LETTERS: Science and religion never stopped talking to one another

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The Independent Online
I WAS pleased to read Martin Redfern's article ("Proofs of God in a Photon?" Review, 24 December), outlining the positions adopted by scientists on whether science possesses any implications for religion.

Although he is correct in identifying a recent renaissance of interest in the subject, his historical introduction appears to suggest that the topic has been off people's agendas since the early 17th century. On the contrary, there has been a flow of works engaging these subjects during the intervening centuries. Some books, such as William Paley's Natural Theology (1802) or the many works commenting on the theological significance of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, have been good (if not best) sellers.

I was surprised that Mr Redfern connects the current dispute to what he sees as the challenge to Cartesian dualism by the rise of quantum mechanics. Although some of the protagonists do indeed hitch their views to this issue, it is inadequate to account for the variety of positions adopted by other writers, especially those he labels as "believers". Moreover, in surveying the history of science and religion, the theme of dualism turns out to be relatively peripheral - even, perhaps, a red herring.

Professor Geoffrey Cantor

Philosophy Department, University of Leeds

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