October 2003
volume 15 (2)

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Indeterminacy, Divine Action and Human Freedom

John Byl
Pages: 101-116


This article examines the idea that God created the world to be inherently indeterministic. It is argued that ontological indeterminism is scientifically unwarranted, philosophically objectionable and theologically inconsistent with a strong view of divine sovereignty and providence. Quantum mechanics does not require indeterminism. Neither do human freedom or moral responsibility, both of which are more plausibly viewed in compatibilist, rather than libertarian, terms.


Editorial, Science, Cloning and Morality

John White
Pages: 98-100


Are Bacterial Flagella Intelligently Designed? Reflections on the Rhetoric of the Modern ID Movement

Howard J Van Till
Pages: 117-140


The modern Intelligent Design movement argues that it can point to specific biological systems that exhibit what ID’s chief theorist William A. Dembski calls ‘specified complexity’. Furthermore, Dembski claims to have demonstrated that natural causation is unable to generate this specified complexity and that the assembling of these biological systems must, therefore, have required the aid of a non-natural action called ‘intelligent design’. In his book, No Free Lunch, Dembski presents the bacterial flagellum as the premier example of a biological system that, because he judges it to be both complex and specified, must have been actualised by the form-conferring action of an unembodied intelligent agent. In this essay we shall challenge Dembski’s rhetorical strategy and argue that he has failed to demonstrate the need for non-natural action to assemble the bacterial flagellum.


Genetically-Modified Crops

Joe N Perry
Pages: 141-164


The risks, benefits, theological questions and bioethical challenges posed by genetically-modified (GM) crops are reviewed. There is already much evidence that the increased intensity of UK farming since the 1960s is the most likely cause of the decline in abundance of several important farmland species of birds, butterflies and other taxa. Unless it can be shown incontrovertibly that the application of herbicide-tolerant GM crop management will lead inevitably to a reversal of this decline in biodiversity, to recommend commercialisation in an unrestricted fashion would be to relinquish the responsibility of stewardship given us in Genesis 2. To allow the current, steady decline in biodiversity to continue is no longer acceptable, theologically, bioethically or politically. Fortunately, whatever the outcome of the Farm Scale Evaluations, agro-ecologists can devise mandatory restrictions on GM crop management that ensure a positive benefit to biodiversity, for a relatively small yield penalty. Such systems might then act as paradigms for conventional agriculture, in which the farmer is the steward of the countryside. The need to increase food production in Third World countries is clear, but GM technology does not yet conform to goals of feeding the hungry, and requires changes in delivery to ensure equitability and sustainability.


Science, Religion and the Mind-Brain Problem – The Case of Thomas Willis(1621-1675)

Joel B Green
Pages: 165-185


Thomas Willis, the seventeenth-century physician and churchman, lived at the confluence of powerful cultural forces, especially related to tectonic shifts in science and religion. Because of his prominence as a neuroscientist, his case serves to demonstrate that, at the onset of modernity, science and faith did not meet one another as self-contained, hermetically sealed entities. Rather, science had been formed through religious assumptions, just as religion had been formed through scientific assumptions. In particular, Christian perspectives on body-soul dualism had been built up on the foundations of classical science. Consequently, the conflict alleged between science and Christian belief regarding human nature might better be cast as a clash between rival scientific accounts – the one having achieved powerful ecclesiastical sanction, the other an emerging newcomer to the ‘new science’.


Book reviews

View book reviews

The Testimony of the Rocks

H. Miller (P Lynch)
Pages: 187-188

Disseminating Darwinism

R. Numbers & J. Stenhouse (eds) (J. Drake & R. Bademan)
Pages: 188-190

God of Miracles

C. Collins (M Poole)
Pages: 190-192

Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind

K. T. Maslin (P McCarthy)
Pages: 192-193

The Routledge Companion to the New Cosmology

P. Coles (ed) (E Lucas)
Pages: 193-193

The Map that Changed the World

S. Winchester (M Roberts)
Pages: 193-195

Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics

R. Pennock (S Bishop)
Pages: 195-196

Genetic Engineering, Christ & the CosmosInitiative

B. Beamond (ed.) (A Miller)
Pages: 196-197

Faith in a Living God: A Dialogue

J. Polkinghorne & M.Walker (E Cockshaw)
Pages: 197-198

Paths from Science Towards God

A. Peacocke (D Alexander)
Pages: 198-200