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The Soul of Science

Christian Faith and Natural PhilosophyNancy Pearcey and Charles Thaxton

A metanarrative has become ingrained in our culture which states that science is the means by which we threw off our religious superstitions and entered a brave new world of reason and progress. Does this metanarrative itself need to be overthrown? In this work Discovery Institute Fellows Nancy Pearcey and Charles Thaxton explain how Christian theism has played a vital role in the historical development of science. Moreover, the next scientific revolution may bring science back to a point where it will reconsider the possibility that life was designed.

First, Pearcey and Thaxton shed light on the fact that the “Dark ages” were not quite so dark. While the medieval scholars lacked much of our accumulated knowledge, medieval scientists like Jordanus de Nemore anticipated the work of subsequent scientists through his work on statics. When the scientific revolution swung into full force, early scientists like Newton were devoutly religious and motivated by religion. As one historian they quote put it, “God had designed the universe, and it was to be expected that all phenomena of nature would follow one master plan. One mind designing a universe would almost surely have employed one set of basic principles to govern related phenomena.” (pg. 129) Even today, they find that “the DNA code originated from a cause similar in relevant aspects to human intelligence.” (pg. 244)

The authors begin by observing that “the idea of a war between science and religion is a relatively recent invention — one carefully nurtured by those who hope the victor will be science.” (pg. 19) After reviewing all of the contributions which theists, the church, and Christianized societies have made to science, they conclude, “The Christian religion, hand in hand with various philosophical outlooks, has motivated, sanctioned, and shaped large portions of the Western scientific heritage.” (pg. 248)


I consider The Soul of Science to be a most significant book which, in our scientific age, should be required reading for all thinking Christians and all practicing scientists. The authors demonstrate how the flowering of modern science depended upon the Judeo-Christian worldview of the existence of a real physical contingent universe, created and held in being by an omnipotent personal God, with man having the capabilities of rationality and creativity, and thus being capable of investigating it. Pearcey and Thaxton make excellent use of analogies to elucidate difficult concepts, and the clarity of their explanations for the nonspecialist, for example, of Einstein’s relativity theories or of the informational content of DNA and its consequences for theories of prebiotic evolution, are quite exceptional, alone making the volume worth purchasing.

Dr. David Shotton, Lecturer in Cell Biology, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford

Pearcey and Thaxton show that the alliance between atheism and science is a temporary aberration and that, far from being inimical to science, Christian theism has played and will continue to play an important role in the growth of scientific understanding. This brilliant book deserves wide readership.

Phillip E. Johnson, University of California, Berkeley

This book would be an excellent text for courses on science and religion, and it should be read by all Christians interested in the relationship between science and their theological commitments.

J.P. Moreland, Professor of Philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

Nancy Pearcey

Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Nancy Pearcey is the author of Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality. Her earlier books include The Soul of Science, Saving Leonardo, Finding Truth, and two ECPA Gold Medallion Award Winners: How Now Shall We Live (coauthored with Harold Fickett and Chuck Colson) and Total Truth. Her books have been translated into 18 languages. She is professor and scholar in residence at Houston Christian University. A former agnostic, Pearcey has spoken at universities such as Princeton, Stanford, USC, and Dartmouth. She has been quoted in The New Yorker and Newsweek, highlighted as one of the five top women apologists by Christianity Today, and hailed in The Economist as "America's pre-eminent evangelical Protestant female intellectual."

Charles Thaxton

Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Charles Thaxton received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Iowa State University. He completed two post-doctoral programs, one in history of science at Harvard University and the second in the molecular biology laboratories of Brandeis University. He has specialized in the origin of life and in science’s relationship with Christianity through history.