Newspaper headlines today often expose divisions between science and faith. The most commonly covered issues range from sects claiming to have cloned babies to stem-cell research to local school boards fighting over evolution. While these particular arguments are relatively new, the tensions are anything but.
Larry Witham covered several evolution vs. creationism fights as a newspaper reporter with The Washington Times. To further look at what he couldn't in newspaper articles, Witham wrote Where Darwin Meets the Bible (Oxford University Press, 2002).
He's also written for Scientific American, Nature, and The Christian Century. His most recent book is By Design (Encounter Books, 2003).
How has the relationship between faith and science shifted over the years?
Natural theology was very strong through the 1700s and 1800s. Natural theology means you look at nature and then you logically conclude that a God must exist—because things look designed.
In the history of theology, thought had it the other way around. You believed in God because that was natural and then you looked for evidence of God. With the Enlightenment, there was a challenge to that idea. Natural theology came to the floor to say science could look and find design in the planetary systems, in the human being, and in how things adapt in nature.
Natural theology was finally debunked—as science tells the story—by Darwinism, which said all the things, all of design, actually, could have come into place by random mutation.
When was science in its strongest period?
Inarguably, the 1950s were the high point of confidence in science. The world wars put a lot of money into science so, in the '50s you have all the results. You find the genetic code. You put Sputnik up into the ...1