Is There a God?

Is There a God?

Is There a God?

Is There a God?

Synopsis

At least since Darwin's Origin of Species was published in 1859, it has increasingly become accepted that the existence of God is, intellectually, a lost cause, and that religious faith is an entirely non-rational matter--the province of those who willingly refuse to accept the dramatic advances of modern cosmology. Are belief in God and belief in science really mutually exclusive? Or, as noted philosopher of science and religion Richard Swinburne puts forth, can the very same criteria which scientists use to reach theories about everything from DNA to the Big Bang be used to argue for the existence of God? In Is There a God? Swinburne presents a powerful and approachable case for the existence of God. Using the methods of scientific reasoning, Swinburne rigorously argues that science, far from replacing God, provides good grounds for belief in God. With each new discovery and advance, from black holes to quarks, superstrings to continuing evolution, science brings us closer to a complete understanding of how things work--but science can only go so far. Though it can explain much of how the universe works, science doesn't tell us why there is a universe at all. We can understand much of how life evolved, but why is there any life on earth? We can name and explicate scientific laws, but how is it that they operate in the universe? The Darwinian theory holds that the complex animal and human bodies that are here today exist because, ages ago, there were certain chemicals on earth, and given the laws of evolution, it was probable that complex organisms would emerge. But why those laws rather than any other? Why those chemicals? In Swinburne's view, the ultimate grand unifying theory is possible only by a belief in what he calls theism, acknowledging the existence of God: it was God who brought about the natural laws so that humans and animals would evolve. The watch may have been made, Swinburne asserts in reference to Richard Dawkins, with the aid of some blind screwdrivers (or even a blind watchmaking machine), but they were guided by a watchmaker with some very clear sight. At the heart of his argument is Swinburne's belief that the very success of science in showing us how deeply ordered the natural world is provides strong grounds for believing there is an even deeper cause of that order. By embracing a belief in God that acknowledges the truth in science, Swinburne's elegant argument supplies an essential spiritual element to our understanding of order and beauty, the structure beneath the chaos of the natural world. This informed and provocative volume will be essential reading for all readers of popular science, philosophy, and religion.

Excerpt

For the last twenty or thirty years there has been a revival of serious debate among philosophers in Britain and the United States about the existence of God, conducted at a high level of intellectual rigour. It has been recognized that the subject is not only of the highest importance, but also of great intellectual interest. Christian thinkers have been to the fore in this debate, and the debate has led to a considerable growth in numbers of philosophy students taking courses on the philosophy of religion. Little of this, however, has reached the general public, who have been led by journalists and broadcasters to believe that the existence of God is, intellectually, a lost cause and that religious faith is an entirely non-rational matter.

The public thinking about such issues has been influenced by several books by distinguished scientists, among them Richard Dawkins The Blind Watchmaker (1986) and Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time (1988). With the scientific theories advocated in these books I have relatively little quarrel, and can only admire Hawking's depth of physical intuition and Dawkins's clarity of exposition. But these books carry the suggestion that their scientific theories indicate that there is no God who is in any way involved in sustaining the world. These authors are not, however, very familiar with the philosophical . . .

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