What Science Can't Offer

Beyond the God Delusion
How Radical Theology Harmonizes Science and Religion
Richard Grigg
Fortress Press, $16, 160 pp.

Readers of this book expecting a reply to Richard Dawkins will be disappointed. Richard Grigg agrees with Dawkins that traditional Christian belief is in lethal conflict with science and that theologians have not been able to turn the war in religion’s favor. He declares, on the third page, that the theistic God is indeed “a delusion.” But he differs from Dawkins in not wholly giving up religion. Instead he cuts God up to fit the suit of a scientific pantheism.

But first Grigg must dispose of what he calls the “separatist strategy,” which allots religion and science to “wholly different realms of meaning” so that the two cannot conflict. His main argument against separatism concerns divine action in the world. He says traditional theism holds that God not only creates the world but acts upon it to produce specific results that would not otherwise occur. God might, for example, lift one’s spirits in response to prayer. But, Grigg contends, this must involve a change in the physical universe—in this case, a change in brain chemistry. Any such change entails an “expenditure of energy,” but if that expenditure is ultimately due to God, then since God is external to the physical system, that energy ultimately comes from outside the system. And that means a violation of the law of the conservation of energy. So separatism is mistaken and we are forced to choose between theism and science.


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About the Author

Andrew Gleeson is a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Adelaide in Australia.