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Galileo, Darwin, and Hawking: The Interplay of Science, Reason, and Religion Phil Dowe Grand Rapids, Mich.
William B.
Eerdmans Publishing Co.
, 2005.
205 pages.
$21 paperback.
Sixteen hundred years ago, Augustine decided that the best model for the science-and-religion interplay was one of interaction and in Galileo, Darwin, and Hawking, philosopher of science and religion Phil Dowe argues that pattern continues today.
In his praiseworthy book, Dowe offers up four views of the science-and-religion relationship: naturalism, religious science, independence and interactivity.
The first two brand the relationship as uncomplimentary, the third as unrelated, and the latter -- which Dowe favors -- sees religion and science as harmonious and dependent.
He backs up his findings with detailed accounts of the history and philosophy of science-and-religion.
Dowe also reveals that ancient Christian belief made a single God the author of two books: the book of Scripture and the book of nature, which must correspond with each other.
Augustine harmonized them.
He counseled Christians to read scripture literally except where it conflicts with science, and then to interpret it metaphorically.
Moreover, he advised reading Scripture as a spiritual work, not as science.
Conflict arises only when one book is exalted, the other demonized.
If both receive equal recognition, either they serve separate functions, as in Stephen Jay Gould's non-overlapping magisteria, or they mutually benefit each other, as Dowe argues clearly and logically in this book.
In Dowe's first case study, Galileo is placed under house arrest by the Inquisition for promulgating Copernicus' idea that Earth revolves around the sun.
Surely, this is conflict.
Yet, Dowe notes, the Vatican's need for a better calendar and, therefore, a more accurate cosmology inspired Copernicus' work, which he dedicated to the Pope.
Moreover, this discord lay not between religion and science, but between sciences -- Aristotle vs.
Copernicus -- for Augustine had harmonized Scripture with Aristotelian science.
More generally, the idea that God created people in the divine image -- rational and capable of governing -- inspired early science.
Rational people can discover the workings of God's rational world.
As Dowe argues, governing requires power and scientific knowledge of nature increases power; therefore, humans should pursue science.
These ideas gave early scientists the optimism and impetus to engage in science.
Dowe claims the subsequent success of science supports the thesis that we do, in fact, share in the divine image.
Religion motivated Darwin, Dowe's second case.
As a student at Cambridge, Darwin studied William Paley's Natural Theology, a design argument for the existence of God, and wrote On the Origin of Species in part to refute it.
Yet, many scientists -- including Darwin -- think God and evolution compatible.
In evaluating Hawking, Dowe shows how even atheism is a way science and religion interact.
The big bang gives the universe a beginning, reviving an old argument for the existence of God.
Moreover, discovery that the universe is fine-tuned for the existence of life generates a new design argument.
These God-promoting ideas, Dowe writes, drive the development of the "Hartle-Hawking no-boundary condition," wherein the universe has no beginning and thus needs no creator.
To avoid evoking God to explain the fine-tuning, other cosmologists hypothesize about the existence of multiple universes.
According to Dowe, atheism drives an amazing amount of contemporary science, from Richard Dawkins' biology to Hawking's cosmology.
And Dowe is right.
Partition between the two fields seems unlikely.
Science is used to support religion, and religion -- or lack thereof -- stimulates science.
Galileo, Darwin, and Hawking is worth pondering in all its detail.

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