Science in Christian PerspectiveBook Reviews
Book Reviews for March 1973
IS REVOLUTION CHANGE? Brian Griffiths, Editor. Inter-Varsity Press, London (Downers Grove, Illinois, in USA) (1972). Paperback, 111 pp. $1.25. Two reviews
ETHICS AND THE NEW MEDICINE, by Harmon L. Smith, Nashville and New York: Abingdon Press, 1970. 174 pp.
THE HUMAN QUEST: A New Look at Science and Christian Faith by Richard H. Bube, Word Books, Waco, Texas. 1971. 262 pp. $5.95.
ECOLOGY CRISIS, by John W. Klotz, St. Louis: Coneordia, 1971, 176 pps. $5.95.
HUMANISTIC PSYCHOLOGY by John A. Hammes, New York: Grune and Stratton, 1971. 203 pp. $7.95.
THE STRUCTURE OF SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS by T. S. Kuhn, Chicago, 1962
MORALITY, LAW AND GRACE by J.N.D. Anderson, 128 pp. Paperback. (1972) $1.95.
ARGUING WITH GOD by Hugh Silvester, 128 pp. Paperback. (1971) $1.50.
DESPAIR: A Moment or a Way of Life? by C. Stephen Evans, 135 pp. Paperback. 1971).
FROM CHRIST TO CONSTANTINE by MA. Smith, 208 pp. Paperback. (1971).
QUESTIONS OF SCIENCE AND FAITH by J.N. Hawthorne, 62 pp. Paperback. (1972).
All five books available from Inter-Varsity Press, Box F, Downers Grove, Illinois 60515.
IS REVOLUTION CHANGE? Brian Griffiths, Editor. Inter-Varsity Press,
Grove, Illinois, in USA) (1972). Paperback, 111 pp. $1.25. Two
Brian Griffiths, the editor of this book, is Lecturer in Economics at the University of London. He has shared the writing with four other authors: Sir Frederick Catherwood, formerly Director General of the National Economic Development Office; Alan Kreider, professor of history at Goshen Collegs, Indiana; Dr. Rene Padilla, Associate General Secretary for Latin America of the IFES; and Samuel Eseobar, editor of Certeza, a magazine for Latin American students published in the Argentine. Writing separately, the authors assess the fantasy of revolution as a panacea for evil, and at the same time strongly stress the social responsibility of Christians. The result is a challengeable and readable book that would be ideal for study and discussion groups of young people and adults. The constant theme throughout the book is the basis for all non-Christian social alternatives in the false assumption of the intrinsic goodness of human nature.
Brian Griffiths analyzes the three systems of thought among modem dissenters: socialism, anarchism and the Hippie lovephilosophy. Socialism frequently leads to the advocacy of violence because it is argued that violence is necessary because de-colonization must be a violent process, that violence is a method for unifying oppressed people, and that violence is a cathartic force. Anarchism is the only possible choice for people who believe that man is corrupted only by his institutions. The Hippie approach is strongly anti-intellectual and non-rational. Griffiths argues that a society without an authority structure is unthinkable; the major question is whose authority. Of the Christian, on the other hand, Griffiths says,
It is the realistic analysis the Christian has of the state of man which enables him to see the need for greater justice in society, while at the same time upholding law and order as a necessity in a fallen world.
Catherwood argues against the position taken by some Christians that
only a change
in human nature can change human behavior, and that therefore participation in
attempts to change society and its structures is not appropriate for
He sees the following four reasons for Christian action: the
sovereignty of God,
historical evidence for the positive influence of Christians in the past, the
truth of the Christian faith which combines order and freedom as no
the general activity of God's Spirit to some extent in all
men. Revolution, however, is no solution.
The force necessary for effective revolution is immensely destructive. Because it requires men to change their actions without changing their minds, everything has to be imposed by force.
The British origin of the book comes through in amusing fashion when the author says,
As for George Washington's historic breach in the English-speaking nation, it is at least arguable that she world would be a better place if the breach had never taken place and that to the extent that we have ignored the breach it has been a better place.
Kreider argues for middle ground between church radicals and church
He points out Jesus' rejection of the Zealot program of his time, but then goes
on to show that Jesus' program was far more revolutionary because it
was far more
radical (rootbased). The church institution, however, has turned this
spirit into Christendom and into a defense of the status quo. He sees the need
for the church to be a community of Christian individuals engaged in
action, a self-giving, reconciling and prophetic body.
Padilla recognizes the positive contribution of the spirit of revolution in recognizing the need for radical changes in social structures, but faults it for presupposing "a faith in man's ability to create a new world." He sees the preaching of the "gospel of revolution" by such contemporary theologians as Cox, Shaull and Lehmann as "a human attempt to create here and now the perfect society that God has promised to create at the end of the present age."
The 'theology of revolution' idealizes man and consequently converts the gospel into a utopian ideology that employs theological terminology but has little relation to the eschatological message of the Bible.
This is the resurgence of a neo-postmillennialism that may be detected in so many modern statements on escatology.
They assume that the world has been reconciled and that all that now is asked of men is to recognize that they ore in effect living under the sovereign rule of Jesus Christ.
Escobar sees the pattern of incarnation to be guiding one for the Christian. He
agrees with John Stott's
assessment that the greatest weakness of modem evangelicals is their failure to obey Christ's words, "As the Father sent me into the world, so send I you." He calls for a prophetic voice from evangelicals against exploitation of native peoples, against capitalist abusers, against corruption and dishonesty in politics and high places in government, rather than just sitting in and lending ecclesiastical approval to "prayer breakfasts." He calls for an attack not only on overpopulation, but on the unequal distribution of wealth and unjust social structures. But his view is balanced,
We should not expect to build the kingdom of Cod here on earth or 'Christianize' society. Our hope is future;
but at the same time our service and our witness are signs of this hope and of the lordship of Christ in our
There will be many who will be offended with this book because it is either too
conservative or too radical. I think that's a good sign.
Reviewed by Richard H. Bube, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305.
A second review of Is Revolution Change?
We live in a revolutionary age. Revolutionary struggles for decent food, decent housing and selfdetermination gain momentum in this time of social upheaval. The hunger-swollen stomach and glazed eyes of a starving child-a sight not uncommon to the "free world" whether in the ghettos and barrios of Brazil, Biafra, Angola or America-bear mute witness to the degradation and oppression, the out and out violence inflicted daily upon masses of humanity-1972 years after Christ's death. Something is wrong-criminally wrongin a schizophrenic world of Cadillacs and carts, suburbs and slums, corporations and colonies, riches and rags. The same corporation that heats American homes heats Indochina with flesh-tearing plastic pellets.
What is the solution to injustice and inequity? Is there one? Should the Christian challenge an unjust social system? Can the Christian stay above the battle, neutrally viewing the conflict between oppressor and
oppressed? How does the Christian relate to a society permeated with exploitation? What is the Christian role? These are the questions challengingly posed by Is Revolution Change?, a collection of essays by five Christians, and then disappointingly avoided.
As an activist for social change and as the son of a Lutheran minister I have wrestled with the preceding questions often. Unlike the authors of is Revolution Change?, I have found no contradiction between my Christian upbringing and my commitment to revolutionary change. On the contrary, one grew out of the other. On that basis this small book (ill pages) interested me.
Jesus Christ lived his life for mankind. His life and crucifixion comprised a flesh and blood parable of compassion for the poor, the weak, the downtrodden, even for the rich man and his materialistic sickness. So Christians today must love and that love must be a real compassion; a true attentiveness to the very real suffering of our sisters and brothers. In the words of Alan Kreider, co-author of the book, "We cannot separate the proclamation of the gospel from the demonstration of the gospel." The world shall know the Christians by their fruits; all the weekly offering checks and perfect attendance pins will not make an iota of difference in the eyes and stomach of a starving people. This is a real world of poverty and plenty-Christians must feed mankind's stomach before they can deal with its soul.
On what terms has Christianity met the earth's population? Was there truth in the Wobbly condemnation of "pie in the sky preachers" who blithely preached of heavenly rewards while the lumber and railroad tycoons ruthlessly deprived working men of their just earthly desserts? Co-author Alan Kreider, in his essay "The Way of Christ", states emphatically that,
Instead of being a consecratedly obedient and irresistible attractive minority, most churches have been socially conservative buttresses of a status quo no matter how unjust. They have sided with the oppressors. They have dispensed half a gospel, often unconsciously to act as a sedative, an opiate. The church not only has been found to he indifferent to social injustice, it has rightly been seen as an integral part of the problem.
In its origins Christianity was fundamentally an egalitarian
the long history of the Jewish people, the prophets castigated the rich man and
spoke in defense of the poor, the oppressed and the helpless. Witness
words of the prophet Amos,
they sell the innocent for silver and the destitute for a pair of shoes. They
grind the heads of the poor into the earth and thrust the humble out of their
As editor Griffith states, Isaiah does not shirk from denouncing injustice.
Shame on you, you who make unjust laws and publish burdensome decrees, depriving the poor of justice, rubbing the weakest of my people of their rights, despoiling the widow and plundering the orphan.
Jesus Christ himself walked among the lowliest classes of society healing the
sick and enabling the lame to walk. In short, Christianity developed
with a real
concern for the needs of the oppressed classes.
Yet, today, must American churches are the exclusive domain of the middle and upper classes. Sunday services, apart from being fossilized rituals, provide an expedient gathering place for the local businessmen, professionals and their families to intermingle. Large corporations find it advantageous to place public relations men in the large local congregations. Surely a company with "good Christian men" must be an honest one; such is their logic.
While the church serves as a social gathering place for the upper classes, usually provides ample justification for the government's wars a la Graham, and has often destroyed cultural patterns of Third World peoples (thus directly or indirectly serving the needs of American corporate expansionism), it has shown little or no interest in the plight of the oppressed. This the authors admit. In the minds of authors Griffith, Catherwood, Kreider, Padilla, and Escobar, a Christian's faith is evidenced by his fruits and few Christian fruits have been forthcoming in the vast nation of the poor exploited.
Two choices exist for those concerned with altering the oppressive status quo, say the authors reform or revolution.
Unanimously they choose reform over and against revolutionary methods. Their ease for Christian reformism lies not in the positive merits of reformism but in the negative aspects of revolution, From a doctrinal standpoint, we are "to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's". Even the apostle Paul told slaves to return to their owners, states Griffith. Governments are scripturally defined as agents of God, hence we must acquiesce in their rule. However, an interesting loophole is reserved; God's law is superior to that of Caesar and in the event of conflict between the earthly and the divine we are to choose the side of God. But who is the interpreter of God's will? Who decides what governments do and do not exist in accordance with God's law?
If the Christian is to support blindly any government from Hitler to Franco to Nixon, then the doctrinal question is resolved-Caesar must be blindly obeyed. If, however, the Christian supports governments only when they exist in harmony with God's law, as the authors state, then obviously each individual Christian must decide for himself whether a particular government exists in harmony with God's will, Hence, no objective criterion exists. Subjectivity reigns supreme. Revolutionary change then, cannot be doctrinally outlawed to the Christian on the basis of the biblical interpretations presented in Is Revolution Change?
The crux of the book's attack upon revolutionary change lies not in questions of doctrine but in a basic choice of worldviews. The authors contend that all social ills stem from what they consider man's sinful and depraved nature. Social injustice in their view, will always exist. As their argument progresses, it becomes evident that their adoption of this myopic view is a reflection of their negligible commitment to social justice.
Can social injustice and the nature of man in the free world be alleviated by changing the social system? Or are the related phenomena of poverty and oppression simply, as the authors believe, the result of man's unchangeable sinful nature? If man's sin and depravity are accepted as inherent features of man's character, then structural change of the fabric of society will produce little. In Griffith's prose.
All injustice, unrest, war and violence is the result of sin. And sin for the Christian is not the self-interest, pettiness or unconscious mistakes of society, but the sinful nature of each individual and his consequentially deliberate sinful actions.
Is the solution then to eliminate sin before we can combat
oppression? No! Poverty
and oppression have readily identifiable social causes-a black sharecropper in
Georgia or a Vietnamese peasant working Frenchowned land in Vietnam are denied
their produce beyond subsistanee by oppressive property laws enforced
by the state
in the interest of the owners. Low income housing is unhuilt not because of a
lack of demand, but because it is not a profitable field of investment. In an
economic system based not on human needs but on human greedthe profit
criterion for social progress is what sells and nothing else. Is it
then any wonder
that Cadillacs and color TV exist across the tracks from malnutrition, wretched
housing and emotional breakdowns?
Social problems have social origins and social solutions-Christians must act on their faith if it is to speak to others in real terms and not as token gestures designed to lull and appease the oppressed. To theologize piously from privileged positions about sin being the cause of all such abstractions as injustice and poverty, all the while refusing to commit oneself, is to play the role of modern day Pharisees.
Griffith offers the following prescription for reformist action.
Depending on interest and ability he (she) will he involved in all facets of the life of a society whether it be as a suburban housewife organizing a playgroup, a conservationist campaigning for the protection of the environment, a trade unionist representing his fellow workers, a student giving time to the Students Union and student societies or as an elected representative on
a local council or in parliaments.
Griffith offers a comfortable, pious formula for safe middle-class
Christianity divorced from the real world of politics. Playgroups indeed! Have
trade unionist politics, student unions or elected parliaments
the power of corporations -those mammoth agglomerations run for the benefit of
a few-to make economic decisions which affect the lives of millions?
politics ended this nation's war which over 3/4ths of the citizens oppose? Have they
eliminated poverty and unemployment in a nation rich enough to spend 80 billion
dollars yearly on "defense" gadgets? Millions of people in
west are suffering because there has been no alternative to reformist politics.
What should be the Christian message to these people? Do Christians minister to
the urban poor through Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets, or do
real political alternatives of collective action?
What political advice does Griffith and other coauthors offer people of the Third World who often starve under regimes so thoroughly autocratic that reformist politics, let alone revolutionary politics are prohibited? What political advice do Christians offer the slum dwellers of Buenos Aires living under the iron heel of an American supported dictatorship? We obviously cannot offer them Griffith's advice, to play reformist politics.
The body of mankind is diseased-sick with the curse of overwork, hunger, destitution and oppression. Diagnosis is not difficult. Splintered economies brutally maintained by American supported dictatorships and geared to serve the rapacious needs of the mother country corporations and compradors are no accident. They arc manifestations of the same disease evident in every slum, barrio or "underprivileged" area, as the overfed term it in mother America. A socio-economic system not based on freely-given human cooperation but rather on economic coercion and exploitation directed by a small owning class-such is the essence of capitalism. Until the body is cured, millions will fall victim to the guns of My Lai and the bloated stomachs of Biafra. A band-aid, an aspirin, a Care package, bankrupt the reformism of Is Revolution Change? These are not cures for social ills, they are only miserable tokens. They express not true Christian concern for the suffering but the striving of comfortable liberals to assuage their social consciences. The disease must be banished and the body restored to health. Those who have a vested interest in mankind's sickness and oppression must no longer be allowed to steal the work of others. Christians are called upon to light many candles and indeed torches in the fight for justice and equality-the implementation of Biblical principles in the society of men.
Ultimately there can be no neutrality, Christian or otherwise, in a society rife with exploitation. Either the institutionalized violence of the ruling powers is supported by our actions and inaction or the striving of the oppressed people for liberation is embraced. There is no middle ground. Whether the church continues to bless America's wars, sanction Franco's dictatorship or support oppressors depends entirely upon those good Christians who unlike the authors of Is Revolution Change? are willing to abandon the comfortable armchair of the oppressor and give their life for the liberation of their needy sisters and brothers. Revolution against an unjust social order is a supremely Christian act of love.
Reviewed by Peter Knutson, currently at New School for Social Research, New York City.
ETHICS AND THE NEW MEDICINE, by Harmon L. Smith, Nashville and New York: Abingdon Press, 1970. 174 pp.
Since the appearance of Joseph Fletcher's Morals and Medicine a few years ago, a number of books have focused upon the ethical dilemmas created by recent medical advances. Without going beyond the title of the work reviewed here, one knows roughly what the author is about: he will discuss such issues as abortion, organ transplantation, euthanasia, and AID (Artificial Insemination by Donor), and he will point out that these and other procedures, whether presently legal or not, raise serious questions of ethics-questions, moreover, for which traditional Judeo-Christian morality has no clear-cut answers.
In pointing out that Ethics and the New Medicine does not tell us much that we do not already know, I do not mean to suggest that it has nothing new or valuable to say. One good feature of Smith's hook is that it comprehensively surveys what others (including physicians) have said concerning the various issues discussed. Both Protestant and Roman Catholic thinkers are taken into account here.
Another merit of Smith's work is his insistence on looking at the issues squarely. In talking about death and the care of the dying, for example, he pleads for a recognition of the fact that death is usually a process, rather than a specific biological moment, and that "there is a time when it is appropriate for a human being to die" (p. 133). Making this plea does not lead Smith to unequivocal approval of euthanasia, though he clearly wishes that the legal restraints on euthanasia might be removed. What Smith does ask for throughout his book is a rejection of the traditional assumption that what happens "naturally" is somehow right or synonymous with God's will. One finds his logic convincing when he argues that we cannot escape responsibility for making hard decisions in matters of birth and death simply by identifying what is with what ought to be. (e.g., from the fact that a girl is pregnant, it does not automatically follow, irrespective of other considerations, that she ought to give birth).
Smith is not afraid to challenge certain assumptions that conservative theology has traditionally made in the name of "natural law" or Biblical norm. He dislikes what he calls "legalistic ethics," and contends that "the location of God's will in some given command of fixed content makes God's living presence superfluous .
(p. 68). This sort of statement, one thinks, should lead Smith straight to a position like Fletcher's "situation ethics," but oddly enough it doesn't. Smith is astute and honest enough to see that liberal theology has its own shortcomings, and that love cannot, in simplistic fashion, be made the only ethical norm. Nevertheless he struggles in vain to find a principle or set of principles which give him what he is looking for. "What we urgently need is a sound philosophy of human life," he says (p. 82). But in effect he admits that he is still working one out. The problems raised by modern medicine ore large ones, and any moralist, Christian or otherwise, is self-deceived if he pretends to have ready-made answers. Nevertheless one wishes that Smith, for all his honesty and tentativeness, had taken a little more seriously the relevance of the Biblical revelation in at least suggesting, if not always stating, solutions to some of our present ethical dilemmas.
Reviewed by Frederick R. Strockoieyer, Deportment of Philosophy, West Chester State College, West Chester, Pa. 19380.
THE HUMAN QUEST: A New Look at Science
and Christian Faith by Richard H. Bube, Word Books, Waco, Texas. 1971. 262 pp.
This concise and provocative study represents a contribution to the continuing dialogue between evangelical Christianity and science. Its author causes in me considerable envy for I aspire to communicate my Christian position and scientific interests with comparable effectiveness. While I may differ from the author's conceptualizations in certain respects, I cannot ignore his premises and conclusions if I am to be engaged in "the human quest" as one in which there is a meaningful even vital, relationship between interpretations of Christianity and of science. Before giving attention to specific strengths and weaknesses in Dr. Bube's opus, it may be helpful to review partly the frame of reference for the continuing dialogue.
There are at least three general reactive approaches to the problems attending the relation between religion in general and evangelical Christianity in particular and science. These approaches stem from a tradition in Western culture, the tradition that religion and science are essentially antagonistic in their efforts to resolve what has become known increasingly as the "ultimate concern" of mankind.
The first of these reactive approaches seems to arise from a combination of vested interests, defensive fear, and naivete. Perhaps it is unkind to ascribe vested interests to some Christians who believe that they are contending for the faith once delivered when it seems obvious that they seek to retain an assumed prestige status as theologians or clergymen. Cultural evolution finds many religious scholars within the Christian church adopting attitudes toward emerging science similar to the negative reactions which characterized the religious leaders towards the revolutionary views proposed by Jesus Himself in New Testament times. By this statement, I am not equating science with the teachings of the divine Son of God! But when one has enjoyed a prestige status as an authority in interpreting the universe, it is extremely difficult to allow that authority to be challenged, and perhaps discredited in part, by those whose claim rests upon a developing empiricism. Galileo, Newton, and their scholarly successors have been rejected because their findings threatened a religious monopoly in interpreting natural and cultural phenomena. Only grudgingly, often with much acrimony, have those possessing religious vested interests yielded some authoritative prestige to those who have amassed evidence which cannot be refuted or ignored.
Closely associated with vested interests is a defensive fear which characterizes some Christians whose spiritual roots lack depth in the abiding spiritual principles which constitute the biblical foundation for a secure life of faith. With spiritual roots clinging precariously to a shallow stratum in the soil of certain questionable cultural traditions, these Christians have failed to develop deep root systems that can provide enduring spiritual viability. These shallow-rooted Christians experience persistent apprehension that the penetrating heat of empirical evidence may result in spiritual desiccation. They thus fail to envision themselves as those depicted in the parable of the sower, as those whose superficiality in root form is the causal factor for their resistance to scientific endeavors, even if these endeavors are by those committed to strengthening evangelical Christianity in the modern world.
Unwarranted naivete is commonly present in the structure of vested interests and defensive fear to aggravate the condition. There is little excuse for Christians in the literate Western world to remain unaware of reasonable scientific theory and accomplishments. Not only do we enjoy the benefits if science in our sociocultural experience, but there are media for communicating scientific information unequaled in history or geography. It is indeed both unfortunate and pathetic that great numbers of evangelical Christians, perhaps the majority, depend upon pseudo-scientists, or those who are basically opposed to science, for their scientific understanding. This seems incredible to the informed Christian scientist, but that it is characteristic may be observed as a contributing factor to the pronounced "generation gap" between evangelical Christian parents and their children who are exposed to contemporary scientific thought, especially at advanced levels in colleges and universities. Possibly Christian scholars are partly at fault for this naivete in that they have failed to first qualify as bona fide scientists, and secondly to write with an appropriate combination of precision and simplicity that will communicate to the layman. In the book under review, Richard Bube is quite successful in presenting the scientific perspective with sincere and implicit intention to admonish vested interests in theological circles that they have no cause for alarm, to reassure those who are marked by defensive fear that scientific findings need not be a threat to one's Christian faith, and to the naive that there are fascinating methods and pertinent knowledge available to the Christian in a cognizance of science.
The second reactive approach to problems assumed to exist between Christianity and science is that held by Christian scholars who display a curious ambivalence towards science which leads to misrepresentation of facts through a process of selectivity. Perhaps it is not fair to say that all of these are not well informed, but even though we concede that some are informed, we must conclude that they display biases which make arguments futile and facts useless. Various scholars (whom I grant are such on the assumption that they are sincere and industrious in their efforts) have produced works based upon considerable selectivity of empirical data to support their presuppositions. Thus, Davidheiser in his Evolution and Christian Faith, Morris and Witcomb in their The Genesis Flood, Wilder Smith in his Man's Origin, Man's Destiny, and similar works of this genre fail to represent bona fide science because of their authors' zeal to defend traditional interpretations (held to be truly "biblical") of natural and cultural phenomena.
I have much respect for the Christian convictions of such scholars but I disapprove of their misrepresentations in manipulating data. That there are innumerable cults which consider themselves to represent "true Christianity" is due to a similar process of incongruous selectivity of biblical statements. One can "prove" almost anything through the process of selectivity and a priori conclusions governing the organization of data in either "Christianity" or in "science." Obviously no Christian scholar attains infalhhity or absolute objectivity in his interpretations of natural phenomena or biblical information, but these limitations cannot justify the ignoring of factual data whch seem to weaken an argument. In sharp contrast, Dr. Bube is explicit in his admission of the scholar's limitations while he displays commendable integrity in his reasoning even though he leaves unanswered some questions inherent in the "human quest." But he does not avoid sticky issues which may seem incompatible with his scheme.
The third category of reactive approaches to problems attending science's relation to Christianity needs only brief mention. This is the dramatic reaction that reflects Western man's tendency to think in terms of unilineal absolutes. This is the "either-or" argument that cannot tolerate both Christianity and science, Since Christianity is assumed to provide exclusively all answers to life and science is assumed to offer some answers to man's concern for the temporal present, the "logical" choice is to reject anything scientific if it seems to be in conflict with Christian interpretations. There are no grounds for a dialogue, the issue is settled a priori. In The Human Quest, there is implicit refutation of this approach which unfortunately remains in some Christian circles, although it seems to be less prevalent than a generation ago.
The second encompassing assumption is that, despite limitations, the Christian
scholar is responsible to seek answers to fundamental questions of meaning by
exploring both the biblical statements as variously interpreted,
along with emerging
scientific findings. In Rube's thinking, to admit to fallibility does
the Christian scholar from engaging in this human quest. This assumption brings
to mind the Pauline injunction: "Do you best to present yourself to God as
one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly
handling the word
of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15 RSV).
In his first chapter, Rube notes a vital question confronting the scholar: "Is it really true that science has made religious faith impossible?" (p. 20). A soundly reasoned answer of "No" is reiterated throughout the remainder of the volume. The author immediately provides a frame of reference for answering this crucial question when he proposes "two general theses relating science and Christian faith." These are:
Thesis 1. The universe exists moment by moment only because of the creative and preserving power of God.
Thesis 2. There are many levels at which a given situation can he described. An exhaustive description on one level does not preclude meaningful description on other levels (p. 26).
The first thesis rests upon the sound argument of the fact of existence. For things to be-the argument of "being" in the universe including the world and man-postulates something which may be referred to philosophically as the "Ultimate." There are biblical bases for such argument as, for example:
In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. lIe reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power (Hebrews 1:1-3 Asv).
The second thesis proposes a multilevel approach to description and analysis of the universe of phenomena. This proposal is long overdue in a Christian interpretation of the universe. Robe is to he commended for the proposal although it is not clear whether he arrived at the notion through his own insight, or whether he is borrowing the idea from other scholars. The idea that phenomena can he understood by establishing various "levels" has a venerable history. The basic notion is found in the writing of both Immanuel Kant and Herbert Spencer (if my memory serves me - well, for I did not take time to cheek these scholars). In my own field of anthropology, A. L. Kroeber set a scheme of four levels as early as 1936 in an article, So-Called Social Science" (included in Kroeber's The Nature of Culture, 1952). Kroeher proposed such levels as (1) the inorganic as studied in physics and chemistry, (2) the organic as studied in chemistry and physiology, (3) the psychic has studied in psychology, and (4) the sociocultoral as studied in anthropology and sociology. My own guru in anthropology, E. Adamson Hoebel, includes a modified version of the multilevel scheme in his popular introductorary text Anthropology: the study of man: (1966).
Significantly, Spencer, Kroeber, and Hoebel exclude an additional highest
level because they reject the
"spiritual" or supernatural as legitimate within scientific study. In
Bube's scheme, the level categories include (1) the nonmaterial level which is
concerned with energy and the study of origins; (2) the material but nonliving
level which is concerned with particles, atoms, and molecules as
studied in physics
and chemistry; (3) the simple life level with the concern for the
cell as studied
in biology; (4) the living but nonhuman level concerned with plant and animal
life as studied in botany and zoology; (5) the human level concerned with man
and society as studied in psychology, anthropology, and sociology; and (6) the
"ultimate" level concerned with God as studied in
theology. Such a scheme has merit and seems quite reasonable to me, especially
when Bube, in his explanatory context, cautions against the dangers
Of course, Bube is aware that his "ultimate" level is excluded from
similar schemes offered by the humanistic devotees of science who will have no
part with a "non-empirical" arena. Bube's proposals provide
basis for answering many questions which humanistic scientists will
not entertain - at least in their formal writings.
Many years ago, I was enrolled in a geology course at the University of Minnesota. The instructor, George Thiel, the chairman of the department and a significant contributor to his discipline, became involved in geological process during one lecture. In response to class members' questions as to "why," he answered rather lamely: "We in geology do not attempt to answer the "why" in geological process. I recommend that you direct such questions to members in the philosophy department." Pathetically, the problem of "why" remained unresolved subsequent to conference with philosophers committed to naturalistic humanism. In contrast, Bube's inclusion of the supernatural in his "levels" idea-the postulated personal God of evangelical Christianity-removes a formidable impasse.
In the second chapter of The Human Quest, a complementary question emerges when
the author traces the change in perspective through time from earlier
explanations, which rest upon a vital relationship between God, the world, and
man, to the contemporary position which divorces science from religion. In this
change, science has become the source for objective and rational
answers to meaning
while religious answers to meaning are considered subjective and
question introduced at this point, and which persists implicitly throughout the
book, is: How inevitable are these involved changes in perspective? A negative
answer is crucial to the hook's success for the Christian scientist.
It may he observed that Christian scientists do not have a monopoly on whether science permits viable religion as a problem confronting contemporary man. For example, in my own discipline of anthropology, the late Robert Lowie was famous for his contributions to studies in religion and science. Since Lowie seemingly never committed himself to any religion, he cannot he accused of undue bias. In an article, "Religion in Human Life" (published posthumously in the American Anthropologist, Vol. 65, 1963), his conclusion is:
What an average man wants above everything else is security. But does science supply this? The answer is "No." That complete world-view that science explicitly renounces is precisely what the layman craves. In this perilous universe he is forever beset with dangers beyond his control. He wants at all odds to survive, and here science leaves him in the lurch-not everywhere and always, but often enough to make him keenly sensible of its imperfections. . . Science has achieved remarkable results, both practical and theoretical, but it has not made man a superman; so long as the enormous chasm yawns between man's rational control of nature and his biologico-psychological drives, there will still be room for belief in a Providence that grants not mere comfort, but security-not mere probability, but certainty. Religion and science thus perform different functions in the life of man, and it is not necessary that either should interfere with the other. (p. 542)
There are certain assumptions in this statement by Lowie that are at dramatic
variance with those held in The Human Quest, but the point is clear,
that others than Christian scientists feel it necessary to analyze
relationship between science and religion in their bearing upon
meaning for mankind,
even though, as in Lowie's case, they fail to bridge the two.
Chapters three, four, and five find Bube probing the definition of science, of Christian faith, and of the difference between science and religion, or more specifically, Christian faith. Herein occurs what I consider to be a weakness in the book. Bube's definition of religion seems to reflect considerable influence from naturalistic humanists who attempt to define religion as a human phenomenon quite apart from the essential notion of the supernatural. Bube does not so define religion explicitly but his discussion contains many statements which make this definition implicit. As is the case with many words in the English language, etymology does not provide a sound basis for definition of religion. Its effective definition must correlate positively with its traditional and consensual usage among scholars.
While religion relates directly to belief and practice, it does not relate to any kind of belief and practice. To be a valid term free from confusion, or a certain vagueness which attends Bube's analysis at this point, it seems to me that religion must relate always to the supernatural-in evangelical Christianity, to a personal God. One can involve both science and religion in man's "ultimate concern," but confusion results if religion is defined solely as the "ultimate concern," (Paul Tillich notwithstanding). Hence, I cannot accept at face value such comments as: "Even the man who stoutly maintains that there is no God (no supernatural?) is taking part in a religious activity." (p. 68) In my opinion, it is the prepetuation of an erroneous part truth to say that "To such people material possessions are the items of ultimate concern in their life; in a sense, material possessions play the role of God in their perspective on life." (p. 69) I insist that religion is not merely "ultimate concern" unless that ultimate concern is viewed as man's relation through belief and practice to the supernatural realm-to supernatural beings and power which means in Christianity an omnipotent God Who is in essence a spirit. To equate ultimate concern in itself with religion is to substitute the means for the cud as Jacques Ellul has so forcefully emphasized in The Power of the Kingdom.
Fortunately, in the succeeding argument of subsequent chapters, Bube limits his notion of religion mostly to Christian faith which, by common usage, means a form of religion in which belief in the supernatural is assumed. However, as an anthropologist with interest in crosscultural implications in any attempt to reconcile the science-and-religion differences, I cannot avoid wondering how Bube's argument would fare among scholars who are not part of Western thought, or those cultures which have been influenced by Christianity. I suspect that some modification in both definition and application would be in order, although I think his argument is basically sound, perhaps even for crosscultural application if the suggested stricture on religion is observed.
I find no serious grounds on which to challenge the treatment which the author accords to the interactions between science and the Christian faith. I would be guilty of crass hypocrisy if I did not subscribe to Bube's proposed interaction, for my confession includes both to being a Christian and being an anthropologist. In modern thought devoid of the supernatural dimension for the structure of the world, man is indeed "only a complex machine." The author, as I see it, has a secure stance in this conclusion: "Man is a complex machine. But to assert that man is only a complex machine is to equate the whole with the sum of its parts and to fail to recognize the necessity for a multilevel description in order to do full justice to what kind of creature man is." (p. 156) The author effectively utilizes his "multilevel description" concept for a complete picture of reality, and thus to refute physical, psychological, and sociological determinism. (Are there implications for resolving the theological problem of predestination?) I heartly concur in this refutation.
Of course it is to be expected that any consideration of the science-and-Christianity dialogue could not escape some attention to evolution. Despite his inclination toward evolution as a theistic evolutionist, Bube avoids the morass of emotional biases in his fair analysis of this persistent controversy. I may disagree in part with the author, but I readily concede that my presuppositions and conclusions perhaps are more vulnerable to attack by scholars than those of the author. I hope the author will tolerate with patience my adamaney in frowning upon his loose use of the term, religion, when he writes of the danger of evolutionary thinking becoming "a life-directing religious faith," or that "Evolutionism takes its place as one of the world's religions with cults and offshoots of various economic and political kinds." Am I guilty of mere semantic quibbling?
Bube concludes his work with a consideration of the social implications that may stem from some resolution of science and Christianity. The adage, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating," is the thrust of his concluding words:
The Christian involved in science has additional npportunitics. He is in a position to bridge the gap between the Christian community and the scientific community. He is the only one who knows from the inside what it means to trust oneself wholly to God in Christ and at the same time what it means to evaluate properly the potentialities of scientific investigation for an understanding and control of the natural world. If he does not undertake the role of reconciling these two communities, there is no one else able to do it. (p. 251)
The organization, style of writing, lucidity, and
minimization of technical jargon in The Human Quest
make for pleasurable reading. Also the inclusion of "Topics for Discussion" following each chapter adds much to the potential use and application of the book for discussion groups whether in classroom or informal groups who have a stake in the issues included in the book. Congratulations Dick, for leading us along better illuminated pathways in our human quest!
Reviewed by George J. Jennings, Deportment of Anthropology, Geneva College, Beaver Foils, Pennsylvania.
ECOLOGY CRISIS, by John W. Klotz, St. Louis: Coneordia, 1971, 176 pps. $5.95.
This book is so good that I wish I had written it. It is a sensible, reasonably complete book on God's creation and man's pollution (actually the emphasis is more the reverse). It covers the subject in sufficient depth for the college freshman or sophomore, but is written simply enough so that even their parents could understand it. There are numerous references, most to Science and BioScience, so that Ecology Crisis surveys some of the science-oriented literature comprehensible to the few laymen who might actually look up something in a bibliography.
A page and a half glossary (by Andrew J. Buchner) helps some, but not enough. Decomposer, predator, and half-life are missing, for example, though roentgen, biodegradable and PAN are not. The index is just adequate.
The organization of the hook makes up for these deficiencies. There are two introductory chapters, followed by about fifteen pages each, on upsetting the balance of nature, several kinds of pollution, endangered species, and on what needs to he done.
Another strength of the book is the author's experience-Klotz has evidently been a conservationist since this reviewer joined the population explosion! - with resulting emphasis on conservation (prevention) rather than cures, and on some of the historical background. The author rightly puts down some of the more rabid ecoactivists and those who blame our Judeo-Christian heritage (White, Science 155: 1203-7; 1967) for our present troubles. His concept of our relationship to God is one of planetary stewardship.
There are some faults, of course. There are too many quotations. White's attack on Christianity was itself attacked (see Feenstra et.al, Science 156:737-8, 1967 and Monerief, Science 170:508-12, 1970) but Klotz does not include this in his discussion of White. On page 20, the efficiency of herbivores in utilizing energy is too low by a factor of about 10, according to Odum.
On page 65, a correlation between rainfall in La Porte, Indiana, and steel production in Chicago is cited. This presumed effect of air pollution is controversial - see Science 171:847, and 172:987, both 1971. Finally there is insufficient examination of the effect of our prevailing lifestyle on the environment.
I repeat, this is a good book. The paperback is adequately bound. Lord willing I intend to use it as a text in freshman biology next year.
Reviewed by Martin Lo Bar, Division of Science, Central Wesleyan College, Central, South Carolina.
HUMANISTIC PSYCHOLOGY by John A. Hammes, New York: Grune and Stratton, 1971. 203 pp. $7.95.
Subtitled A Christian Interpretation, "the primary purpose of this book is to present the compatibility of scientifically established psychological truth with the truths proposed by a Christian frame of reference." The author is a professor of psychology at the University of Georgia and a Roman Catholic.
He approves of released-time classes for moral and religious instruction, movies, dancing and application of of the Ten Commandments to this age. He is against abortion.
The book is divided into four main parts and subdivided in 16 chapters. Part I considers the basic methods used to study man; Part II the various theories of man's nature; Part III personal adjustment; and Part IV a Christian interpretation of the origin, purpose and destiny of man.
A large part of the book is devoted to tables, figures, suggested readings, name and subject indices, bibliography, and blank pages between sections. These together comprise 67 of the 203 pages. Each of the remaining 136 pages of prose costs nearly 6 cents. It is not worth it.
If the reader can grasp the text, the tables and figures become superfluous; if he cannot understand the text, they are not helpful. The utility of the subject index is restricted because of its incompleteness, e.g., theory is discussed in the text but does not appear in the index. While the original sources referred to are listed, it is difficult to check them because the relevant page numbers are not given. Five misspelled words appear in the book.
On the positive side, Hammes is to be commended for his integration of psychology and theology, his extensive knowledge of philosophy and his Christian testimony-all of which come through clearly.
The book however, possesses some negative qualities. Its greatest short-coming is imprecision, something one does not expect in a psychology textbook. Hammes makes a mistake common to many writers, i.e., identifying his view as the Christian view (p. 149) instead of a Christian view. There are not too many things that all Christians agree upon and certainly sex is not one of them. For instance, Hammes, in speaking of sex writes (p. 109): "sexual enjoyment is for the married, according to Christian philosophy . What about hand
holding, nocturnal emissions and masturbation? Hand holding is certainly a legitimate sexual activity; there is little voluntary control over nocturnal emissions; and some Christians consider masturbation an appropriate sexual outlet under certain circumstances for the unmarried (cf. Herbert J. Miles, Sexual Understanding Before Marriage. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971, p. 137f.)
Here is another imprecise statement on sex (p. 148) which can be questioned: "Chastity and modesty are ignored, even despised, in contemporary society. College campus sexual behavior . . . has become free of moral censure. The only control governing such behavior today is fear, the fear of possible pregnancy." Despite the new morality, there are probably as many virgins as non-virgins among the young today. At any rate, no one really knows for certain. Furthermore, there are many controls on promiscuity besides possible pregnancy which, with modern birth control methods, may be the weakest inhibitor of all. Other examples of imprecise statements are found concerning public support of immorality in the media (ph0) and approbation by contemporary psychologists of illicit affairs (p. 114). Some of the statements are virtually meaningless, e. g., (p. 109): "To elevate sexual satisfaction to a level higher than other and more primary drives is to unbalance human nature." Just what does that mean? Should a person engage in consummatory responses an equal number of times for each drive to keep them balanced?
The most unsatisfying chapter in the book is the one on determinism and human freedom. This is Hammes position: "Determinism, if correct, makes of divine justice a mockery, and portrays God as fiendish rather than benevolent" (p. 86). For the already convinced, such writing may be edifying; for the disclaimer it is aggravating. Care must be taken not to identify the deterministic view as non-Christian and the free will view as Christian. The history of doctrine certainly does not allow such a view to go unchallenged. Hammes' discussion leaves the reader bristling with questions rather than satisfied with answers.
The psychologist who reads this book may find much of its philosophical content on the periphery of his knowledge and interest. He will also find that Hammes makes some quite incredible statements in the light of contemporary psychological knowledge. For instance he writes (p. 66) "Concept formation, or ideation,
is the highest capability of human being. This activity sets him apart from all other animals." Contrast this statement with one from a modern psychology text: "Concepts can be developed by lower animals as well as man" (Harry Harlow, et. al., Psychology. San Francisco: Albion, 1971, p. 376).
Hammes implies (pp. 14, 30, 48) that psychologists believe the experimental approach the only valid one in studying human behavior. This is an example of misrepresentation. In addition to the experimental approach, the most powerful psychological method, such techniques as naturalistic observation, test, interviews, and questionnaries are employed by psychologists. (Jerome Kagan and Ernest Havemann, Psychology: An Introduction. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Jovanovich, 1872, pp. 21-28).
After decrying cause-effect relationships based on correlation (p. 33), Hammes seemingly accepts it as a basis for inferring that divorce is bad for mental health (ph03). Further, his discussion of cause-effect is not in agreement with, for example, Floyd Ruch and Philip Zimbardo (Psychology and Life. New York: Scott, Foresman, 1972, p. 14f.).
For whom is the book intended? "This book has been written for the college student with little or no background in philosophy or theology." At places they may find it pedantic and preachy. It might serve a greater usefulness in a graduate seminar where some of its topics could provide a semester of vigorous debate. For the reader interested in a highly readable coverage of humanism, Frank Gnble's The Third Force (New York: Grossman, 1970), a study of the psychology of Abrahm Maslow, will prove more helpful than Humanistic Psychology.
Reviewed by Richard Ruble, Department of Psychology, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, Arkansas.
THE STRUCTURE OF SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS by T. S. Kuhn, Chicago, 1962
Science has been defined in many different ways. One of the definitions in my dictionary1 reads: "organized body of the knowledge that has been accumulated on a subject." We usually get the idea that our sciences have 'accumulated' over the ages as a result of objective observation, especially if we read the standard text books. There can be little doubt that this idea is at least partly conditioned by the views of science to which the authors of these books subscribe. A way in which one can check whether such views are tenable is to study the history of the various sciences. This Thomas S. Kuhn has done in his book The Structure
of Scientific Revolutions2, and it is certain that he would disagree with the above dictionary definition, as well as the view of the history of science we meet in most textbooks. Kuhn differs from the prevailing view of science in that he believes that a scientist's conceptual framework, or the view he holds on matters pertaining to his field, does indeed play a role in various ways in his work, even in the area of "observation" and "facts". This article is an attempt to look carefully at Kuhn's important book, and to discuss the problematics from which it arises.
Thomas S. Kuhn (1922- ) received his formal education at Harvard. His baccalaureate degree was in the area of theoretical physics, but his subsequent work was in the history of science. He has written two books:
The Copcrnician Revolution3 and the book under review. While at Harvard, Kuhu was influenced by James B. Conant, president of Harvard University, and himself a well-known scientist and author. Kuhn now teaches history of science at Princeton University.
In the first chapter of the book we are discussing, Kuhn pleads for an historical awareness in the sciences ("science" being used in the restricted sense of natural science). For reasons which he will describe more fully later, Kuhn thinks textbooks of science to be misleading in one fundamental way: they do not give a proper view of the history of science. These books give the impression "that the content of science is uniquely exemplified by the observations, laws, and theories described in their pages." (p. 1) Referring to scientific theories of previous ages, Kuhn states: "If these ... are called myths, then myths can be produced by the same sort of reasons that now lead to scientific knowledge. If on the other hand, they are to be called science, then science has included bodies of belief quite incompatible with the ones we hold today."4 (p. 2) That a scientist has a certain set of beliefs which are never questioned as long as the community works efficiently and makes progress, and that research is "a strenuous and devoted attempt to force nature into conceptual boxes supplied by professional educations" (p. 5) are some of Kuhn's opinions, ones not to be found in current textbooks.
This leads to Kuhn's idea of paradigm. Normal science, as he calls it, does not want change, or challenges of the main theory. Chapters 2 to 5 describe the route to normal science and Kuhn's concept of paradigms. In the preface Kuhn explained that he was struck by the fact that it is doubtful that "practitioners of the natural sciences possess firmer or more permanent answers . . . than their colleagues in social science." (p. x). Why is it then that science gives such a convincing impression of being of one mind. How are controversies over fundamentals avoided so successfully? Kuhn postulates that this is, so because in the sciences paradigms play such an important role. Paradigms are "universally recognized scientific achievements that for a time provide model problems and solutions to a community of practitioners." (p. x). Thus a paradigm is a
conceptual and instrumental framework . . . accepted by the entire scientific community; the resulting mode of scientific practice inevitably evokes 'crises' which cannot be resolved within the framework; . . . science returns to normal only when the community accepts a new conceptual structure which can again govern its search for novel facts and for more refined theories.... (cover).
The nature of a science before a paradigm emerges is discussed. Once a paradigm
does become accepted, it saves much discussion and repetitive research, but it
also makes the science unintelligible to the general reader.5
are what distinguish the natural sciences from disciplines such as psychology,
sociology and theology.6
Chapter 6 is entitled "Anomaly and the Emergence of Scientific Discoveries". Novelty emerges with difficulty, often after repeated anomaly. Normal science is so predictable and regular that anomalous findings stand out very clearly and cause a crisis situation. Chapter 7 describes how crisis can lead to the emergence of scientific theories, while the next chapter discusses the response of the "scientific community" to emerging scientific theories. The arguments that Kuhn uses to hack up his opinions are convincing; they show that he is well acquainted with the way the physical sciences operate. He argues that paradigms "are constitutive of science," since they dictate research projects, equipment to be used, and which results are to be considered acceptable: "By shifting emphasis from the cognitive to the normative functions of paradigms some examples enlarge our understanding of the ways in which paradigms give form to the scientific life" (p. 109). The author concludes chapter 9: "I have so far argued only that paradigms are constitutive of science. Now I wish to display a sense in which they are constitutive of nature as well." (p. 109)
Chapter 10 takes the next step: "When paradigms change, the world itself changes with them," ". the familiar demonstrations of a switch in visual gestalt proved . . . suggestive. What were ducks before the scientific revolution were rabbits afterwards" (p. 110). The whole way of looking changes, like "scales falling from eyes" or "flashes of intuition" (p. 121). Kuhn suggests that perception changes with scientists' commitment to paradigms, not with the "raw data" or "brute experience". Different paradigms even lead to different laboratory manipulations. A pure observation language 7 will therefore not help scientists of different paradigms to communicate. Only after experience is determined by a paradigm can a pure observation language begin. But, Kuhn somewhat softens the blow, "changes of this sort are never total. Whatever he may then see, the scientist after a revolution is looking at the same world" (p. 128). After discussing a specific example, he suggests that after this paradigm change, scientists "had still to beat nature into line . When
it was done, even the percentage composition of well known compounds was different. The data themselves had changed" (p. 134).
Most revolutions "have customarily been viewed not as revolutions but as additions to scientific knowledge" (p. 135). Why are the revolutions so invisible, asks Kuhn in Chapter 11. He feels this is so because textbooks, and other scientific literature record the outcome of revolutions. New paradigms necessitate new textbooks. "Textbooks thus begin by truncating the scientist's sense of his discipline's history and then proceed to supply a substitute for what they have eliminated." From just a bit of history, in scattered references, "both students and professionals come to feel like participants in a long standing historical tradition", a tradition "that, in fact, never existed" (p. 137).8 Depreciation of historical fact is deeply ingrained in the scientific profession. "Fortunately, instead of forgetting these heroes, scientists have been able to forget or revise their works" (p. 138) There is a persistent tendency to make history look linear or cumulative. "But that is not the way a science develops." (p. 139).
How does one paradigm replace another? This is the topic of Chapter 12. Usually new interpretations arise in the mind of one or a few young men, less committed to the old paradigms. There are no absolute criteria for verification (paradigm testing). Kuhn says Popper9 denies the existence of any verification procedures at
all. Instead he emphasizes the importance of falsification, i.e., of the test that, because its outcome is negative,
necessitates the rejection of an established theory.
Clearly, the role thus attributed to falsification is much like the one this essay [i.e., Kohn'sJ assigns to anomalous experiences . . . I doubt that [falsifying experiences] exist (p. 145).
Proponents of competing paradigms often fail to communicate. Before
can occur, "one group or the other must experience the conversion that we
have been calling a paradigm shift" (p. 149). Often the shift is not made,
but a new generation of scientists, who accept the new paradigm,
grows up; indeed
one cannot abandon paradigms every day and still be a scientist. "Probably
the single most prevalent claim advanced by the proponents of a new paradigm is
that they can solve the problems that have led the old one to a crisis" (p.
152). Quantitative precision is often very convincing, also. Decisions for the
new paradigms can only he made on faith, for the new paradigms then
who can develop hard-headed arguments. After this is done, the man
to resist unduly ceases to be a scientist.
The final chapter is a crucial one. Kuhn compares the natural sciences to the social sciences.
Social scientists often ask the question "Why should science move steadily ahead, while art, philosophy, or political theory does not?" Kuhn answers "But science does not, either." Debates on whether social sciences are indeed sciences are fruitless because they are based on a false idea of the sciences, and also because paradigms are not universally agreed upon in the social sciences. Of course, a theologian or philosopher contributes to progress too, but only of his school (paradigm).
The absence at most times of competing schools that question each other's aims and standards makes the progress of a normal scientific community far easier to see . . . (Once) the reception of a common paradigm has freed the scientific community from the need constantly to reexamine its first principles, the members of that community can concentrate exclusively upon the subtlest and most esoteric of the phenomena that concern it (p. 162-163).
Kuhn works out this key idea in detail. He describes scientific education, as mainly from textbooks, rather than original sources, and continues,
Of course, it is a narrow and rigid education, probably more so than any other except in orthodox theology. But for normal scientific work, for puzzle solving within the tradition that the textbooks define, the scientist is almost perfectly equipped (p. 165.)
Kuhn could end his book here, but does not. In the final few pages, many new ideas are introduced. I will quote rather extensively to give Kuhn the opportunity to have his final say.
We may . . . have to relinquish the notion ... that changes of paradigm carry scientists and those who learn from them closer and closer to the truth.
It is now time to notice that until the last very few pages the term 'truth' had entered this essay only in a quotation . . . Nothing that has been or will be said makes it a process of evolution toward anything.
We are all deeply accustomed to seeing science as the one enterprise that draws constantly nearer to some goal set by nature in advance.
But need there be any such goal? Can we not account for both science's existence and its success in terms of evolution from the community's state of knowledge at any given time? Does it really help to imagine that there is some one full, objective, true account of nature and that the proper measure of scientific achievement is the extent to which it brings us closer to that ultimate goal? If we can learn to substitute evolution-from-what we-do-know for evolution-toward what-we-wish-to-know, a number of vexing problems may vanish in the process.,,,. I cannot yet specify in any detail the consequences of this alternate view of scientific advance. But it helps to recognize that the conceptual transposition here recommended is very close to the one that the West undertook just a century ago . . . . When Darwin first published his theory of evolution by natural selection in 1859, what most bothered many professionals was neither the notion of species change nor the possible descent of man from
apes . All the well-known pre-Darwinian evolutionary theories . . . had taken evolution to be a goatdirected process. The "idea" of men and of the contemporary flora and fauna was thought to have been present from the first creation of life, perhaps in the mind of God. . , . Each new stage of evolutionary development was a more perfect realization of a plan that had been present from the start.
For many men the abolition of that teleological kind of evolution was the most significant and least palatable of Darwin's suggestions . . . . What could 'evolution', 'development', and 'progress' mean in the absence of a specified goal?
The analogy that relates the evolution of organisms to the evolution of scientific ideas can easily be pushed too far. But with respect to the issues of this closing section it is very nearly perfect. The process described . . . as the resolution of revolutions in the selection by conflict . . . of the fittest way to practice future science. The net result of a sequence of such revolutionary selections, separated by periods of normal research, is the wonderfully adapted set of instruments we call modern scientific knowledge . . . . And the entire process may have occured . - . without benefit of a set goal, a permanent fixed scientific truth.
Comparing the book under review to the work of J.B. Conant shows that Kuhn was
influenced by him to a considerable extent. Kuhn acknowledges this in
in fact he dedicates his book "To James B. Conant Who Started It." In
the book Science and Common Sense10, Conant defines his view of science:
The dynamic view in contrast to the static regards science as an activity; thus the present state of knowledge is of importance chiefly as a basis for further operations . . . . Thus conceived science is not a quest for certainty; it is rather a quest which is successful only to the degree that it is continuous.
Why not boldly claim, as many scientists have in the past, that the physicists and chemists are trying to find out how the inanimate universe is constructed and how it works? If that is the goal, then clearly there is a terminal point, at least in principle; when the puzzle has been solved . . . the laboratories can be closed
Conant then introduces the term "conceptual schemes", and uses it in many respects like Kuhn's "paradigms". Other similarities are also apparent.
Kuhn's idea of paradigm is criticized sharply in an article by D. Shapere.16 Some comments and pertinent quotes follow.
[Kuhn'sl view, while original and richly suggestive, has much in common with some recent aotipositivistio reactions among philosophers of science-most notably Feyerabeod, Hanson, and Toulmin12-and . . . it is hound to exert a wide influence among philosophers and historians of science alike. (p. 383).
Shapere suggests that Kuhn's use of 'paradigm' is too global, too all embracing, so that the term loses its meaning; there are guiding factors in science, but it is confusing if the word paradigm is applied to them. Some of Kuhn's views appear too strongly and confidently held to have been extracted from a mere investigation of how things have happened. This is one place at least, where Shapere and Kuhn would probably agree. Shapere correctly sees that the interpretation of historical facts (by Shapere or Kuhn) would then also he "through" a paradigm. It is somewhat disconcerting to a person of a more positivistic bent, like Shapere, that Kuhn gives no logical, rational method of removing these difficulties. Shapere further mentions that differences are often a matter of degree so that "looking for the guiding elements in scientific activity is not like looking for a unitary entity that either is there or is not" (p. 388). Because adherence to paradigms is indeed often not a black-or-white situation, it would seem to me that Shapere has a valid criticism.
For Kuhn's term "paradigm", incorporating as it does the view that statements of fact are (to use Hanson's expression) theory-laden, and as a consequence the notion of (in Feyerabend's word) meaning variance from one theory or paradigm to another, calls attention excessively to the differences between theories or paradigms, so that relations that evidently do exist between them are in fact passed over or denied. (p. 391).
Shapere raises some questions on the phenomenon of paradigm change and also objects strongly to Kuhn's relativistic dismissal of "truth". He feels that the idea of progress offers little compensation for the confusing situation which arises when the idea of truth is abandoned. Shapere's conclusion is that an approach such as Kuhn's was the inevitable reaction to the ahistorical views of science. "Until historians of science achieve a more balanced approach to their subject -neither too positivistic nor too relativistic"- philosophers must receive such presentation of evidence with extremely critical eyes." (p. 393) In Kuhn's ease this would necessitate a more careful use of his tools, specifically the use of the concept "paradigm", Shapere suggests. This is a valuable contribution to the discussion about the idea of "paradigm".
In English speaking countries, where irrationalist thinking14 is not
as in continental Europe, books such as Kuhn's are starting to
However, especially in the sciences, i.e., among scientists, in textbooks, and
in history of science books, the positivistic view is still pervasive. Because
of this, Kuhn, himself a trained scientist, is like a prophet in his
for, after all, "the facts are not to be denied." It would
take us beyond
the scope of this review to discuss the impact of the Vienna circle,
and of logical positivism15, on scientific thought in general, and on textbooks in particular.
Yet it is against this tradition, the tradition ingrained in most of
in North America, that Kuhn is reacting. The positivistic approach encountered
in textbooks is often a rather simplistic one, many times seemingly oblivious
to the present stage of the debate. For this reason it is probably well for us
to mention an articulate member of this school of philosophy.
The problems that ideas such as Kuhn's raise, particularly for positivistic strains of philosophy are discussed by Israel Seheffler, in his Book, Science and Sujectivity.16 Scheffler feels that the inevitable result of Kuhn's ideas is a complete breakdown of communication in the sciences. For this reason, some measure of obectivity, or control over assertion, is necessary for "common discourse." Unless there is some common language, there can be "no real community of science in any sense approximating that of the standard view, no comparison of theories with respect to their observational content, no reduction of one theory to another, and no cumulative growth of knowledge at least in the standard sense." (p. 17) After making some fundamental
distinctions about the process of observation and scientific proof, Scheffler claims that communication in the sciences is still possible, i.e., some measure of objectivity17 can he retained. This in spite of the fact that observations are affected in no small degree by hypothesis, conceptual scheme, etc. Scheffler's solution to the problem of communication in the sciences is the same as the one suggested by some members of the school of logical positivism,18 namely, the necessity and possibility of some kind of observational language. I feel, however, that from his point of view, Scheffler has dealt perceptively and capably with some of the problems Kuhn raises.
The reason why I chose to review Kuhn's book is that he has diagnosed, correctly in many respects, the thinking which is prevalent in North American research institutions and scientific literature. He has seen that theory and ideas do shape, in several ways the scientific disciplines. The fact that some, like Scheffler, have been able, more or less successfully, to adjust positivistic thinking to objections such as the ones Kuhn raises is probably more exciting for these philosophers than for the average scientist. It can be said that for the latter the history of science is one gradual but glorious unfolding of the spirit of discovery; this spirit of discovery has led and leads to objective facts which enable man to understand and manipulate his world. With Kuhn I think that, on the contrary, scientific theories are often reversed and that differences of opinion between scientists do occur. The ideas which drive an investigator or theoretician are thus more than interesting asides, to be divulged to a doting public if the man happens to win a Nobel prize.
Thus, while Kuhn's idea of paradigm needs clarification, as Shapere suggests, it is also true that it is impossible to do scientific work in a vacuum. A striking illustration of this can be found in Butterfield's book The Origin of Modern Science.19:
It is particularly towards the end of the sixteenth century that we
the extraordinary intermediate position which existed . . . In 1589 one writer,
Magini, said there was a great demand for a new hypothesis which
the Ptolemaic one and yet not be so absurd as the Copernican . . . People even
put forward the view that one should drop all hypotheses and set out simply to
assemble a collection of more accurate observations, Tyeho Brahe
replied to this
that it was impossible to sit down just to observe without the guidance of any
hypothesis at all. (p. 73)20
A question which must be answered, not only by Kuhn, but also by us, is: "What is it then that structures reality, that makes it dependable, "investigatible", or "consistent?" Kuhn's answer has been unambiguous: the mind (or paradigm) of the investigator. Thus there is no truth, only progress toward a non-existent goal. The human mind, no matter what paradigm it works under, fashions the laws which hold for creation, fashions them in the scientific community. One could call this Kantian conceptualism.
We must differ with Kuhn's extremely subjectivistic conclusion, no matter how much we approve of his belligerence against the predominant spirit of the scientific community. In fact, this belligerence, as we already mentioned, is the main reason for our extensive discussion of the book.21 Yet, the formulation of natural laws is not a matter of survival of the fittest, the fittest being the formulation which leads to most progress. Rather, it is the Word which was from the beginning, through which everything was made (John 1:1-14), which originated and upholds reality. It is the business of the scientist to investigate this structure which holds for reality, and he should attempt to formulate laws or theories which reflect this structure. Then formulations, while often in error, and always influenced by the "paradigm" of the investigator, should still be seen as man-made attempts to reflect the creating, upholding, structuring Word.22
When we accept that it is this Word which structures reality,23 it is not surprising that Kuhn, and also Conant, have to back away from their position, to account for the constancy24 which confronts them as they, or others, investigate reality. Kuhn, for example, states: "But changes ... are never total. Whatever he may then see, the scientist after a revolution is still looking at the same world." (p. 128) Similarly, Conant says: "we shall assume that under the same set of conditions the phenomena are in all details reproducible. Such assumptions may be regarded as an act of faith (p. 35.) However, it is not only important to realize, with Francis Bacon, that "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed,"25 but also that the above quotations illustrate a dialectical tension between Freedom and Nature (or Freedom and Determinism, as it is often called) which seems unresolvable. This tension is also observable in the philosophy of thinkers like Scheffler, who, unlike Kuhn and Conant, are closer to the "Nature pole" in this philosophical dilemma.
In the Nature-Freedom motive a dialectical tension exists. Both are present to some degree even though one may predominate. Dooyeweerd rejects the NatureFreedom motive as one of the apostate ground motives in Western thought, identifying instead with the Christian motive of "Creation-Fall-Redemption, in the communion of the Holy Spirit." This avoids the dialectic tensions which inevitably arise in the other ground motives he has identified.2° Also in our attempts to break away from the dilemma between positivism and a position such as the one defended by Kuhn, the Creating Word, which originated, upholds, and structures all of reality, has a central place as we described.
This respect of the Christian for Jahweh's law should not only he in his scientific work. To do things properly requires this obedience in everything he does. This truth is strikingly brought home in Isaiah 28:23-29.
1Dictionary. Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English. Fowler and Fowler,
2Kuhn, T. S. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago, 1962.
3Kuhn, T. S. The Copernican Revolution, Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought. New York, 1957.
4See also Frazer, J. C. The Golden Bough, a Study in Magic and Religion. New York, 1951. p. 56.
5Compare, for example, an article in the Journal of Biochemistry to Newton's "Principia" (a "pre-paradigmatic" book),
6The striving of phychology, for example, to earn the label "science" is rather interesting and telling in this respect.
7Long an objective of the Logical Positivists of the Vienna Circle. For a discussion of this subject see Passmore, J., Hundred Years of Philosophy, New York, second edition, 1966, chapter 20.
8For a striking discussion of such a situation see the section on relativity in Chapter 1 of Polanyi, M,, Personal Knowledge, Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy, Chicago, 1958.
9Popper, K. H., The Logic of Scientific Discovery, New York,
10Conant, J. B., Science and Common Sense, New Haven, 1951.
11Shapere, D., The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, The Philosophical Review, 73, 383394, 1964. For a more elaborate discussion of Kuhn's idea of paradigm, one which tends to agree with Kuhn's viewpoint, see M, Masterman in Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, Cambridge, England, 1970. See Footnote 22.
12See Feyerabend, P. A. Explanation, Reduction and Empirecism, Minnesota Studies, 3, 1962. H. H. Hanson, Patterns of Discovery, Cambridge, England, 1958, The Concept of the Positron, A Philosophical Analysis, Cambridge, England, 1963. 5. Toulmin, Foresight and Understanding, London, 1961, New York, 1963. For a concise discussion of these writers, see J. Passmnre; A Hundred Years of Philosophy, New York, second edition, 1966, pp. 540-541.
I3Jf this non-descript "middle-of-the-road" attitude is philosophically tenable!
I4Especially existentialist thought.
15For brief, well-written introductions to this philosophical school see Ayer, A. J., ed. Logical Positivism, Glencoe, Ill. 1959; Passmore, J, A Hundred Years of Philosophy, London, Second Edition, 1966; Koch, S., Psychology and Emerging Conceptions of Knowledge as Unitary, in Warm, T. W., ad. Behaviorism and Phenomenology, Chicago, 1964.
16Scheffler, I., Science and Subjectivity, Indianapolis. 1967.
17The term "objectivist" as Scheffler uses it for example, is probably a misnomer. John Van Dyk (Survey of the History of Philosophy, mimeograph, Dordt College, 1969) points out that positivism is not an objectivistic but a subjectivistic philosophy because it places the law for creation in man himself, (in his reason, i.e. his subject functions); he is autonomous.
18See footnote 1-5.
l9Bntterfield, H., The Origins of Modern Science, New York, 1957.
20See also Hansen, N, R. Patterns of Discovery. Cambridge, England. 1958.
21Kuhn's book does not go into many of the philosophical problems which are inherent in the subject of the growth of scientific knowledge. However, he is well aware of these problems. For a recent discussion see Lakatos, I. and A. Mosgrave, editors, Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, Cambridge, England, 1970. This book contains an introduction by Kuhn, and discussions by J. W, N. Watkins, 5, E. Toulmin, L. Pearce Williams, K, H. Popper, Margaret Mastcrman, 1. Lakatos, P.K. Feyerabend, and a final statement, again by Kuhn. The paper by Miss Masterman perhaps explains the popularity of Kuhn's book: ". . . this book is at once scientifically perspicuous and philosophically obscure. It is being widely read, and increasingly appreciated by actual research workers in the sciences, so that it most be (to a certain extent) scientifically perspicuous. On the other hand, it is being given widely diverse interpretations by philosophers which gives some reason to think that it is philosophically obscure. The reason for this double reaction, in my view, derives from the fact that Kuhn has really looked at actual science, in several fields, instead of confining his field of reading to that of the history and philosophy of science, i.e., to one field. In so far, therefore, as his material is recognizable and familiar to actual scientists, they find his thinking about it easy to understand. In so far as this same material is strange and unfamiliar to philosophers of science, they find any thinking that is based on it opaque. Kuhn's form of thinking, however, is not in fact opaque, but complex
it reflects the complexity of the material."
22The importance of this Word which upholds the structure of creation, was stressed in the speeches by J. B. Hoist, J. H. Oltisois, C. Spykman and H. E. Vander Vennen at Dordt College in December, 1970. These speeches are published, and available from Dordt College.
23For a pertinent discussion of the law structures see J, Olthois' article as mentioned in footnote 22.
24This "constancy" should be seen as faithfulness of the creator rather than a uniform determinism.
25Bacon, Francis, The New Organon, Book I III, 1620.
26Dooyeweerd, H., A New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Volume I, Philadelphia, 1958.
Reviewed by Harry Cook, Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, Illinois 60463.
MORALITY, LAW AND GRACE by J.N.D. Anderson, 128 pp. Paperback. (1972) $1.95.
ARGUING WITH GOD by Hugh Silvester, 128 pp. Paperback. (1971) $1.50.
DESPAIR: A Moment or a Way of Life? by C. Stephen Evans, 135 pp. Paperback. 1971).
FROM CHRIST TO CONSTANTINE by M. A. Smith, 208 pp. Paperback. (1971).
QUESTIONS OF SCIENCE AND FAITH by J. N. Hawthorne, 62 pp. Paperback. (1972).
All five books available from Inter-Varsity Press, Box F, Downers Grove, Illinois 60515.
These five new titles from the expanding InterVarsity library deserve to be noticed by readers of the Journal ASA. The consistent high quality of these endeavors makes it desirable for evangelicals of various vocations to be on the Inter-Varsity Press mailing list.
In Morality Law and Grace the prolific Dr. Anderson, Professor of Oriental Laws and Director of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in the University of London (Christianity; The Witness of History and Christianity and Comparative Religion) adds to the material given in the Forwood Lectures on the Philosophy and History of Religion at the University of Liverpool in February 1971, He starts with the age-old dilemma of morality and determinism, sketching the
perpectives of physicist, psychologist, philosopher and theologian, and concluding that "there is no reason whatsoever to suppose that ordinary men and women are mistaken in their firm conviction that they have, within limits, a genuine freedom of choice and action." In subsequent chapters he considers morality in the permissive society, and develops in detail the connection between morality and law in general and in connection with tyranny and injustice. Finally he turns his attention to morality and grace, and works out the Biblical position on what is normally referred to as works and faith. Throughout the book the author strives for a balanced position.
Arguing with God is subtitled, "A Christian Examination of the Problem of Evil." Written by an accountant turned Anglican minister, chaplain, and Tutor at Oak Hill Theological College in London, it is one of the most readable expositions of this No. 1 Christian dilemma available. It is written primarily for Christians, and for non-Christians who might be thinking of becoming Christians. He tackles the question of the definition of "good;" moral evil and natural evil; the existence of evil in a world created by a good and all-powerful God; insufficient solutions which deny either the goodness of God, the power of God, or the reality of evil; the "free will defence;" the problem of human freedom; eschatological resolutions of the problem of evil; activity of God that shows He cares; and a challenge to Christians to take their place in the work of God in a world in need. One of the most penetrating insights is the simple statement that the first response of a Christian to experience with suffering in the world is to repent. He has troubles with natural evil, and yet gives the provocative comment that "the world as it is appears to he the only suitable home for man as he is."
Nothing is revealed about the author of Despair except that he was born in 1948. The book pretty much follows the lead of Francis Schaeffer in developing the theme of despair as the product of modern existentialism. He discusses Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Sartre, Marcel, Camus, "Man of La Mancha," "Catch-22," Jaspers and Marx, in an easy and popular style. He argues that each man must come to the moment of despair before he recognizes his ultimate need for Christ, but that this is in no way to be compared with the adoption of despair as a worldview. This is a useful book to give to a friend caught up in existentialism without the Christian dimension.
From Christ to Constantine is living and readable church history, written by a reader in classics and theology at Oxford to show that "many of our present problems have arisen in other forms before, and it is often instructive to see how they were faced by Christians of other ages." Such history is not only a record of unyielding faith in the face of threat, persecution and martyrdom, but it is also the humbling record of heresy, party strife within the church, and personal animosities between Christians. Scattered throughout the book are references to the great failures of the church, to oriental Christianity as the "great might-have-been" of history,
and to the disappearance of North African Christianity,
The North African Christians certainly grasped the basic truth that one did not have to he an intellectual to come to Christ. Yet they often failed to learn that one needed more than martyrs and defiance to commend the faith.
That today's Jesus People might learn this lesson of history! A fact
of some interest
is the list of occupations that was not tolerated for new converts to
gladiators, actors, schoolmasters, painters, and sculptors. The schoolmaster is
in the list because of his necessity to teach the tales of classical mythology.
A 25-page Glossary of terms is included at the end; an author's assessment and
overview of the whole period would have been helpful as a conclusion.
seems to afford little hope for the church institution to overcome
its human limitations
and be an effective corporate witness; church history does reveal
is the normal condition for the Christian.
Questions of Science and Faith by J. N. Hawthorne, Professor of Biochemistry at the Medical School, Nottingham, England, is little more than an outline of the principal points of such a discussion. The treatment is so brief and the style so cryptic that high readability is sometimes accompanied by superficiality. The general tenor of the book is positive and encourages consideration of both the Biblical perspective and authentic science. It could serve as a discussion guide for a high school group.
Reviewed by Richard H. Bube, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.