A sweepingly thorough account of the ways in which modern science and religion share common ground.
Few cultural cleavages are as stark as the one between modern science and religion—or at least, that’s the conventional wisdom. Debut author Martin, who served as the governor of North Carolina from 1985 to 1993 and holds a doctorate in chemistry from Princeton University, argues that the relationship between the two systems, though historically fraught with tension, has evolved over time toward a point of reconciliation, if not harmony. Prior to Galileo’s monumentally important astronomical discoveries, he says, theology and science enjoyed a fairly cozy relationship, with each supporting the other, and afterward, they affected a détente that lasted centuries until Charles Darwin’s seminal discoveries renewed the acrimony between them. However, Martin contends that the most recent scientific discoveries close the gap and function as instruments of revelation. As a result, he says, many people see Darwinian evolution as the final confirmation of atheism but “Others of us prefer to interpret the same scientific evidence as modern revelation of the creative glory of God, revealed to us through the unique intellectual powers that He has provided for us to acquire.” The author treats readers to a stunningly comprehensive tour of modern science that visits the innovations of physics, biology, and chemistry. He finds in all of them evidence for an updated version of the classical teleological argument, which states that the order of the universe is so intricately complex that it powerfully suggests intentional design. The author reassesses various sources of conflict between science and religion, providing fresh perspectives on such things as the infamous Scopes “monkey trial” of 1925 and the controversy over the teaching of creationism in schools. But although he ably discusses the rift between the political left and right on matters of science, he sometimes tries to cover too much territory; for example, his quick, even dismissive discussion of health care abandons the rigor and meticulousness that typifies the study as a whole. Overall, though, this is a provocative introduction for the “educated nonscientist”—one written out of great respect for both science and religion.
A philosophically challenging but accessible argument for comity between reason and faith.