Wednesday, 28 March 2012

New Scientist Considers the Significance of God and Religion

Joel Kontinen

In April 1966 Time magazine had its famous Is God Dead? cover story. At that time, many people assumed that scientific progress would make the Creator God superfluous.

Much has happened since then. It seems that God is far from a has-been. Belief in evolution and the power of science to explain our existence has certainly not become any popular. Quite the contrary. For instance, last week New Scientist published its “God issue”.

According to New Scientist, faith in God is not about to disappear anytime soon. Unfortunately, many of its writers interpret religion from an evolutionary perspective, concluding that it is a factor that promotes our survival.

Only one of the writers – Victor Stenger – took an openly aggressive approach to God. Stenger, who is a skeptic, occasionally digressed into writing about the Republican Party’s aim of turning America into a theocracy. (This, of course, is conspiracy theory at its worst, but then left-leaning skeptics tend to be fond of weird explanations.)

The other articles are more matter-of-fact.

Justin L. Barrett for instance says that people have a natural tendency to believe in a Creator. He quotes research by Margaret Evans at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She found out that children tend to believe in creationist explanations even if their parents would accept evolution.

According to Barrett, this kind of faith differs decisively from a childlike belief in, say, Santa Claus or the tooth fairy. A child knows that whereas Santa Claus does not really exist, God is real.


Barrett, Justin L. 2012. The God issue: We are all born believers. New Scientist 2856, 38-41.

Stenger, Victor J. 2012. The God issue: God is a testable hypothesis. New Scientist 2856, 46-47.