At long last I’ve managed to return to my notes on Stephen Meyer’s book, “Return of the God Hypothesis”. Apologies for the long wait. This is going to be more of a personalized synopsis than a review, with some comments of my own thrown into the mix.
Stephen Meyer received his PhD from the University of Cambridge in the philosophy of science.
Meyer begins his book by affirming the Judeo-Christian origins of modern science. Science hasn’t buried God, as is often claimed today by the “new atheists”. On the contrary, he says, in direct opposition to the statements of well-known atheist Richard Dawkins, the universe is exactly as it should be if it was designed by a “transcendent and purposive intelligence”.
Meyer was first inspired to study origins and design when, in 1985, he attended a conference of both atheistic and theistic scientists. He was “shocked” to hear some, who were experts in their fields, and famously so, and who had even formerly been strict materialists, explain how findings in their own research convinced them of the need for theistic origins.
They argued that 1/The universe had a beginning, and that therefore it must have had a cause beyond the physical universe, 2/Discoveries in physics had showed that the universe has been finely tuned from the beginning of time, to allow for the existence of complex life; and 3/ An origin of life researcher who had once been a solidly materialistic atheist showed that simple chemicals don’t arrange themselves into complex molecules, or move in the direction of life-bearing molecules, unless guided by the intelligence and design of a biochemist.
Meyer’s subsequent PhD thesis, inspired by this conference and subsequent discussions with the scientists involved, was on the origin of life. Meyer later published his first powerful book, “Signature in the Cell”, in which he made the case for intelligent design, based on information stored in DNA. At this point, Meyer wasn’t attempting to identify the Designer of that information, but now, in “Return of the God Hypothesis”, he is doing just that.
Meyer observes that in secular science today, the claim is constantly made that science and faith are in direct conflict and always have been. He goes on to demonstrate, since this is one of his areas of expertise, that this claim arose relatively recently. History shows otherwise, says Meyer, and begins to argue strongly against it. The foundations of modern science, he insists, are firmly of a Judeo-Christian worldview.
Meyer relates the statements of Prof. Colin Russell, who was President of the British Society for the History of Science, and professor in history at the Open University when Meyer was at Cambridge. Russell said that the idea of science and faith being at war is the product of late 19th Century historical revisionism. Meyer names the most notable works which first promoted the warfare model into modern scientific thought, which in turn came immediately after the publication of Darwin’s “Origin of Species” in 1859. They claimed that critics of Darwin were threatening a new inquisition, and that Christian belief and religion in general posed a direct threat to the advancement of science.
Russel explained that this warfare model has become deeply ingrained in secular culture in the West. Meyer names several well-known scholars, historians and philosophers of science, who have not shared this “warfare” view of science and faith, and who have declared that it was men of faith who gave rise to modern science during the 16th and 17th Centuries. Religious belief actually inspired the study of nature during the scientific revolution, they said, which was roughly between 1500 and 1750.
Well, this is me again. I hope I’ve represented the thrust of this part of Meyer’s opening chapter reasonably well, and I’ll try to continue doing so in weekly installments. Thanks for reading everyone. And remember, when you’re told that science and faith have always been at war, realize that this thinking is a product of willingly atheistic minds:
But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water (2 Peter 3:5).
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse (Romans 1:18-20).
And what is that “wrath”? It’s a separation from our creator, which some people are determined to perpetuate. In the words of Jesus Christ:
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them (John 3:36).