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The Book

This book has been written as a response to the increasing polarisation of the public debate between science and religion. It is necessarily a personal view from a career academic who is also a Methodist local preacher. Written over a three year period, it has been influenced by a study fellowship at Oxford University and a public lecture at UCLAN.

On one side of the debate, there are the “aggressive atheists”, who claim to represent Science. On the other you have religious fundamentalists, who amongst other things insist on the literal truth of Scriptural writings. This view ignores a huge constituency or people with more moderate views: scientists inspired by a sense of wonder at what they discover in their daily work, religious adherents who hold much more tolerant and inclusive views of the world, or indeed agnostics who either hold no strong view or acknowledge that they simply “don’t know”. Many people look to science or religion for answers because they feel uncertain about the future. They want nice simple answers that make them feel secure. This book will not provide simple answers. It will try to follow Einstein’s advice that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”


The book starts by defining the terms and scope of the debate to be explored in the remainder of the book, then offers a historical perspective, before exploring key topics.
The first key topic is the debate about the start of all things considering whether the debate between creationism and evolution is valid and where intelligent design lies within it. The second is a treatment of the “God of the gaps” argument explored in the light of knowledge management concepts. The book concludes with discussions aimed at first scientists, then religious adherents and finally a general audience.

Chapter 2 deals with scoping and defining the subject, outlining those ideas that will be drawn on later in the book.

Chapter 3 presents a historical perspective on the subject to lay the foundations of the debate. It takes the debate from pre-history to the Renaissance and the trial of Galileo.

Chapter 4 explores the impact of the publication of On the Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin in 1859 and confronts the issue of creation as this is where the conflicting views tend to clash most obviously

Chapter 5 explores the nature of knowledge and confronts the idea of the God of the Gaps, which is an argument used to argue that we use God to explain the things we don’t understand, and that once science has explained everything, then the idea of God will be redundant.

Chapter 6 explores the idea of metaphor and considers its role within the science and theology

Chapter 7 focuses on key issues from current debates in the area and seeks to show how the ideas presented in the preceding chapters can illuminate those debates

Chapter 8 presents an overall conclusion to the book, presents an answer to the question posed, the assumptions behind that answer and the implications of the answer and its assumptions.

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