Religion and Science: Paul Davies and Jolm Paul II

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In the New York Times Book Review for February 12, 1989, the distinguished novelist and journalist Dan Wakefield published a piece engagingly entitled "And Now, a Word from Our Creator."1 In this article Wakefield traces the remarkable abundance of "works in which God— who for so long seemed absent, if not 'dead,' as a subject of concern in serious fiction, as in the culture at large—has returned as a force or a 'character' in the action." In these literary works "God is not only present... but even sometimes has a 'speaking part.' " Wakefield argues that this presence which God has been accorded in contemporary literature is not only surprising but significant. It indicates a radical change in the literary and educated culture.

To these literary hierophanies Wakefield joins those in contemporary physics. "Only a generation ago we enlightened intellectuals believed science has not only disproved, but replaced God; now science is one of the major factors making the idea of God a serious subject again. ... It is the scientists who seem to be taking the lead from the theologians." Chet Raymo, a physics professor and science writer, advanced this same thesis in a recent essay: "Scientists are wresting from philosophers and theologians the biggest question of all: why is there something rather than nothing?" Raymo cites as representative of this trend the physical chemist P. W. Atkins' The Creation, Paul Davies' The Cosmic Blueprint: New Discoveries in Nature*s Creative Ability to Order the Universe, Robert K. Adair's The Great Design: Particles, Fields, and Creation, and Harald Fritzsch's The Creation of Matter: The Universe from Beginning to End. The novelist John Updike makes this radical redefinition of the relationship between science and religion the context for one of his recent novels, Roger's Version. Stephen W. Hawking suggests a co-ordination between science and philosophy in the attempt to "discover a complete theory," one that will enable human beings to discuss why it is that they and their universe exist. "If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we would know the mind of God."2 Whether this deity would be God in any sense recognized by Christian tradition and theology constitutes a further question.