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William A. Dembski
With the passing of Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan, Paul Davies is perhaps the most prolific science writer currently active. Unlike Asimov and Sagan, how ever, Davies is willing to consider evidence of God in nature. Indeed, Davies often cites God in his scientific writings, offering up titles like God and the New Physics and The Mind of God. As the recipient of the 1995 Templeton Prize for progress in religion—a prize worth 750,000 British pounds and thus the most lucrative academic award currently offered—Davies has become a leading light in the dialogue between science and religion.
Given Davies's background and a title like The Fifth Miracle, one therefore expects this book to engage religious questions. Yet when Davies describes himself on the inside dustjacket of this book, he attributes receiving the Templeton Prize not for his work relating religion and science but for "his work on the philosophical meaning of science." This is significant. Davies does not address religious questions except insofar as they are mediated through certain philosophical presuppositions that he uses to make sense of science. For Davies science is a given, philosophy is what he em ploys to interpret science, and religion is an afterthought that emerges once philosophy has done its work of interpreting science. Ironically, this order of priority—science first, philosophy second, and religion last—though designed to keep science safe from religion, ends up undermining science by artificially restricting its range of inquiry.
Davies's title, The Fifth Miracle, is his idiosyncratic way of referring to the origin of life. When Davies counts up the Creation events in the first chapter of Genesis, the fifth of these is the creation of life. Davies claims that we are "a very long way from comprehending" how life originated. "This gulf in understanding is not merely ignorance about certain technical details, it is a major conceptual lacuna. … My personal belief, for ...