Spiritual Evolution Summary

Spiritual Evolution

One of the struggles of modernity has been the tension between the ways of faith found in religion contrasted to the ways of knowledge found in scientific methodology. This tension is often more in the minds of the unscientific layman than in the life of the scientists themselves.

In Spiritual Evolution: Scientists Discuss Their Beliefs the editors bring together ten scientists from different scientific disciplines, as well as from a variety of theological traditions, to explore how they have come to reconcile their understanding of their professional discipline and their personal spirituality. The faith and professional journeys they narrate indicate that faith in God, with its hesitant search for truth, wisdom, and human direction, bear more in common with the uncertainties of research, hypothesis, and the scientific quest for understanding than is commonly understood.

A number of the writers refer to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle to cast doubt on treating Science as a system of fixed absolutes—a surrogate religious system. Science, by its very nature, is always an evolving search for truth. Others, like Owen Gingerich, a Catholic scientist, point out, that “It is no more possible for the church to alter the moral law than it is for the physicist to alter the law of gravity.” While science is attempting to answer the questions of process and function, religion is dealing with the questions of meaning, ethics and the “why.” This book also includes essays by Charles Birch, S. Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Larry Dossey, Peter H. Hodgson, Stanley L. Jaki, Arthur Peacocke, John Polkinghorne, Russell Stannard, and Carl Friedrich von Weizsacker.

One weakness of Spiritual Evolution was the self- acknowledged failure of the editors to obtain fundamentalist, Creationist, or Non- Christian contributors. Their inclusion would have made this quality survey of the Faith and Science issue a more balanced book.