An evangelical on “Modern Science Writing”

An evangelical on “Modern Science Writing” September 26, 2008

OK so Karl Giberson is not your average evangelical Christian. He’s a science writer and the author of a book titled “Saving Darwin: how to be a Christian and believe in evolution” (lousy title – evolution is something you can believe, but not believe in – but it’s the thought that counts!).

Giberson has recently reviewed “The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing”, an anthology of leading science writing edited by Richard Dawkins. And he has some very interesting things to say.

He starts by contrasting the communication skills of scientists and theologians, and finding that the theologians come up short. Surprising, perhaps, given the ruthless and highly polished PR of evangelical Christians. But he’s talking about academic theologians, rather than your fire and brimstone telly evangelists.

He’s also taken by surprise by the fact that “arch-villain Richard Dawkins”, who writes a little introduction to each piece in the book, is not in fact obsessed by religion.

Dawkins wrote brief introductions to all 84 pieces, but not once did he take advantage of the many opportunities to sneer at religion. Several excerpts in the anthology bring to life great discoveries relating to evolution and big bang cosmology—discoveries that that have been strongly resisted by fundamentalists. But Dawkins introduces them as a part of the grand adventure of science, not the inevitable displacement of traditional religious views on origins. Russell Stannard, a Christian physicist who has been very critical of Dawkins, could have been introduced with a potshot, but all we get is a sense that Dawkins thinks that Stannard’s “Uncle Albert” series is a delightful way to wrestle with the complex and counterintuitive ideas of relativity.

There’s some other interesting perspectives in there too. Some of which you’ll like, some will rankle (“Though he would hate the description, this Dawkins reveals something of the nature of his Creator”). But well worth a read if you want an insight into how the other side thinks.

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