It is certainly true of my experience that, for all the departmental rivalry between science and RE at school, we are far more likely to find ourselves by the age of twenty-one sitting in a pub somewhere discussing God and the meaning of life than debating the merits of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and the contribution to our well-being of particle physics.
In Awesome God, however, Sara Maitland has deftly demonstrated that the popular divide conceived between science and religion is rather less than paper-thin. Indeed, as she points out, “If we look at creation, and ourselves within it, we can indeed see the thumb-prints or brushstrokes of God.”
What Maitland means here is more far-reaching than simply being moved to prayer by a mountainscape, or stunned into contemplative stillness by a beautiful sunset. She proposes that as people of faith, as creatures who recognise their Creator, we should engage with modern science and discover a God more awesome than ever we could have thought.
Pulling together scientific strands from subjects as diverse as mathematics, cosmology, quantum physics, neurology, psychoanalysis and psychiatry, evolutionary theory, and a range of social sciences, Maitland maintains: “Nothing in this threatens the narrative of my faith. The incarnation of Jesus, the nature of the Trinity, and my hopes of salvation are all deepened, enriched, and secured in this science.”
Let me say unequivocally: this is an excellent book. Sara Maitland not only writes about complex ideas with such a lucidity that means the reader needs neither a background in science nor theology; but also with such an appealing approach that one wants to develop a deeper interest in both these areas.
Her humour and humility, interlaced throughout the work, make this an inspired piece of writing from someone who relishes the opportunity “to wallow in all that we can find” and to rejoice in the splendid wonder of God.