April 2001
volume 13 (1)

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Guest Editorial: An environmental imperative for the new Millennium

Sir John Houghton
Pages: 2-40


Fine-Tuning, Many Universes, and Design

Rodney D. Holder
Pages: 51-24


In the light of the fine-tuning of the universe, I critique the postulation of the existence of infinitely many universes as an alternative to design. Among the problems identified with the hypothesis are (i) the existence of infinitely many universes depends critically on parameter choice; (ii) the probability that any universe in an ensemble is fine-tuned for life is zero; (iii) the physical realisation of any ensemble will exclude an infinity of possibilities; (iv) the hypothesis is untestable and unscientific; (v) the hypothesis is not consistent with the amount of order found in this universe, nor with the persistence of order. The explanatory power of the hypothesis is thus undermined. Even if this had been otherwise the hypothesis should be given a low prior probability on the grounds of lack of simplicity and economy. The design hypothesis then fares better on a simple probability comparison.


John Ray, Father of Natural Historians

R. J. Berry
Pages: 25-38


John Ray (1627-1705) was a pivotal figure in both the history of biology and in our maturing of understanding the Bible in the light of secular knowledge. He was the son of an Essex blacksmith who became a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, but resigned his fellowship to work with his pupil and patron Francis Willugby (1635-72) on a series of plant and animal classifications, which paved the way for Carl Linnaeus and inspired generations of naturalists. He is best known for his Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of Creation (1691), which was plundered by Archdeacon Paley for his Natural Theology (1802). Although he lived when the rationalism of the Enlightenment was in the ascendant, Ray was not a deist; he was a man who rejoiced and worshipped God through studying God’s ‘book of works.’ His influence persisted throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, underlying the tensions that developed in natural theology and natural history with the impact of Darwin and the growth of scientific professionalism. Three centuries after his death, he provides both a model and a stimulus for a Christian approach to the natural world.


Nancey Murphy, Supervenience and Causality

Lindsay Cullen
Pages: 39-50


Nancey Murphy argues in Beyond Liberalism & Fundamentalism, that a post–modern approach to metaphysics, based on a non–reductive physicalism, will allow a fruitful bridging of the gap between interventionist and immanentist views of God’s interaction with the world. This is achieved through her contention that there are causally significant ‘higher level’ laws which can affect interactions and which are neither constrained by, nor reducible to, lower level laws (such as the laws of physics). Whilst her aim is to be applauded, her methodology is somewhat flawed. In particular, her scientific defence of a non–reductive view is shallow and unpersuasive, and her use of the philosophical concept of supervenience is both eccentric and unhelpful. Thus her argument regarding higher–level laws founders, taking with it her basis for a rapprochement between ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives’ on this particular topic.


A Mendelian Interpretation of Jacob’s Sheep

Pages: 51-58


The story of Jacob producing flocks of striped goats and black sheep starting from flocks in which these characteristics had been removed is considered from a Mendelian genetic viewpoint. Previous commentators have implied that the placing of branches in front of the animals arose from the belief that vivid sights during pregnancy would leave a mark on the offspring. However, the fact that Laban removed all the coloured animals from the flock he entrusted to Jacob, shows that the herdsmen knew that the colour of the offspring was influenced in some way by the colour of the parents. It was not necessary for the herdsmen to understand the exact rules of inheritance, only sufficient that, wherever possible, female animals were served by coloured males. It is proposed that the use of the branches referred to in the story was not an attempt to generate visual impressions influencing the females during pregnancy or conception, but instead the branches were used to build a fence to ensure that only coloured male animals could serve the females.


Book reviews

View book reviews

Sex and Death: An Introduction to Philosophy of Biology

Kim Sterelny and Paul E. Griffiths (Andrew Fox)
Pages: 69-70

Einstein and Religion. Physics and theology

Max Jammer (Lawrence Osborn)
Pages: 70-71

Dimensions of Forgiveness – Psychological Research & Theological Perspectives

Everett L. Worthington, Jr. (ed.) (Søren Holm)
Pages: 71-72

The Way of the (Modern) World Or, Why it’s Tempting to Live As If God Doesn’t Exist

Craig M Gay (Nicholas Moir)
Pages: 72-72

Noah’s Flood: The Genesis Story in Western Thought

Norman Cohn (Stephen Walley)
Pages: 73-73

The Origin of Life: From the Birth of Life to the Origin of Language

John Maynard Smith and Eors Szathmary (Margaret Ginzburg)
Pages: 74-75

The Golem: What You Should Know about Science (second edition)

Harry Collins and Trevor Pinch (David Burbridge)
Pages: 76-78

The Golem at Large: What You Should Know about Technology

Harry Collins and Trevor Pinch (David Burbridge)
Pages: 76-78

Valuing People: Human Value in a World of Medical Technology

D. Gareth Jones (John Wilkinson)
Pages: 78-79

Naturwissenschaft und Theologie im Dialog

Ulrich Kropac (Søren Holm)
Pages: 79-80

Beyond the Cosmos

Hugh Ross (Bennet McInnes)
Pages: 80-81

The Psychology of Awakening

Gay Watson, Stephen Batchelor & Guy Claxton (David Burnett)
Pages: 81-82

A House Built on Sand: Exposing Postmodernist Myths About Science

Noretta Koertge (editor) (Steve Bishop)
Pages: 82-83

Tower of Babel: The Evidence against the New Creationism

Robert T. Pennock (Ernest Lucas)
Pages: 83-84

Genetic Maps and Human Imaginations: the limits of science in understanding who we are

Barbara Katz Rothman (Caroline Berry)
Pages: 84-85

Inventing the Flat Earth

Jeffrey Burton Russell (Denis Alexander)
Pages: 85-87

Choices at the Heart of Technology

Ruth Conway (Hazel Lucas)
Pages: 87-88

The Sun in the Church: Cathedrals as Solar Observatories

J. L. Heilbron (Owen Gingerich)
Pages: 88-90

Darwinism Defeated? The Johnson-Lamoureux Debate on Biological Origins

Johnson, P. E., Lamoureux, D. O. et al (Mike Poole)
Pages: 90-92

The Interplay between Scientific and Theological Worldviews, Parts I & II

Niels H Gregersen, Ulf Görman and Christoph Wassermann (eds) (Arthur Jones)
Pages: 92-93

The Power of the Force: The Spirituality of the Star Wars Films

David Wilkinson (Ruth Gouldbourne)
Pages: 93-94

Darwinism Comes to America

R. L. Numbers (Michael Roberts)
Pages: 94-95

Debating Darwin

J. C. Greene (Michael Roberts)
Pages: 94-95

Can Science Dispense With Religion?

Mehdi Golshani (Editor) (Marion Syms)
Pages: 95-96