Last week at the Faraday Institute we hosted Michael Ward, chaplain of St Peter’s College Oxford, and expert on the writings of CS Lewis. In his seminar Ward spoke about Lewis’s treatment of science and religion. CS Lewis was in favour of science, but attacked scientism. You can see this in his portrayal of Uncle Andrew or Eustace Scrubb in the Narnia books, or Professor Weston in That Hideous Strength. Anything that strips humans of their values and respect for each other is to be strongly resisted.
Lewis’s model for the relationship between science and religion was very straightforward. Religion is the worldview that affects all of life, and science is a just one of the areas that is affected Continue reading →
In ‘Surprised by Meaning’, McGrath focuses on the search for meaning. Longing to make sense of everything we see and experience in the world is a basic human experience. It’s like the ultimate detective novel: how to make best sense of the clues? What’s the truth? I love this quote from McGrath, drawing on an image used by William Whewell.
We must find the right thread on which to string the pearls of our observations, so that they disclose their true pattern.
Dawkins on the other hand writes to convey his amazement and joy at the beauty of the world that science uncovers (a sentiment that McGrath has also expressed in his writing).
What I hope to show you in this book is that reality – the facts of the real world as understood through the methods of science – are magical in…the poetic sense, the good-to-be-alive sense.
Dawkins is also looking for answers. Where I part ways with him is his assessment of what constitutes reliable evidence. I wanted to read Dawkins latest book because I knew it would be a beautifully illustrated celebration of science. I always get so much from his imaginative analogies (the pile of photos analogy for human evolution is genius), and his writing style is something I want to learn from. I will try to pick out some quotes for another post in the future. Others have critiqued his understanding of philosophy and world religions. I do like this thought though:
That is the wonder and the joy of science: it goes on and on uncovering things. This doesn’t mean we should believe just anything that anybody might dream up: there are a million things we can imagine but which are highly unlikely to be real – fairies and hobgoblins, leprechauns and hippogriffs. We should always be open minded, but the only good reason to believe that something exists is if there is real evidence that it does.
I fully agree with this statement – great scientists possess the ability to make a courageously open minded assessment of all the evidence, and that should apply to beliefs as well as scientific data.