The Believing Scientist: Essays on Science and Religion

The Believing Scientist: Essays on Science and Religion

The Believing Scientist: Essays on Science and Religion

The Believing Scientist: Essays on Science and Religion


Elegant writings by a cutting-edge research scientist defending traditional theological and philosophical positions

Both an accomplished theoretical physicist and a faithful Catholic, Stephen Barr in this book addresses a wide range of questions about the relationship between science and religion, providing a beautiful picture of how they can coexist in harmony.

In his first essay, "Retelling the Story of Science," Barr challenges the widely held idea that there is an inherent conflict between science and religion. He goes on to analyze such topics as the quantum creation of universes from nothing, the multiverse, the Intelligent Design movement, and the implications of neuroscience for the reality of the soul.

Including reviews of highly influential books by such figures as Edward O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, Francis S. Collins, Michael Behe, and Thomas Nagel, The Believing Scientist helpfully engages pressing questions that often vex religious believers who wish to engage with the world of science.


We often hear of a conflict between religion and science. Is there one? Certainly, some religious beliefs are scientifically untenable: for example, that the world is six thousand years old. However, for Jews and Christians not committed to a narrowly literalistic interpretation of Scripture, that kind of direct and clear–cut contradiction between scientific facts and religious doctrines does not exist.

What many take to be a conflict between religion and science is really something else. It is a conflict between religion and materialism. Materialism regards itself as scientific, and indeed is often called “scientific materialism,” even by its opponents, but it has no legitimate claim to be part of science. It is, rather, a school of philosophy, one defined by the belief that nothing exists except matter, or, as Democritus put it, “atoms and the void.”

However, there is more to materialism than this cold ontological negation. For many, scientific materialism is not a bloodless philosophy but a passionately held ideology. Indeed, it is the ideology of a great part of the scientific world. Its adherents see science as having a mission that goes beyond the mere investigation of nature or the discovery of physical laws. That mission is to free mankind from superstition in all its forms, and especially in the form of religious belief.

There are two grounds for the materialist’s indictment of religion as superstition. First, religion is supernaturalist. It teaches that there is a spiritual realm, and supposedly embraces mythological explanations and . . .

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