Science and Religion in Search of Cosmic Purpose

John F. Haught, Editor

"A welcome contribution to science and religion in discourse. [The author] . . . masterfully present[s] the question-raising and problem-solving power of the human mind in a multidisciplinary context."
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Many scientists today think of the universe as essentially purposeless. Likewise, modern and postmodern philosophers have often been suspicious of any religious claims that the natural world embodies and eternal meaning or teleology. Not all scientific thinkers subscribe to this cosmic pessimism, however, and some would even argue that contemporary knowledge is consistent with a religious sense of cosmic purpose.

This stimulating book offers candid reflections on the question of cosmic purpose written both by prominent scientists and by scholars representing the world's religious traditions. Examining the issue from a wide variety of perspectives, this is the only current book to deal with cosmic purpose from an interreligious and interdisciplinary perspective.

Here scientists such as physicist Andrei Linde and biologist Francisco Ayala come face to face with Islamic scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Hindu philosopher Anindita Niyogi Balslev, and others. They examine such perplexing issues as the possible existence of multiple universes and the implications of seemingly purposive features in life. The contributions address the question of whether a religiously-based notion of a purposeful cosmos is consistent with the latest scientific understanding of nature, and whether theology can affirm the presence of divine action without contradicting science.

These essays will challenge readers to ponder their own place in the cosmos as they seek to interpret the visions of the world's great spiritual traditions in the light of natural science.

Table of Contents


1. Inflationary Cosmology and the Question of Teleology
Andrei Lindei

2. Darwin and Teleology of Nature
Francisco J. Ayala

3. Islamic Cosmology: Basic Tenets and Implications, Yesterday and Today
Seyyed Hossein Nasr

4. Cosmos and Consciousness: Indian Perspectives
Anindita Niyogi Balslev

5. Cosomology, Science, and Ethics in Japanese Neo-Confucianism
Mary Evelyn Tucker

6. Cosmic Directionality and the Wisdom of Science
Brian Swimme

7. Information and Cosmic Purpose
John F. Haught

8. Is There Design and Purpose in the Universe?
Owen Gingerich


"A welcome contribution to science and religion in discourse. [The author] . . . masterfully present[s] the question-raising and problem-solving power of the human mind in a multidisciplinary context."—Tibor Horvath, SJ, general editor of Ultimate Reality and Meaning: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Philosophy of Understanding

"These eight essays are informative, interesting, and clear."—Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith

"All the essays are stimulating . . . they invite the reader to continue thinking about the meaning or meaninglessness of the universe."—Choice

"This collection of essays offers a welath of insights, more than enough to provide the foundation for a splendid course, a fascinating public debate or an extended series of popular lectures."—International Journal for Philosophy of Religion

"John Haught has brought together a remarkable and very diverse group of scientists and religious scholars, and the result is a challenging diversity of perspectives that are eminently readable, persuasive, and thought-provoking."—Wentzel van Huyssteen, James I. McCord Professor of Theology and Science, Princeton University


Francisco J. Ayala Anindita Niyogi Balslev Owen Gingerich John F. Haught Andrei Linde Seyyed Hossein Nasr Mary Evelyn Tucker Brian Swimme

Supplemental Materials


Named a "Book of Distinction" from Templeton Foundation

About the Author

John F. Haught is Landegger Distinguished Professor of Theology at Georgetown University and director of the Georgetown Center for the Study of Science and Religion. He is the author of numerous books, including God after Darwin: A Theology of Evolution (Westview Press, 1999).

156 pp., 6 x 9

Mar 2000

156 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-0-87840-865-8
Mar 2000

156 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-58901-411-4
Mar 2000

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