October 2012
volume 24 (2)

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Editorial - Science, Religion and Atheism

Denis Alexander
Pages: 98-98


From Physics to Theology - A Personal Story

JÜrgen Moltmann
Pages: 99-109


Lemaitre and Hoyle: Contrasting Characters in Science and Religion

Rodney Holder
Pages: 111-127


Georges Lemaitre was a jocular Roman Catholic priest and Fred Hoyle a bluff Yorkshireman who despised organised religion. Both were giants of twentieth century cosmology but espoused diametrically opposed cosmological models. This paper explores the extent to which ideology, and particularly religion, played a part in the controversies over the Big Bang and steady-state theories. A significant problem for many cosmologists, including Hoyle, was posed by the idea that the universe had a temporal beginning: an eternal, unchanging universe seemed metaphysically preferable. And Hoyle was highly polemical about religion in his popular writings. In contrast, Lemaitre saw no theological import from the Big Bang, and never entered a debate about its theological implications until, perhaps unexpectedly, he took issue with an address given by the Pope. Hoyle's seminal work on stellar nucleosynthesis led him to speak of a 'superintellect monkeying with physics' though this was never identified with the God of classical theism. The work of both Lemaitre and Hoyle resonates with more recent debates concerning cosmology.


Limits of Science and the Christian Faith

René Van Woudenberg
Pages: 129-148


This paper is a discussion of the claim that, given the findings of science, the rational stance to take towards Christian belief is either to abandon it or to reform it drastically. It is argued that science has a number of limits, and that when these are taken into serious consideration, the claim loses much of its force.


Does the History of Science and Religion Change Depending on the Narrator? Some Atheist and Agnostic Perspectives

Bernard Lightman
Pages: 149-168


During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the strategy of unbelievers revolved around attempting, without too much success, to draw out of Newtonianism some kind of justification for their materialism and their atheism. This affected how they viewed the historical relations between science and religion. But after the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859, evolutionary theory offered new opportunities for unbelievers for dealing with the Newton problem. It allowed them to create a new vision of science from the ground up using evolution, and not Newtonian physics, as their starting point. By separating science and religion into two separate spheres, they were now free to construct a religiously neutral scientific system and to offer a re-interpretation of the history of science and religion that relegated Newtonianism to the sidelines. But, in contrast to contemporary unbelievers, they saw themselves as agnostics who valued religion as an intrinsic dimension of the human condition.


Creation Care: Stewardship or What?

R J Berry
Pages: 169-185


There are practical and urgent reasons for treating our environment sensibly, but there are also theological ones which underpin them. Our environment is God’s creation. How Christians regard and treat their environment ultimately depends on their understanding of the creative and sustaining work of God. A valid ecotheology must involve the study of God’s Book of Words (the Bible) and his Book of Works (Creation, which we learn about from ecological and environmental science). This essay reviews and puts into this context a number of recent books on the subject of creation care.


Book reviews

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Encountering Scripture: A Scientist Explores the Bible

John Polkinghorne (Hilary Marlow)
Pages: 187-187

The Trinity and an Entangled World: Relationality in Physical Science and Theology

John Polkinghorne (ed. (Peter Bussey)
Pages: 187-189

Human Identity at the Intersection of Science, Technology and Religion

Nancey Murphy Christopher C. Knight (eds.) (Paul N. Markham)
Pages: 189-190

New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy

Robert J Spitzer (David Watts)
Pages: 190-191

More than Matter? What Humans Really Are

Keith Ward (Peter Hampson)
Pages: 191-192