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roundtable:science and faith Watch Show 7:
"What About God?"
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For many people of various faiths, support for the scientific theory of evolution has not supplanted their religious belief. And throughout the modern Judeo-Christian tradition, leaders have asserted that evolutionary science offers a valid perspective on the natural world. They say that evolution is consistent with religious doctrine and complements, rather than conflicts with, religion.

There are, however, some Christians -- in particular, fundamentalists and some evangelicals -- who perceive a conflict between evolution and their literal interpretation of the Bible.

In this panel, we hear personal perspectives from scientists and a historian of science -- religious people who represent a range of faiths.

  Panelist Statements:
Francisco Ayala
  Mark Noll
  Arthur Peacocke
  Robert Pollack
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Arthur PeacockeArthur Peacocke is a physical biochemist and Anglican priest who pioneered early research into the physical chemistry of DNA and has since become a leading advocate for the creative interaction between faith and science. The 2001 winner of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, he is the author of Paths from Science Towards God: The End of All Our Exploring (2001).

From my scientific background as a physical biochemist who, for nearly three decades in the mid-20th century, was much involved in unravelling the relation of the double-helical structure of DNA to its solution properties, I have long had an interest in the relation of genetics to biological evolution. The sequencing of DNA and proteins in a large range of species from bacteria to Homo sapiens has now crowned the previous strong evidence for the historical interconnectedness and a common origin of all living organisms and for evolution. The role of natural selection in this process is proven dominant, though I do not exclude the possibility that other natural factors*, widely discussed at the moment, may also be operative. The whole process is entirely natural and explicable by the sciences without requiring any special, non-natural, "lures" or influences.

As a theist -- one who considers that the best explanation of the existence and lawfulness of the natural world is that it depends for its existence and inbuilt rationality on a self-existent Ultimate Reality (a Creator "God") -- I find the epic of evolution, from the "Hot Big Bang" to Homo sapiens, an illumination of how the Creator God is and has been creating. Evolution enriches our insights into the nature and purposes of the divine creation -- its fecundity, variety, its ability to manifest an increase in complexity to the point where the physical stuff of the world acquires the (holistic) capacity to be self-conscious, to think (in "mental" activity), to instantiate values and to relate to its Creator (in "spiritual" activity). I regard God as creating in, with, and through the natural as unveiled by the sciences; hence I espouse a "theistic naturalism."
*To name a few: the possible operation of self-organising principles; how the evolution of an organism can depend on its innovative behaviour; and "top-down causation" through flow of information from the environment to the organism.
(Boldface added.)
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