Reviews of 'Return of the God Hypothesis'

The last thread on this book closed a day ago. So I thought a thread to post and discuss reviews of this book might be useful. Panda’s Thumb points to a review David Falk has up at Biologos:

PT also reposts some discussion of the book by Paul Braterman & Andrew Petto:


This saddens me deeply because I share his view that natural laws describe the ongoing sustaining activity of God. And like him, I think that God sometimes works in other ways to accomplish God’s purpose. Our primary difference it seems to me is that he thinks he can identify where God’s regular law-like activity ends and where God’s not-so-law-like activity begins. It is here we part company.

If you can’t tell the difference (which I agree it doesn’t seem like you would be able to) then I wonder what basis there is for thinking there is any involvement by God in the first place. It seems to be nothing but a faith position. So Meyer seems to think he can tell where God has intervened, and it’s in the gaps we haven’t yet solved.


I agree. The thought that God is involved first comes from someone’s theology of the created world. Then attempts to detect God’s involvement come from there.

Folks, including me, report experiences of awe and wonder over the beauty of creation and attribute that beauty to God. But the attribution of the experience of awe and wonder isn’t science, it’s faith and theology. And to say that it’s faith and theology isn’t to downplay that experience of awe and wonder, or the faith and theology, it’s just to categorize the attribution correctly.

This all brings up questions about the design discussion in my mind. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the idea of looking for God in creation. Although, my position is different than that. I see God in creation because of my faith and theology. I don’t really have to search for him there. But regarding looking for God in creation, it appears that ID attempts to prove a conclusion (rather than test a hypothesis) operating outside of the defined parameters of scientific pursuit, while putting forth the appearance of operating inside of the defined parameters of scientific pursuit.

Could a scientist operate within the scientific method and engage in a project where a God hypothesis is tested? If it’s possible to do that I think it would have to be done differently than what we see from ID. The primary goal would have to be scientific inquiry and pursuit, not messaging.

Sidenote: If God kickstarted the universe seeded with everything it needed to produce all that we see, then I’m not sure how someone could find scientific evidence to affirm a God hypothesis. But I can’t claim to know scientifically that that’s what happened. I just believe it at the moment. And I don’t find a theology from the Bible that tells me that I need to prove that belief to you guys.


Chad, you appear to be completely discounting the experiences of awe and wonder that Christians like me experience WHILE DOING SCIENCE. Why?

IDcreationism is 99.99% rhetorical, with virtually no doing. How do you explain that?

I couldn’t disagree more. There’s enormous awe and wonder to be experienced in the details that IDcreationists avoid. Why do you think they avoid getting into details? I think it’s because creationism flows from weak faith.


I agree that people experience awe and wonder while doing and learning about science. Likewise while listening to music and during a variety of other endeavors. Is there a scientific explanation for that human experience of awe and wonder? Are there examples of other species experiencing awe and wonder?


I don’t discount the experiences of awe and wonder while doing science! In fact, I thought about it while writing my post. I just didn’t talk it because it wasn’t my main point and the post was getting long, but maybe I should have. I’ve personally heard folks report their experience of awe and wonder while engaging in science. And why not? They spend more time thinking about the natural world, and digging into the details than most. I have Math and Civil Engineering undergrad degrees, taught math for 4 years, and now work as a P.E. at a Civil Engineering firm. I’ve attested to my own awe and wonder over my study of math, geology and physics. So, if I gave you the above impression…My bad.

My take is in my post which you responded to, though maybe it was too subtle. It appears to me that they’re driven by their purpose of messaging. They want to prove to the world that God is real. That’s not the way to approach science in my mind. In fact, it appears to remove them from engagement with the scientific method.

Also, I don’t see the need for them to do this. I don’t see theological justification for proving God via study of, or messaging about, the natural world.

I may not have spoken clearly. I’m not sure what you disagree with, because I agree that enormous awe and wonder are there to experience in the details that they avoid, and even counter. I agree!!

In fact, this math/engineering guy has been reading articles about biology, and engaging with you guys at Peaceful Science, because of my awe and wonder over what science has discovered about human origins, and about details of the magnificient creatures that have populated the earth for eons. I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing these animals on a hike since they’re no longer with us. But I can learn about them because of the work done by real scientists! I’m incredibly thankful for that.

In short, John, I don’t know if I my post was unclear, but somehow I stand by what I wrote and completely agree with what you’re saying.


@Mercer…John, did it look to you like my post was apologetic towards ID (your post made me think that)? If so, I don’t see it. It wouldn’t have come from what I actually think (and do). And I don’t think it came from my post.

I encourage Christians when I get the opportunity that there is no disagreement between science and the Bible, that the Bible doesn’t attempt to teach us science, that there should be no battle or mistrust between Christians and the scientific community and that Christian’s have no business being in the Culture War. I tell them that I think that the earth is the age that science has shown it to be, and that life has evolved in the way that science has shown.

I also tell them that scientists aren’t their enemies, aren’t out to get their children, and that Christians having a separate “science” is horribly bad for the education of our kids and for our testimony about Jesus. I have a 4 and a 6-year-old and I just had a conversation last weekend with another parent where I told them that the “Christian” science curriculum that I’ve seen is awful and was created with the wrong motives.


All things dull and ugly
All creatures short and squat
All things rude and nasty
The lord god made the lot

Each little snake that poisons
Each little wasp that stings
He made their brutish venom
He made their horrid wings

All things sick and cancerous
All evil great and small
All things foul and dangerous
The lord god made them all

Each nasty little hornet
Each beastly little squid
Who made the spiky urchin
Who made the shocks… he did

All things scabbed and ulcerous
All pox both great and small
Putrid, foul and gangrenous
The lord god made them all

— Eric Idle


I agree, except it seems more likely from their stance that they are really trying to prove to themselves that God is real.

I agree. That’s where I see the weakness of their faith. If they had true faith in what they were trying to sell rhetorically, they would be doing the science, not misrepresenting what others have done.

Fundamentalist colleges and universities would have productive research going on in their biology departments, with plenty of publications in the secular primary scientific literature. Those departments would be inviting secular scientists to give seminars. There would be creationist pharma companies. All of these things should flow easily from strong faith and creationism being correct.

Great. Apologies for my misunderstanding.


Wasps, snakes, squid, and sea urchins are all fantastic, though. The song should talk about ticks and mosquitoes instead!


Now this leads to an interesting and not always easy theological discussion, possibly on par with, “an evil spirit from YHWH”

If I head down that rabbit hole with you right now, I won’t get my work done today!

Even better would be Leishmania.


You and I are probably both postulating from different angles on this. I have many friends who would tend to like what ID puts out not because they need to prove to themselves that God is real, but because of their theologies of creation and inerancy (which I think are misinformed) and their view of or participation in the science vs religion theatre of the Culture War (which is unfortunate).

Regarding the experts, I think they can’t get past their bad theology, which they lead with (regarding science) because Christains tend to start with their theology.

Regarding my friends, I’m fairly confident in what I write here, because I know them. Regarding the experts, I don’t know any of them, so it’s just a guess. But my guess is informed by how hard it is for my friends to get past a misinformed reading of Genesis.

Not exactly doing science but whenever I see a chimp, the first thing that rushes to my head is “that’s your cousin”. The awe of that fact never dies.


I don’t think so. I think the experts know that there’s no scientific support for their position, at some level of awareness. Something clearly is pushing them away from working in the lab or the field instead of producing rhetoric.

I agree there.


Your question caused me to go looking and I found a project at Berkeley called the Greater Good Science Center. They write about and think about questions like that one:


Isn’t that the purpose of the web?

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Ha! Maybe. But today I actually have to get done with my work, or work later.

I’ll have a review of the book ready shortly – will let people know when I do. I would say that the book is surprisingly bad, but “surprisingly” would be a lie.


Or guinea-worm.

Btw, Sharks, not shocks.