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Science, Evolution, and Religion

A Debate about Atheism and Theism

Michael Peterson and Michael Ruse

Publication Date - July 2016

ISBN: 9780199379378

288 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $49.99

A balanced and respectful philosophical debate on science and religion, framed as a conflict between atheism and theism


The science-religion debate is a hot topic in academic circles and contemporary culture, and evolution makes the subject particularly contentious. Does modern science tip the scales toward atheism? Or does religion have resources to support its credibility and relevance? And how does evolution influence both worldviews?

Comprehensive, balanced, and engaging, Science, Evolution, and Religion provides a dynamic yet respectful introduction to the science-religion debate, framed as a conflict between theism and atheism and structured around the impact of evolution on both perspectives. Philosophers Michael Peterson and Michael Ruse argue for theism and atheism, respectively. Peterson occasionally draws from Christian doctrine to supplement theism; Ruse often supports his atheism with elements drawn from the larger context of philosophical naturalism. The result is a rich dialogue on the nature and history of science, cosmic origins, biological origins, the anthropic principle, the foundations of morality, human uniqueness, the meaning of life, and other important topics in this area.

About the Author(s)

Michael Peterson is Professor of Philosophy at Asbury Theological Seminary. He is the author or editor of several books, including Philosophy of Religion, Fifth Edition (OUP, 2014), and Reason and Religious Belief, Fifth Edition (OUP 2012). He is also managing editor of the journal Faith and Philosophy and winner of Templeton grants in science/religion.

Michael Ruse is Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor and Director of the Program in History and Philosophy of Science at Florida State University. He is the author of Atheism: What Everyone Needs to Know (OUP, 2015) and is well-known for his work on the relationship between science and religion. He is also founding editor of the journal Biology and Philosophy.


"This book is a success. Unless already an expert in the science-religion field... any reader is bound to learn much of value in here." --Michael J. Reiss, Institute of Education, University College London

"Science, Evolution, and Religion provides a comprehensive and insightful discussion of what's really at stake in the 'science and religion discussion' by two eminent philosophers who, speaking on behalf of their own opposing worldviews, see the larger picture with remarkable clarity."--Kirk Wegter-McNelly, Union College

Table of Contents

    1. Autobiographical Reflections
    A Life Observed
    Formative Experiences
    Witnessing God Make a Comeback
    Considering Intellectual Journeys to God
    Engaging Science and Religion
    Apologia Pro Vita Sua
    Early Years
    Loss of Faith and Finding Darwin
    2. Science
    Thinking about Science
    What Is Science?
    What Is Naturalism?
    The Limits of Metaphor
    The Harmony of Science and Religion
    Where the Conflict Really Lies
    Does the Method of Science Support Naturalism?
    Do the Laws of Science Exclude Miracles?
    Theism as the Worldview Home of Science
    3. Cosmic Origins
    A Theistic Understanding of the Universe
    The Beginning According to Science
    A Metaphysical Explanation of the Cosmos
    A Deeper Metaphysical Understanding of the Cosmos
    The Fine-Tuned Universe
    Naturalist Objections
    Beauty, Elegance, Intelligibility
    In the Beginning
    The Big Bang Theory
    Religious Implications?
    The Fundamental Question
    Why Skepticism?
    One God or Two?
    4. Origin of Life
    It's All Purely Natural
    Defining Life
    A Natural Solution?
    Where Do We Stand?
    There is Grandeur in This View of Life
    The Biological and the Prebiological
    Origin-of-Life Research
    The Mystery of Life
    God or Natural Process?
    Theistic and Christian Belief
    5. Darwin and Design
    A Wider Teleology
    Darwin's Discovery
    Natural Selection and Design
    Understanding Evolution
    Darwin's Gift
    Teleology and Natural Theology
    Darwin Destroys Design
    The Darwinian Theory of Evolution
    The Problem of Final Causes
    Does Darwinian Selection Refute Christianity?
    So, What's the Answer?
    6. Evolutionary Directionality
    No Direction to Evolution
    Bottom-Line Demands
    Does Evolution Go Anywhere?
    Christian Escapes?
    Is God Too Complex?
    The Trajectory of Evolution
    How Did We Get Here From There?
    Scientific and Metascientific Questions
    God and the World of Science
    Creation, Providence, and Evolution
    7. Mind and Rationality
    The Preeminence of Mind
    Consciousness and Self-Consciousness
    Neuroscience and the Metaphysics of Mind
    Evolution and Human Uniqueness
    Rationality and Evolution
    Humans According to Evolutionary Naturalism
    Naturalism Defeated?
    A Sensus Divinitatis?
    8. Morality
    An Evolutionary Perspective on Ethics
    The Moral Argument for God's Existence
    Explaining Morality
    Darwinism and Morality
    Implications for the Science-Religion Interface
    Christianity on Morality: Beyond Rescue?
    Morality and Personhood
    A Darwinian Genealogy of Morals
    A Moral Argument against Evolutionary Naturalism
    Theism and Personal Dignity
    A Theistic Genealogy of Morals
    9. Evil and Suffering
    Theism, Atheism, and Evil
    The Argument from Evil and Suffering
    Science and Approaches to Theodicy
    Theodicy for a Scientific Age
    Evil and the Clash of Worldviews
    Darwinism and Evil
    Does Darwinism Intensify the Problem?
    Original Sin
    Free Will
    Natural Evil
    10. Meaning and Purpose
    A Stark Picture Indeed
    Where Are We?
    Why Do We Believe?
    Evolutionary Debunking?
    Evolutionism as Religion Substitute
    The Deep Structure of the Universe
    Science, Evolution, and the Search for Meaning
    Naturalism and the Denial of Meaning
    Theism and Meaning
    Follow the Argument Wherever It Leads