The intersection of science and religion can sometimes be a controversial topic, rife with tension, but a new book, “The Truth about Science and Religion: From the Big Bang to Neuroscience” seeks to find a balance between the two. Written by Fraser Fleming, Phd, Head of the Chemistry Department at Drexel’s College of Arts and Science, the book explores these areas from not only the scientific perspective but also the perspective of an evolutionary theist, and Christian. The book, with chapters ranging from cosmology, astronomy, and neuroscience, to understanding Genesis, prayer and miracles, discusses “the origin of the universe, evolutionary processes, Christian beliefs, the history of science, what being human really means, and what science and religion have to say about these ideas.”
Dr. Fleming, who is a native of New Zealand, became interested in science at a young age. As a self-proclaimed “geek” he would read many books on the various scientific topics, trying to understand how things fit together. It wasn’t until his formal undergraduate and graduate schooling that he became interested in the topic of religion and its relationship with science. During his time at Duquesne University he began teaching courses on these topics and recognized that science and religion books fell into two categories: books that were very academic, without the relevance of the spiritual side, and books that focused on evolution and told the reader what to believe. “[What] there seemed to be a lack of was books in the middle, that were talking about all of the issues and how it really relates to your life, and that was kind of the genesis of the book” stated Fleming.
The Truth about Science and Religion: From the Big Bang to Neuroscience is meant to help the reader explore these areas more comprehensively, each chapter beginning with a focus on the science and then progressing to a philosophical and religious prospective. Like any good academic book, Fleming also includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter, “designed so that you could read the chapter and understand what the key issues are, and then you have to ask yourself does my understanding of the world address those main elements…”.
The book is targeted toward an “educated public audience, undergraduates taking courses in science and religion, scientists who have questions about the way the world is, and who may believe there is a little more than just the physical,” stated Fleming. But his hope is that the book will be read by the religiously inclined as well. He believes that his book can enhance the views and the work of both science and religion. Fleming explained this by quoting Pope John Paul II, “What science can do for religion is to purge it from error. What religion can do for science is to purge it of the hubris when it makes philosophical statements that it doesn’t have the tools to support.”
For his part, Dr. Fleming believes that there is more to the world than just the physical, and that you need both science and religion to understand the vastness of the world well. “For most people what is beneficial is to work somewhere in the middle, to see how these two pieces can go together.” Not everyone will have the same belief systems, as we have seen throughout the ages, science and religion can have a very polarizing effect, but Fleming believes it is better to acknowledge the differing views and engage both, “if you try to live your life to be only based on science, you are probably not going to be very happy…we need to have a little more give and take and realize that the meaningful things in life come from a variety of perspectives…of which religion is one”. His personal journey has been a testament to that view, opening his eyes to things that are outside random chance. “Either I am just a really, really lucky man, or there’s something ongoing in the fabric of the universe that is predisposed to my reaching out and embracing it. And that’s the reason I’ve come to be a Christian and have this faith perspective.”
For more information on Dr. Fleming or to order his new on book, The Truth about Science and Religion: From the Big Bang to Neuroscience check out the website.