Science and the Search for God
The triumphal Darwinian Centennial in 1959 seemed once and for all to end the argument between science and religion that had been raging since Thomas Huxley took up the cause of evolution in the Victorian era. As far as science was concerned, God was either dead or irrelevantcase closed. But in the past two decades, as prize-winning science writer Larry Witham shows in this brilliant book of people and ideas, the case has been reopened by an unlikely agent: science itself. Cutting-edge research in physics, biochemistry, genetics, information theory, and neuroscience are now causing thinkers to wonder anew about whether some intentional” mind, design, or fine-tuning in nature’s laws was required for the development of life, and to challenge Darwinian and materialist strongholds in the laboratory and in public education. The story Witham tells involves two inter-related movements. One is the science and religion dialogue,” an intriguging conversation that stretches from the laboratories of Nobel Prize winners to the inner sancta of the Vatican. This dialogue attempts to build bridges between two worlds formerly thought to be not only incompatible but implacably hostile. The other is the intelligent design movement,” a grouping of independent scientists and philosophers, many of them tied to an organization called the Discovery Institute, whose research suggests that material laws as they are now understood may be incapacable of comprehending the subtleties of evolution or of human consciousness. Deisgn” has been part of Western thought and theology for hundreds of years. But as Witham shows, it has become relevant again today as a resul to four entry into the microscopic and machine-like world of biochemistry, the development of anthropic” cosmology, and a new willingness on the part of some scientists to mention a cerator in the same breath with scientific theorems. By Design introduces us to scientists of the past, from Nicolaus Copernicus to Louis Leakey and Edwin Hubble. We also meet some of the colorful and provocative characters who dominate the discussions todayfigures such as astrophysicist George Ellis, origin-of-life researcher Harold Morowtiz, mathematician William Dembski, and law professor Phillip Johnson, the leading anti-Darwinist of the day. Witham also analyzes the scientific developments that have made it possible to search for God in the world of science. In 1965 for instance, the confirmation of a background glow from a Big Ban” made the idea of a creation event” plausible; new neurological experiments have raised the stakes in differentiating brain from mind (or soul”); and a generation’s probing of genetic codes has shown uncanny engineering at work. The ultimate outcome of the intelligent design movement and the dialogue between faith and reason is still uncertain at the end of Darwin’s century. But after reading By Design we sense that what was once a battleground between God and science has now become a meeting ground.