An extended "Reading the Bestsellers" review of a 2021 book by Stephen Meyer
Note: Our print issue contains a shorter version of this review. Faith Today welcomes your thoughts on any of our reviews. We also welcome suggestions of other Canadian Christian books to review: Contact us.
By Stephen Meyer. Harper, 2021. 576 pages. $35 (e-book $19, audio $45)
Are science and faith in conflict with one another? In his latest book, Stephen C. Meyer proposes that they aren’t in conflict and that science actually provides good evidence for the existence of God. Meyer holds a PhD in the philosophy of science and directs the Center for Science and Culture in Seattle, Wash.
His main argument is based upon three scientific discoveries: the big bang, the fine-tuning of the universe, and the information in DNA. According to big bang cosmology, space itself is expanding – which suggests the universe itself had a beginning. Fine-tuning refers to the narrow range of values of the constants and initial conditions of the universe that make life possible. And information in DNA functions just like the letters of words or the code for computer software.
Meyer argues that certain world views such as materialism, pantheism and deism fail to adequately explain all these scientific discoveries, but that actually theism provides the best explanation for all of these.
In Part I Meyer first discusses the history of science. By speaking of the return of the God hypothesis, Meyer alludes to the importance of theism in science of the past. He briefly explains how Judeo-Christian ideas of God contributed to the Scientific Revolution, and how God played an important role in the scientific thought of Isaac Newton and others. Meyer also discusses the rise of scientific materialism and how the confidence in classical arguments for God’s existence has been undermined since the Enlightenment.
In Part II Meyer explains the three scientific discoveries and the histories behind them.
In Part III he draws out the implications of the three discoveries, arguing that theism is the best explanation for them. In contrast to his earlier books, such as Signature in the Cell (2009) and Darwin’s Doubt (2013), Meyer argues not merely for intelligent design, but for the existence of God.
In Part IV Meyer considers a variety of specific objections from different fields such as evolutionary biology, quantum cosmology and even the multiverse.
Finally, in Part V he discusses the more general God-of-the-gaps objection and the importance of asking the big questions of life. There is a personal touch here, too, as Meyer shares some of his own testimony and how he worked through some of his own existential and intellectual worries.
The book is written for a general audience. Meyer does an excellent job making the material accessible. He clearly explains scientific and philosophical concepts using diagrams, illustrations and analogies. His prose, storytelling and gentle tone also make for a pleasurable read.
Nonetheless, the subject matter itself is not easy. While no prior knowledge is required, readers should expect to put in some effort to grasp the content. In my own reading for example, I found the philosophical aspects familiar and straightforward, but I enjoyed learning much in terms of the science.
Return of the God Hypothesis is a valuable compilation of some of the best scientific evidence for God’s existence. While further reading can be done on each of the subtopics, Meyer presents in a single volume a survey of the evidence while striking a good balance between breadth and depth. The book is basically a crash course on the scientific evidence for God. As such, it would be useful for people who are interested in the subject but don’t know where to start. It would be useful for pastors and other leaders, so as to be better equipped to address relevant questions that church members or seekers might have. Finally, it would be useful for those who might have science-related doubts about the faith, particularly with respect to God’s existence.
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