Let There Be Science: Why God loves science, and science needs God
David Hutchings and Tom Mcleish
Lion £10.99 (978-0-7459-6863-6)
Church Times Bookshop £9
WE ARE offered here an intriguing new reading of the book of Job. What appears to be a crushing put-down by God of Job and of all his complaints about the unjust treatment he has endured (the passages that question Job’s grasp of God’s overall plan for creation: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations?”) could be read as an invitation to do some science, to inquire more deeply, with a sense of wonder, into the workings of nature.
The thesis explored by Hutchings and Mcleish is that the practice of science is not a recent invention, developed in opposition to religion, but always has been an important and noble part of human activity, a “way of thinking” about the world.
They trace this history of human inquiry back through the Bible, and consider science to be the pursuit of deep wisdom about nature, a pursuit ordained by God in his plan for the reconciliation of man with man, and man with nature.
By highlighting questioning and inquiry in our understanding of nature, and our place within it, they explode that pernicious idea, promulgated by some modern atheists, that people of faith have closed minds and exhibit blind trust in the absence of evidence.
Belief in God, they argue, gave a spur to the open-minded research of such prominent scientists as Faraday, Clerk Maxwell, Planck, and Heisenberg. Einstein is quoted as much as is Job. The Christian faith, it seems, can provide an environment in which science positively thrives.
The Archbishop of York, in his foreword, defines science as “seeking the truth about the world around us”, and by this we worship God. In developing this theme, the authors share their own sense of excitement and wonder at all that is revealed by the research of those fellow human beings whom we call scientists. They use short stories to illustrate their points, and the whole subject is handled with humour and a light touch.
The Revd Adam Ford is a former Chaplain of St Paul’s School for Girls.