The Big Questions in Science and Religion

Keith Ward

"Ward, an Oxford theologian specializing in the history and philosophy of religion, presents an impressively insightful and well-balanced survey of major questions for science-and-religion dialogue." -- Publisher’s Weekly, starred review

Can religious beliefs survive in the scientific age? Are they resoundingly outdated? Or, is there something in them of great importance, even if the way they are expressed will have to change given new scientific context? These questions are among those at the core of the science-religion dialogue.

In The Big Questions in Science and Religion, Keith Ward, an Anglican priest who was once an atheist, offers compelling insights into the often contentious relationship between diverse religious views and new scientific knowledge. He identifies ten basic questions about the nature of the universe and human life. Among these are:

  • Does the universe have a goal or purpose?
  • Do the laws of nature exclude miracles?
  • Can science provide a wholly naturalistic explanation for moral and religious beliefs?
  • Has science made belief in God obsolete? Are there any good science-based arguments for God?

With his expertise in the study of world religions, Ward considers concepts from Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, and Christianity, while featuring the speculations of cosmologists, physicians, mathematicians, and philosophers. In addition, Ward examines the implications of ancient laws and modern theories and evaluates the role of religious experience as evidence of a nonphysical reality.

Writing with enthusiasm, passion, and clarity, Keith Ward conveys the depth, difficulty, intellectual excitement, and importance of the greatest intellectual and existential questions of the modern scientific age.

Introduction /  3

1. How Did the Universe Begin? (Is There an Ultimate Explanation for the Universe?) / 7

2. How Will the Universe End? (Does the Universe Have a Goal or Purpose?) / 34

3. Is Evolution Compatible with Creation? (How Can the “Cruelty and Waste” of Evolution Be Reconciled with Creation by a Good God?) / 59

4. Do the Laws of Nature Exclude Miracles? (Are the Laws of Nature Absolute?) / 83

5. What Is the Nature of Space and Time? (In What Sense Can Temporal Actions Be Free?) / 107

6. Is It Still Possible to Speak of the Soul? (Does Science Allow the Possibility of Life after Death?) / 134

7. Is Science the Only Sure Path to Truth? (Can Religious Experience Count as Evidence?) / 162

8. Can Science Provide a Wholly Naturalistic Explanation for Moral and Religious Beliefs? (How Does Morality Relate to Religion?) / 191

9. Has Science Made Belief in God Obsolete? (Are There Any Good Science-based Arguments for God?) / 216

10. Does Science Allow for Revelation and Divine Action? (Does Quantum Physics Put Materialism in Question?) / 244

References / 272

Index / 277