Some years ago I attended what is the highlight of my professional career as a minister, theologian, teacher, and preacher: attendance at the Oxford Round Table held at Oxford University. I was in awe as I occupied the space inhabited by so many scholars of old who debated the great issues of the day which shaped modern-day Western civilization.
The goal of the conference was both noble and of urgent concern: to formulate a statement in which science and religion agreed to cede to each other those matters within the particular expertise of each and to acknowledge that small space where the two intersected. Unfortunately, die-hard purists of science and hard-hearted theologians doomed the effort – neither of who was willing to admit that the other held a particular perspective on matters within its perspective. These scientists, progeny no doubt of Richard Dawkins, just could not bring themselves to speak kindly of religion just as certain theologians and ministers could not allow any praise of science to escape their lips.
Perhaps the real failure was the Oxford Round Table which insisted on a unanimous decision as if there is anything that all people everywhere has ever or can ever agree to. After all, despite the abundant and clear evidence to the contrary, the Flat Earth Society is alive and well.
Notwithstanding the failure of the conference, there is a bright light peering over the distant horizon which bodes a ray of hope that reason will prevail and science and religion will finally make peace and find a way to to wed faith with reason as symbolized by the character played by Spencer Tracy at the end of that classic film, “Inherit the Wind,” where he holds the Bible and Darwin’s ,”The Descent of Man,” together in one hand. Here follows three rays of that light.
Here is an enlightening collection of conversations the author had with several well-known scientists. In this well-written, easily accessible volume, Ms. Tippett mediates the space between science and religion and offers compelling arguments why the hostility between the two ought to cease. Even when speaking to avowed atheists, we sense the awe and wonder of science which implicates faith, even if it is not what we might call religious faith.
The Language of God
Not since C.S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity” has the case for the intersection of faith and reason been so passionately and coherently set forth. In this delectable work, the chairman of the Human Genome Project which succeeded in mapping out the human genetic structure, makes the case for why he believes that our genes are the language of God.
The Varieties of Scientific Experience
Ever so often a true genius graces our presence and it is only after he is gone that we realize we have been in the presence of greatness. Such is the case with Carl Sagan, whom many will remember as the host of the hugely popular Public Television program, “Cosmos.” Writing with the passion and conviction of William James who may have been the first to write scientifically about religious experience, Sagan gives with remarkable clarity and conviction “A Personal View of the Search for God.”