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The age–old debate continues: are science and religion compatible?

The age–old debate continues: are science and religion compatible?

David Wootton reviews Nick Spencer’s new book, Magisteria, for The Spectator. 18/03/2023

According to the census, there are more Christians in the UK than there are atheists and agnostics – yet the churches are empty. These Christians, it seems, don’t take their faith too seriously. Nor, I fear, does Nicholas Spencer, who has written a big book arguing that science and religion are fundamentally compatible. He’s wrong; but, surprisingly, he is more wrong about religion than he is about science.

Let me start by laying my cards on the table. I’m the son of a missionary. My father’s parents were atheists and scientists. He, in adolescent rebellion, became a Christian; I, ditto, became an atheist. Because I was raised abroad I barely knew my paternal grandparents, but I inherited from them one thing: a copy of Fred Hoyle’s The Nature of the Universe (1950), in which Hoyle attacked the ‘big bang’ theory that the universe had originated in a moment of creation and argued that it had always been exactly what it is now. Hoyle was convinced there was a fundamental conflict between science and religion, and I was thrilled to find a door which opened into a world without faith. Unfortunately, Hoyle’s science was wrong: the universe really did originate in a big bang. Indeed, Hoyle had a remarkable propensity for being wrong. He believed life on Earth was, and continues to be, seeded from outer space. But he was perfectly right that religion and science are at odds.

Read the full article here.


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 Image by The Spectator

Nick Spencer

Nick Spencer

Nick is Senior Fellow at Theos. He is the author of a number of books and reports, including Magisteria: the entangled histories of science and religion (Oneworld, 2023), The Political Samaritan: how power hijacked a parable (Bloomsbury, 2017), The Evolution of the West (SPCK, 2016) and Atheists: The Origin of the Species (Bloomsbury, 2014). He is host of the podcast Reading Our Times.

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Posted 18 March 2023


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