The fine staff of Evangelical Press gave me this excellent new book by scientist and theologian Edgar Andrews – Who Made God: Searching for a Theory of Everything (2009). I’m nearly finished with it, and have been quite impressed with it.
To be honest, I’ve never read anything like it before. Andrews is an experienced and distinguished scientist who is also a biblical scholar. In a level-headed and sometimes humorous way, Andrews digs deeply into the “New Atheism” of Richard Dawkins, Stephen Gould, Victor Stenger, and the like. He talks about how science often over steps its bounds by making speculations about non-material entities. “Science can describe the fundamental structures of matter, energy, space, and time but can hardly be said to explain them” (p. 27).
Andrews also jumps right in and talks about quantum mechanics, string theory, good v poor syllogism, deism, idolatry, the big bang, the expanding universe, entropy, natural law, miracles, Augustine, DNA, mRNA, intelligent design, evolution, and alleles. Though quite a few of these terms and concepts were new and difficult to me, for the most part Andrews explained them well enough. I’m glad Andrews didn’t just throw the stock biblicist answers at these deep scientific questions. For example, he’s not a big fan of what some call Intelligent Design, nor is he a fan of ignoring the scientific findings of unbelievers. Further, he doesn’t treat Genesis 1-3 as a science textbook as I’ve seen some creationists do (i.e. he advocates the phenomenological aspect of the creation narrative as well as the poetic aspect of other scripture texts – i.e. p 74, 106).
Here are a few of my favorite quotes so far.
“To invoke [as some scientists do] an invisible, inaccessible, eternal and totally unknowable prior universe as the material cause of the one we know, can hardly be dignified as a ‘scientific’ account of origins. Science fiction and pop-science can get away with such speculations but real science demands a little more evidence” (p. 121).
“The laws of nature constitute unchanging reality whereas the laws of science are frequently imperfect attempts to describe reality. It is the business of science to discover laws that describe, more or less accurately, how the universe works. Such discoveries not only deepen our understanding of the cosmos but can often be exploited for man’s benefit in what we call ‘technology’. But neither science nor technology would be possible without the unchanging substratum of natural law – the ultimate physical reality that science strives to probe and understand” (p. 141).
I’ll post more on this later, DV. For now, if these kinds of books are up your alley, you may want to check this one out! The book is very readable, with good illustrations, short chapters (not overwhelming!), and it even has a helpful topical index in the back.
4 Replies to “Science and Searching For A Theory of Everything”
Although it is a litte dated, and there has been a sequel you might want to check out Brian Greene’s book _The Elegant Universe_ which explores string theory and quantum physics. He does these things with most of the techinical stuff in the endnotes, and it is direct towards a non-scientific community. I found it a good read to explore some of the things you mentioned.
I am defintely going to grab a copy of this book. Thanks for pointing it out!
Yep – looks like an important read. I was just skimming a denominational creation report (not the URCNA) which really depended on so-called “secular” science being wrong on all points and on treating Gen 1-3 as (exactly as you put it) a science textbook! This kind of book looks like it can go a long way in helping us too understand all of God’s revelation, both general and special! I’ll look forward to picking up a copy!
That sounds like a good book! That’s such a good point he makes about what science is. Science is always an approximation. Even our best theories about the universe don’t quite explain everything. And I have a suspicion that’s how it will always be. What’s amazing is there are simple formulas (like those discovered by Newton) that, while flawed, give us such a close approximation that we can launch space craft to the moon with them. It almost seems like that itself could be some kind of evidence for the existence of God. That we have an extremely complex universe that at the same time allows us figure out simple formulas that fairly accurately approximate its behavior. If the laws of physics were just a random accident, it doesn’t seem like they would be that way.
Thanks guys. Mark – next time I’m in the mood for a read like this, I’ll note your suggestion.
Pat – good points, thanks. Sounds like you’d dig this book.
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