The separation between secular and spiritual thought seems to be a central aspect of the problem of modernity. They need not contradict and it was a mistake to let them diverge. The task, then, is to reconcile the secular and the spiritual.
The proper way to bridge the gap is to build at both ends and meet in the middle. To that end, the destination must be seen from both sides – that is, secular knowledge must become theologically relevant, and religious belief must be justified on secular grounds. I think we can accomplish both.
I say this as a recent convert who was raised as an atheist. The world runs according to knowable physical law; nothing I know contradicts this. Christianity is true; nothing I know contradicts this either. The two appear to contradict when compared directly, but never within the realm of the knowable. This is an illusion brought about by incomplete understanding – the contradictions will vanish like mirages once we close in on them.
All truth is entangled; this holds between religious and secular belief, to the extent both are true. We used to know this, didn’t we? Then natural discoveries started contradicting our understanding of the Bible and that knowledge got lost in the shuffle. It’s time to bring it back.
I already presented a theological argument for the entanglement. The naturalistic argument is simpler: Religion evolved in the world, therefore it is entangled with the world. Either way, theological belief and temporal reality are related and that relationship can be observed and studied.
It should be studied.
I got interested in religion because I learned it works in the pragmatic sense. That took nontrivial intellectual effort and a number of assumptions that are not commonly shared. If the practical benefits – and the necessity of faith for reaping those benefits – can be established in a more accessible way, we have a compelling case from the secular point of view.
On the Christian side, establishing links between theology and observable fact should be of interest, at least for resolving disputes and clarifying open questions. This implies making falsifiable predictions based on religious belief. I think it’s important to test our faith in this way; I’ll expand on that later.
The main disagreement between the sides would be that of primacy. Did God create the world or did the world create him? I think this is a philosophical trick question: the answer, once understood, will be unarguable, inconclusive and obvious.