary knowledge that can reveal the interconnectedness of otherwise disparate bodies of knowledge. Thus, the real unity and integration of science and religion is an ongoing task mandated by the UP rather than its achievement.

3. Values and the Pragmatic Theory of Truth

The pragmatic or practical theory of truth defines truth in terms of its practical effects. No matter how logical and coherent a belief system is, and how extraordinary the revelation on which it is based, it is utterly meaning less if it has no positive effects on people and the world. It is natural that any knowledge claim will be assessed within the context of its life-world.

Why do we seek truth? We can classify our activities, both cognitive and practical, into two areas: facts and values. The former is our attempt to find facts and operating principles with accuracy and certainty. The whole of such activities is tied to the latter: values. The motive and purpose, be it implicit or explicit, of our quest for truth is tied to realizing values.

From the perspective of human activities, truth can be considered with respect to motives, purposes, and outcomes. We can consider the activities connected to realizing truth from a value perspective. The pragmatic theory of truth takes this approach.

We can broadly see the natural, social, and human sciences as inquiries into factual truth and principles governing reality. We can also interpret religion as an inquiry into values and their realization in unique forms. The UP’s vision for the unity of science and religion is to bridge and integrate facts and values. When we interpret science and religion as two major endeavors to find and realize truth, the pragmatic or practical assessment of such endeavors is an appropriate approach to truth.

4. The Existential Theory of Truth and the UP Concept of Embodiment of Truth


The concept of being in the UP points to an existential concept of truth. The UP conceptualizes each being as an “Individual Embodiment of Truth.”[12] This concept suggests two points: first, each being is a manifestation of truth; second, truth is individuated in each being and each being is seen as an individual manifestation of truth.

We tend to conceive truth as an object of knowledge. We posit truth as some kind of existence, which we strive to discover or hold. Under this concept, the self and truth somehow exist separately. It implies that you can exist without truth, and that truth as a kind of object you can have or lose.

The concept of the embodiment of truth is a perspective that sees each being as the embodiment or manifestation of truth. Manifestation can take place in varying degrees, which the UP categorizes into three stages: symbolic, image, and substance. Accordingly we can express truth on three levels: first, as linguistic, logical, and mathematical symbolism; second, through imagery such as art, music, poetry; and third, as a substantial being itself. While science, art, and religion approach truth in different ways, they also cross over. Religion often pursues embodiment of truth on the level of substance.

Integral Approach to Truth in Unificationism

Each view of truth has its advantages and disadvantages. What is the best approach, and why should we take such an approach? In the face of various concepts of truth, we are perplexed to settle on just one. It seems best to understand truth as a manifestation of some transcendental dimension. What distinguishes truth from all other kinds of understanding is its compelling power. No matter how much human manipulation is involved, truth appears as that which compels acceptance. For this reason, we describe our truth-experience as a discovery, enlightenment, or realization. Truth manifests itself not from our will or imagination but as something beyond. People may interpret this transcendence by ascribing it to God, a natural principle, structure of thought, or structure of being.

Truth manifests in various phases. When you posit reality as an object, you capture truth as the correspondence of ideas, statements and claims with an object or state of affairs. When you try to comprehend something, some coherence or consistency appears and makes the issue at hand meaningful and comprehensible. You may also have transformative experience through some teachings. This transformation takes place not by your will but by that which transcends your action and will. When we face some practical effects, we are compelled to recognize the pragmatic value of a given event.

Thus, phenomena of truth appear in multiple spheres: the objective sphere (correspondence theory of truth), sphere of human understanding (coherence theory of truth), sphere of transformative experience (transformative experience or embodiment of truth), and social, cultural spheres (pragmatic theory of truth). Each theory of truth seems to be a conceptualization of the phenomena of truth.

In reality, truth appears as a totality, and we capture its phenomena through various perspectives. We can approach the phenomena of truth from an objective perspective, the mechanism of human understanding, a transformative experience, and a social value perspective. Because such divisions are built into the way our language is structured, we can approach the whole analysis from the perspective of language. From a philosophical perspective, the basic categories of thinking (being, knowing, valuing, acting, and others) design our thought in such a way as to guide our comprehension. According to the type of inquiry and one’s approach, a certain type of truth is highlighted.

What is the UP’s perspective? I argue for a multi-dimensional approach. In order to capture the phenomena of truth in its full scope, we can examine it in terms of the multiple criteria presented in those theories of truth. The judgement of truth is a synthetic act that balances the plausibility of claims in multiple spheres. As I discussed, no single theory of truth is perfect or complete. By considering each claim through multiple spheres, we can make the best judgement of truth. Among the claims there may be contradictions, inconsistencies, lack of evidence, and other flaws. Since the UP strives for the unity of knowledge, it is best to take a multi-dimensional approach by striving for a synthesis of these phenomena of truth.

This integral approach is built with two components: an integral concept of truth and a multidimensional approach to disciplines. When one develops a theory, be it in science or religion, one holds a certain concept of truth in the background of theorizing. How one’s concept of truth affect the theory varies from one theorist to another. For example, Freud developed his psychoanalytic theory as a causal deterministic theory, as if symptoms are causally determined by early childhood experiences in relation to sexual desires. An objectivist concept of truth seems to be driving his theoretical construct. The majority of post-Fredudian psychoanalysts, on the other hand, take pragmatic approaches. They see mental illness as a symptom caused or affected by multiple factors and apply various methods according to what works best for the patient. They abondoned the strong objectivist model that Freud had and adopted pragmatic approaches. They agree that mental illness is too complex to be laid a single determinant. Nevertheless, the analyst’s concept of truth is still reflected in his or her theory.

It is one of the tasks of Unification Hermeneutics to study how one’s concept of truth and associated ontological stance are reflected in one’s theory. Analysis of one’s concept of truth is a good tool to understand why and how one constructed a theory as one did. By discerning the theorist’s concept of truth, we can distill useful findings about the theory. For example, post-Freudian psychoanalists adopted useful insights from Freud’s theory even while they abondoned his narrow deterministic objectivism.

When we take multidimensional approach to religion and science, it is necessary to asess the various onotological assumptions behind each theory. The concept of truth is one of key assumptions a theorist holds. In order to make a multidimensional interpretation possible, analysis of concepts of truth is a necessary step.


Philosophical Characteristics of Scientific Knowledge

The UP views science and religion as two primary approaches to truth, and presents the vision of the unity of science and religion. Prior to the question of the meaning of unity, first we need to clarify what science and religion are. One of the critical tasks in the philosophy of science and the philosophy of religion is defining science and religion, respectively. I will explore the characteristics of science and religion to the extent that it contributes to the clarification of what we mean by their unity in the UP.

1. Logical Positivism: The Verifiability Thesis

Defining science is already a big task. We can approach science from multiple perspectives: as a body of knowledge, a methodology, a unique language-game, and a social activity. Similarly, we can see religion as a body of knowledge, a methodology, a unique language-game, and a social activity.

In the recent history of the philosophy of science, logical positivists first characterized scientific knowledge from the perspective of the nature of knowledge. They presented verifiability as the criteria of meaningfulness of claims or statements. They advocated verifiability thesis: that statements are cognitively meaningful only when they are empirically verifiable.

Following David Hume’s division of knowledge, they divided knowledge into three categories: 1) formal knowledge such as logic and mathematics; 2) knowledge verifiable by empirical sciences; 3) the rest of knowledge including ethics, religion, literatures, and others. Validity of formal knowledge (logic and mathematics) is presupposed. Their issue was to distinguish cognitively meaningful knowledge (categories 1 and 2) from the rest (category 3).

If we can determine whether a claim is true or false, it is cognitively meaningful. The key is whether we have a way to determine whether a claim is true or false. Consider the statement, “the Moon is an astronomical object that orbits Earth.” We can determine the truth-value (true/false) of the claim with observations.

Next, consider the statement, “the Moon is lonely.” The statement may have poetic meaning and value, but it is cognitively indeterminate. Logical positivists argue that this statement is cognitively meaningless because we have no way to determine the truth-value or truth/falsity of the statement.

Next, they extended this criterion to ethics and religion. According to this criterion, statements and claims in ethics and religion are cognitively meaningless because we cannot determine truth/falsity using empirical science. For example, “stealing is bad” is considered an expression of preference of the claimant and cognitively meaningless. Thus while religious statements have poetic value and meaning, since they are neither true nor false they are considered to have no cognitive meaning.

Logical positivists sought for the unity of sciences based on their view of physics as the most reliable and solid science. They tried to establish a translation mechanism from other “fuzzier” sciences to the language of physics. By unity, they meant a translation of claims/statements of each scientific discipline to the language of physics, “universal slang.” This attempt apparently failed. I will point out two major problems of logical positivism and two major thinkers who changed the course of the history of philosophy of science, Popper and Kuhn.

Problem 1: Theory-Observation Circularity

What is verification? A simplified version of the verification process is this: first, you have a thesis; second, experiences, observations or experiments can tell you if the thesis is true or false by providing data to verify your proposed thesis. Verification is the affirmation of a proposed thesis or claim with empirical evidence.

In order for the theory-observation mechanism to work, observations and empirical data must be independent from the theory. If the empirical data is not independent of theory, it cannot be used as the criteria to determine whether the theory is true or false. In other words, observational language must be neutral to or independent of theoretical language.

However, in science, is there such a thing as pure observational data apart from a scientific theory? For example, volts or grams are meaningful only within electromagnetic theory or gravitational theory. All such data is theory-loaded. Theory and observation form a circularity; they form a kind of hermeneutic mechanism of a part-whole. Just as the meaning of a part emerges through its relationships with the whole and its context, the meaning of empirical data emerges from the context of a given theory.

Problem 2: The Fallacy of Induction

Induction is a type of inference to derive a general statement from a number of particular instances or observations. It is one of popular methods known from antiquity. Closer examination, however, reveals complex relations between logical universality and empricical particularity.

If one interprets a level of “generality” as strict universality, one encounters a problem. Empirical observations can never generate a universal statement. No matter how many experiences you may have, you will never get to a universal statement. For example, consider the statement “all swans are white.” No matter how many swans you may observed, there only needs to be one counter-example to destroy the thesis. No experience-based thesis can exclude this possibility. In fact, there are black swans.

Observations and experiences can increase the probability but, in principle, the thesis is always open to falsification. For this reason, David Hume characterized induction as a habit or custom of thought rather than a strict scientific methodology. Karl Popper called induction “myth”[13] and rejected its validity.

Furthermore, even the verifiability thesis (a statement is cognitively meaningful only when it is verifiable by emprical observations) is itself a meta-philsophical assumption rather than empirically verifiable statement. Logical positivism cannot establish its own thesis without allowing some non-empirical assumptions. As Thomas Kuhn pointed out, scientific theories are built on hypotheses scientists gained from intuition, inspiration, imagination, and other sources beyond empirical data.

2. Scientific Knowledge Is Not Interpretation-free Knowledge

Is scientific knowledge interpretaton-free knowledge or is it a type of interpretive knowledge? Logical positivists firmly held the former view, presenting scientific knowledge as solid, verified, and therefore true knowledge, in contrast to knowledge in religion, ethics, literature, and others. Because logical positivists held an objectivist view of truth and took science as such knowledge, they categorised the rest of knowledge as “subjective” interpreted knowledge.

From a historical perspective, the notion that scientific knowledge is interpretation-free, neutral and objective was first envisioned by the thinkers of the Enlightenment. In trying to liberate knowledge from authority, prejudice, and tradition, those thinkers envisioned modern science as the path to such prejudice-free, interpretation-free knowledge. Thus, Logical Positivism was the culmination of ideals of the Enlightenment.[14]

However, as Thomas Kuhn and post-Kuhnian philosophers of science point out, there is no such thing as interpretation-free, pure objective knowledge. Every type of knowledge is loaded with theoretical and non-theoretical assumptions in the background of its theory. In this sense, each and every scientific theory is a form of hermeneutic theory.

Karl Popper: Falsifiability, Open Attitude, and Critical Rationality

Karl Popper (1902-1944) was one of the best known critics of Logical Positivism. He disagrees with the proposition of logical positivists, who saw the problem as finding the criteria for assessing the meaningfulness of statements or claims in order to resolve problems that they saw as generated by the misuse of language. In the preface to 1955 English edition of Logic of Scientific Discovery, he clarified his disagreement with the basic stance of such “language analysists,” including logical positivists:

Language analysts believe that there are no genuine philosophical problems, or that the problems of philosophy, if any, are problems of linguistic usage, or of the meaning of words. I, however, believe that there is at least one philosophical problem in which all thinking men are interested. It is the problem of cosmology: the problem of understanding the world—including ourselves, and our knowledge, as part of the world.[15]

Further, while logical positivists presented science as a body of proven knowledge, Popper presented science differently. First, he presented scientific knowledge as a tentative knowledge open to falsification. Second, the scientific attitude is an open to testing and refutation, and to accepting a better theory if there is any. In Logic of Scientific Discovery, Popper defines the scientific attitude as openness to falsification and accepting a better theory.

According to my proposal, what characterizes the empirical method is its manner of exposing to falsification, in every conceivable way, the system to be tested. Its aim is not to save the lives of untenable systems but, on the contrary, to select the one which is by comparison the fittest, by exposing them all to the fiercest struggle for survival.[16]

Behind his falsification thesis, we need to recognize his perspective on science. He rejected the view of scientific progress as a cumulative linear process of confirmed knowledge. In reality, when a theory is challenged it often adds ad hoc hypotheses to save the theory. It is rather an open attitude that submits a theory to refutation that makes the stance scientific. In essence all knowledge is provisional, and the key to development is a series of trial and error “conjectures and refutations.”[17]

I hold that scientific theories are never fully justifiable or verifiable, but that they are nevertheless testable. I shall therefore say that the objectivity of scientific statements lies in the fact that they can be inter-subjectively tested.[18]

Based on his criteria of science, Popper examined Marxism and the psychoanalytic theories of Freud and Adler. All of them claim to be scientific theories; their very credibility is based on their theories being science. Nevertheless, Popper found these theories can evade any falsification by adding additional ad hoc hypotheses; they are not refutable, not because they are true, but because they are not in principle falsifiable. They are, Popper argues, pseudo-science and dogma.

Consider what is viewed as a non-scientific theory, such as astrology. Its predictions can never be refutable because you can always interpret events in such a way to confirm the prediction. The same is true for religion. Suppose one day you receive God’s blessing from a minister, but right after leaving church you get into a serious car accident. When you go back to the minister and complain, the minister says, “You could have died, but you did not because of God’s protection.” One of the reasons why so many mutually exclusive religious belief systems exist is the lack of a falsification mechanism. We will discuss more about religion in the next section.

Popper does not deny the role of an irrational element in scientific discovery:

My view may be expressed by saying that every discovery contains ‘an irrational element’, or ‘a creative intuition’, in Bergson’s sense. In a similar way Einstein speaks of the ‘search for those highly universal laws… from which a picture of the world can be obtained by pure deduction. There is no logical path,’ he says, ‘leading to these… laws. They can only be reached by intuition, based upon something like an intellectual love (‘Einfuhlung’) of the objects of experience.[19]

Thomas Kuhn: The Social-Historical Dimension of Science

The second critic of logical positivism was Thomas Kuhn. He is known for his term, “paradigm,” which has become common vocabulary. While logical positivists presented science as objective, universal knowledge free from social, historical factors, Kuhn clarified the presence of social, historical dimensions in science.
Kuhn was a historian of science. He found that the process of the development of science is a two-stage process: puzzle-solving under a leading paradigm and then the radical shit of that paradigm, which he called a “scientific revolution.”

In each science, how do we legitimize certain procedures, protocols, methods, and other components of science? Scientific communities define the criteria of acceptable procedures, methods, and other components based on a leading “disciplinary matrix” (Kuhn used this term for “paradigm” in his later works). A scientific theory develops by puzzle solving until it encounters a series of anomalies, at which point a new theory emerges to solve those anomalies. Although some scientists try to save the old theory by modifying it, they eventually recognize a new theory as a better alternative. Kuhn called this radical shift of paradigm or disciplinary matrix as a scientific revolution.

A good example is the shift from Newtonian Physics to the Einsteinian Theory of Relativity. Each theory is built on different concepts of time and space, mathematics, and other assumptions. These two theories are incom mensurable. Hence, the shift from Newtonian physics to Einstein’s theory is a radical shift, comparable to a religious conversion.

Kuhn also asserted that science itself is influenced by the society in which it develops. What counts as science or scientific is determined by the scientific community in each period of history. Although science strives for an a-historical, universal knowledge, it has sociological and historical dimensions.

Furthermore, as data is theory-loaded, what counts as evidence, confirmation, verification, falsification, and the methods and procedures is determined by scientific communities.

Fuzziness of Scientific Knowledge

Some may assume scientific knowledge is solid, definitive, valid, interpretation-free objective knowledge, in contrast to other kinds of knowledge such as religious knowledge. For this reason, many use scientific proofs or evidence as the way to validate “fuzzy” knowledge. Scientific knowledge is certainly less fuzzy than knowledge in the humanities. Nevertheless, scientific knowledge has fuzzy elements, such as social, historical dimensions (Kuhn), presumptiveness (Popper), and an interpretive dimension (theory-data circularity and others).

The degree of fuzziness varies from discipline to discipline. As Popper pointed out, psychoanalytic theories have a larger area of fuzziness than physics. In Persuasion and Healing: A Comparative Study of Psycho therapy,[20] Jerome Frank argues that there are common factors that make psychoanalysis, rhetoric, religion, and any other healing practices work. He lists four common factors that make healing possible:

1) An emotionally charged, confiding relationship with a helping person;

2) A healing setting such as doctor’s office, a sacred place in religion or a contemporary room setting for inspirational seminars;

3) A rationale, conceptual scheme, or myth that provides a plausible explanation for the person’s symptoms and prescribes a ritual or procedure for resolving them; and

4) A ritual or procedure that requires the active participation of both patient and therapist and that is believed by both to be the means of restoring the patient’s health.

The proponents of a particular psychoanalytic theory argue based on their exclusive effects on patients and use the results of healing as scientific evidence. As psychiatrists know, their real effects are quite limited. Frank compared various psychanalytic theories and their effects. He found the above four factors to be critical to a theory’s success. He argued that as far as those factors are present, any psychotherapeutic theory more less yields the same results; he found no significant difference in effectiveness. Frank extended his argument to religions as well; as far as it has above elements, it will be effective.

Frank’s studies have extensive implications. We often ascribe the effects on patients as the evidence for the truth of a belief system or healing method. He rejects this thesis and holds that the effects are rather dependent on the match between the patient and what the healer provides and on the above factors. For example, if the patient has a religious orientation, religiously-oriented psychotherapy such as Jungian or Viktor Frankl’s theory work better; if the patient abhors religion, behaviorist or Freudian approaches may work better. There are all kinds of healing seminars by religious and non-religious inspirational speakers. They can be equally effective if above conditions are met. This is an example of the effectiveness of rhetoric. For those who believe in business principles, having seminars at big corporations add authority and credibility to inspirational speakers. A presentation’s effectiveness, Frank argues, is not because its content is true.

Theories in economics and other social sciences are built on varieties of assumptions and “fuzzy” interpretations. Even in quantum mechanics there are multiple interpretations regarding elementary particles. In a broad sense, each theory is a hermeneutic device constructed by a creative human mind.

From natural sciences to social sciences, there are degrees and types of “fuzziness.” Science as a knowledge seems to be built by two orientations: objectivity and constructiveness. As Popper noted, science is a presumptive knowledge that develops by “conjectures and refutations.”

As an attitude, the scientific attitude is open to falsification and critical self-examination. As we can see in the examples of Marxism and Freudianism, scientific theories can turn into pseudo-scientific dogmas and ideologies.

How do we interpret the concept of the unity of science and religion in the UP? We will come back to this question after we examine what is religion.


Philosophical Characteristics of Religious Knowledge

Defining religion is already a tremendous task. There are so many forms and types in religion. It is best to consider religion, for now, as a type of discourse built on a certain belief system that pertain to values. We can categorize certain types of discourse as religion by “family resemblance.”

1. Religion and Spirituality

Exposition of the Divine Principle is the primary text of Unificationism. The UP is presented within the context of Judeo-Christian traditions. The text is organized and constructed by giving unique interpretations of biblical narratives; this positions Unificationism within the genealogy of Judeo-Christian traditions. Also, it characterizes itself as the completion of the purposes of Christianity. As Christian beliefs comprise the framework of interpretation in the UP, this framework limits the horizon and perspective of inter pretation. Although the UP envisions the integration of eastern and western traditions, the framework of interpretation already limits its approach.

From the middle of the 20th century, there has been growing interest in spirituality. Some pursued paths for spirituality without commitment to religious doctrines and affiliations. Some discovered their paths in Eastern religious traditions, mysticism, Native American spirituality, and other non-Christian traditions.

The UP envisions the unity of religions. Although it still remains to clarify what that unity means, we need to have a broader framework of interpretation to find religious and spiritual dimensions in the UP beyond the Judeo-Christian sphere. By taking a broader philosophical perspective, we can critically examine the Christian-based claims and explore the possibility of concepts and ideas in UP that are consistent with non-Christian religions and spirituality.

Religions certainly include a wide range of phenomena that include both non-religious and religious spirituality. For example, Judeo-Christian traditions depict God as a personal Creator God, a projection of humans as an anthropomorphic Being. Eastern religions such as Taoism, Hiduism, and Christian mysticism depict Ultimate Reality as indescribable and beyond conceptualization. The phenomenal world exists as diversity that we can differentiate by conceptualization, but the undifferentiated oneness of the Ultimate Reality is beyond conceptualization. Meister Eckhart (1260-1328), a mystic German monk, argued that God is not a being to which our categories of thought and language can be applied; we must empty the self to have direct union with God. Both Eastern religious traditions and Western mysticism present existential or experiential paths to God or the Ultimate Reality.

Both Exposition and Unification Thought present God as a kind of composite being consisting of various conceptual components. Two questions arise: 1) Is God an object of conceptualization? and 2) Is such a conceptual approach, which objectifies God, an appropriate path to God?

Individuals who claimed to have experienced God commonly express God as utterly indescribable, overwhelming beyond any conceptualization and expression by language. Even those who claimed to have a near-death experience and encounter with God commonly point out the trans-conceptual, trans-linguistic nature of their experiences with God.

The UP does not present such aspects of God and experiential paths to God, at least in its ontology. In Unification Thought texts such as New Essentials of Unification Thought, the late Dr. Sang Hun Lee briefly touched on this issue in the “Unity in Structure of the Original Image.” Nevertheless, there is no systematic exposition in UP of an experiential dimension, that integrates such human experience with the divine with a description of who God is.

If the UP envisions the unity of religions, it must explore such dimen sions of God and paths to God. Otherwise, entire religious fields including Eastern religious traditions and Western mystical traditions will remain unexplored. In order to accomplish this task, the UP may have to take a non-Christian or trans-Christian framework of interpretation. The UP as a philosophical endeavor may have to take up this task.

2. Objectivism and Constructivism: Biblical Narratives

The UP is built on the assumption of the truthfulness of biblical narratives. Starting from the Garden of Eden narrative, the UP presents itself as the interpretation of bible narratives. Are those stories descriptions of facts?

There are two interpretations, objectivism and constructivism. Objectivists believe that biblical narratives are descriptions of historical facts that literally happened. Constructivists believe that those narratives are symbolic expressions of some kind of truth about life but not descriptions of real events; biblical narratives are constructed in order to convey some other kinds of truth or knowledge.

There are variations within both positions. Among objectivists, some believe in every biblical narrative as literal fact, including all kinds of miracles and unlikely events. Others interpret biblical narratives by adjusting their comprehension so as to make them reasonable in light of their understanding of scientific knowledge. The issues that are subject to dispute include the creation of the world, the virgin conception of Jesus by Mary, Jesus walking on water, resurrection of the dead, Moses parting the sea, and others. UP interpret some stories as literal facts and some as symbolic.[21] The UP generally has an objectivist orientation, yet it gives its own interpretation on the ground of reasonableness and basic scientific knowledge.

Constructivists hold that biblical narratives are not description of historical facts; they are constructed by human beings to depict some kinds of truth or knowledge. For example, Joseph Campbell (1904–1987), a well-known American mythologist, holds that mythologies are not descriptions of historical facts but symbolic or literary expressions of facts in the human subconscious mind. Campbell refers to Carl Jung’s (1875–1961) of consciousness-based understanding of religion. Jung holds that the individ ual’s sub-conscious is rooted in a universal or “collective unconscious”; religions of the world are social, cultural, symbolic, artistic, and narrative expressions in this collective consciousness. In Jung’s cosmology, individual consciousness is like the tip of an iceberg and all individuals’ sub-consciousness are linked together through a collective consciousness. Campbell found the origin of common theses in mythology in the collective consciousness as explained by Jung.

The psychologist who has best dealt with these, best described and best interpreted them, is Carl G. Jung, who terms them “archetypes of the collective unconscious,” s pertaining to those structures of the psyche that are not the products of merely individual experiences but are common to all mankind.[22]

It must be noted that Jung is not saying all religious narratives and works are mere constructions of human imaginations, as pure materialists do. Materialists (they are objectivists who believe in the material as the sole objective reality) deny the existence of any spiritual or religious principle in the universe. Religious objectivists argue the origin of religion from the objective existence of religious principles. Jung does not argue that the origin of religion from such objective principles. He argues rather that the origin of religion is the “collective unconsciousness.” Jung believes in the existence of such spiritual principles as synchronicity (unusual coincidence of events). He views religion primarily as social, cultural constructions out of the collective unconsciousness. Is Jung religious? Yes, he is, but not in the same way as religious objectivists are. In this sense, his approach to religion is constructivist.

Campbell also takes a constructivist approach to religion. He ascribes the origin of myth to: 1) unconscious, psychological roots; 2) social values originating from personal experiences and dreams translated into social, communal narratives and rituals; and 3) personal values that reflect the transformative, therapeutic functions of myth. He further points out that myths were born in order to transcend death: “This recognition of mortality and the requirement to transcend it is the first great impulse to mythology”[23] Such transcendence is needed to assure the continutity of society in spite of individual death: “two fundamental realizations – of the inevitability of individual death and the endurance of the social order – have been combined symbolically and constitute the nuclear structuring force of the rites and, thereby, the society”[24] Finally, he notes that our understanding of the nature and universe at a point of time in history shapes specific forms of myth and writes: “the modes of nature-knowledge that in the course of the millennia have shaped and reshaped man’s image of his world.”[25]

Campbell views religion as “canonized myth,” and biblical narratives not as literal facts but symbolic, poetic reflections of the mystical facts hidden in the human mind, which Jung depicted. He denies that biblical narratives are historical facts:

Traditionally, as I have already said, in the orthodoxies of popular faiths mythic beings and events are generally regarded and taught as facts; and particularly in the Jewish and Christian spheres. There was an Exodus from Egypt; there was a Resurrection of Christ. Historically, however, such facts are now in question; hence, the moral order, too, that they support.[26]

What is the UP’s position? It has certainly an objectivist orientation. Does it totally reject constructivism? How does one interpret the UP?

One thing UP has to deal with is the claim of supremacy that is common to it and all religious groups. Scientific communities do not necessarily share the same understanding, but they do have some loosely common under standing in spite of conflict and opposition. Religious communities are split into denominations, religious traditions, sects, and groups. The biggest problem is that each group often claims its supremacy and authority over others and there is no common criteria to measure their claims.

Campbell points out that religious narratives are in fact constructed in order to portray believers as special or chosen. Mythical narratives in each religion and its culture depict its unique and superior relationship with the divine.

The peoples of all the great civilizations everywhere have been prone to interpret their own symbolic figures literally, and so to regard themselves as favored in a special way, in direct contact with the Absolute.[27]

Such claims of supremacy are often tied with an objectivist view. Why does each group need an objectivist claim? By tying their tribal or sectarian or group claims to objectivity, they can universalize their claim as an undisputed truth beyond tribal limitation. With an exclusive superiority claim and mentality, religious and denominational conflicts follow.

Religion has multiple aspects: a belief system, texts, rituals, organizations, institutions, communities, and others. To understand religion as a whole, we need to analyze it from multiple perspectives such as archeology, sociology, psychology, organizational theory, economics, natural sciences, and others. Although my focus is a belief system, an analysis of those components of Unificationism from those disciplines will be fruitful.


Unificationist Perspective on the Unity of Religion and Science

Internal-External Truth in the UP

The UP characterizes itself as the “new truth” that “should unify knowledge by reconciling the internal truth pursued by religion and the external truth pursued by science.”[28] What do internal truth and external truth mean and how are they distinguished from one another? Furthermore, how does this internal-external distinction of truth in UP relate to standard theories of truth?

There are many ways to distinguish science and religion. The internal-external distinction in the concept of truth in UP, however, seems to be pararell to the distinction of “ought” and “is,” that is, the prescriptive and the descriptive. There are various forms and types of religions. Nevertheless, truth in religion demands or prescribes what one ought to do or ought to be. Religious narratives, rituals, and practices convey direct or indirect messages of truth that tell human beings how they should live. Truth in science, however, tends to be descriptive. Truth in science conveys descriptive reality of the world.

These two elements, the prescriptive and the descriptive, exist both in religion and science. Nevertheless, prescriptive aspect is central to truth in religion, whereas descriptive aspect of truth is central to science. We can also characterize this distinction in terms of values and facts.

Be it science or religion, we have another kind of question: how do we know something is true? what are the criteria we use when we judge something is true or false? The four theories of truth described above—correspondence, coherence, pragmatic and existential—seem to answer these questions. They are the criteria we use when we make judgements about whether something is true or false.

One can see the distinction between internal and external truth as an ontological issue, whereas the standard four theories of truth, broadly construed, are an epistemological issue. We can approach the question of the internal-external distinction of truth from the types of questions that science and religion generally deals with.

Science generally deals with factual questions about the human mind, social behaviors, and natural phenomena. It deals with reality within the boundary of procedures, methods, and practices defined by scientific communities in each discipline. And yet, we saw that the use of scientific procedures and methods alone does not make for science. Deceptions and pseudo-science use those methods but do not stay within acceptable boundaries of a discipline. Acceptable standards change over the development of science, set and deter mined by scientific communities. Every scientific theory has its assumptions, and they may have philosophical positions as well.

Moreover, in spite of radical differences and disputes among scholars, what counts as scientific is determined by communities of scientists. We cannot ignore social, historical dimensions for what counts as science or scientific. Moreover, as was discussed, scientific theories have “fuzziness,” an indeterminable space subject to interpretation.

The strict distinction between internal and external truth also breaks down with respect to religion, when we look at it more closely. Human beings have many questions in life: why was I born; what is the meaning of my life; or, how should I live? Those questions about value and meaning are tied to some factual questions: is there afterlife; what does the afterlife look like; does God exist? Religions give varying answers to those factual questions.

Consider the question, does God exist? Science neither proves nor disproves God’s existence. Why does the question matter? If God’s existence has no effect on the meaning of life, this question is probably not critical. The existence of God is critical precisely because it affects the interpretive framework of life individually or collectively. Descriptions of truth in religion ultimately prescribe how one should live and act. Descriptions often imply prescriptions.

For all these reasons, we can find an internal aspect in external truth and an internal aspect in external truth. This points to their integration in the UP.

What does the Unity of Science and Religion Mean?

What does the UP means by the unity of science and religion? The UP envisions integration of science and religion. We can see what integration means in three areas: knowledge, attitude of inquiry, and social activities. For the topic of religion and science, many discuss the first area. Nevertheless, the second and the third are equally important.

1. Knowledge: Interdisciplinary and Multi-disciplinary Approach

As the development of knowledge today is led by the development of science, many use science as the basis to establish the credibility of one’s belief. The use of science to support one’s claims or beliefs is common regardless of one’s beliefs, be atheism, monotheism, or another set of beliefs. Although no scientific theory is perfect, each theory has a certain degree of certainty or probable truthfulness. Scientific knowledge must pass through the intersubjective critical rationality of a scientific community.

I posit that the unity of knowledge is not a conflation or mixture of science and one’s belief stance. This attitude generates all kinds of pseudo-science and ideology-led speculative theory. Certainly, the unity of science and religion can include the study of science to support one’s religious beliefs. I argue, however, that we must be cautious of the conflation of beliefs, be it religious or anti-religious, and science.

A cautious stance does not rule out exploration of creative endeavors to develop a new integral approach based on the knowledge of science and religion. For example, logotherapy, developed by Viktor Frankl, is a psychotherapy based on the psycho-somatic-spiritual triadic understanding of human beings. He views the spiritual dimension as the key to turn a person’s “existential vacuum” (feelings of the meaninglessness of life) to meaningfulness.[29]

There are mutually exclusive and logically contradictory claims within the same discipline and among multiple disciplines. Even basic assumptions and approaches can be radically different and conflicting. A multi-dimensional hermeneutic approach does not or is not expected to resolve such conflicts by giving a verdict or a final decision. Rather, such an approach functions as a mediator by liberating each discipline from dogmatism and providing a platform for mutual understanding.

The idea of unity or integration may be realized first on an attitudinal level. From this attitude of mutual understanding, we can pursue a framework of thinking that can see phenomena from another level not previously imagined. The multi-dimensional approach is best understood as a platform for cooperation and mutual understanding to pursue a better model to explain given phenomena. An open question is whether any concepts found in the UP can provide such a model.

2. Attitude: Balancing Critical Rationality and Religious Faith

What is a scientific attitude? It is an attitude of critical rationality. It is opposite from dogmatism, claims of infallibility, and even radical forms of fideism. Even if you claim that God is infallible, your knowledge about God is fallible. Fideism is a position that claims the supremacy of faith and, in its radical form, it does not allow for any space for rational self-examination.

The unity of religion and science in the UP can be interpreted as a balanced attitude of faith and reason. Faith is neither blind obedience to authority nor uncritical dogmatic self-assertion. The UP defines both science and religion as endeavors to seek truth; even revelations require interpretation. Your horizon of interpretation and perspective limits what you see or how you see knowledge that is revealed.

Critical and reflective attitude can lead to the examination of one’s concept of truth. If the UP envisions an integral approach, it should take an open attitude to various approaches to truth as well. As I discussed, truth can be approached in terms of correspondence, coherence, practical effects, and existential transformation. No single approach is perfect and each one has its advantages and disadvantages. I argue that we should take a multi-dimensional approach to the concept of truth as well. By looking at the phenomena of truth from multiple angles, we can find the most plausible account. On some issues, we may find that there is a single acceptable claim. On other issues, we may hold onto more than one claim, even if they are mutually exclusive, until we come to a consensus. If there is no consensus, then the issue would remain open.

3. Social Activities: Collaboration between Religion and Science

The unity of science and religion can be interpreted as collaboration among activities. In medical facilities, for example, patients seek help from medical doctors. When patients suffer from terminal illness or are in the last stages of life due to aging, they often face the question of the meaning of life and death. In order to cope with such needs, hospitals in the US provide chap lains. In prisons, inmates need not only well-maintained physical facilities but also inmates need help in reflecting on their lives and finding a new path after prison. To meet such needs, prisons in the US provide chaplains. The US military provides chaplains both for soldiers in active duty and for those who returned from an assignment. Some colleges also provide chaplains. Questions regarding value and meaning are an inextricable part of life. Hospital chaplaincy is one of many ways to integrate religion and science in the social services.

In the Unification movement we can see activities such as the International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS),[30] Universal Peace Federation (UPF),[31] and others as the implementation of the unity of religion and science in the UP.

Hermeneutics of Hermeneutics

What kind of knowledge is the UP? Is it religious knowledge or scientific knowledge? Is it a philosophical knowledge that critically examines science and religion and explores their possible integration?

I view each theory, be scientific or religious, as an interpretive theory. If we hold this perspective, we can see the UP as an interpretive theory of interpretations, that is, hermeneutic of hermeneutics.

UP probably has two tasks: 1) to serve as a platform for collaboration between religion and science, the UP works as a theoretical and practical umbrella for religious and scientific collaboration; 2) the UP is directly engaged in theories in science and religion; this engagement, at the same time, provides an opportunity to re-interpret the UP.

For the latter, we may need to free the UP from its current biblical context of interpretation in Exposition, and explore other interpretive frameworks, and further to take a critical stance to identify and examine the basic presuppositions of the UP.

For any theory to be plausible, it needs to meet certain conditions. Those conditions are spelled out as various aspects of truth: 1) correspondence of ideas/theses/claims and reality/state-of-affairs—this is a perpetual quest without an end; 2) coherence and consistency within claims and theses in a theory and with other established theories and findings; 3) practical effects on individuals and on society; and 4) existential effects, such as the transformative effects on the person. These components are applicable to the UP. The plausibility of the UP will emerge if the interpretation of the UP and the UP’s interpretation of various theories and practices meet those criteria. Exploration and creative engagement with other theories and practices is necessary to make the UP socially accountable and to develop its potential.

Scientific disciplines have inherent mechanisms of self-critique and openness to new theories. It relativizes itself and keeps an open stance. Religion, on the other hand, tends to hold to the absoluteness of its truth and is not open to revision or change. I believe UP needs to overcome this tendency to fixedness in religion, if it is to meet the challenge of integrating religion and science.

In this regard, we reviewed various philosophical positions from which to interpret religion, such as objectivism, constructionism, pragmatism, and so on. The purpose of such an attempt was to liberate religion from dogmatism and to make an introduction to a multi-layered approach. Such an attempt is, however, not the end but the beginning of a path to unification. The UP itself needs to explore new interpretive frameworks to interpret the UP itself by taking into account studies in human, social, and natural sciences. Theists including Unificationists tend to reject non-theistic accounts of religion due to their philosophical positions. The multi-dimensional approach rejects this narrow or dogmatic approach and is open to studies based on non-theistic assumptions. By identifying the layers of philosophical assumptions, we can analyze the merits of each study, layer by layer. Even if the theory itself is integrally tied to philosophical assumptions and positions, we can separate a body of knowledge into its layers by applying multiple perspectives. Multi-dimensional hermeneutics is an attempt at interpretation through a series of separation and integration.[32]



[1] Sun Myung Moon, Exposition of the Divine Principle (New York: Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, 2006), p. 7.

[2] Some well-known court cases include the Scopes Monkey Trial (The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes) in 1925, Epperson v. Arkansas in 1968, and McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education in 1981. Although the disputes in these cases have taken various forms, they are essentially derived from a conflict between creationism and the theory of evolution. The disputes were also intertwined with two interpretations of the Bible according to Christian fundamentalism and Christian modernism; Christian fundamentalism held to a literal interpretation of the Bible while Christian modernism offered a flexible interpretation of the Bible so as to make it compatible with evolution.

[3] Richard Swinburne, The Existence of God, rev. ed., (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991)

[4] Gifford Lectures Organization site. Accessed December 2, 2017

[5] John B. Cobb, Jr. and David Ray Griffin, Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976).

[6] Edmund Husserl tried to develop phenomenology as an interpretation-free, presupposition-free philosophical methodology. Zen Enlightenment is often conceived as the direct experience of Buddhist truth without conceptual biases. Nevertheless, discourse is not possible without the use of some kind of conceptualization. One may use “negation” to describe extra-conceptual state of affairs, such as the unlimited or infinite. One may also use analogy or poetic expression to describe extraordinary experiences.

[7] Exposition of Divine Principle, Creation 3.2 “Good Object Partners for the Joy of God,” pp. 33-36

[8] See Ludwig Wittgenstein and G. E. M. Anscombe, Philosophical Investigations: The English Text of the Third Edition (New York: Prentice Hall, 1958), sections 66-71

[9] Ibid., Section 67, p. 32e

[10] In Exposition of Divine Principle, the concept of resemblance is applied between God and the world. See Creation 1.2 “The Relationship between God and the Universe,” pp. 19-21

[11] On embodiment of truth, see Keisuke Noda, “Understanding the Word as the Process of Embodiment,” Journal of Unification Studies 1 (1997): 55-70. 

[12] Exposition of Divine Principle, pp. 19-21

[13] Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (London: Routledge, 2010), p. 53 

[14] For extensive analysis of objectivity and hermeneutic dimension of scientific knowledge, see Richard J. Bernstein, Beyond Objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics, and Praxis (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011). 

[15] Karl Popper, Logic of Scientific Discovery (London: Routledge, 2005), p. xiix

[16] Ibid, p. 20

[17] Ibid

[18] Ibid, p. 22. Here, “inter-subjectively tested” means a series of testing by scientific communities

[19] Ibid, pp. 8-9

[20] Jerome D. Frank, and Julia B. Frank. Persuasion and Healing: A Comparative Study of Psychotherapy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993).

[21] For example, in the Garden of Eden narrative, the UP interprets the serpent, the tree of life, and the tree of good and evil as Lucifer (archangel), perfected man, and perfected woman. See Exposition of the Divine Principle, Chapter 2 “Human Fall,” pp. 53-67 

[22] Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live By (New York: Penguin, 2003), p. 210

[23] Ibid, p. 22

[24] Ibid, pp. 22-23

[25] Ibid, p. 24

[26] Ibid, p. 12

[27] Ibid, p. 10

[28] Exposition of the Divine Principle, p. 7

[29] Viktor Frankl presents his existential analysis in depth in The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy (London: Souvenir Press, 2014).

[30] See the history of ICUS. Accessed 01/16/2018

[31] See Universal Peace Federation site. Accessed 01/16/2018

[32] The UP conceptualizes this process as Origin-Division-Union Action. See New Essentials of Unification Thought (Tokyo: Unification Thought Institute, 2006), pp. 84-85