Jennifer Wilding of Consensus, wrote an excellent summary of the five primary ways that religion and science interact, and I believe by extension, it also illustrates how religions interact with each other. It's an excellent summary that all thinking people should read and ponder. Wilding was writing to summarize the findings of a Kansas City Forums panel, which identified these five styles of interaction:
Warfare Model. Science and religion are incompatible, only one can be true.(I highly recommend the original article (link above) for a more thorough treatment of these ideas.)
Separate Realms Model. Science is about the physical world, and religion is about the spiritual/moral world, and there is no conflict since there is little overlap.
Accommodation Model. Religion is deepened through the discoveries of science.
Engagement Model. Science and religion are equal partners, each asking questions that enlighten and improve the other.
Theistic Science. Largely promoted by Creation Science advocates, this claims that science is mostly right, but that occasional miracles and divine intervention are possible.
Which one am I? I had a surprisingly hard time answering this question. I seem to be spread about between the first three.
The Warfare Model appeals to me because in an absolute sense, it must be true. On any specific question about physical facts, there can only be one right answer. If religion claims one thing, and science proves another, well, religion is just wrong.
On the other hand, the Separate Realms Model seems to me to be orthogonal with the Warfare Model: If the realms really are separate, then the idea of "warfare" is moot. As an analogy, consider the word "justice." It's not a physical concept, subject to experimentation, proof, or disproof. It's a human concept, in a separate "realm" from science. So, in that sense, I guess I could accept that there are separate realms. On the other hand, I find that science is pretty good at explaining things, which leaves the "religion realm" pretty much empty.
The Accommodation Model is an interesting historical development. The Roman Catholic Church is the prime example of this: They are strong supporters of science, particularly astronomy and evolution. Their version of the Accommodation Model is, roughly, that science asks "how?" and religion asks "why?" Any time there is a conflict, science wins. In the end, the Accommodation Model seems to be to be a hybrid between the Warfare and Separate Realms models: Only one (religion or science) can be right; religion can't possibly refute a plain fact demonstrated by science, so religion is only left with its Separate Realm, which doesn't leave it much.
The Engagement Model doesn't impress me. I'm sure there are plenty of religious scholars who have valuable contributions to make, based on their extensive studies of history, ethics and morality. But if they'd devoted that same energy to a secular study of these same topics, their contributions would be so much more meaningful. Ethics based on false premises, especially those that ignore or deny humankind's animal origins and primitive instincts, are counterproductive.
That leaves, of course, Theistic Science, which is a complete nonstarter.
So I guess that means I'm in the Warfare Model camp. Which is odd, because I don't see it as a war. If I'd been in Jennifer Wilding's shoes (the author), I'd have called it the Incompatible Realms Model or Irreconcilable Realms Model, something less bloody. My goal is more of an educational campaign; the word "war" conjures up too many visions of battle and blood. That's not what Atheism is about.