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Picture of Laws of Nature, Laws of God?

Laws of Nature, Laws of God?

Proceedings of the Science and Religion Forum Conference, 2014

Editor(s): Louise Hickman, Neil Spurway
Contributors: Juuso Loikkanen, Neil Spurway, John Lockwood, Fraser Watts, John Henry, John Emmett;

Book Description

Up until the time of Newton, scientists regarded the understandings of the physical world, at which they were arriving, as glimpses of the working of the Creator’s mind. Thus, the generalisations being formulated about the behaviour of matter – the “Laws of Nature” – were seen as the Creator's injunctions, to created matter, as to how it was to act. They were “laws” in the same sense as laws, Divine or human, about how people should behave: that is why the same word was used for both. And even now, scientific laws are occasionally spoken of as being “obeyed”!

However, it is doubtful whether any practising scientist, religious believer or not, now thinks of laws in the way that the word literally implies. How, instead, scientists do or should view scientific laws has been debated since the time of Hume and Kant, and it is a vigorous field of investigation among current philosophers of science.

In this book, scientists (physical and biological), historians and students of ideas, all of them theologically informed, tackle this topic from many angles. They do so in relation to the lead public lecture at the conference from which the book stems, given by the eminent and iconoclastic philosopher of science, Professor Nancy Cartwright. She asked the question, “How could laws make things happen?”, and her answer was “They couldn’t!”


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-7657-5
ISBN-10: 1-4438-7657-7
Date of Publication: 01/06/2015
Pages / Size: 235 / A5
Price: £34.99


Neil Spurway studied in Cambridge, but spent his working life at the University of Glasgow, where he is now Emeritus Professor of Exercise Physiology. He has chaired that university’s Gifford Lectureships committee, as well as the present Forum, served as President of the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow and Vice-President of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology, and is currently President of the Scottish Church Theological Society. In these connections, he edited the centenary series of Glasgow’s Gifford Lectures, Humanity, Environment and God, and also initiated the present series, editing its first two volumes, Creation and the Abrahamic Faiths and Theology, Evolution and the Mind.