Life & Faith

Homo Divinus

May 2, 2019

Denis Alexander on whether there’s purpose in biology - and in life.

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“You stand back and look at the narrative as a whole, that to me doesn’t look necessarily without purpose … it’s like a drama - it looks like it’s going somewhere."

Denis Alexander is a molecular biologist, cancer researcher, and one-time Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at Cambridge. He’s been writing about science and religion for close to half a century. His latest book is called Is There Purpose In Biology?

"As a matter of fact, most evolutionary biologists I think would deny - to a certain degree, at least - the idea that evolution is a theory of chance. … If you live in a planet of light and darkness and so on, you need eyes, so you’ll get them; just wait long enough and they’ll come along. And if you go and live in a cave you’ll lose your eyes and they decay away. ... The whole process is predicated on the ability to adapt to a particular environment, particular ‘ecological niche' as we say in biology."

In this episode of Life & Faith, Denis explains what young earth creationists and the New Atheists agree on, and how the story of evolution maps onto the biblical account of where humans come from and where we’re going. He also covers Adam and Eve, heaven, life on other planets, and where cancer and natural disasters fit into the story.

"Clearly life and death go together; you can’t have life without deathEndFragment … it looks to me like what we have is a sort of package deal - so that all the good stuff and all the 'bad stuff’, stuff we don’t like, just go together. If you have carbon-based life you’re going to get carbon-based death; that’s the way it’s going to go."

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Denis Alexander was in Sydney to deliver the 2018 New College Lectures on the topic “Genetics, God, and the Future of Humanity”. Listen to the full lectures here.

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