Refreshing view of how science and religion interact.
In an engaging and wide-ranging work, Campbell (The Liar’s Tale, 2001) explores the complex relationship between science and religion since the 1600s, which saw the advent of “new science” through such figures as Isaac Newton and Galileo. Campbell’s book makes clear that the widespread “religion versus science” mentality is far too simplistic. Indeed, religion and science have been involved in an intricate relationship over the past few centuries, sometimes acting as adversaries, but more often feeding off of each other. As scientific knowledge continued to expand, scientists and theologians alike struggled to find God’s “place” in the cosmos. Was he a clock-starter standing idly by as his creation worked itself out, a “God of the gaps” involved in unexplainable phenomena, or was God’s relationship with creation too complex for humans to comprehend? Or, did God exist at all? Campbell examines the role of philosophy as it relates to these questions. Indeed, the reader may be surprised to find that the author spends more time addressing philosophical questions and their impact throughout history than the stereotypical squabbling between scientists and theologians. Drawing upon a range of thinkers past and present—from Newton to Polkinghorne, from Donne to Updike—Campbell provides a broad survey of the weighty issues both science and religion have had to face over the past 400 years. The book leans heavily toward a Western (especially English) viewpoint, with only occasional nods to science’s interactions with non-Christian worlds.
Intriguing analysis of a continuing conversation.