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Modern Biology and Natural Theology

This work re-opens a controversial subject by calling into question how well theological views of human nature stand up to the discoveries of modern science. Alan Olding explores the question of whether the argument for the existence of God is fatally undermined. Emphasizing the metaphysical implications of biology, Modern Biology and Natural Theology takes up issues currently of concern to many thinkers, particularly those interested in the impact of Darwinism on natural theology. This book will interest not only professional workers in the fields of philosophy of biology and philosophy of religion and theology, but also students and laypersons, and is bound to provoke further debate on this controversial subject. ~ Product Description

Table of Contents

    • Acknowledgements     ix
    • Introduction     x
  • Part I Biology
    • 1     The decline of purposive explanations     3
    • Purpose in physics and biology     3
    • Paley and Darwin     6
    • Biological functions     10
    • Functions and accidents     15
    • The teleological imagination     18
    • Beyond tautology     22
    • The quest for the wholly real     23
    • 2     Biology and metaphysics     25
    • Presuppositions     25
    • Drawing teeth and blunting claws     30
    • For reality     36
    • 3     The stuff we are made of     47
    • Behind appearances     47
    • Atoms and their qualities     51
    • Levels of discourse and levels of reality     53
    • Ontological levels     57
    • Polanyi’s notion of levels     60
    • The contradiction in the notion of levels     64
    • Tensions     67
  • Part II Problems
    • 4     Reductionism or Darwinism     71
    • Ungrateful Offspring     71
    • Trouble in mind     74
    • 5     Biology and knowledge     75
    • Perception and survival     75
    • Darwinism and scepticism      79
    • 6     Consciousness and its objects     94
    • Metaphysics again     94
    • The argument developed     96
    • The sensitive mind     102
    • Perception as belief      106
    • The perceiving self     112
  • Part III Natural Theology
    • 7     Biology and cosmology     117
    • ‘The fitness of the environment’     117
    • Anthropic answers     120
    • The joker in the pack     122
    • 8     From world to God     124
    • Design     124
    • An embodied god?     125
    • Equivocation as analogy     130
    • God willing     135
    • 9     And back again     141
    • The world willed     141
    • Much ado out of nothing     146
    • Science and theism     152
    • The empirical content of theism     153
    • Deism and the notion of ‘the world’     154
    • The agony of the world     162
    • Notes     165
    • Bibliography     170
    • Index     177