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Science & religion

Essential books

The Big Questions in Science and Religion, by Keith Ward (Templeton Foundation Press). Of the many excellent overviews of current issues in the interaction of science and religion, this one is readable and balanced, a good start for a broad audience. A theologian conversant with scientific issues, Ward covers ten questions, from the big bang to revelation and divine action.

Science and Religion in Quest of Truth, by John Polkinghorne (Yale University Press). Having written other books in this field, Polkinghorne here summarizes his views in one short volume. A top physicist turned Anglican priest and theologian, he covers the main topics that his many works have investigated: providence, divine action, quantum theory, modern physical cosmology, evolution and eschatology.

God and Nature: Historical Essays on the Encounter between Christianity and Science, edited by David Lindberg and Ronald L. Numbers (University of California Press). This volume of 12 essays is influential and well written. The history of Christianity and science is very important for understanding current debates, not least because its complexities are often grossly misunderstood. The volume covers the most essential figures, such as Galileo, Newton and Darwin, as well as important, often neglected epochs like the classical age and themes like the medieval roots of modern science.

Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground between God and Evolution, by Kenneth R. Miller (Harper Perennial). Strong on the biological side, this may be the best discussion of biological evolution and Christian theology. It is a bit thin on the theological side, but what is there is thoughtful. The biological details are clear and readable. Miller includes an important dialogue with biologists (such as Michael Behe) who are proponents of intelligent design.

Religion and Science, by Ian G. Barbour (HarperOne). This magisterial overview and synthesis by one of the most important experts in religion and science covers all the major issues. Published in 1997, this somewhat dated volume provides balanced perspectives and always rewards careful study. Barbour starts with a brief historical outline and gives a dense overview of contemporary science, especially the physical sciences. The sections on religion and the methods of science are outstanding and highly influential.

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