JASA BOOK Reviews for December 1973
Table of Contents
THE EXODUS PROBLEM AND ITS RAMIFI CATIONS by Donovan A. Courville, Crest-Challenge Books, P.O. Box 993, Loma Linda, California. 1971. 2 vols. 687 pp. Paperback. $9.95. (Two Reviews)
THE CREATION OF LIFE: A Cybernetic Ap proach to Evolution by A. E. Wilder Smith, Harold Shaw: Wheaton, 1970. 269 pp. $5.95
SCIENCE TEACHING: A CHRISTIAN AP PROACH by Robert J. Ream, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co. 1972. Paperback. 130 pp. $2.50.
INQUIRY INTO SCIENCE: Its Domain and Limits by Richard Schlegel, Doubleday Anchor, Garden City, New York (1972) 108 pages. Paperback. $1.45
BEYOND SCIENCE by Denis Alexander, A.J. Holman Company, Philadelphia and New York. 1972. 222 pp.
THE EXODUS PROBLEM AND ITS RAMIFICATIONS by Donovan A. Courville, Crest-Challenge Books, P.O. Box 993,
California. 1971. 2 vols. 687 pp. Paperback. $9.95.
The study of antiquity involves highly developed disciplines which should never have to suffer the audacious and ludicrous intrusions of learned laymen or dilettantes. Each area within the general fields of ancient Near Eastern history and prehistory is the preserve and responsibility of specialists: meticulous archaeologists, scholars who through lifelong dedication have attained expertise in certain quarters, and philologists possessing a knowledge of particular scripts and languages as well as a thorough familiarity with the corpus of inscriptions and literature. Likewise, any investigation into the ancient world should incorporate all the available evidence including the Bible Arbitrary dismissal of the historical framework and chronology provided in Scripture is not indicative of rational historiography. Specialization, advanced degrees, membership in esoteric societies and extensive bibliography are largely wasted if during the course of research the foundational evidence in the Bible is ignored.
Professionals have consistently refused to consider the Biblical Deluge, seven years famine, Exodus and God's influence on the course of history. Pitifully few historians and archaeologists have attempted to honestly compare the Biblical record with the chronology and events of the ancient Near East as they actually happencd. Few have even approached the Von Rankian ideal of history, "wie es eigentlich gctcesen". Thus, the unfortunate result has been, as Voltaire noted long ago, that history is a lie foisted off on the living by the dead.
Dr. Courville, a chemist by training, has attempted to reconstruct ancient history as it actually occurred by utilizing the Bible and by analysis of traditionally accepted historical explanations. Some may conclude that Courville's recent two volume treatment of these issues entitled The Exodus Problem and its Ramifications is irrelevant and unworthy of examination for the reason that his background is incongruous. Admittedly, the results originating from most nonprofessionals must be taken emit grano sails. It is not surprising that a chemist should overlook some techniques of historical method and lack the detailed and ever increasing body of information accumulating in numerous journals and monographs. Nevertheless, Courville has recognized the key to the past of the ancient Near East. Where specialists and pseudo-Christian scholars have utterly failed through lack of honesty and ignorance, the author has contributed a remarkably significant proof of the inspiration of Scripture. He has demonstrated that it is time for non-believing "authorities" and those who merely maintain a shabby pretense of belief in the historicity of the Bible to acknowledge the facts. The deformed monstrosity of currently accepted ancient history is totally irreconcilable with the Old Testament. Inspired history within the Bible dictates a complete revision of antiquity to conform with actual events.
It is interesting to note that two men working quite independently and without knowledge of the other reached the same basic conclusions which unlock the seemingly unsolvable contradictions between Scripture and history. More than fifteen years ago Dr. Herman L. Ffoch, in his Compendium of World History, properly restored ancient history. Marked differences separate the interpretations of Hoch and Conrville. Yet, the general framework which has been established as a challenge to present academic opinion is the same.
The key becomes obvious when it is realized that a valid reconstruction of Near Eastern history demands:
1. Possession of an accurate chronology.
2. Correct placement of Israelite history with regard to archaclogical remains.
3. The establishment of the right parallel progression of events for the areas of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Anatolia and Greece.
Courville begins with a rehearsal of the Exodus story and all the miraculous circumstances which attended it. By the addition of the scriptural 480 years to Thicle's date for the fourth year of Solomon's reign (I Kings 6:1), a date in the mid-fifteenth century B.C. is assigned to the departure of Israel out of Egypt. Accepted chronological schemes of Egyptian history with this date prove to be abortive. No correspondence between Scripture and history is demonstrable during the Eighteenth, or for that matter, with the Nineteenth Dynasty.
As Courville suggests, during Dynasty XVIII there are no evidences for: the plagues, a Pharannic court in the north, building program in the delta, a Pharaoh whose life was lost at the Red Sea and the collapse of Egypt. Quite the opposite has been discovered in this dynasty which marked the apogee of Egyptian imperialist power. Identification of the Exodus during Dynasty XIX also creates more difficulties than it solves. Which Pharaoh fell along with his 600 chariots? How is the Merneptah stela (which mentions the captivity of the nation of Israel) to he reconciled with this late chronological placement? Indeed, how is the period of the judges to fit in at all?
Analysis of the archaeology directed Courville, Hoeh and others to the fact that Israel entered the Promised Land at the close of Early Bronze III or the transitional period bewecn Early and Middle Bronze. Widespread destruction of Canaanite population centers, especially Jericho and Ai, occurred at this time.
All acknowledge the parallelism between the end of the Old Kingdom (specifically Dynasty VI) and the end of Early Bronze III. It is at this juncture in Egyptian affairs that Courville rediscovered that the Exodus happened.
The contemporaneity of the Exodus with the end of Early Bronze III and the end of the Old Kingdom has chronological ramifications which alter to a considerable degree the historic structure of the ancient world. Locating the Exodus in the fifteenth century B.C. gives chronological orientation to Early Bronze and the Old Kingdom. Courvillc brings the beginnings of Early Bronze and Dynasty I down to the post-Flood era towards the end of the third millennium B.C. This development confronts us with the realization that the accepted Manethonian dynastic scheme, of placing one dynasty after another while not admitting the existence of contemporary dynasties, is fallacious. Within the framework of Biblical chronology Courville concludes that the Old and Middle Kingdoms of Egypt were roughly equivalent in timethat this period was brought to climax and swift collapse with the intervention of God in the Exodus. These discoveries also made known the fact that Dynasty VIII and the Second Intermediate periods were contemporary in Egypt and mirrored the ruinous conditions following the Exodus as the Hyksos invaders filled the void left by the departed children of Israel. Velikovsky over two decades ago drew similar conclusions regarding the Second Intermediate. It has been recognized that the Papyrus Ipuwer is the Egyptian version of what happened.
Now the relatively quiet judges episode, free from Egyptian interference, makes sense when paralleled with the Hyksos rule on the Nile. Likewise, having the revival of Egypt with the New Kingdom at the same time as the Monarchy in Israel provides new meaning to the Near East.
Beyond this basic, but vitally important, scheme Courville and Hoeh have developed very different reconstructions. Having a familiarity with Dr. Hoch's work, the reviewer is unable to agree with many of Courville's interpretations. The Exodus Problem, however, contains many interesting and significant chapters, in accordance with valid chronology, on the archaeological restoration of Palestine. There are concepts presented in these volumes which do not appear in other treatises. Courville has detailed a revision of Mesopotamian, Anatolian and Grecian antiquities which deserves the attention and scrutiny of all those concerned with the literal historocity of the Bible.
Reviewed by Ronald P. Long, MA. (UCLA), Fontono, California.
A Second Review of The Exodus Problem and Its Ramifications
This work of nearly 700 pages is an extraordinary study of wide research and detailed analysis, motivated by a sincere desire to establish the accuracy of Scriptures. It is unfortunately misguided by an altogether defective historical perspective.
Courvdle taught at Pacific Union College from 1935 to 1949, and at Loma Linda University from 1949 to
1970.1 Though his major field has beenbio-chemistry and his major publication a work on poisonous marine animals, Courville has had a keen interest in archaeology and has pursued a study of biblical chronology for 15 years.
The author's reading has been extensive but indiscriminating. On the one hand, Courville cites completely outdated works, and on the other hand, ignores more recent studies. His study combines an almost stupefying list of names, dates, and other details together with dumfounding dislocations of chronologies, ranging up to six centuries.
While his intention is laudable, his methodology is deplorable. Faced with apparent contradictions between the Scriptures and current archaeological interpretations, the author's solution is a drastic revision that turns chronological tables topsy-turvy. He blithely shuffles the dynasties of Egypt like a deck of cards. He dispenses with the Middle Kingdom of Egypt as a "creation of modern historians" (I, p. 101). On a chart (I, p. 104) Courville lowers the beginning of Dynasty I by a millennium, and places Dynasty XII before Dynasty VI. Courville accepts the date of 1445 B.C. as the date of the Exodus, but suggests that the pharaoh of the Exodus was an obscure Koucharis, whom he identifies with a Ka-ankh-ra of the XIIIth Dynasty (ordinarily dated to the 18th cent, B.C.!).
The date of the Exodus is a problem which is linked with the date of the Conquest of Canaan some 40 years later. Two dates have been proposed: an early date c. 1440 B.C. and a later date c. 1270 B. C.2 The later date is accepted by most scholars today, except for American evangelical scholars who have defended the early date primarily on the basis of I Kings 6: 1, which gives the chronological datum that Solomon began to build the temple 480 years after the Exodus.3
The most attractive solution to the apparent contradiction between the datum of I Kings 6:1 and the archaeological evidence, which favors the late dase, has been made by the British evangelical, Kenneth Kitchen, an Egyptologist at the University of Liverpool. He suggests that the 480 years represent not simple elapsed time, but as in the case of some Egyptian records, the total of some years which may have been partly concurrent. The Turin Papyrus, for example, lists Dynasties XIII to XVII, whose total reigns amount to 450 years; but these pharaohs must have reigned partly concurrently within a 216-year period.4
Coorville in reckless fashion displaces the Hyksos from the period of 1700 to 1570 B.C. to a period after the Exodus, and further identifies the Hyksos with the Amalekites (I, pp. 101, 22932).' He also lowers the incursion of the Sea Peoples from 1200 to 700 B.C. The father-in-law of Solomon is identified as Thutmose I, who has been transposed by the author from the 16th to the 10th cent. B.C.
A long discussion (I, pp. 258-72) is devoted to denying the well-attested identification of the biblical Shishak with the Libyan Shcshonk.6 The author accepts the suggestion by Velikovsky that the biblical Shishak is Thutmose III (I, p. 259). He characterizes the Egyptian inscriptions of Sheshonk as vague and is unaware that a monumental stele of Sheshonk at Megiddo confirms the account of his campaign.7
Courville is no less bold in making forays to adjust Greek chronology (II, ch. xvi), lowering the fall of Troy from c. 1200 to the 8th cent. B.C.8 He likewise lowers the date of Hammurabi from the 18th cent to the 15th cent. B.C. (II, p. 300), and the Amarna letters from the mid 14th cent. to the mid 9th cent, B.C. (II, p. 320). A section on Kassite chronology (II, pp. 306-17) betrays no understanding of the problems involved or acquaintance with recent studies.9
In sum, Courville's work is noble in intent, and his labors are laudable, but his theories and findings are, sad to say, "loco" in toto.
1The author, apparently a Seventh-Day Adventist graduate of Andrews University, did not benefit from either the works or the counsel of Siegfried Horn of Andrews University, a distinguished Egyptologist and archaeologist. It might he noted that the outstanding work on biblical chronology was written by another SDA scholar, ER. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Rerdmans, rev. ed. 1965).
2For a more detailed discussion of the issue, see E. Yamauchi, The Stones and the Scriptures (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1972), pp. 48 ff.
3For studies defending the early date, see: Leon Wood, "Date of the Exodus," in J. B. Payne, ed., New Perspectives on
the Old Testament (Waco: Word Books, 1970), pp. 66-87; B. Waltke, "Palestinian Artifactoal Evidence Supporting the Early Date of the Exodus," Biblioteca Sacra, CXXIX (1972), 33-47.
4K. Kitchen, "Chronology of the Old Testament," in The New Bible Dictionary, ed. J. D. Douglas (Grand Rapids: Win. B. Eerdmans, 1962), pp. 214-16; idem, "Some New Light on the Asiatic Wars of Ramesses II," Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, L (1964), 47-70; idem, Ancient Orient and Old Testament (Chicago: Inter-Varsity Press, 1966), pp. 72-75.
5On the Hyksos, see J. van Seters. The Hyksos (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966); D. Redford, "The Hyksos Invasion in History and Tradition," Orientalia, XXXIX (1970), 1-51.
6Thc sources cited by the author in his discussion include such antiquated works as G. Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchies
(1897), and F. Petrie, A History of Egypt (1912)!
7Cf. B. Maisler, "The Campaign of Pharaoh Shishak to Palestine," Vetsis Testasnentosn Supplement, IV ( 1957), 57-66.
8There is indeed an anachronism in Virgil's Aeneid in associating Aeneas who flees from Troy with Dido-Elissa, who founded Carthage c. 800 B.C. But it is nonsense to make this the basis of lowering the date of the fall of Troy.
9F. el-Wailly, "Synopsis of Royal Sources of the Kassite Period," Snoier, X (1954), 43-54; A. Goetze, "The Kassites and Near Eastern Chronology," Journal of Cuneiform Studies, XVIII (1964), 97-101; J. Bsinkman, "Notes on Mesopotamian History in the Thirteenth Century," "Bibliotheca Orientalis, XXVII (1970), 301-14.
Reviewed by Edwin Yamauchi, Department of History, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio 45056.
THE CREATION OF LIFE: A Cybernetic Approach to Evolution by A. E. Wilder Smith, Harold Shaw: Wheaton, 1970. 269 pp. $5.95
My normal gestation period for a Journal ASA review is about 9 months, apparently followed by a similiar period of travail before publication. The Creation of Life fascinated me sufficiently that the first time has been cut to less than 21 days. It is a pleasure to read a book on origins that doesn't quote The Genesis Flood (which I admire) even once!
The first half of the book is mainly an attack on Biochemical Predestination by Kenyon and Steinman (McGraw-Hill 1969). As the title suggests, this is one attempt (there are others) to advance the argument that the properties of matter are such that the formation of life as we know it is "predestined" given sufficient time. Note that this is not the same as the usual materialist reliance on chance. In fact, as Wilder Smith points out, Kenyon and Steinman are really saying that matter is preprogrammed to form life, although they just assume this, without mentioning how the programming was done or who did it.
Wilder Smith invokes information theory to argue that no complex programming process, whether predestined or not, can exist without a non-random energy supply, monitored by intelligence at some level or other. This is true no matter whether we are considering presentday programming, or some primeval predestination process. His argument is irrefutable, as far as I can see.
The second half deals with artificial intelligence, and basically leads to a related conclusion-not only can coding not exist without intelligence, but the generation of intelligence requires preexisting intelligence. The evidence includes the failure of randomly generated programming to produce anything useful.
The Creation of Life is annoying in some respects. Wilder Smith fills it with italics. He fills space by quoting from the same identical passage more then once in the same chapter, but on the other hand saves it by referring to his The Drug Users for a good part of his evidence and argument in the second part. He feels it necessary to allude to The Drug Users and other sources for alleged proof of telepathy, which is not really necessary to his argument.
I would have liked a more rigorous approach in part 1. There is a lonesome delta F on p. 60, and the equation "1 nit [sic] of information = 1.37 x 10 -16 erg/cc" on page 243, but no other equations or estimates of energy requirements between.
In summary, Wilder Smith leaves the attack on blind chance as a source of evolutionary raw material to others and concentrates on showing that an appeal to some magical predetermined properties of matter will not hold water either, unless you are willing to accept a Creator. He is in over his head in spots, but the book is valuable nonetheless.
Reviewed by Martin LaBor, Chairman, Science Division, Central Wesleyasr College, Central S. C. 29630
SCIENCE TEACHING: A CHRISTIAN APPROACH by Robert J. Ream, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co. 1972. Paperback. 130 pp. $2.50.
Science is a body of human descriptions and explanations of the world, at no stage infallible or final, except where the foundational framework reflects the truth of Scripture. Scripture is foundational for science not only because of the debilitating effect of sin on human reasoning but also due to the way in which the Creator made the mind of man. Since our thinking is presuppositionally based, no one is exempt from faith in foundational postulates. Human thinking is totally dependent on the Creator's written revelation as a foundation necessary to the proper understanding of all reality, for only in the Bible can be found the universal preconceptions necessary for sound thinking, because only there is knowledge from the omniscient Creator of the cosmos which man is seeking to investigate and to know. The real truth of reality is impossible to obtain without the Bible behind and beneath our thinking; there is no non-Christian truth. Non-Christian science has inconsistently and unconsciously rested itself in a Christian foundation in order to obtain credence and success.
The Christian who knows providence and preservation to be a fact knows that such a thing as chance simply does not exist. The Biblical view of reality precludes random, purposeless activity anywhere in the universe. Science is not possible in a system of ultimate chance and absolutely random-natured reality but depends on a law-structured creation, regulated by the Creator. Chance as a totally uncaused or undirected event is alien to a scriptural view of reality. Scientific explanation is not a final explanation at all but rather an abstract and, therefore, a limited description lacking in the personal dimensions which are not lost but emphasized in Scripture's more broadly inclusive viewpoint. The Word of Cod stands in a most obvious antithetical relationship to the tendency to see any part of creation whatsoever, laws included, in any measure independent or self-existent. Could we see the whole of created reality from God's standpoint, there would he no chance, no disorder, only concord, only a vast but harmonious pattern. Since man is finite and cannot see that final plan in all of its details, there is to us that which appears to be truly unpatterned and out of order. Scripture and the world must harmonize; the difficulty lies in the area of interpretation which is not infallible because of the distorting effect of sin on human thinking.
The concept of law or regularity, an absolutely necessary preobservational and preexperimental condition for science, is necessarily grounded on a religio-philosophical foundation. Thus as a technical methodology, the scientific method derives from, is inseparably connected to, and is always resting on a religious view of life. Science is not free from religion and philosophy; it can only ignore the religious and philosophical foundations on which it stands. The Bible's purpose is not to stifle scientific investigation by preventing inspired models but to restore that view of the world and life, lost by sin, which is absolutely fundamental for any true and successful search for models. The intangible and spiritual aspect of man cannot be adequately known apart from the Biblical conception of man, sin and redemption. Though the Bible displays "common models" (which may be illustrations of relationships rather than testable concepts of relationships) and though the external form of such a model remains a fixed part of the inspired and therefore standard text, it is the deeper meaning of the model (that which can be translated into other terms without loss) that is authoritatively binding.
These comments, largely quoted from Science Teaching: A Christian Approach, are provided to illustrate Ream's scripturally based approach to science. The author's reformed view of the Bible may not be acceptable to some, particularly those choosing to believe in evolution for man's origins. I feel the book has much to offer to any Christian in the field of science, particularly to anyone teaching in an evangelical institution. In addition to developing a non-technical Christian philosophy of science, although the development is brief and could well be expanded, Ream attempts to show how it may be implemented in the classroom with many practical suggestions. Typical of these are: If the glory of God is the goal of science, the teacher will do little to advance this or transmit it if it is absent from his own approach and procedure. The greater one's commitment to Christ, the greater his sense of stewardship and interest in that which Christ calls him to do. The Christian teacher ought to know well the basis for and the limitations of the empirical aspect of knowledge acquisition in the physical sciences. By strategic reference to equally real and important emotional, aesthetical, ethical and theological realizations, the teacher can endeavor to compensate for the predominantly empirical nature of his students' scientific activities. Thus he can reduce the overwhelming force of empiricism's dominance in contemporary science. No teacher can lead his students where he himself has not first been. The teacher will have to know those universal truths of Scripture that form the necessary foundation on which his particular science rests. Discussion of scientific laws should always proceed on the foundation of the works of creation and providence. If the position of the teacher in respect to science is wholesome, properly balanced and Christ-oriented, and if his personal life exhibits Christ as preeminent in all things, he will not be able to hide such attitudes either in the classroom or the laboratory. The way the teacher views the world, to a high probability, is the way the student will view the world.
Reviewed by Bernard Piersmo, Dept. of Chemistry, Houghton College, Houghton, N.Y.
INQUIRY INTO SCIENCE: Its Domain and Limits by Richard Schlegel, Doubleday Anchor, Garden City, New York (1972) 108 pages. Paperback. $1.45
This book is volume number 66 in the Doubleday Anchor Book Science Study Series. The first volume was published in 1959 and the latest issue is volume 71. The primary purpose of the series is to provide a survey within the intellectual grasp of the young student or the layman to encourage his own investigations into natural science. The author of this book is Professor of Physics at Michigan State University with teaching interest and experience in the philosophy of science as well. To a high degree it is a useful and instructive summary of the limitations of science written by a scientist.
The author proceeds from a discussion of the structure of science to show how limitations are imposed by the logic of science, the content of science, and pragmatic factors. Finally he considers the relationships between natural science and the arts, literature, philosophy, and theology, which he considers to be of equal significance for the life of the whole man. It is not part of his intention to pursue the social implications of applied science nor its inherent ambivalence.
He points out that "we are not justified in thinking that a given theory gives us the only way of talking about the aspect of nature to which it is relevant," and to think that the "primitive constructs (of an established theory) are 'as given in nature' . . . is illusory." He is cautious about drawing conclusions about free will from the Indeterminacy Principle of physics, but goes as far as to say that "it does indeed seem valid to say that this indeterminism on the microlevel severely weakens the case of those who assert that there can be no freedom of the will."
He is humble about present day physical knowledge and admits,
The natural processes of biological systems, for example, including those of highly complex nervous systems, might well involve modes of energy and interaction that are not within the ken of present-day science. However, such entities would not be parts of hypothetical other worlds but rather subjects for ordinary scientific investigation.
He thus makes the significant point that the observation of strange phenomena
is not per se a validation of the philosophical or religious system
in which these
phenomena are expounded and interpreted.
He argues that most scientists are unwilling to accept the notion of the creation of the universe a relatively short time ago, but will he attracted by the presuppositions of their discipline to the model of a finite universe undergoing an oscillating expansion and contraction. He rejects reductionism and argues
in the organization of the highly complex structures of living organisms, new natural properties should appear, properties which cannot he reduced to those present among nonanimate systems of atoms or molecules.
Likewise he rejects "the explanatory power of science" as
philosophy of the natural world."
Unfortunately the depth of the author's own philosophy beyond science does not exceed that of humanism. In a single reference to the great effect of Jesus of Nazareth, he continues in the same paragraph to give other "like" illustrations as Harriet Beecher Stowe and her Uncle Tom's Cabin. He also believes that "the development of science has undermined the world outlook that was associated with Christian belief, and in many ways made the belief a less tenable one." He therefore hopes for "a more adequate religion" through the utilization of "art and science as parallel efforts toward understanding."
It is attractive to think of a complete philosophy that has the relevance and immediate appeal of a religion as well as the firmness and power of natural science.
It is regrettable that the author's knowledge of the realities of the Christian faith fall so short of his understanding of the limitations of science. Still the book may well prove useful as a guide to understanding the nature of science for one who would he immediately turned off by a clear Christian approach to the question.
BEYOND SCIENCE by Denis Alexander, A.J. Holman Company, Philadelphia and New York. 1972. 222 pp.
It has been almost 20 years since Bernard Ramm's The Christian View of Science and Scripture marked the first major breakthrough in the treatment of scientific problems with integrity by evangelical Christians. In recent years a number of significant contributions have been added to this category, including David Dye's Faith and the Physical World, Aldert van der Ziel's The Natural Sciences and the Christian Message, Malcolm Jecves' The Scientific Enterprise and Christian Faith, and this reviewer's own The Encounter Between Christianity and Science and The Human Quest: A New Look at Science and Christian Faith. To this series of contributions in which adequate attention is paid both to scientific accuracy and Christian commitment has now been added this book, Beyond Science, by Denis Alexander. The book should be absolutely must reading for every Christian concerned with the relationship of science and the Christian faith. It is difficult for a reviewer to avoid turning rhapsodic about a book that so completely complements and supplements his own perspectives on these significant questions.
Rather than starting with an abstract and philosophical attempt to define science and the Christian position, Alexander jumps in head first into the many obvious dilemmas that call for an integration of scientific and Christian understanding; the H-bomb, military usurpation of scientific research, public ignorance of scientific goals, molecular biology, futuristic pessimism, genetical engineering, maturation of human oocytes, re-implanting human embryos, sex determination of the embryo, cloning, repair of genetic defects, formation of mananimal chimaerae, tinkering with human intelligence, drugs affecting the mind, sedatives or hypnotics, stimulants, tranquilizers, antidepressives, hallucinogens, implanted electrodes in the brain (not only for possibly evil effects but also as a possible computer radio link to control epileptic fits or to help blind people to see), brain-computer links, experiments on memory and memory shortage.
At the same time Alexander points out the common experience of a disenchantment with science per se because (1) evil is still as present in our society as ever before, (2) the concept of scientific research as coldly rational and objective is a myth, and (3) science leaves us after all with a basic sense of incompleteness.
One of the paradoxes of modern science is that while on the one hand it appears to give man godlike powers, on the other hand it appears to reduce man to another rather puzzling animal in a very puzzling universe. (p. 44)
The author then tackles the age-old dilemma of mechanism and meaning.
that there is no such thing as purely objective knowledge, that the
goal of science
is to minimize interference between observer and observed (but never really to
eliminate it), that scientific proof can never be strictly obtained, that many
different kinds of descriptions are needed to describe reality and
not just one,
that no consistent claim to complete determinism can be logically
upheld. He challenges
the body-soul duality and insists that man is a soul rather than has
The soul is therefore a 'meaning word' dealing with the overall 'life' of a man, and not primarily with his mechanics. (p. 60)
He views the Biblical doctrine of creation as indicating that Cod is constantly in action creating and maintaining the universe today,
According to this view, which is derived from the Bible, he has not only created everything in the past, but is actively creating everything now and will continue to do so in the future. Everything is held together and consists by his power. (p. 64)
Now when we use the word 'supernatural', it does not mean that what we call supernatural is any more or less an activity of God than any other aspect of nature. (p. 138)
Alexander makes clear that science as god has failed on every
evolution, for example, has been extrapolated to justify two mutually exclusive
economic systems communism and capitalism. Another absurd extrapolation is that
evolution can give rise to an ethical system. The common assumption that "what is" can
ought to be" is the "naturalistic fallacy."
for religion, Logical Positivism, and Existentialism are all shown to
Finally Alexander invites the reader to return to "Square One" and start over again on the exposition and evaluation of life from a Christian perspective. He turns his attention to the ultimate questions: What is the ultimate power which animates the universe? What is life? What is man? Who am I and what am I doing here? Having shown the bankruptcy of scientism and humanism, he challenges a la Francis Schaeffer the common world view of man in a box.
Accepting the Biblical God as our basic presupposition, however, makes science possible, gives man a real and ultimate value, and provides meaning as well as mechanism to the universe. Finally after a masterful representation of the Christian option, he returns again to his theme,
The scientist who is a Christian sees the scientific method as neither completely objective nor completely individualistic . . . . He also realizes that there is no logical contradiction between 'mechanism' descriptions of phenomena and 'meaning' descriptions. He realizes that many levels of description are both valid and necessary. (p. 203)
This approach agrees so completely with my own in The Human Quest that there is
little more I can say.
The Christian basis for ethics carries for Alexander a number of immediate consequences in the interaction between science and Christian faith: sex must be joined with marriage, marriage with parenthood, and childrearing with the home; artificial insemination by donor must be forbidden; "cloning" should be forbidden; family control systems involving genetic engineering should be resisted; attempts to create a man-animal chimaera should be attacked; freedom of choice must he defended free of an external use of violence, drugs or brain-washing.
The summary of the book can be given in a final quotation.
An answer that is to satisfy most both account for the real world and not limit man to what is less than human by removing the physical, or the mental, or the spiritual, or any other aspects of man's social, rational, artistic or moral capabilities. (p. 211)
The only possible criticism of the general utility of the hook is that of some 110 references given in the Bibliography, less than about 10% are by American authors. A little more representative selection would be helpful for the serious reader. At least it keeps us humble.
(Also published in Christianity Today, August 10, 1973, p. 30).
Reviewed by Richard H. Bube, Professor of Materials Science and Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California.