Wednesday, October 25, 2006


A Latter Day Joshua

Noting that Charles Darwin "matriculated at Cambridge University in theology, and throughout his five-year voyage around the world he was a creationist who regularly attended church services," skeptic Michael Shermer reviews six recently published books on the uneasy relationship between science and religion.

Shermer constructs a three-tiered model to examine that relationship:

Among the books reviewed are The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, Blind Faith by Richard P. Sloan, God's Universe by Owen Gingerich, The Language of God by Francis Collins, The Creation by E.O. Wilson, and The Varieties of Scientific Experience by Carl Sagan.

Shermer has some sympathy for the conflict model espoused by Dawkins and Sloan but doesn't endorse it explicitly in his review. He finds a number of flaws with the same worlds model that appeals to Gingerich and Collins. In the end, Shermer finds the separate worlds model of Wilson and Sagan most satisfactory.

He quotes Sagan's longtime collaborator and wife Ann Druyan: "Carl Sagan was a scientist, but he had some qualities that I associate with the Old Testament. When he came up against a wall — the wall of jargon that mystifies science and withholds its treasures from the rest of us, for example, or the wall around our souls that keeps us from taking the revelations of science to heart — when he came up against one of those topless, old walls, he would, like some latter day Joshua, use all of his many strengths to bring it down."


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