Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Faithful to Science: The Role of Science in Religion

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Faithful to Science: The Role of Science in Religion

Article excerpt

Faithful to Science: The Role of Science in Religion BY ANDREW STEANE OXFORD, 272 PAGES, $34.95

Oxford physicist Andrew Steane sets out to debunk the bizarre conflation of science and atheism in his newest book, Faithful to Science: The Role of Science in Religion.

The subtitle is telling. For in reality, the work of scientists takes place within the much larger metaphysical frameworks of personal and communal commitments, and these are, more often than not, far from antagonistic to one another. The real work of science, like the work of a car mechanic or a cabinet-maker, is generally more neutral than the current culture wars suggest. An atheist mechanic may be a good or bad mechanic; the same goes for a Christian one. What matters in such a situation is the quality of the work at hand.

This does not mean forswearing the influence of metaphysics upon science or claiming that scientific discoveries are irrelevant to the metaphysical views of, say, an atheist or a Christian. There is a perennial porosity between metaphysics and science; it's just that the influence works in more subtle and labyrinthine ways than we often expect.

Science, as Steane puts it, is not an alternative to metaphysics or faith, "and the idea that the whole thing [science] is some sort of alternative to God is mere ignorance about what the word 'God' means. …

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