Science and the Sacred

Science and the Sacred


Alister McGrath on Science and Religion

Alister McGrath, author of A Fine-Tuned Universe, was a “rottweiler sort” of atheist in his younger years. However, after attending university, McGrath discovered that God was more exciting that he initially thought, and became a Christian. As he began to think about the intersection between science and religion, he saw that their interactions were far more complicated than a simple clash of two incompatible ideas.

As McGrath says in this interview with CBC show The Hour:

“I began to realize actually that if you do believe in God it kind of gives a new intellectual depth to science and really makes it more interesting, more engaging. I began to realize actually that if you believe in God it gives you reasons to look at science in much more detail, but also brings more excitement, more depth to your science.”

Furthermore, acceptance of Christian faith does not mean a rejection of modern scientific ideas such as evolution and the Big Bang. Faith can complement the knowledge that science provides:

“For me, science is very, very good at answering lots of questions but … not all questions. If you say to me let’s talk about how the universe came into existence, we can talk about that scientifically. If we start talking about another question like ‘What’s the point of life?’ or ‘Why are we here?’ that’s a different kind of question. I don’t think science answers that but I think there are answers we can find.”

For more on McGrath’s views on faith, Christianity, and evolution, as well as why atheists seem to be more prominent in modern society, be sure to watch the full interview.



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Dee Walker

posted September 9, 2009 at 1:14 pm


I’ve read a couple of McGrath’s books and I have to say, I found them very disappointing. A lot of wishy-washy waffle that amounts to nothing. Just “hey, there might be a God, I think that’s quite likely”, stretched out to 80,000 words without really getting into any argument worth grappling with.



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Clarke Morledge

posted September 22, 2009 at 9:10 pm


Dee,
I’ve read a number of McGrath’s books and I would take the opposite conclusion. What I find helpful is that McGrath is able to relate science and faith together in a very congenial way. He avoids the pitfalls of the Dawkin’s-style anti-Christian “scientism” on the one hand without falling into the strict 6-day Creationism on the other. The fact that he takes a more irenic approach perhaps explains why he comes across as “wishy-washy”. When you take a moderate position it is easy to get shot at from both sides. So my question is why do some people think that they have to take sides in the faith vs. science debate? McGrath, who is both a molecular biologist and a theologian, has found it possible NOT to take sides.



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Paul

posted January 2, 2010 at 8:52 pm


I have been following the Atheism/Anti-Theism vs. Theism/Religion debate. I have found the ideas of people like Alister McGrath and Karen Armstrong (to name only a couple) helpful. I am also grateful for the arguments of the atheists such as Dawkins. My understanding of religion and theology has improved and I have moved toward a less dogmatic position in my thinking.



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Gerald Garvan

posted January 23, 2010 at 8:09 pm


I have read two of McGrath’s books so far, and I have to say that my opinions is mixed at the moment. His theology reader is a hit or miss, but his book “Heresy” was based on presumptions and goes on from there. I expected more from a man of his stature. He has written so much. I would have thought there would have been more depth to what he had to say. But, I am going to read more before making a final decision.



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