SPIRITUAL EVOLUTION: SCIENTISTS DISCUSS THEIR BELIEFS
Edited by John Marks Templeton and
Kenneth Seeman Giniger
Templeton Foundation Press
152 pp., $22.95
SCIENCE AND THEOLOGY: THE NEW CONSONANCE
Edited by Ted Peters
256 pp., $58
SKEPTICS AND TRUE BELIEVERS: THE EXHILARATING CONNECTION BETWEEN
SCIENCE AND RELIGION
By Chet Raymo
288 pp., $23
DARWIN'S BLACK BOX: THE BIOCHEMICAL CHALLENGE TO EVOLUTION
By Michael J. Behe
307 pp., $13
What is science? "The search for truth about the order and
structure of the universe." "The great book of the universe written
in the language of mathematics." "A model of the world subject to
modification by new evidence."
To scientists, it is all of these, plus a marvelously successful
discipline, uncovering new and astonishing worlds, from the
infinitesimal to the infinite.
Yet for some scientists, it cannot uncover the whole story. To
inscribe the nature of life in its full meaning requires going beyond
description of the physical world. Practicing science may inform and
be informed by a spiritual journey.
Spiritual Evolution: Scientists Discuss Their Beliefs is an
engaging set of personal essays exploring how 10 prominent scientists
have sought to integrate what they were learning professionally with
their most private intuitions and perspectives.
Biologist Charles Birch and medical doctor Larry Dossey, for
example, write of their passages from fundamentalist childhoods
through loss of faith during scientific studies into deep spiritual
convictions that influenced their careers. Birch finds a meaningful
perspective on evolution and the conviction that "mentality cannot
arise from no-mentality." Dossey moves into consciousness research
and a "vision of the world that is inherently spiritual."
S. Jocelyn Bell Burnell, an astronomer who discovered pulsars,
writes of her Quaker experience and the "felt presence" of God in
everyday life, whether or not "S(He) created the physical universe 15
billion years ago."
This small volume also speaks to the "false choice," in Dossey's
words, that young science students are pressed to make between
science and the spiritual. This has "caused immense pain for
millions of questing, bright young people" who are told they must
choose between being "rational, analytical, logical, and scientific"
or "intuitive, religious, spiritual, and intellectually reckless."
Science and Theology: The New Consonance is an in-depth engagement
in the discussion between a group of scientists and theologians on
some of the big questions: Is there a purpose to the universe? Does
God act in nature? What does evolution have to do with ethics? How
does the possibility that the universe will die relate to the
concepts of resurrection and immortality?
The contributors range from physicist Paul Davies, a popular
writer ("The Mind of God") and winner of the Templeton Religion
Prize, to philosophical theologian Nancey Murphy, to Pope John Paul
Davies deals with the question "Is the Universe Absurd?," the pope
with "Evolution and the Living God." Murphy discusses why
universities should teach the natural and social sciences "as if
there is a creating and loving God."
This is not a "popular" science and religion book. It can be
heavy going in places. But for those with deep interest, it offers
valuable insight into where scientific and religious thinkers are
Skeptics and True Believers: The Exhilarating Connection Between
Science and Religion is a "popular science" book. …