Part of the reason Antony Flew left atheism can be found in this Paul Davies’ quote “Science can proceed only if the scientist adopts an essentially theological worldview!”


Conversation with John Barrow

Published on Jun 16, 2012

Templeton Prize 2006, Gifford Lectures 1988
British Academy, 1 June 2012


Many Christians are involved in science and John D. Barrow is one of the leaders of science today.

Here is his bio:

John D Barrow

John D. Barrow was born in London in 1952 and attended Ealing Grammar School. He graduated in Mathematics from Durham University in 1974, received his doctorate in Astrophysics from Oxford University in 1977 (supervised by Dennis Sciama), and held positions at the Universities of Oxford and California at Berkeley before taking up a position at the Astronomy Centre, University of Sussex in 1981. He was professor of astronomy and Director of the Astronomy Centre at the University of Sussex until 1999. He is the author of 325 scientific articles in cosmology and astrophysics, and is a recipient of the Locker Prize for Astronomy and the 1999 Kelvin Medal of the Royal Glasgow Philosophical Society. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree by the University of Hertfordshire in 1999. He recently held a Senior 5-year Research Fellowship from the Particle Physicsand Astronomy Research Council of the UK.

In July 1999 he took up a new appointment as Research Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Cambridge and Director of the Millennium Mathematics Project, a new initiative to improve the understanding and appreciation of mathematics and its applications amongst young people and the general public.

He is the author of 15 books, translated into 28 languages, which explore many of the wider historical, philosophical and cultural ramifications of developments in astronomy, physics and mathematics: these include, The Left Hand of Creation (with Joseph Silk), The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (with Frank Tipler), L’Homme et le Cosmos (with Frank Tipler), The World Within the World, Theories of Everything, Pi in the Sky: counting, thinking and being, Pérche il mondo è matematico?, The Origin of the Universe, The Artful Universe, Impossibility: the limits of science and the science of limitsBetween Inner Space and Outer Space and The Book of Nothing. His most recent book, The Constants of Nature:from alpha to omega has just been published by Random House. He has written a play, Infinities, which was performed (in Italian) at the Teatro la Scala, Milan, in the Spring of 2002 under the direction of Luca Ronconi and in Spanish at the Valencia Festival.

He is a frequent lecturer to audiences of all sorts in many countries. He has given many notable public lectures in many countries, including the 1989 Gifford Lectures, the George Darwin and Whitrow Lectures of the Royal Astronomical Society, the Amnesty International Lecture on Science in Oxford, The Flamsteed Lecture, The Tyndall Lecture, The RSA Christmas Lecture for Children, and theSpinoza Lecture at the University of Amsterdam. John Barrow also has the curious distinction of having delivered lectures on cosmology at the Venice Film Festival, 10 Downing Street, Windsor Castle and the Vatican Palace.


Below is an excerpt from Antony Flew’s book THERE IS A GOD: How the world’s most notorious atheist changed his mind, (pages 107-109) where he quotes both Paul Davies and John D. Barrrow when essentially making the same point:

In his Templeton address, Paul Davies makes the point
that “science can proceed only if the scientist adopts an
essentially theological worldview.” Nobody asks where the
laws of physics come from, but “even the most atheistic
scientist accepts as an act of faith the existence of a lawlike
order in nature that is at least in part comprehensible to
us.” Davies rejects two common misconceptions. He says
the idea that a theory of everything would show that this is
the only logically consistent world is “demonstrably wrong,”
because there is no evidence at all that the universe is logi-
cally necessary, and in fact it is possible to imagine alterna-
tive universes that are logically consistent. Second, he says
it is “arrant nonsense” to suppose that the laws of physics
are our laws and not nature’s. Physicists will not believe
that Newton’s inverse law of gravitation is a cultural cre-
ation. He holds that the laws of physics “really exist,” and
scientists’ job is to uncover and not invent them.
Davies draws attention to the fact that the laws of nature
underlying phenomena are not found through direct obser-
vation, but extracted through experiment and mathematical
theory. The laws are written in a cosmic code that scientists
must crack in order to reveal the message that is “nature’s
message, God’s message, take your choice, but not our mes-
The burning question, he says, is threefold:
Where do the laws of physics come from?
Why is it that we have these laws instead of some
other set?
How is that we have a set of laws that drives feature-
less gases to life, consciousness and intelligence?
These laws “seem almost contrived—fine-tuned, some
commentators have claimed—so that life and conscious-
ness may emerge.” He concludes that this “contrived
nature of physical existence is just too fantastic for me to
take on board as simply ‘given.’ It points to a deeper under-
lying meaning to existence.” Such words as purpose
and design, he says, only capture imperfectly what the universe
is about. “But, that it is about something, I have absolutely
no doubt.”25
John Barrow, in his Templeton address, observes that
the unending complexity and exquisite structure of the
universe are governed by a few simple laws that are sym-
metrical and intelligible. In fact, “there are mathematical
equations, little squiggles on pieces of paper, that tell us
how whole universes behave.” Like Davies, he dismisses
the idea that the order of the universe is imposed by our
minds. Moreover, “natural selection requires no under-
standing of quarks and black holes for our survival and
Barrow observes that in the history of science new
theories extend and subsume old ones. Although Newton’s
theory of mechanics and gravity has been superseded by
Einstein’s and will be succeeded by some other theory in
the future, a thousand years from now engineers will still
rely on Newton’s theories. Likewise, he says, religious con-
ceptions of the universe also use approximations and anal-
ogies to help in grasping ultimate things. “They are not the
whole truth, but this does not stop them being a part of the



The Kalam Cosmological Argument (Scientific Evidence) (Henry Schaefer, PhD)

Published on Jun 11, 2012

Scientist Dr. Henry “Fritz” Schaefer gives a lecture on the cosmological argument and shows how contemporary science backs it up.



John D. Barrow

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the English theoretical physicist John David Barrow. For other uses, see John Barrow (disambiguation).
John D. Barrow
Born 29 November 1952 (age 61)
Fields Physicist and mathematician
Institutions University of Cambridge
Gresham College
University of California, Berkeley
University of Sussex
Alma mater University of Durham
University of Oxford
Doctoral advisor Dennis William Sciama
Doctoral students Peter Coles
David Wands
Notable awards Templeton prize (2006)

John David Barrow FRS (born 29 November 1952) is an English cosmologist, theoretical physicist, and mathematician. He is currently Research Professor of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge. Barrow is also a writer of popular science and an amateur playwright.


Barrow attended Barham Primary School in Wembley until 1964 and Ealing Grammar School for Boys from 1964–71 and obtained his first degree in mathematics and physics from Van Mildert College at the University of Durham in 1974.[1] In 1977, he completed his doctorate in astrophysics at Magdalen College, Oxford, under Dennis William Sciama. He was a Junior Research Lecturer at Christ Church, Oxford, from 1977–81. He did two postdoctoral years in astronomy at theUniversity of California, Berkeley, as a Commonwealth Lindemann Fellow (1977–8) and Miller Fellow (1980–1).

In 1981 he joined the University of Sussex and rose to the rank of Professor and Director of the Astronomy Centre. In 1999, he became Professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics and a fellow in Clare Hall at Cambridge University. He is Director of theMillennium Mathematics Project. From 2003–2007 he was Gresham Professor of Astronomy at Gresham College, London, and he has been appointed as Gresham Professor of Geometry from 2008–2011; only one person has previously held two different Gresham chairs.[2] In 2008, the Royal Society awarded him the Faraday Prize.

In addition to having published more than 480 journal articles, Barrow has coauthored (with Frank J. TiplerThe Anthropic Cosmological Principle, a work on the history of the ideas, specifically intelligent design and teleology, as well as a treatise on astrophysics. He has also published 17 books for general readers, beginning with his 1983 The Left Hand of Creation. His books summarise the state of the affairs of physical questions, often in the form of compendia of a large number of facts assembled from the works of great physicists, such as Paul Dirac and Arthur Eddington.

Barrow’s approach to philosophical issues posed by physical cosmology makes his books accessible to general readers. For example, Barrow introduced a memorable paradox, which he called “the Groucho Marx Effect” (see Russell-like paradoxes). Here, he quotes Groucho Marx: “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as a member”. Applying this to problems in cosmology, Barrow states: “A universe simple enough to be understood is too simple to produce a mind capable of understanding it.”[3] That is, the better we understand the problem, the more likely it is to be oversimplified. Conversely, the closer we get to a description of reality, the more complex and incomprehensible the description becomes. There would be few if any fields of study in which this paradox does not apply.

Barrow has lectured at 10 Downing StreetWindsor Castle, the Vatican, and to the general public. In 2002, his play Infinities premiered in Milan, played in Valencia, and won the Premi Ubu 2002 Italian Theatre Prize.

He was awarded the 2006 Templeton Prize for “Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities” for his “writings about the relationship between life and the universe, and the nature of human understanding [which] have created new perspectives on questions of ultimate concern to science and religion”.[4] He is a member of a United Reformed Church, which he describes as teaching “a traditional deistic picture of the universe”.[5]


In English:

  1. Cosmic Imagery: Key Images in the History of Science. ISBN 978-0224075237
  2. New Theories of Everything. ISBN 978-0192807212
  3. Between Inner Space and Outer Space: Essays on the Science, Art, and Philosophy of the Origin of the Universe
  4. Impossibility: Limits of Science and the Science of Limits. ISBN 0-09-977211-6
  5. Material Content of the Universe
  6. Pi in the Sky: Counting, Thinking, and Being. ISBN 9780198539568
  7. Science and Ultimate Reality: Quantum Theory, Cosmology and Complexity
  8. Barrow, John D.Tipler, Frank J. (1988). The Anthropic Cosmological PrincipleOxford University PressISBN 978-0-19-282147-8LCCN 87028148.
  9. The Artful Universe: The Cosmic Source of Human Creativity
  10. The Book of Nothing: Vacuums, Voids, and the Latest Ideas about the Origins of the Universe
  11. The Infinite Book: A Short Guide to the Boundless, Timeless and Endless
  12. The Left Hand of Creation: The Origin and Evolution of the Expanding Universe
  13. The Origin of the Universe: To the Edge of Space and Time
  14. The Universe That Discovered Itself
  15. The World Within the World
  16. Theories of Everything: The Quest for Ultimate Explanation
  17. The Constants of Nature: The Numbers that Encode the Deepest Secrets of the Universe
  18. 100 Essential Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know
  19. Mathletics: A Scientist Explains 100 Amazing Things About The World of Sports

In other languages:

  1. L’Homme et le Cosmos (in French)
  2. Perché il Mondo è Matematico? (in Italian)

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up^ “Durham graduate wins $1M prize”. University of Durham Department of Physics. 20 March 2006. Retrieved 2007-11-24.
  2. Jump up^ Gresham College: New Gresham Chair of Geometry.
  3. Jump up^ Barrow, John D (1990). The World Within the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 342–343. ISBN 0-19-286108-5.
  4. Jump up^ Lehr, Donald (2006-03-15). “John Barrow wins 2006 Templeton Prize”templetonprize.orgJohn Templeton Foundation. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
  5. Jump up^ Overbye, Dennis (16 March 2006). “Math Professor Wins a Coveted Religion Award”New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-24.

External links[edit]

Publications available on the Internet

Authority control


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