Private Doubt, Public Dilemma: Religion and Science Since Jefferson and Darwin

Keith Thomson. Yale Univ, $30 (224p) ISBN 978-0-300-20367-7
Thomson, emeritus professor of Natural History at the University of Oxford, explores the well-trod ground of the conflict between religion and science, and does so in a way that is both informative and engaging. Rather than focusing on specific aspects of both fields that may be in conflict, Thomson examines broad patterns. He asserts that “the celebrated conflict between religion and science is really part of a much broader phenomenon occurring whenever there is change in our knowledge—either or both in what we know and the context in which we know it.” He supports his argument with a close look at the lives and work of Thomas Jefferson and Charles Darwin, two individuals who grappled with the relationship between religion and science throughout their lives. Thomson maintains that an important trait shared by both is an appreciation of doubt, a “fundamental ingredient of progress.” Humility follows doubt, he argues, opening up opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration. Seeing a glimmer of hope in areas such as environmentalism where the two fields have joint “ownership,” Thomson believes it is possible for collaboration to occur between theologians, scientists, and the public for the greater good of society. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/20/2015
Release date: 05/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
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