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science_bible-720x340Since the nineteenth century, a widespread misunderstanding regarding the relationship between science and Christianity has persisted. The error is a common conviction that military metaphors provide the most accurate means for describing the engagement between the Christian faith and modern science. Historians of science employ the term conflict thesis, which in its strongest version “provides a master-narrative in which science is portrayed as inevitably pitted against religion, because of some essential difference between the two. Reconciliation is not possible, and this opposition is played out in history.”[1] Early expressions of the conflict thesis were John William Draper’s 1875 History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science, Herbert W. Morris’s 1876 Present Conflict of Science with the Christian Religion, and Andrew Dixon White’s 1896 A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. Draper concluded his anti-Catholic polemic with these words: “Then has it in truth come to this, that Roman Christianity and Science are recognized by their respective adherents as being absolutely incompatible; they cannot exist together; one must yield to the other; mankind must make its choice—it cannot have both.”[2] And a couple decades later in 1896 White famously asserted, “In all modern history, interference with science in the supposed interest of religion, no matter how conscientious such interference may have been, has resulted in the direst evils both to religion and to science, and invariably; and, on the other hand, all untrammeled scientific investigation, no matter how dangerous to religion some of its stages may have seemed for the time to be, has invariably resulted in the highest good both of religion and of science.”[3]

Such hyperbole still finds its champions in our century. Richard Dawkins is a leader of the chorus: “Science is based upon verifiable evidence,” he writes. “Religious faith not only lacks evidence, its independence from evidence is its pride and joy, shouted from the rooftops.”[4] And just a few weeks ago, the University of Chicago atheist evolutionary biologist, Jerry Coyne, weighed in with his adolescent invective disguised as a book, Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion are IncompatibleOpening with praise for the professionally-refuted ideas of John William Draper and Andrew Dickson White, Coyne insisted that science is the only form of rationality “capable of describing and understanding reality” and that religion fails “to find the truth about anything.[5] In his revealingly titled book, The Battle over the Meaning of Everything, science writer Gordy Slack concludes with the contention that “We are part of a centuries-long battle of the worlds, the theistic and the materialistic. It is such a slow revolution that it is often not even clear who the insurrectionists are. Are they the materialists, with their four-century-old scientific method, or are they the theists with their millennia-old narrative authority? The battle is punctuated by bursts of territory loss and gain, but lately it is the materialists who have been taking the most ground.”[6] Amidst such rehearsals of the conflict meta-narrative, one commonly encounters tales of the seventeenth-century kerfuffle between Galileo and the Church. Whatever one might be inclined to make of the Galileo affair, David Bentley Hart has concisely summed up the proper take-home message in his book Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies: “One episode of asinine conflict among proud and intemperate men does not exactly constitute a pattern of Christian intellectual malfeasance.”[7]

Perhaps the richest irony of the conflict meta-narrative rests in the fact that the origins of modern science are found in the Christian culture of seventeenth-century Europe. Most of the principal architects of the new science—folks like Kepler, Galileo, Tycho, Newton, Boyle, et al—were devout Christians who understood their science and faith to be mutually reinforcing. Historians have expressed this fact in sundry ways. But the words of the Dutch historian of science, Reijer Hooykaas will do:

6834283_f260The confrontation of Graeco-Roman culture with biblical religion engendered, after centuries of tension, a new science. This science preserved the indispensable parts of the ancient heritage (mathematics, logic, methods of observation and experimentation), but it was directed by different social and methodological conceptions, largely stemming from a biblical world view. Metaphorically speaking, whereas the bodily ingredients of science may have been Greek, its vitamins and hormones were biblical.[8]

And yet the combined momentum of enlightenment rationalism, nineteenth-century positivism, and twentieth-century logical positivism infected the twentieth-century historical consciousness with a vague but settled conviction that science, especially in combination with its technological off-spring, is irreconcilable with the Christian religion.

Not only is such a conviction false, it threatens with unwelcome consequences. First, there is wide agreement that a robust scientific community is necessary to national security, economic prosperity, and material well-being. Further, there remains a long-standing American consensus that—to borrow from the Northwest Ordinance of 1787—religion [especially Christianity], morality, and knowledge are necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind. In short, national prosperity has issued from a cultural conviction that both science and Christianity are genuine goods. To the degree this conviction is abandoned, Christians may become equivocal about or even hostile to science as the perceived enemy of their faith. Alternatively, confidence engendered by scientific progress and technological breakthroughs may be pressed into service of ideological scientism, the support for immoral technological applications, and full-blown opposition to Christian theism and its attending cultural influence.

Charles Coulson

Charles Coulson

This calls for articulation of fruitful ways to relate science with Christianity. If military metaphors are to be eschewed, what model ought one defend? The question has now challenged historians of science and religion for decades. Numerous terms have been put forward as candidates for the best descriptor of the science-Christianity relationship with a current leading favorite among academics being the equivocal term “complexity.” My task, however, is not to rehearse further the historiography of the science-religion engagement. Rather, I propose to shift the focus by offering a brief and incomplete case study of an important twentieth-century scientist also known for his abiding Christian faith. In the decades following the second world war, British theoretical chemist Charles A. Coulson (1910-1974) “produced the most successful attempt to bring science and religion together… [His written work] marked the start of a renewed dialogue that has gone on—not without opposition from the modern rationalists—through to the present day.”[9] Coulson’s contribution to what he called the “ministry” of “reconciling” science and religion was foundational to the mid-century critique of the conflict thesis and offers a valuable lens through which to view the terms of a new rapprochement.

Coulson was the first-born of twin brothers who came into the world on December 13, 1910 in the English country town of Dudley, in Worcestershire. His parents were both educators and devout Christians. Prior to matriculating at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1928, he had studied classics at Clifton College. At Cambridge, however, Coulson switched to mathematics and physics, excelling in both and taking first class honors. During the Easter term of his second year at Cambridge, Coulson became involved with a group of Christian students organized by a local Methodist minister. He later described this as the of time his deep conversion from a nominal Christianity to a fervently held missionary faith. Shortly thereafter, Coulson “became a lay preacher who did the circuit on weekends at many Methodist churches and chapels in the Cambridge vicinity.”[10] As his Christian commitment deepened, his scientific aptitude blossomed into a keen interest in the new field of quantum mechanics, a subject he studied with Paul Dirac, who would later share the 1933 Nobel Prize with Erwin Schrödinger for their work on the subject. As a graduate student Coulson learned to apply the newly articulated quantum theory to chemistry and “in 1933 attended the first courses on quantum chemistry ever to be taught in Britain.” As a theoretical chemist, Coulson had found his calling in quantum chemistry and, with his doctoral work, he became “the first person to write a thesis on quantum chemistry in the UK.” In 1939 he began a stint teaching Mathematics at University College, Dundee, which was part of the University of St. Andrews. In 1947 he accepted the position of Professor of Theoretical Physics at Kings College, London, but five years later in 1952 went on to become the Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University. Finally, two years before his untimely death in 1974 he received the appointment to become Oxford’s first ever Professor of Theoretical Chemistry. Among his most significant scientific works were the 1952 book, Valence, and his 1973 volume, The Shape and Structure of Molecules.[11]

During the first decade of his Oxford years, Coulson frequently turned his attention to the relation between science and his Christian faith. His published science-religion works issued from the texts of his public lectures on the topic. Oxford University Press published his 1953 Riddell Memorial Lecture as the book Christianity in an Age of Science. The following year he delivered two important lectures: the Rede Lecture at Cambridge, which the university press published as Science and Religion: A Changing Relationship, and the 1954 John Calvin McNair Lectures which became, Science and Christian Belief, his most important book on science and religion. He delivered the eleventh Arthur Stanley Eddington Memorial Lecture in 1958 that provided the text for his book, Science and the Idea of God. Finally, his volume entitled Science, Technology and the Christian was written and delivered originally as the 1960 Beckly Social Service Lecture. These five slim volumes of lectures exploring the relations between science, technology, and Christianity, offer rich sources for reflection upon the terms according to which science and religion entered, albeit incompletely, a new post-conflict period of reconciliation and cooperation.[12]

The possibility of such reconciliation seemed remote, however, to the young Coulson when he arrived at Cambridge to begin his undergraduate study. He remarked that in the late 1920’s “the divorce between science and religion was almost absolute…[And that] To many scientists [at the time]…it seemed that the only practicable way was to regard science and religion as two separate accounts of men’s experiences, dressed in quite different clothes and without ability to speak with each other.”[13] He admitted that some scientists constituted exceptions to this generalization, among them the physicist-astronomer Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882-1944) whose observations of the May 1919 solar eclipse had secured confirming evidence for the theory of general relativity. Eddington’s 1930 book, Science and the Unseen World, inspired Coulson with its assurance that “the recent changes of scientific thought remove some of the obstacles to a reconciliation of religion with science.”[14] By the 1950’s Coulson’s reflections upon the history of science had, indeed, lead him to the conviction that reconciliation must be possible. After all, Coulson noted, modern science in his own nation had been nursed to life in the seventeenth century by the oldest scientific academy, The Royal Society, whose first historian, Thomas Spratt had been at pains to show the harmony between the society’s scientific endeavors and the Christian faith. In one of his lectures, Coulson quoted Sprat’s defense to prove the point. “I do here in the beginning most sincerely declare,” Sprat had written, “that if this design (of a Royal Society) should in the least diminish the reverence that is due to the doctrine of Jesus Christ, it were so far from deserving protection that it ought to be abhorred by all and the politic and prudent, as well as by the devout, part of Christendom.”[15] And yet, Coulson noted, the success of the scientific revolution would be measured by the new science’s capacity to stand on its own with sufficient autonomy that it not be merely an ecclesiastical appendage. This issued in an ironic problem. “Science which had been born and cradled within the Christian faith,” Coulson observed, “became the rebel child, devouring the substance of its parents.” The argument, as popularly conveyed, was this: “‘The thought which was born into the world with the new science of the seventeenth century is that every small detail of the world’s happenings is completely determined by inflexible laws of nature. The basic assumption of science…leaves no room for divine action in the world.’”[16] Could this rebel child be tamed? Could this basic assumption of science be confronted in such a way to render authentic Christian faith legitimate? Or, to put the question in Coulson’s own terms, “Under what circumstances, then, may a scientist use the word God?”[17]

The correct answer to this question, Coulson maintained, must rest upon a sound doctrine of creation informed by a proper conception of the divine relation to the physical world and of man’s place in it. The two most common views about the relationship between science and religion were mistaken because they rested upon false assumptions. The first, accepting the deistic premise of divine transcendence, posited a complete separation between science and religion “with no points of contact, with no intersection of their two accounts, which describe two wholly distinct worlds.”[18] Coulson illustrated this notion in his 1953 Riddell Lecture by appealing to Faraday: “It was said of Michael Faraday that when he turned from his prayers to his laboratory he forgot his religion; and when he closed the door of his laboratory to leave it, he forgot his science. That,” Coulson concluded, “will not do for us today.”[19] The view ascribed to Faraday—a view referred to in recent decades as “methodological naturalism” or “provisional atheism”—concluded that there are no circumstances under which a scientist qua scientist may use the word God. As a theoretical chemist, Coulson wished to endorse the methodological autonomy of science, but he also believed, as a scientist, that God is comprehended in the order and regularity of the physical world. How is this done? Coulson’s answer typically began with a clarifying statement about how not to comprehend God in the physical world. This was also the second mistaken view about the relationship between science and religion against which Coulson inveighed.

lab_flask_bible_248If it was a mistake to presume a complete separation between science and religion, it was equally egregious to propose that they occupied two contiguous regions, with science controlling one territory, the boundary of which was shared with the adjoining territory, the land of religion. According to this mistaken view, the territory of science is that domain of everything that can be apprehended through reason and experiment. The remainder—the territory of uncertainty, of mystery, of gaps in our understanding—is left for religion. Coulson was fond of quoting the Scottish evangelist Henry Drummond to make his point: “‘There are reverent minds who ceaselessly scan the fields of nature and the books of science in search of gaps—gaps which they fill up with God. As if God lived in gaps!’ The Christian God, at any rate, is not God of the gaps,” asserted Coulson, “though we have often been tempted to make Him so.” Instead, Coulson explained, “The golden rule for the scientist is the same now as ever: ‘When we come to the scientifically unknown, our correct policy is not to rejoice because we have found God: it is to become better scientists, and to think a bit more deeply and imaginatively until we can devise some model, or some concept, that will bring the previous unknown into the pattern of the known.’”[20]

He was convinced “that scientific gaps have a habit of shrinking, and clos[ing] up.”[21] Consequently, those who claim that the sphere of Divine action is limited to the region of human ignorance play a zero-sum game in which evidence for God dwindles with each new scientific explanation. In order to safeguard religious territory, Christians may become equivocal about the value of science and suspicious of technological innovation. Indeed, Coulson was certain that he had detected such an “equivocal attitude” when he asked in the 1960 Beckly Social Service Lecture, “Why, in fact, are Christians so lethargic and hesitant in their approach to all things technological?” Among his proposed answers, Coulson identified widespread Christian ignorance regarding the proper way to relate science to their faith. Too many, embracing a God-of-the-Gaps, believed that science was in the business of proving that God does not exist: “Once we crowded the churches to fight the plague—now we dig drains; once we prayed for rain—now we seed clouds; once we prayed for plenty—now we use fertilizers and insecticides. Thus every scientific advance limits the area where God is supposed to operate. Doesn’t this prove that we have outgrown religion?” he asked rhetorically.[22] Embracing a God-of-the-Gaps could lead Christians to resist scientific and technological progress out of fear that such progress would threaten their faith.

J. B. S. Haldane

J. B. S. Haldane

Of course, there were sundry secularists who also advanced a God-of-the-Gaps atheism. This anti-Christian lot rejoiced in the claim that science’s imperialistic project was conquering more and more religious territory. Coulson was well aware, for example, of the atheist evolutionary biologist J. B. S. Haldane (1892-1964) and his ilk. Haldane had authored volume forty-four in the Rationalist Press Association’s “Thinker’s Library,” a little book entitled Fact and Faith—which title incidentally offers another reason to suspect that Jerry Coyne’s Faith vs. Fact is a retread of well-worn village atheism. In it, Haldane concluded, “Religion is still parasitic in the interstices of our knowledge which have not yet been filled. Like bedbugs in the cracks of walls and furniture, miracles lurk in the lacunae of science. The scientist plasters up these cracks in our knowledge; the more militant Rationalist swats the bugs in the open. Both have their proper sphere, and they should realize that they are allies.”[23] To this anti-religious God-of-the-gaps rhetoric in which the scientist and militant rationalist are fellow-travellers, Coulson replied, “Either God is in the whole of Nature, with no gaps, or He’s not there at all.”[24] How is God in the “whole of Nature”? Coulson suggested, for example that “we can think of the physical universe as a painting, large in extent and varied in colour: and God is, as it were, the canvas on which the painting depends. When someone asks us what we mean by God…we can reply that ‘the whole show’, and not just this or that part of it, reflects His power, His purpose, His creativeness.”[25] In this opposition to a God-of-the-Gaps, Coulson appears to reveal indebtedness to the Lutheran martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who, while imprisoned at Tegel military prison in 1944, had occupied himself reading physicist-philosopher Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker’s new book, The World View of Physics. Coulson had read Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison, in which Bonhoeffer had written this to his friend Eberhard Bethge:

Weizsäcker’s book The World View of Physics is still keeping me very busy. It has again brought home to me quite clearly how wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. If in fact the frontiers of knowledge are being pushed further and further back (and that is bound to be the case), then God is being pushed back with them, and is therefore continually in retreat. We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don’t know; God wants us to realize his presence, not in unsolved problems but in those that are solved.[26]

Niels Bohr

Niels Bohr

To appreciate Coulson’s contention that God is to be found “in the whole of nature,” in what we know, not in what we don’t know, it is useful to consider his appropriation of the term “complementarity,” a term originally introduced by the physicist Niels Bohr to account for mutually exclusive yet complete accounts of a single subject. For example, in the study of light “some phenomena were best understood by thinking of it as composed of particles while other phenomena could only be described by thinking of it as a wave….There are two models, and both are necessary in order to do justice to the phenomena.”[27] While it became fashionable to speak of wave-particle duality, Coulson explained that “the dualism lies not in what Kant would call ‘the-thing-in-itself,’ [not in light itself] but in our interpretation of it, in the language and concepts [and models] that we use to give meaning and pattern to experiments.”[28] Coulson’s insight was to apply the term complementarity to the relationship between science and Christianity. Each provides valid language and concepts for making sense of and responding properly to the world. Coulson defined religion as “the total response of man to all his environment.”[29] The total response included insights gained from numerous activities, including the experimental and the discursive, as well as the reflective and the imaginative. He offered a number of examples to illustrate his claim.[30] His simplest case was to consider different valid answers to the question “what is a primrose?” A scientist might say, “a primrose is a delicately balanced biochemical mechanism, requiring potash, phosphates, nitrogen and water in definite proportions.” Another person might say, “A primrose is God’s promise of spring.”[31] Both descriptions are correct, he insisted, and are properly a part of man’s “total response” to his environment.

An important corollary to this point was that Coulson understood science, as part of this total response, to be “an essentially religious activity.”[32] As he explored the implications of this claim, he asserted the interconnectedness of science with the extra-scientific, the dependence of scientists upon commitments that are fundamentally grounded in faith, and he concluded that scientists “are obliged to pass beyond a purely scientific universe….And the result of this is that we shall never really understand our science until we have come to the place where we can say ‘In the beginning God.’”[33]

Before concluding permit a further comment regarding the influence of Coulson’s notion of complementarity. Although his suggestion that science was a religious activity could be controversial or confusing, his description of the science-religion relationship in terms of “complementarity” won wide support, especially as explored and popularized by his younger contemporary, Donald MacCrimmon MacKay (1922-1987), a Christian pioneer in the field of brain research. MacKay maintained that “religious and scientific approaches are not rivals but are complementary, each appropriate to an aspect of experience largely ignored by the other.”[34] Consider the simple example of the equation 2 + 2 = 4 written upon a classroom chalkboard. A chemist’s analysis of the chalk’s composition could be complete without any comment upon the meaning of the arithmetic symbols, even though that meaning is vital to the schoolteacher who wrote it upon the board. Only the fool would suggest that the chemist’s analysis was flawed because he missed the message of the equation or that the school teacher’s explanation was less true than the chemist’s because she only discussed the equation’s meaning. A full understanding of the chalk on the board, of course, would require one to apprehend both views. To accept only one of the views led to the sort of reductionism that MacKay called the fallacy of “nothing-buttery.” It is “the idea that because in one sense, at one level, or viewed from one angle, there is nothing but chalk, therefore it is unnecessary, it makes no sense, it is superfluous to talk about what is there in any other terms.” Over time MacKay came to call this emphasis upon different levels of analysis “hierarchical complementary.”[35] The application of this idea to the relationship between science and religion was clear: science and religion offered complementary descriptions of one and the same world, but descriptions on conceptually and logically different levels. MacKay believed that nearly every alleged instance of conflict between science and religion could be revealed as “a pathetic sell-out of truth to the nothing-buttery of the opposition.”[36] Just because, as H. L. Mencken once said, human beings are “an endless series of miserable and ridiculous bags of rapidly disintegrating amino acids,” it does not follow that they are nothing but miserable and ridiculous bags of rapidly disintegrating amino acids.[37]

By confronting God-of-the-Gaps assumptions and introducing the concept of complementarity, Coulson had offered useful tools for taming the rebel child of scientism and for encouraging reconciliation between Christianity and science. There is irony, however, in the fact that so few remember him and his ideas. In his 1954 Rede Lecture at Cambridge Coulson had insisted, “The scientist who has no use for religion, and the Christian who has no use for science, are each condemned for the narrowness and poverty of their view.” Just five years later in 1959, however, when the Rede Lecture was again delivered by another scientist, Coulson’s convictions seemed to have disappeared. The 1959 lecturer was C. P. Snow and his Rede Lecture was “The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution,” the lecture that, when published, became famous for reinforcing a version of the conflict thesis in which “literary intellectuals” were “natural Luddites” separated from the scientists by “a gulf of mutual incomprehension—sometimes…hostility and dislike.”[38] Although proper consideration of Snow’s argument is the subject of a different essay,[39] that his treatment of “The Two Cultures” continues to influence, and that new books such as Coyne’s Faith vs. Fact find wide readership, suggest perhaps, that Coulson’s ideas enjoyed insufficient attention both in his day and in ours.

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore. This essay was a paper for the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Philosophy and Letters Panel ~ Science and Technology in the Brave New World: Origins and Critiques June 13, 2015, Baltimore, Maryland.


[1] Geoffrey Cantor, “What shall we do with the ‘Conflict Thesis’?” in Science and Religion: New Historical Perspectives, ed., Thomas Dixon, Geoffrey Cantor, and Stephen Pumfrey (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 285.

[2] John William Draper, History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1875), 363.

[3] Andrew Dickson White, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896; rpt. New York: D. Appleton, 1930), viii.

[4] Richard Dawkins, “Is Science a Religion?Humanist (Jan/Feb, 1997).

[5] Jerry A. Coyne, Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible (New York: Viking, 2015), xii, 5.

[6] Gordy Slack, The Battle over the Meaning of Everything: Evolution, Intelligent Design, and a School Board in Dover, PA (San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, 2007), 201.

[7] David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), 66. For my summary of the Galileo Affair see Mark A. Kalthoff, “Galilei, Galileo,” in Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics, vol. 2., pp. 813-816. Detroit: Thomson-Gale, 2005.

[8] R. Hooykaas, Religion and the Rise of Modern Science (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972), 161-162.

[9] Peter J. Bowler, Reconciling Science and Religion: The Debate in Early-Twentieth-Century Britain (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 415-416.

[10] Arie Leegwater, “Charles Alfred Coulson: Mixing Methodism and Quantum Chemistry,” in Eminent Lives in Twentieth-Century Science and Religion, ed. Nicolaas A. Rupke (New York: Peter Lang, 2007), 51.

[11] Ana Simoes, “Textbooks, Popular Lectures and Sermons: The Quantum Chemist Charles Alfred Coulson and the Crafting of Science,” British Journal for the History of Science 37 (3), September 2004: 302-303. See also Leegwater, 47-77; and Alister E. McGrath, Science & Religion: An Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1999), 210-212.

[12] C. A. Coulson, Christianity in an Age of Science (London: Oxford University Press, 1953); C. A. Coulson, Science and Religion: A Changing Relationship—The Rede Lecture for 1954 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1954); C. A. Coulson, Science and Christian Belief (London: Oxford University Press, 1955); C. A. Coulson, Science and the Idea of God (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1958); and C. A. Coulson, Science, Technology, and the Christian (1960; rpt. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1978).

[13] Coulson, Science and the Idea of God, 2.

[14] Arthur Stanley Eddington, Science and the Unseen World (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1930), 72.

[15] Thomas Sprat, as quoted by Coulson, Science and the Idea of God, 6.

[16] Coulson, Science and the Idea of God, 7.

[17] Ibid., 4.

[18] Leegwater, 65.

[19] Coulson, Christianity in an Age of Science, 6-7.

[20] Coulson, Science and the Idea of God, 13, 16.

[21] Idem, 13.

[22]   C. A. Coulson, Science, Technology, and the Christian (1960; rpt. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1978), 47, 51.

[23] J. B. S. Haldane, Fact and Faith (London: Watts and Company, 1934), 107.

[24] Coulson, Science and Christian Belief, 22.

[25] C. A. Coulson, Science and Religion: A Changing Relationship—The Rede Lecture for 1954 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1954), 27-28.

[26] Dietrich Bonhoeffoer, Letters and Papers from Prison, enlarged edition, ed., Eberhard Bethge (1971; rpt. London: The Folio Society, n.d.), 276.

[27] David Hawkin and Eileen Hawkin, The Word of Science: The Religious and Social Thought of C. A. Coulson (London: Epworth Press, 1989), 41.

[28]   Coulson, Science and Christian Belief, 70.

[29] Ibid., 83.

[30] These included the architectural drawings for a planned underground physics laboratory at London’s Kings College and the various accounts of a particular mountain in Scotland that might be offered by the artist, the historian, the poet, or the geologist.

See Coulson, Christianity in an Age of Science, 18-34; and Coulson, Science and Christian Belief, 66-72.

[31] Coulson, Science and Christian Belief, 70.

[32] Ibid., 82.

[33] Coulson, Science and the Idea of God, 35, 38. Although there are important similarities between Coulson’s position and the ideas of Michael Polanyi, an exploration of those would require a separate paper. See, for example, Science and Christian Belief, 54.

[34] Donald M. MacKay, The Clockwork Image: A Christian Perspective on Science (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1974), 41.

[35] Donald M. MacKay, “Man as a Mechanism,” quoted in Christopher M Rios, After the Monkey Trial: Evangelical Scientists and a New Creationism (New York: Fordham University Press, 2014), 90; and MacKay, The Clockwork Image, 91.

[36] MacKay, The Clockwork Image, 92.

[37] H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1949), 130.

[38] C. P. Snow, The Two Cultures and The Scientific Revolution (1959; 10th American Printing, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1962), 4, 23, 29.

[39] See, for example, Mark A. Kalthoff, “Russell Kirk, C. P. Snow, and Sir Thomas Browne: Wisdom, Mystery, and Faith in the Empire of Science,” Faith & Reason 31:4 (2006): 479-501.

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2 replies to this post
  1. This is good. It is exactly what we need to hear and to read in this stupidly ideological world. Keep finding these guys, Prof. Kalthoff, and bring them to us.

  2. Thank you for this piece. For anyone interested in reading more on this topic I highly recommend orthodox scholar David Bentley Hart’s “The Experience of God.”

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