Modern Physics and Ancient Faith

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The bitter battle between science and religion, raging since the advent of the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century, has heated up in recent years as demonstrated by the creationism/evolution controversy taking place in many public school systems. Stephen M. Barr, professor of physics at the Bartol Research Institute at the University of Delaware, weighs in on the side of belief, presenting a cogent defense of Judeo- Christian claims about God and the nature of the universe in light of contemporary scientific theory.

Arguing that religion is not really at war with science but instead is in conflict with the modern philosophy of materialism, Barr begins Modern Physics and Ancient Faith with a careful analysis of the standard Big Bang theory as well as alternate scenarios of “the beginning.” He concludes that the Big Bang “points to him who had the power to produce being” and continues his examination with a lucid presentation of the argument from design; an in-depth exploration of the idea of anthropic coincidences; and finally, an extensive examination of the nature of the human mind—including a discourse on the possible relationship between the mind/brain connection and the Copenhagen theory of quantum mechanics. Throughout his study, Barr respectfully engages materialist views, often acknowledging points of agreement. His rigorously logical defense of the compatibility between modern science and religious philosophy, however, often belies his accommodating style.

While the subject matter may sound daunting to the layperson, Barr’s meticulous yet down-to-earth explanations of complex scientific theories and their theological and philosophical implications will make potentially difficult ideas clearly understandable to general readers. His book is an important contribution to the religion/science debate.