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Galileo, Darwin, and Hawking: The Interplay of Science, Reason, and Religion [Paperback]

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Item Number 143859  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   205
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   0.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 31, 2005
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN  0802826962  
EAN  9780802826961  

Availability  1 units.
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Item Description...
The history of the interaction between science and religion is fraught with tension, although, as philosopher Phil Dowe demonstrates, many thoughtful and religious people have also found harmony between these two crucial fields. This fascinating book insightfully surveys the relationship of science, reason, and religion, giving special attention to the most contentious topics - cosmology, evolution, and miracles. Providing a superb introduction to the philosophy of science, Dowe's Galileo, Darwin, and Hawking contends that there are four basic ways to relate science and religion. Two of them, naturalism and religious science, present these endeavors as antagonistic. By contrast, an independence view understands them as wholly unrelated. Finally, an interaction account sees religion and science as complementary - perhaps even dependent on one another. Dowe finds this last perspective the most historically and philosophically compelling. He argues his case by exploring the history of science, highlighting the life and work of three scientific giants: Galileo Galilei, Charles Darwin, and Stephen Hawking.

Publishers Description
The history of the interaction between science and religion is fraught with tension, although, as philosopher Phil Dowe demonstrates, many thoughtful and religious people have also found a harmony between these two crucial fields. This book surveys the relationship of science, reason, and religion, giving special attention to the most contentious topics - cosmology, evolution, and miracles.

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More About Phil Dowe

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Dowe is senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Phil Dowe has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Tasmania University of Queensland University of Tasmania.

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Science & Faith Ought to be Friends  Jan 3, 2008
This book is a somewhat quirky introduction to the philosophy of science from a theistic viewpoint. It is quirky in that Dowe does not use a systematic approach, but rather his discussion flows loosely around three historical case studies. As he builds up to each case study Dowe tends to wander around a bit, discussing the philosophical background. This meandering, while interesting, makes often makes the book's train of thought hard to follow. The book could be accurately retitled, "Aristotle, Augustine, Calvin, Copernicus, Galileo, Bellarmino, Newton, Osiander, Van Fraassen, Feuerbach, Wittgenstein, Descartes, Bacon, Hume, Paley, Darwin, Gray, Hawking, and Davies: the Interplay of Science, Reason, and Religion."

Dowe's central thesis is that the relationship of science and religion is best understood as one of "harmony, with a considerable amount of fruiful interaction." (p.195) According to Dowe, "science and religion are neither in conflict nor completely compartmentalized. Rather, there is genuine interaction between the two." (p.5) Further, the Judeo-Christian tradition "is neither incompatible with nor a hindrance to science; there is no philosophical conflict between the two." (p.195) In fact, "science and religion are not only compatible, but are dependent on one another." (p.5)

Dowe begins with a clear summary of Aristotelian cosmology & how it shaped Christian thinking up to the time of Galileo. While this context helps us understand Galileo's conflict with the church, unfortunately Dowe's discussion of Galileo's case is too much like a legal argument with a lot of confusing back-and-forth. I think the main point is that both Galileo and the church were committed to the idea of unity--that there is one God behind both Scripture and nature. Both sides believed that if a scientific theory was proven to be true, then the theory could not contradict the Scriptures when the Scriptures were rightly understood. (p.38) Was Copernicus' model proven to be true? That is where the dispute truly lay, if I follow Dowe rightly. (I'm not sure I do.)

This raises the philosophical question of what science means when it claims to be true. Does science describe what is real? Or is science just a way of accounting for observational results? In considering the realist vs antirealist accounts of science and of religion, Dowe explains the principle of inference to the best explanation (pp.46ff). Throughout the book, Dowe shows that this rational principle is a shared methodology of science and religion.

Dowe shows that "thinkers in the seventeenth century [Galileo, Descartes, Bacon] saw the relationship between science and religion as one of harmony, guaranteed by the fact that the two books, Scripture and nature, have a single author..." (p.79) "...there is a two-way relevance between science and religion. Certain religious beliefs provide the motivation for doing science, and science's success confirms the truth of those beliefs." (p.80)

Moving to Darwin, Dowe's explanation of Darwin's logic is helpful and illuminating. "It is best to think of Darwin's argument as an inference to the best explanation... The rival hypotheses are the theory of natural selection and the theory of special creation, the idea that each species was created in its final form." (pp.118-119) Given that nature reveals tremendous variety but little innovation, the more likely hypothesis is that organisms are shaped by natural selection rather than by special creation. Dowe makes very clear the force of Darwin's reasoning.

Darwin knew that a key challenge for the theory of natural selection is how to explain the development of "Organs of Extreme Perfection and Complication" (one of Darwin's chapter titles), such as the eye. Dowe quotes and explains Darwin's approach to this issue for most of two pages, which is a considerable length in this brief book. Dowe seems to accept Darwin's idea that even an eye can be developed by natural selection through enough "trial and error, accident, improvement, and gradual variations." This vague answer amounts to arm-waving and is not likely to persuade readers made skeptical by Behe's _Darwin's Black Box_. Dowe, however, keeps his discussion in the historical past, and does not mention current controversies.

Dowe is keen to show that early Christian opposition to Darwin's ideas was generally not based on taking Genesis 1 literally, but rather based on logical and/or scientific grounds. Dowe contends that not all leading conservative evangelical scholars opposed Darwin. At the 1895 Niagara Bible Conference which defined the five fundamentals of Christian faith, Dowe notes, "interestingly, and as many deliberately overlook, several of the contributors were Darwinists, most prominently, B.B. Warfield." (p.137) Dowe suggests that, in the history of the interplay of science and religion, the modern creation science movement is an odd latecomer, unsupported by Christian tradition, which only assumed its militant anti-Darwinist character in a period of panic between 1910 and 1925.

Despite Hawking's name in the book's title, Hawking's cosmology gets little more than a mention. The main issue regarding cosmology, says Dowe, is that the fine-tuning of the universe requires an explanation. It is not satisfying to say this universe was only the result of chance. A more adequate explanation, argues Dowe, is design. "Provided there is no independent evidence for multiple worlds, we should infer the existence of a designer." (p.193)

Moving to quantum physics, Dowe explains how Bell's Theorem indicates that there are no `hidden variables' behind the statistical results of quantum mechanics. This seems to mean that determinism, at least on the quantum level, is wrong. Events may happen at the quantum level for no reason, literally without any cause. In view of this remarkable phenomenon of nature, (p.179) Dowe concludes that we "have to infer that God at least causes some of the objective chances in the world." (p.189) Unfortunately Dowe doesn't explore the implications of this significant conclusion.

STRENGTHS: Well-reasoned, even-handed, non-technical, non-simplistic explanations of several key historical and philosophical issues common to science and religion. His often-surprising insights from the history of science and religion challenge the usual conflict model. His book encourages readers who struggle to reconcile their faith with science, by showing the two disciplines share much common ground, both historically and philosophically.

WEAKNESSES: Many sections meander and are difficult to follow. Stays in the abstract realms of history and philosophy, and does not offer much application. His discussions often leave the reader wondering, OK, but so what? How does that affect us today?
A good starting point  Dec 6, 2007
This book was an adequate to good introduction on the issue of the compatibility of religion and science. Its review of Darwin and Galileo were good, while the Hawking overview was adequate. Dowe concludes that religion and science can be viewed as compatible, or in harmony. He has an open-minded and fairly balanced approach, even briefly discussing Creation Science in objective terms. This book is a satisfactory text for introductory students to the issues of religion and science. Chapter Two on "realism and antirealism" was the least compelling, and could probably be skipped. Some of the explanation and analysis becomes cumbersome, but on the whole Dowe's book contributes a good starting point to think about the compatibility of religion and science.
Hand in Hand  Oct 12, 2006
Dowe deals with the two overarching categories of approaches to the issue of science and religion (or religion and science): (1) that the two realms of knowledge are in irreconcilable conflict with each other and (2) that the two exist in harmony. The first approach takes one of two contrasting forms. In naturalism, science cancels out the claims of religion; in religious science, religion cancels out the claims of science. The second approach also takes one of two forms. One views science and religion as dealing with two "autonomous, independent domains," each field having its own standards, methods, etc. The other, favored by Dowe, considers both fields to be in genuine interaction with each other in a relationship of "mutual promotion." The bulk of the book is his arguing his case for this "interaction" approach through a consideration of the work of Galileo, Darwin, and Hawking. That the author is a philosopher is evident in the book; this is not a lengthy book, but it is also not a casual read . . . and it is worth it.

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