A very smart friend of mine, who is more widely read on this topic than I, recently posited several questions to me. I'm going to selectively quote her below, followed by my thoughts. Yes, I'm lazy in just quoting some emails, but also I think the questions are important, and well-phrased by Apollonia.
I'm still playing around with the relationship between religion and science and what is the appropriate role of each. For example, science cannot answer "was Jesus the son of G-d?" That is not a question that is testable or falsifiable and so is not within the ability of science to answer. Similarly, religion cannot answer what the mechanisms are that cause AIDS, the Bible doesn't have a chapter on that one.
I don't like the idea that the two are separate but equal, that they have independent spheres of investigation and each should stay to its own...At the same time though trying to incorporate the two into some sort of pseudo hybrid that doesnt accurately
reflect either viewpoint like the day-epoch theory to reconcile creation and evolution is equally distasteful because it doesn't recognize the subtle beauty that either understanding brings to the origin of man and his place in the world.
The realms of science and religion are not separate, you are right in that. They are, in fact, completely overlapping in one sense. If you accept the Christian conception of the world (and all people will eventually, whether they want to or not, but that's another story) you accept the idea that there is one being over all, who created and sustains his creation at his pleasure. Therefore, any investigation of that creation is an investigation into Him, in some sense, however small. As the Psalmist says, "The heavens declare the glory of G-d." (Psalm 19, verse 1)
What does that mean for the scientist? It means that they must undertake those studies, those investigations, in humility before their creator. If you approach the study of cell biology from the understanding that you are a child of the G-d who made and understands far deeper than you ever will the process you investigate, then you are unlikely to use that knowledge for nefarious ends. Dr. Moreau's mistake is not in his science, it is in his replacement of G-d with science. For we are all made to know and love and be loved and known by the creator of the world. That part of our nature begs for fulfillment, and when denied through our sinful stubbornness, our bodies will fill it, with gods our own making, like friends, lovers, sex, possessions, or ideas. Science can become a god like anything else. When it does, there is no consistent way to reign in the drive for knowledge as knowledge, wherever that takes us. And we are warned biblically, what profit is it to man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?
In that sense, science is utterly subordinate to religion, or more properly, to faith, for religion is merely the human trapping that dresses up faith.
In what sense then, are they separate? Faith, or theology, or the church, is, as you stated, ill-equipped to understand the mechanisms of HIV infection, in the protein-cytokine-crazystuffIdon'tunderstand sense. Science as a pursuit can direct our understanding of those processes, but properly understood, science is without an ideology, and is therefore ill-equipped to act on that knowledge in a responsible way. This is where the humility of the scientist before G-d is so important.
It would seem then, that I am saying science is never superior to, or completely separate from, faith. This is true, for though it may be equipped to answer questions, science is only one pursuit within the world, and it is a way of understanding a part of the world, while faith is a way of life, an all-consuming worldview which shapes everything we do, and though when strictly concerned with theology, it cannot answer scientific questions, more broadly, it places science and the answers and questions stemming from it in their proper context.
Is the line where I have drawn it, and is the solution as I have outlined? Is it the kind of hybrid my questioner finds distateful?