Believers in science

November 1, 2012

In "Believing is not always seeing" (Books, 25 October), Steve Fuller writes: "Religious believers know how the secular world works, yet they openly reject its principles without compromising their ability to function within it. For example...an increasing number of religious believers around the world are moving into scientific fields, especially medicine and engineering."

This appears to be a very uninformed view. Religious believers are not "moving into" science, medicine and engineering: we've always been there. Hospitals began as religious foundations. Believers made substantial contributions to science and engineering from the first.

Christian academics, including natural historians Asa Gray and James Dana, and geologists such as Alexander Winchell and George Wright, popularised evolutionary theory in North America, and some form of evolution was accepted by most Protestant biologists by the early 1870s. Most leading Christian thinkers in the UK and the US accepted evolution in the 19th century.

Reservations about evolutionary theory were stimulated by social Darwinism, which did not achieve a positive record in the treatment of race and mental impairment. Yes, many religious believers know how the secular world uses belief in the survival of the fittest.

I, a Christian, have a disturbing sense that I need not believe what Fuller knows.

Jane Hutton, Department of statistics, University of Warwick

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