October 2008
volume 20 (2)

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The Idea of Law in Science and Religion

Lydia Jaeger
Pages: 133-146


For many, a central task of science is the discovery and formulation of the laws of nature. This characterisation of the scientific enterprise, although almost a commonplace today, is nevertheless of recent origin, more or less contemporary with the birth of modern science. It originated in the seventeenth century, when the leaders of the scientific revolution liked to describe their procedures as a break away from Greek science, as transmitted by the medieval scholastics. Laws of nature were introduced as a rival explanation of natural phenomena, which was meant to replace the Aristotelian categories. This article explores the characteristics of the modern concept of natural law, explains its possible biblical and theological roots and asks the extent to which this background can help us gain a renewed understanding of the scientific concept.


Guest Editorial

John Polkinghorne
Pages: 130-132


The Research Scientist’s Psalm

R.J. Berry
Pages: 147-161


Psalm 111 links the works of God in creation with his works in history and salvation. Verse 2 (‘Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all those who delight in them’) is often taken as a mandate and challenge for scientific research. This is legitimate, but it should not be divorced from other emphases in the psalm, particularly God’s providential upholding throughout time. The psalmist also reminds us that ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’. A research scientist is one who should properly humble him or herself before their data.


God’s story and the Earth’s story: grounding our concern for the environment in the biblical metanarrative

M.A. Srokosz
Pages: 163-174


Christian concern for the environment and the Earth is often grounded in the notion of stewardship of God’s creation and so based primarily on the opening chapters of the Bible. Here the aim is to broaden the basis of Christian environmental ethics by considering the full sweep of the biblical metanarrative, and to develop a Christocentric approach that takes account of the whole Bible – both Old and New Testaments. By doing this we situate the Earth’s story within the context of God’s story and thereby provide motivation for our participation in God’s mission to redeem his creation.


Explanations in Science and Beyond

Peter Bussey
Pages: 175-194


The nature and scope of explanation are central to our understanding of the significance of science, and are also important in providing intellectual reasons for belief in God. However issues of complexity versus simplicity in explanations have been raised in this connection – in particular by Richard Dawkins and others when considering the organised complexity of biological systems. To clarify these matters, we examine the ways in which explanations and proofs operate in mathematics and in science. In particular, distinctions are explored between proximate and ultimate explanations, and between formal and factual aspects of explanations. Simplicity is in fact not of primary importance, because what is actually sought is the correct explanation. It is argued that science cannot provide a truly ultimate explanation for the universe but that God is the appropriate recourse here. God’s complexity need not be greater than that of the universe, but is hard to assess and not very relevant because God is not a scientific explanation.


Response to Bussey

Patrick Richmond
Pages: 195-200


Response to Richmond

Peter Bussey
Pages: 201-204


Book reviews

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The Dawkins Delusion: Atheist fundamentalism and the denial of the divine

Alister and Joanna McGrath (Michael Poole)
Pages: 205-207

Darwin’s Angel – An Angelic Riposte to The God Delusion

John Cornwell (Patrick Richmond)
Pages: 207-208

Darwin and Intelligent Design

Francisco J. Ayala (Denis Alexander)
Pages: 208-211

Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion

Francisco J. Ayala (Denis Alexander)
Pages: 208-211

God’s Undertaker – Has Science Buried God?

John C. Lennox (Denis Alexander)
Pages: 208-211

Creation and Double Chaos: Science and Theology in Discussion

Sjoerd L. Bonting (Philip Luscombe)
Pages: 211-212

Universe or Multiverse?

Bernard Carr (ed.) (Rodney Holder)
Pages: 212-213

God’s Action in Nature’s World: Essays in Honour of Robert John Russell

Ted Peters and Nathan Hallanger (eds.) (Christopher C. Knight)
Pages: 214-215

Science and Religion in Schools Project

(John Ling)
Pages: 215-216

Environmental Stewardship: Critical Perspectives – Past and Present

R. J. Berry (ed.) (Jonathan Moo)
Pages: 216-218

Christianity, Climate Change and Sustainable Living

Nick Spencer and Robert White (Colin A. Russell)
Pages: 218-220

Beauty and Science

Enzo Tiezzi (Colin Reeves)
Pages: 220-221

Whose View of Life? Embryos, Cloning and Stem Cells

Jane Maienschein (Ken Mickleson)
Pages: 221-222

The Big Questions in Science and Religion

Keith Ward (John Polkinghorne)
Pages: 222-223

Original Selfishness: Original Sin and Evil in the Light of Evolution

Daryl P. Domning and Monica K. Hellwig (Ernest Lucas)
Pages: 223-224