"The two worldviews governing the mind of the West — Christianity and scientific materialism — have begun to curl and shrink and blacken like scraps of paper in a fire. During the previous two centuries, the old Christian cosmology collapsed in the face of scientific discovery. The tidy biblical universe that was only six thousand years old was found to be too small to contain the enormous upheavals that were found in the geological and biological records. Even worse, Christianity was tried and found wanting in terms of its own standards. The churches were shown not only to have consistently violated the teachings of their founder but often to have embodied these violations in their own institutions. Persecution, bigotry, and intolerance can be expected to crop up in any organization, but what are we to say when these offenses have become part of the stuff of which that organization is made?

"In recent years scientific materialists have gloried in these disclosures. But closer investigation does not give any reason for great confidence in materialism either. Its critique of Christianity has frequently consisted of a kind of enormous ad hominem argument — pointing at the shortcomings of the institutions in order to show the weakness of the faith. But this has not invalidated the ethos of Christianity; it has only shown that people frequently fail to live up to it. The proselytizers for materialism have tried — with imperfect success — to prove that we don't need Christianity in order to embrace the moral ideals of Christianity, but they have not produced any ethical system that is better. Indeed much of moral philosophy in the past hundred years has consisted of taking Christian ethics and trying to justify them through purely rational considerations, such as the doctrine of the greatest good for the greatest number. But these attempts have never managed to uplift or inspire anyone outside of a tiny circle of intellectuals.

"Furthermore, science may have invalidated the literal meaning of Genesis, but scientific claims about the origin and nature of the universe are showing their own weaknesses. Some still treat Einstein's relativity and quantum physics as startling new discoveries, but these discoveries are now around a hundred years old. More recent theories — such as superstring theory and the existence of countless other universes — are intriguing, but their proponents often sound like the astronomers of the late period of the Ptolemaic theory of the solar system, who had to multiply the number of epicycles in the planets' orbits in order to account for increasing inconsistencies in the data. There has long been talk of new paradigms in science, but many of the current paradigms are starting to look old. And they remain as far from answering the existential questions about the purpose and nature of our own being as they have ever been."