4 He resolved this issue by recognising that planetary orbits are elliptical and not circular.
5 This is a controversial claim among both scientists and philosophers. Some, however, would say that scientists explain how the universe works and philosophers explore why we are here.
6As black holes cannot be seen, scientists came to understand that they existed by watching what happens around them. This led them to the conclusion that a black hole is a region of space-time from which gravity prevents anything from escaping. Black holes were originally considered a mathematical curiosity until scientists in the 1960s showed that they were a generic prediction of general relativity.
7 This theory, whose most famous proponent was Sir Fred Hoyle, argued that matter is continuously created at a rate that keeps the average density of the universe the same as it expands. As a discredited theory, its only importance today is that the research pushed Big Bang supporters to back up their theory with evidence.
8According to this theory, the universe began approximately 13.8 billion years ago when infinitely dense matter at the centre of a singularity exploded. This cosmological model is generally accepted by scientists today as best fitting the available data. As a result of this explosion, the universe is still expanding, which can be seen from the distance between galaxies becoming greater.
9 This atheist scientist is attacking those who work from a ‘god of the gaps’ model that postulates that God’s creative activity explains anything scientists cannot explain. This led him to suggest that believers who ‘find God in the Big Bang’ are desperate. This does not mean that the Big Bang could not have been part of God’s creative plan.
10 There is a sense in which the Big Bang theory is neutral in terms of being evidence for either side of this debate. The fact that this theory is the best fit for the available data at the moment does not in any way undermine the beliefs of those religious people, many of whom are scientists, who look to the universe to see the hand of God. Equally, atheist scientists can interpret the Big Bang in a way that would support their theories.
11 There are many kinds of creationist who try to reconcile Scripture and scientific evidence in a variety of ways. Neo-Creationists, for example, find it much easier to reconcile their own views with those of science. However, the views of Flat-Earth creationists are irreconcilable with those of science.
12 Many philosophers take a view that, while there is plenty to discuss between science and religion, there should be no real conflict. A good place to develop an understanding of this area is the work of scientists who have found science as a route to religion, such as John Polkinghorne. To fully answer this question though you will need to reflect on the challenges of scientists such as Richard Dawkins and Peter Atkins. Perhaps you could assess the views of evolutionary biologist Michael Ruse, whose issues with religious belief are not so much about scientific evidence but his thoughts on the Problem of Evil.
13 Polkinghorne considers questions about the existence of God to be the most important that humankind faces. Questions such as Leibniz’s ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’ for Polkinghorne find their answer ultimately in God. He explores evidence such as the intelligibility of the universe and the anthropic fine-tuning of the universe. His works, as a scientist and Anglican priest, present some of the richest discussions for reflecting on in this part of the specification.
14 Alister McGrath is directly challenging Dawkins’ book The God Delusion. Like Polkinghorne, he is a scientist as well as a minister and challenges Dawkins’ interpretations of science as well as religion. His scientific background makes this short book a very useful tool for evaluating the views written in Dawkins’ many books.