I’m going to try blogging through A Scientific Theology: Nature, by Alister McGrath. This is actually just the first book of a trilogy, and I’ll decide after I finish the first book if I’d like to continue to the other two. I’ll try to do a post every Saturday on the book – I would do one post per chapter, but there are six chapters in 300 pages, so that may be too much to cover in a single post, we’ll see.
Today, though, I just wanted to blog about the preface, which answers two important questions:
1. What are these books about anyway?
2. Is the author qualified to speak on this topic?
What are these books about anyway?
The present work is fundamentally an attempt to explore the interface between Christian theology and the natural sciences, on the assumption that this engagement is necessary, proper, legitimate, and productive.
Hey, I’m excited. I feel like I’ve read a lot of books and essays about religion and science, but I’ve never really left satisfied. The topic is just too big, anything I’ve read heretofore has only touched on a small piece of it. And in fact, McGrath expresses the same frustration at the brevity of previous works on this topic – hence this much longer trilogy.
OK. Is McGrath qualified to speak?
McGrath says that by age 18, he was a Marxist and an atheist who had “felt that I had sorted out the meaning of life, and so was free to move onto other issues.”
He went to Oxford University to study Chemistry, and there his Marxism and atheism both quickly fell apart. (And they say college is dangerous to faith.) By the end of his first term, he found “the basic ideas of the Christian faith as both intellectually persuasive and personally fulfilling.” He was tempted to abandon science for theology immediately, but was persuaded to stick with it and eventually obtained a doctorate in molecular biophysics.
He then went on to study theology, and hoped that a first degree in that subject would be enough to write a serious work about the engagement between Christianity and the natural sciences – nope. After some 20 more years of theological study, he finally felt ready to begin the “serious work in the field” that eventually resulted in this book. Today he is the Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education at Kings College London.
So here is a man who has spent a lot of time studying both science and theology, and might be the ideal person to write this sort of work. One more thing – many readers will also be comforted to know that he has a high view of scripture,
This work is written from an evangelical perspective, by which I mean an approach to theology which insists that ‘theology must be nourished and governed at all points by Holy Scripture, and that it seeks to offer a faithful and coherent account of what it finds there’.
I’ve already read the first chapter actually, and found it quite interesting, but I need to take some notes and compose a post… so I’ll see you, regarding this book, in a week. (Unless you have a comment!)