Critique Of Arthur Peacocke’s Book: "God And Science"

In Preface, Peacocke states an expectation in his premise: “… the scientific panorama of the evolution of the cosmos from matter-energy into life and consciousness should surely afford a new and fruitful context for understanding any genuinely true insights that the Christian tradition might claim to possess.”

Peacocke’s work is not dumbed-down for the masses, but rather is allowed full range of expression. Written in a style both challenging and elucidative, the author attempts to establish a connection between biological science and metaphysical appreciation in his rather unique study. Former Fellow at St. Peter’s College and an Anglican priest, the author is no commoner, linguistically, and those wishing a refreshing experience in word usage are invited to read his unrestricted and creative use of the English language.

Thus, we detect direction and philosophical approach in Peacocke ministrations, and though he does miscalculate the Reality impact in definition, as does most of the world, he does indeed substitute Actuality’s semantic intent with Reality historicity. Again, he mistakenly uses Reality in an accommodative language to exogenous evidence in causality: proposing the philosophy of science to have virtue of the implicit, though not often articulated, and the working philosophy of practicing scientists who plan to depict reality but knowing only too well their fallibility in doing so: for example, in the fields of geology, cell biology and chemistry, during the last two centuries, they, progressively, continuously discover hidden structures in the natural world entities accounting causally for observed phenomena. Theology, the intellectual formulation of religious experience and belief, also employs models similarly described and should be regarded as partial, inadequate, and revisable but necessary and, indeed, the only way referring to the reality named as God and to God relation with humanity. Here, Reality is correctly used in the God instance– but mistakenly as extension to Tribal finiteness. Correctly, Reality can be used only in historical context.

Peacocke ascribes homo sapiens uniqueness to ‘sheer happenstance,’ as the original fluctuation in a ‘quantum field,’ to an exchange in atoms from progressive intellectual development – in the likes of early outstanding primitives and evolved to Shakespeare, Mozart, Descartes, Einstein, et cetera.

If, by critique, a lesser intellect might add to Peacocke’s mediations: In any field of development, anomalous incident must occur and with natural attraction in such like occurrence. We see such in Oriental physiognomy, Black physiognomics, Caucasian features, Native American diverseness. Now, there is an attempt to ameliorate these differences in DNA origination; such focus is against nature and can only lead to degeneracy in the whole, not an upgrade from synecdochical infusions. If we breed a stallion and donkey, all we can get is an ass. Peacocke did indirectly and perhaps more discretely allege such behavior when he suggested the notion of causality, when applied to systems, has usually been assumed to be ‘bottom-up’ to the effect on its properties and behavior of constituent units: recognizing influence of the system state as a whole on the behavior of its components, a constraint exercised by the whole on its parts.

Again, in critique, we inject a reasonable parallel to Peacocke’s theory: Atoms behave differently in different environs. Different catalysts produce different results. Therefore, can we say man is impervious to evolutionary encouragements? I think not! Sentience, our only quality measuring device, confirms observation accounting such diversity, and apparent to the most casual enquiry.

Stepping outside the bounds of common understanding, Peacocke introduces The ‘anthropic principle’ to affirm a world finely tuned with respect to the many physical features conducive to the emergence of carbon-based life and so of human beings.

Peacocke expounds on the ‘anthropic principle’ and ‘scientific immediacy’ in a fecundity of natural occurrence, supra-personal direction, and scientific confirmation, when he suggests ‘existence of the whole tapestry of created order, in its warp and woof, and in the very heterogeneity and multiplicity of forms must be taken as the Creator’s intention.’ Thus, he affirms the very principle he would at the first deny as having relativity. In trying to serve two masters, religion and science, Peacock errs as does Wilder-Smith, Glynn, Chopra, Scheler and other religionist-scientist ameliorationists. They cannot, of course, ameliorate the two disciplines; the one depends on syllogistic affirmation and the other on speculation; never, can one be made to affirm the other.

Peacocke pretty well sums up his philosophy when he proposes: ‘within a relatively short time after our biological death, our bodies will lose their identity as atomic and molecular constituents begin to disperse through the earth and its atmosphere, often becoming a part of other human anatomy – to that perennial task of refurbishing our images of God – and humanity.’

If this critique might add further insight: We come full circle; God and Science would propose a dimension not normal in one-self-sure-be dedication: that is, after all, God makes humanity from humanity, from atomic reaction, from nature catalysts. While Peacocke offers synecdochical composition for the scientific basis, he declines to venture into reductionist metaphysics nor assign metaphysical particularities to the cause juxtaposed in exposition. Even so, this book furnishes cause to think.