Book Reviews for December 2000
EARTH RISING: American Environmentalism in the 21st Century by Phillip Shabecoff. Washington, DC: Island Press 2000. 240 pages, index. Paperback; $24.95. ISBN: 1559635835.
Shabecoff is a freelance writer based in Newton, Massachusetts. He worked as a reporter for The New York Times for thirty-two years, and was founder and publisher of Greenwire, an environmental news daily. He is the author of A Fierce Green Fire and A New Name for Peace. In 1990, Shabecoff was awarded the American Library Association's James Madison Award for leadership in expanding freedom of information and the public's right to know. He is a committed environmentalist, and this volume is directed at the converted. It is a brief history of the movement in the United States, a perceptive analysis of its shortcomings, and a set of recommendations for future work.
After the first Earth Day in 1970, there was a large surge in environmental concern and memberships in activist organizations. Then the Reagan years, a time of official hostility toward environmentalism, pretty well killed the whole effort. Currently the movement is largely ineffectual, highly fragmented, and disputatious. Times such as these occur in all large concept movements--Christianity has experienced a few of them. There is basic agreement on fundamental principles and goals but a willingness to fight to the death over the details. One of Shabecoff's most insistent recommendations is that Balkanization must end if environmentalism is ever to be a force.
He notes that many have considered the Judeo- Christian tradition as a major cause of the current sorry state of the world. He also asserts that a very important requirement of a revitalized movement is to develop a new moral center for people throughout the nation and the world. Shabecoff comments favorably on some new activities in the religious community, e.g., the National Religious Partnership for the Environment as well as new developments in theology as outlined in the recent series of conferences sponsored by the Harvard Divinity School. Thus, he urges environmentalists to reach out to the religious community. But since there is mutual suspicion between environmentalists and Christians, the reaching out should be mutual. The only way the world will be saved is by the involvement of the people of God. "The movement needs to reignite the transcendental fire, to rededicate itself to the beauty and sanctity of this planet."
Another of his recommendations is a major restructuring of the world economy so that it becomes an instrument for solving human needs rather than oppression. As the Western world is by far the greatest per capita polluter, this may be achieved largely by some revenue neutral tax shifting in the U.S. and Europe, from things that are "good" (income, employment) to things that are "bad" (C02 or methane or other emissions). It is also necessary to crush the obscene level of consumption in the West. Cornell economist Robert Frank proposed a steeply graduated tax on consumption, defined as the difference between income and savings. Many specific adjustments can be made, each of which will help. Fundamentally, however, a massive redistribution of wealth between rich and poor, both intra- and internationally, must occur or the environment will certainly be driven to collapse. If a new industrial revolution were to occur in the developing world, something like three earth-size planets would be required to support a Western level of consumption for the entire population. As long as personal and corporate greed constitutes the dominant ethos, such redistribution will not occur. The elimination of this behavior is neither simple nor trivial. All individuals must accept the principle of "sufficiency."
One of Shabecoff's more (likely to be) controversial recommendations is that environmentalism should direct the course of the scientific enterprise as well as make use of its results. He quotes Jane Lubchenco, past president of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science. Her new "social contract" calls for the scientific community to urgently address the unprecedented environmental and social changes caused by human activity on the planet. The first assumption of this contract is that scientists will address the most urgent needs of society in proportion to their importance. Although a noble thought, it seems more unlikely than eliminating greed due to the long- term entrenched tradition in science that promotes specialization.
Reviewed by Braxton M. Alfred, Biological Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 2E9.
THE VIRGIN AND THE DYNAMO: Use and Abuse of Religion in Environmental Debates by Robert Royal. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999. 271 pages. $25.00. ISBN: 0802844685.
"Nothing is farther from the common people than the corrupt desire to be primitive," according to Santayana. This is one of the essential themes of this book. Despite the romantic notions of many, nature is not intrinsically benign, either to humans or to other creatures. People who have experienced it do not want to live in "a state of nature." Humans affect the environment, but the environment also affects humans. It has done so throughout human history, often to human detriment.
In the first three chapters, Royal notes that the Bible clearly makes humans not only part of nature, but also responsible for it. For him, the biblical position goes further. Humans are responsible for minimizing the adverse effects of unbridled nature on their neighbors. Human control of the environment is desirable insofar as it serves to protect and serve other humans, and careful study of the environment is required to ensure that such control is wise. But humans will control and influence the environment, e.g., by slash-and-burn agriculture, whether they want to or not. Such influence is part of human nature no less than it is part of beaver nature to flood forests, or part of the nature of leaf-cutter ants to kill trees by defoliation. God's gift to humans is the ability to think about and plan the influence they invariably will have. The fact that they are not always wise in their interactions with the world is a reflection of the fallen state of humanity rather than the intrinsic undesirability of human authority over nature.
Most of the book, entitled "Some Case Studies," is a brief overview and dissection of several religious and non-religious approaches to the environment. Naturalism is quickly disposed of, leading to a one-sided view of the world as a mechanistic, tunable Dynamo, which can be controlled, modified, or even plundered at will for immediate human benefit. Royal spends more time with religiously based environmental ideas that see nature as the Virgin and (white, Western male) humanity as a rapist who criminally defiles the Great Mother.
Royal's first concern is to point out heretical theology and confused ethics which follow from--or are the basis for--various environmental positions. He does not fully engage any of these positions, but does show that inadequate theologies can lead to errors on both ends of the political spectrum.
Orthodox theism is seen as the best defense against environmental extremism of the left or the right. Royal directs most of his criticism at the "Virgos" of the radical left, which view the world and economics as a zero-sum game. He seems to believe that Dynamists, whether laissez-faire capitalists or classical Marxists, have their hearts in the right place even if their solutions are one-sided.
Royal gives respect where it is due. Nevertheless, he loses his temper often, and a better editor was required to keep him in check. He exposes many idiocies, but often does not properly address them because he considers them beneath refutation. He forgets that those to whom the idiocy is not obvious require persuasion rather than sarcasm. This led to a savaging of his book by Booklist: "Royal introduces quite a variety of contemporary thinkers by name, even as he fails to engage them."
The first three chapters are reasonably good; the next several are only partly focused attacks on a variety of left-wing environmental positions. The conclusion, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see?" is not entirely coherent and does not summarize well. It could and should have done a better job of restating the book's thesis.
I found Royal's book entertaining, mostly because I largely agree with him. While I do not think the review by Booklist (see the amazon.com listing for this book) was entirely fair, I do think it was deserved because of the shallow level of much of the argument. If you can read only one book on Christian approaches to the environment, this is not it.
Reviewed by Daniel J. Berger, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Bluffton College, Bluffton, OH 45817.
HARD GREEN: Saving the Environment from the Environmentalists, A Conservative Manifesto by Peter Huber. New York: Basic Books, 1999. 204 pages, index, endnotes. Hardcover; $25.00. ISBN: 0465031129.
Huber, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a Forbes columnist, holds an engineering degree from MIT and a law degree from Harvard. He has taught engineering at MIT and has served as a law clerk for Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O'Connor. Huber wrote this book as a response to the modern environmental movement. In his opinion, the "Soft Greens" base their policies on bad science and even shakier economics. The bad science is a result of their dependence on unverified computer model predictions of the far future. The Soft Greens predict a "sandpile collapse" for every complex system. In cases where their predictions have been verifiable, the Softs have been wrong. Soft Green economics is based on the Malthusian Scarcity Theory, that is, eventually the Earth's resources will be used up and the population will catastrophically collapse. The Hard Green denies the economics of scarcity. "Hard economics affirms that consumption does not presage exhaustion; the demand side of a market tells us nothing about the future of the supply side."
Soft Greens believe that by promoting efficiency in markets, demand will be lowered, thus reducing consumption and saving the Earth's resources. Huber points out that efficiency does not reduce demand, it only transfers demand to other markets. Drinking diet soda, for example, allows a person to eat chocolate brownies. Overall consumption is not reduced. He points out that, in fact, we have empirical evidence of this phenomenon in economics. As economies become more efficient, consumption rises. The American economy is an excellent example.
Rather than pursuing a vain quest for efficiency, Hard Greens propose to preserve the environment in a radically different way: private and government conservation of land, rivers, and oceans. Huber says that government involvement in markets is inefficient and counterproductive. Instead, he argues that government's legitimate role is to purchase large tracts of land and allow no economic development of that land for aesthetic reasons. This was Theodore Roosevelt's original National Park idea.
Huber says that the Soft Green makes the mistake of mixing categories. Nature is worth preserving simply because it is inherently valuable, not because it has potential for future economic success. To preserve nature most effectively, the areas preserved must have clearly defined boundaries that everyone can see and respect. Ordinary people can understand how setting aside parks for conservation preserves the environment, but it is difficult for them to see how specifying the efficiency of their toilet tanks does.
The great beauty and elegance of the Hard Green position is that it is understandable to common people and, therefore, has a greater chance for success in the political arena. I found Huber's case quite convincing in the big picture, but slightly weak when addressing issues such as trace contaminants causing large environmental consequences in the food chain. Overall, however, I think Huber's Hard Green position should be studied and, in many cases, adopted. It is a common-sense approach to preserving God's good creation. Though Huber's arguments can at times be redundant, they are consistent and coherent.
Reviewed by David Condron, Senior Engineer, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren, VA 22448.
THE REPRODUCTION REVOLUTION: A Christian Appraisal of Sexuality, Reproduction Technologies, and the Family by John F. Kilner, Paige C. Cunningham, and W. David Hager, eds. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000. xvi + 290 pages, index. Paperback; $20.00. ISBN: 0802847153.
Kilner is director of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity. He has authored or edited many books in this field. This book lists thirty contributors, only one from outside the U.S. Among them are academics, lawyers, physicians, a nurse, and officials of the Family Research Council and the National Women's Coalition for Life. The book does not seem to have been the result of a conference, but some authors had access to chapters written by others.
As the subtitle suggests, Reproduction Revolution covers a lot of ground. There are sections on reproductive difficulties, foundational issues (a study of Viagra, a study on the moral status of embryos), specific technologies (donor gametes, surrogate motherhood, cloning), difficult cases (a hypothetical case analyzed by five different persons of a surrogate mother who wishes to have an abortion, a "Debate on Whether or Not the Birth Control Pill Causes Abortions"), the sexual revolution, and "Other Proactive Responses."
One weakness of the book is that there is only one real debate included. Too much of the book presents a view as correct, without considering other viewpoints. For example, in A Child of One's Own: At What Price? Gilbert Meilander argues as follows:
Imagine a case in which a married couple seeks donor insemination because of the husband's infertility. Some might say, of course, that the child whom they produce is, at least, genetically related to the mother--it is her own, even if not also his own in the same sense. And for Christians that is exactly the cause for worry. The child is to be theirs, not his or hers. The deliberate and willed asymmetry of relation--so like the mutual symmetry that exists in adoption--is precisely the problem (p. 42, emphasis in original).
For some inexplicable reason, Meilander does not even mention the circumstances of Christ's birth here. True, Mary and Joseph did not will to have Christ, but God entrusted his Son to an asymmetrical family, Joseph not being his biological father. This suggests that asymmetry might not be as big a problem as Meilander thinks it is.
Robert W. Evans, in "The Moral Status of the Fetus," states:
It is most plausible to hold that the image of God is imparted to human beings at the beginning of the process of fertilization, and that the right to life is, therefore, conferred at the initial moment of conception (p. 75).
To his credit, Evans does recognize that, biologically, fertilization is a process that takes several hours. But Evans does not consider the question of identical multiples. If identical twins separate at a stage in which there are several cells, when is the image of God imparted to each twin? Did the unsplit embryo also have the image of God? (The best answer, of course, is that we do not know.)
Nowhere does the book discuss Ex. 21:22-23. One possible interpretation of this text is that an unborn fetus was not given personhood status.
Another weakness is that there is little sense of history. For example, Christians used to object to anesthetization during delivery. Is it possible that some objections currently raised by Christians, e.g., about cloning or surrogacy are really resistences to new things, not defenses of scriptural principles, and thus will be accepted by most Christians at some time in the future?
Although I have pointed out what I consider to be the book's weaknesses, it has strengths. Some fascinating chapters included are: the debate on the pill noted above; a chapter on what Viagra tells us about the goals of medicine; and a chapter on what the sexual revolution has done to us, especially what it has done to teenagers. Gracie Hsu Yu contributed a chapter on changing public opinion about abortion, not by passing anti-abortion laws or by demonstrating in front of abortion facilities, but by appealing to people's hearts. Apparently this approach is having some real success, and not just among Republicans.
All Christians seriously concerned about a wide range of bioethical issues should read this book.
Reviewed by Martin LaBar, Professor of Science, Southern Wesleyan University, Box 1020, SWU Box 455, Central, SC 29630.
THE BODY OF COMPASSION: Ethics, Medicine and the Church by Joel James Shuman. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1999. 216 pages, index, notes. Hardcover; $25.00. ISBN: 0813367042.
Shuman, a visiting instructor of theological ethics at Duke University Divinity School, undertakes an ambitious treatment of contemporary bioethics. Highly critical of the direction modern medicine has taken in distancing itself from humanity by treatment of disease and deformation rather than treatment of persons, Shuman argues that the problem lies in a lack of understanding of a "teleological concern for the body." For Christians, he says, a body does not belong only to the individual, but is actually one with the community of believers. He proposes a new ethical standard for Christians, one that includes specifics on how we should care for, and receive care from, one another.
The book has four sections and an "afterword." The first sections, which treat current bioethics, are organizationally challenged. While they contain much valuable information, I was convinced, by the time I was halfway through the book, that my review would be unfavorable. But the third and fourth sections, in which Shuman discusses the theology and the practical aspects of Christian caregiving, are superb. In many ways, he echoes the concerns and practices of the Stephen Ministry, an interdenominational service with headquarters in St. Louis, which has taught the concepts of Christian caregiving to over 6,000 congregations in the past twenty years.
Shuman says the caregiver must exercise three virtues: respect, hospitality, and patience. The care receiver, in turn, must also exercise certain virtues, including dependence and constancy. The discussions of these virtues, ones often unknown in the practice of medicine today, constitute a major part of these two sections. Shuman thinks that these virtues "must confront and transform efficiency (technical expertise) when efficiency claims that the capitalist market and its attendant utilitarian logic are the most legitimate vehicles for determining the particulars of care of who receives care, and how much, and of what kind" (p. 155). There is not "a cancer" in room 317; Jane Smith, who is suffering from cancer, is in room 317. Jane is a real person. She needs love and care, treatment for her cancer, and concern for her loved ones.
Shuman ends with these words, which ring: "[I] began trying again, perhaps a little more seriously, to be a faithful member of a people who will care for one another as we would care for Jesus himself as we wait for that day." I recommend this book to my ASA colleagues who care about these issues. Wade through the first half. Let the second half speak to your heart.
Reviewed by John Burgeson, Stephen Minister, First Presbyterian Church Durango, CO 81301.
Faith & Science
SCIENCE AND THEOLOGY: The New Consonance by Ted Peters, ed. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1999. 241 pages, notes, index. Paperback; $26.00. ISBN: 0813332591.
Peters is professor of systematic theology at Pacific Lutheran Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He chose fourteen scholars to contribute essays to the volume. The contributors consist of six scientists, five theologians, and three with expertise as both scientists and theologians (John Polkinghorne, Robert Russell, and George Coyne).
Peters asserts that in his view of past history, there have been eight ways that science and theology have battled and made peace: (1) Scientism, there is no room for God; (2) scientific imperialism, knowledge of the divine comes only from scientific research; (3) ecclesiastical authoritarianism, God's revelation through the Pope is authoritative over science; (4) scientific creationism, espouses a young earth and geological formations due to Noah's flood and denies evolution; (5) the Two Language Theory, science and religion are separate domains with no overlap, and no cross-communication is possible; (6) hypothetical consonance, the "God" question can be honestly asked from within science; (7) "Ethical Overlap Theory" arose initially from the ecological challenge to civilization; and (8) new age spirituality, based on meta-religious naturalism. This book seeks to discuss the sixth approach.
The twofold purpose of the book is: (1) to present the ideas of the other invited contributors to explore the presence or absence of a spiritual dimension to the natural world as discerned through the scientific enterprise; and (2) to explore the mutual interaction between disciplines in the growing field of Theology and the Natural Sciences.
In the Introduction, Peters states: "This book is an exploration in hypothetical consonance--that is, an attempt to uncover the domain of inquiry shared by science and theology." Peters asserts "hypothetical consonance makes the assumption that there is one God and one cosmos." The book is divided into two parts: Part I, "Physics and Faith"; and Part II, "Evolution, Ethics and Eschatology." Overall, the five essays in Part I meet the purpose of the book. The essay by Russell is the weakest, in my opinion. The other four essays, written by Charles Townes, Polkinghorne, Paul Davies, and Nancey Murphy, emphasize that scientists do their work based on the view that the universe is intelligible. Reductionism fails to explain the results of scientific effort.
All nine of the essays in Part II are, in my opinion, fairly weak in meeting the purpose of the book. Starting with a naturalistic world view (nature is all there is), these essayists (except John Paul II and Coyne) strive by inductive reasoning to see where God, assuming there is one, could fit in. I think this approach is doomed to failure. One essayist tried to find a little "wiggle room" for a God to act in Heisenberg's indeterminancy principle! The best that can come from this approach is either pantheism or panentheism. Many of the essayists do not like the idea of a God who "intervenes" in the regularity of nature.
A virtue of this book is that it has succeeded to some degree in getting scientists and theologians to "talk to each other." We could use a lot more of this in the new millennium. A major weakness in the book is failure to define four key words: theology, God, science, and evolution. If someone chooses to edit another volume with the same general purpose as this one, I would strongly recommend that these four words be clearly defined and agreed upon at the outset. Most ASA members should enjoy reading the book.
Reviewed by O. C. Karkalits, College of Engineering and Technology, McNeese State University, Lake Charles, LA 70609.
SEDUCED BY SCIENCE: How American Religion Has Lost Its Way by Steven Goldberg. New York: New York University Press, 1999. 220 pages, index. Hardcover; $27.95. ISBN: 081473104X.
Goldberg, a lawyer and an award-winning author, teaches in the areas of law, science, and values at Georgetown University Law Center. In this book, he argues that religious leaders, in an effort to gain wider acceptance for religion in a secular world, are accepting science as the dominant ideology and looking for empirical verification of religious phenomena. By contrast, Goldberg suggests that if religious leaders made better use of their religious freedom, they could regain their independence and return to their advocacy of central moral concerns.
The book is divided into three sections. In the first section, Goldberg provides three examples of "religion's flirtation with science" (p. 5). In the debate over the patenting of the human genome, many religious leaders have argued that patenting is wrong because our genes define who we are. Goldberg argues that such a materialistic and deterministic position is contrary to and inconsistent with a religious world view. Similarly, he argues that efforts to link biblical texts with scientific explanations of our origins not only attempt to test God, but imply that the status of sacred texts will be elevated through scientific verification. With respect to the healing power of prayer, Goldberg is concerned that as medical evidence for its efficacy increases, prayer will lose its religious significance altogether and take its place in the therapeutic arsenal along with aspirin. Through these examples, the author demonstrates quite convincingly that in an effort to be more scientific, religion is becoming less religious. Faith, values, and transcendence are being sacrificed for empirical testing, instant results, and ideological compliance.
In the second section, Goldberg tries to explain how the Constitution provides a freedom for religious expression and involvement in the public square that, if properly understood and applied, would allow religious leaders to escape the restrictions of the scientific world view and speak openly about their own priorities. One chapter contains a description of how free speech and due process provisions not only permit religious arguments to be used in public debate, but also provide for the establishment of religious schools. Goldberg then devotes one chapter to each of the two religion clauses of the First Amendment, namely, free exercise and non-establishment. In these two chapters, both of which contain a significant amount of case law, issues such as religious doctrine, prayer in schools, and state recognition of religious holidays are discussed. A fourth chapter devoted to the relationship between religious values and law examines issues such as Sunday shopping and abortion. Goldberg's argument throughout this section is not only that "it is perfectly lawful and legitimate for religious values to play a role in shaping legislation" (p. 55), but that science even when used to support a religious position is never going to solve a moral issue.
The objective of the final section of Goldberg's book is to argue that "religion can introduce a sense of humility, faith, and values to our public discourse" (p. 8). Partly because of its prescriptive quality, but also because of the author's deep concern for values education and the precedence of morality in decision-making, this section is unfortunately the weakest in the book. However, the cautionary flag waved throughout the final chapters and the author's plea for humility in the face of religious tradition and scientific accomplishments clearly demonstrate a deep understanding and concern for the future of humanity. The practical advice that readers need in order to apply Goldberg's ideas is contained in the first two sections.
I enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to all those interested in the relationship between religion and science and between church and state.
Reviewed by Robert A. Campbell, University College of Cape Breton, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada B1P 6L2.
THRESHOLD 2000: Critical Issues and Spiritual Values for a Global Age by Gerald O. Barney. Arlington: Millennium Institute, 1999. 158 pages, graphs, tables, references, notes. Paperback; $13.95. ISBN: 0963789732.
Threshold 2000 offers a "powerful invitation to reflect deeply on the critical issues facing the world." It helps society face up to a profound choice at the millennial crossing: (1) to continue on the path of present beliefs and policies to an increasingly crowded, polluted, and vulnerable world; or (2) to take the path of hope to a more sustainable, healthy, and secure global community. The unique feature of this book is its impassioned integration of ecological analysis with the search for spiritually informed values. Threshold 2000 offers both a challenge and a vision to people of all faiths and those of no faith.
Barney's work includes all the analysis of Global 2000 Revisited, first published for the 1993 Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago. The audience for this analysis is the world's spiritual leaders; the theme resonates on a quest to define what role religions can play, singly and collectively, in dealing with the challenges and opportunities of our extraordinary age.
The new millennium has come and gone. Barney is concerned with an effort to set a path for the future, a timeless venture. This book points the way to an extensive dialogue between "secular issue" experts and spiritual leaders of all faiths, with a focus on the universal need to promote a culture of peace.
This smartly developed book of both heuristic and equally impressive subjective analyses concludes with a charter that defines an "inspiring vision of the fundamental principles of a global partnership for sustainable development and environmental conservation." It calls for a radical change in humanity's attitudes, which will produce concern for balancing science and technology while maintaining the environment. Additional concerns include the need to secure human rights for everyone as the foundation of freedom and justice and to practice nonviolence in order to be an instrument of peace.
Reviewed by Major Dominic J. Caraccilo, 1212 Whisperwood Drive, Columbus, GA 31907.
SON OF THE MORNING SKY: Reflections on the Spirituality of the Earth by Benjamin W. Farley. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1999. 232 pages. Paperback; $29.50. ISBN: 0761815155.
Farley is the Younts professor of Bible, religion, and philosophy at Erskine College in South Carolina. This book is a series of thirty essays, most of which could be read separately. Chapter titles include "The Appalachian Knobs," "Arcadia and the Homeric Gods," "The Phenomenon of Religion," "The Courage to Be," "Religion and Silence," "Sexual Love," "Villem»trie," "The Anasazi of the American Southwest and the Hopi Worldview," "Eden in Paris," and "The Son of Galilee." There is a selected bibliography. The appendix contains some of Farley's poetry, Poems of the Knobs, which, also being a son of the South, I found beautifully evocative and quite moving.
Repeatedly Farley insists that religious people must accept the findings of science and that theology must be compatible with science. He does not critique the logic of science or any of its results, and this led him seriously astray in chapter 14, "The Descent of Man." There he has accepted the assertions of Richard Leaky with regard to human evolution. Specifically, the taxon for which Leaky held so much hope, Ramapithecus, has been voted out of existence. The consensus view now is that Ramapithecus, which has small canines, is simply a female Sivapithecus, which is considered to be ancestral to the modern Orangutan. The problem is--and Farley had no way of knowing this without reading the journals (which some consider a single step above hell)--that in hominid paleontology what is true today is false tomorrow, and vice versa. Also at the time he wrote, Leaky argued, based solely on canine size, that Ramapithecus was a biped and a tool maker, for which there is, was, never has been, and never will be a scrap of evidence. There are other discussions of scientific issues which, being out of my field, seem correct by my limited understanding.
But the book is not about science. As much as anything, it is the story of a North Carolina farm boy's journey into faith and his dependence on the natural world for periodic restoration and revivification. Academically the journey went from forestry to theology, to a monastery in France, a kibbutz in Israel, and back. Even while knowing that the earth is his home, he recognizes home by the red clay hills and forests of the Carolinas. The book's strength--its extraordinary, brilliant, poignant, thrilling strength--is in the very personal witness of God's presence in the world. This is a message that desperately needs to be declaimed and incorporated into the ethos, especially in the Western world, if there is to be any hope of salvation for the world. Christians frequently display a tendency toward concern for personal salvation at the expense of the rest. This is God's world and Farley knows it and, without ever scolding, he powerfully delivers the message that all creatures that use DNA are brothers, or at least kin. Make no mistake: He is a Christian; one is never in doubt about that though some will, no doubt, accuse him of paganism. He is a man I would very much like to meet and take a hike with. He has written a book that I prize and will definitely re-read.
Reviewed by Braxton M. Alfred, Biological Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 2E9.
THE WEDGE OF TRUTH by Phillip Johnson. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000. 188 pages, endnotes, index. Hardcover; $17.99. ISBN: 0830822674. (See ad in PSCF 52:3 [September 2000]: 159.)
Johnson requires no introduction to the readers of this journal. His fifth book takes aim at the metaphysical roots of naturalism and materialism, discussing these roots in biology, theology, psychology, and the power politics of modern society as observed in the Kansas Board of Education decision to remove evolution from the standards. His major point over and over is that scientists are overstepping their data by declaring that science has proved God to be an irrelevancy. In this book, he outlines the wedge strategy his movement intends to use to "get the right questions on the table."
Prior to reading this book, I feared that there would be the usual plethora of factual mistakes seen in many of his earlier books. While there were some egregious examples (in his Dembski influenced treatment of information theory), in general the book remained in the realm of philosophy and attacked the metaphysical basis for naturalism. Thus, Johnson made the book difficult for a Christian to ignore.
Johnson's plea, that God should be part of the objective universe and not relegated to some imaginary place in reality where he can do no mischief, struck a strong chord with this Christian. Johnson is correct that if God has no place influencing the objective world, how can we understand the incarnation? But this plea is a double-edged sword that Johnson and his Intelligent Design (ID) colleagues have totally failed to understand. If the ID group wants God to be an active agent in the modern world of objective reality, then the ID group is obligated to explain exactly how God influenced the development of life, when God did these items and what materials he used. They need to offer a coherent scenario matching objective reality with God's actions.
But, as Mark Ptashne noted at The Nature of Nature Conference, each member of the ID group offers mutually exclusive solutions to this problem. And in this book, while decrying that evolutionists cannot explain things, Johnson continues to avoid applying the same standard (the other side of the sword) to his own agenda and movement.
Johnson also strikes a deep chord when discussing the origin of the soul. If the soul does not exist or is entirely an epiphenomenon of material complexity, then what is to become of the Christian theology of an afterlife? Johnson rightly argues that those who see our humanness as nothing but the development of a particular circuit in the brain have little to offer in way of explanation for appreciation of beauty or, in our obvious human need, moral values and justice. I find it extremely difficult to see how natural selection can evolve a sense of artistic or even religious feeling. Of what value is art appreciation to survival?
Johnson is at his best and most resonant when he discusses his theological reasons for rejecting naturalism. He quotes John 1:1: "In the beginning was the Word ÷" as a reason Christians should hold that intelligence and soul are prior to the material universe. What Christian can disagree?
His discussion of the theological modernist is also interesting as he defends a cognitive territory for Christian revelation and teaching. He rails against those in science who wish to relegate religious thought to the realm of the fairies and fantasies, having no connection with objective reality. If that is the place of Christian revelation, we should all go fishing on Sunday.
One of the poorer sections of the book is his treatment of the Kansas Board's decision on evolution. He painted the issue as one of the masses rising up in arms against the educational and scientific elite to bring down the restrictions placed upon them by the scientific nobility. The evil nobility, played by the scientists, were oppressing the people (played by the Board of Education). He waxed jubilant about this decision and one could hear the boos and hisses for that evil scientific nobility. It was wonderful melodrama.
Unfortunately, for Johnson's case, I was reading this chapter the day after the people of Kansas rose up and voted all those creationist board members out of office. It seems that the reality is that the three board members were imposing their views on the majority of the Kansans, who refused to play the part scripted by Johnson.
The biggest flaw in the book is the way Johnson treats his adversaries and the way he paints his own horse and hat white. Johnson, the nonscientist, has always viewed the scientific endeavor as being one in which the scientific emperors dictate what the lesser luminaries will believe. And then in the chapter entitled "The Empire Strikes Back," he paints himself as a Quixotic character on a white horse who will bring about the demise of this hated system, which he repeatedly says will fall any minute now. This is a prediction he has made for over ten years, and one must wonder where the evidence is for this impending doom of evolution and why Johnson, who demands evidence from the evolutionist, offers none for this prediction.
All in all, this is an important book and those involved in the creation/evolution issues should read it, indeed, own it. For all his faults, Johnson is a major player in this area and what he says will have a big impact. It is a pleasurable read but it would have been more pleasurable if, upon demanding historical explanations from his opponents, Johnson had actually offered some detailed explanations from his perspective for what God actually did in the world. That is what would achieve his goal of making God part of the objective universe.
Reviewed by Glenn R. Morton, Aberdeen Pouch, c/o Kerr McGee, 16666 Northchase, Houston, TX 77060.
GOD'S CONTROL OVER THE UNIVERSE: Providence, Judgment and Modern Science by P. G. Nelson. Whittles Publishing, 2000. 77 pages, bibliography, index. Paperback; $9.00, inc. airmail delivery. ISBN: 1870325885. (See ad in PSCF 52:3 [September 2000]: 189.)
Nelson is a chemist on the faculty of the University of Hull and a lay preacher. This is not his first book dealing with science and faith; his other books include Big Bang, Small Voice and Reconciling Genesis and Modern Science.
This book began as a paper published in the November 1988 issue of Science and Faith, the newsletter of the RSCF (the British equivalent of the ASA) and reflects the concise style of journals. The book is arranged in nine chapters; references to the literature are given as footnotes. Several of the concepts are illustrated by line drawings.
Nelson's thesis is that the biblical and scientific pictures of the world do not conflict with each other as much as they might appear. He takes as given that the world is as science describes it and that God is as the Bible describes him. He does not look for flaws in the scientific description as evidence for God's role in the creation and preservation of the universe. He argues that science can never prove that the world arose of itself without a creator. For one thing, scientific observations are limited by time. There is no way science can prove that time has always existed.
Scientific models that describe the world as operating totally by natural laws also do not bother Nelson. He gives several examples to show that all scientific models leave room for chance. To him chance is analogous to a golf ball being hit so that it stops exactly on the crest of a hillock. The smallest breeze in either direction will determine whether the ball continues over the hillock toward the green or returns to the golfer. No one can ever know whether the little puff of wind that moves the ball is from chance or from God.
Nelson has done his homework. The volume of scientific literature surveyed in this short volume is staggering. A single chapter may cite twenty to thirty scientific laws or theories. Nelson claims that all technical terms are explained and that his intended audience is "as large an audience as possible." This is true; I did not find undefined terms. Nevertheless, because he covers so much material in so few pages, the reader needs a pretty good background in science to follow Nelson's arguments.
I recommend this book. Nelson's approach to the creation and preservation of the universe is refreshingly upbeat. Readers will gain a good overall view of the current position of scientists with regard to the origin and nature of the universe. They will also see how a scientist with faith can resolve many apparent contractions. This approach goes a long way in preparing ordinary Christians to "give a reason for the hope that is in them."
Reviewed by Elizabeth M. Hairfield, Professor of Chemistry, Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, VA 24401.
History of Science
WESTERN ATHEISM: A Short History by James Thrower. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1999. 157 pages, bibliography, index. Paperback; $14.95. ISBN: 1573927562.
The intellectual status of "unbelief" rose significantly in Western Europe as a result of the clash in the Middle Ages between the powerful force of faith and the emerging but still limited influence of reason. Thrower, a professor of the history of religions at King's College at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, offers an account of unbelief--"the naturalistic alternative." Western Atheism: A Short History examines the thinkers (Nietzshe, Epicurus, Philo, Drachmann, Dostoyevsky, Aristotle, and Ayer) and schools by illustrating the leading issues separating the theist from the atheist and agnostic. It sheds light on world events and inconsistencies inherent in supernaturalism and theistic theories.
Exploring a premise that atheism is far from strictly a modern phenomenon, Thrower, who also taught at the universities of Ghana, Durham, Leningrad, and Gdansk, conveys that the thinking of "a world stripped of the divine" is nearly as old as Western thought itself. Furthermore, Thrower discusses "atheism both as a reaction to belief and as a separate and consistent form of belief" apart from theism. He thinks that reason, science, and humanity's endless search for knowledge were the catalysts for the transformation from "disbelief" as a predominant opposition to the religious outlook to "unbelief," a world view independent of all religious interpretations.
Western Atheism explores the thought that deliberate denial of the existence of a Being, who is responsible for the activity of nature and for the course of history, presupposes a systemic analysis and explanation of natural and historical phenomena as the necessary effects of existing uncreated causes. In short, it is an appeal to ensure that scholars understand that, much like theology, atheism can no longer operate simply within the parameters of Western tradition.
Reviewed by Major Dominic J. Caraccilo, 1212 Whisperwood Dr., Columbus, GA 31907.
THE JESUS PAPYRUS by Carsten Peter Thiede and Matthew D'Ancona. New York: Doubleday, 2000. 206 pages. Paperback; $12.95. ISBN: 0385488898X.
This book affirms a topic very important to evangelical Christians, that is, the trustworthiness of the New Testament. How? It presents evidence that the Gospels were written earlier than critics have assumed, thus eliminating a period of time during which myth and legend might develop and become part of the New Testament. Thiede and D'Ancona make accessible to everyone the story of a manuscript discovery, its implications for dating the Gospels, and what it tells about early Christianity.
The story begins in 1901 when Charles B. Huleatt purchased in Luxor, Egypt, three papyrus pieces of a New Testament manuscript. They were dated by scholars to around C.E. 200. Eventually he donated these to his alma mater, Magdalen College in Oxford, England. They elicited little attention until nearly one hundred years later when Thiede, on the basis of careful reevaluation, dated these three, small papyrus pieces to C.E. 60.
The public first heard of Thiede's reevaluation of these papyrus pieces in an article that appeared in The Times of London on December 24, 1996. (D'Ancona is a journalist for The Times.) The Jesus Papyrus (as they came to be called) is a recounting and elaboration of the discovery and significance of these three scraps, which Thiede believes are from Matthew 26. This book claims that Matthew wrote the gospel bearing his name, that he wrote it within a generation of Jesus' death, and that the gospel stories are true.
Thieve and D'Ancona discuss some of the myths of New Testament criticism, present an overview of the science of papyrology, and summarize the discovery, dating, and significance of what is now called the Magdalen Papyrus or the Jesus Papyrus. If Thiede is correct in his dating of these papyrus scraps, support is added to the view that the Gospels and much of the tradition surrounding them is true. It also takes away from the John Rylands' fragment of John the distinction of being the oldest extant piece of the New Testament.
Reviewed by Richard Ruble, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, AR 72761.
CARL SAGAN: A Life in the Cosmos by William Poundstone. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1999. 473 pages. Hardcover; $30.00. ISBN: 0805057676.
Sagan was probably the best-known scientist of the late twentieth century. When he died in 1996, Science hailed him as "the greatest popularizer of the 20th century." In addition to his many accomplishments as a "serious scientist," he was author of several best-selling books, one of which won him the Pulitzer Prize in 1978; another one was adapted into a successful Hollywood movie. He was the creator, writer, and narrator of the award-winning PBS series, Cosmos, and a veteran of countless appearances at press conferences and on talk shows. Poundstone's Carl Sagan is the story of this tremendously creative and productive scientist, whose flamboyance, ambition, and attachment to the controversial field of extraterrestrial intelligence generated opposition within the scientific establishment.
Sagan was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1934 to Ukrainian Jewish immigrants. Early in his life, the young Sagan announced to his family that he wanted to be an astronomer. During his undergraduate days at the University of Chicago, the brilliant Sagan met and eventually married Lynn Alexander. It was a stormy seven-year marriage. Both Sagan and Lynn Alexander Margulis, whose own career as a biologist may have been professionally more distinguished than Sagan's, eventually gained reputations for supporting notions like exobiology or the Gaia hypothesis, which were on the fringes of the scientific mainstream.
Sagan's 1960 doctoral dissertation, done at the University of Chicago's Yerkes Observatory, was especially noteworthy in that it contained the first statement of his "greenhouse effect" hypothesis, This model was taken seriously almost immediately and was expanded to explain the properties of many planetary atmospheres including the Earth's. The future work of Sagan and others on global warming and nuclear winter all drew on his greenhouse model. That same year he began his long relationship with NASA, and in 1961 he coined the acronym CETI (Communication with Extraterrestrial Life) that stuck for about a decade until the more modest SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Life) was adopted.
Sagan joined Harvard's astronomy faculty in 1963, and entered into an incredibly productive phase of his career. In 1966, he co-authored with Russian astronomer I. S. Shklovskii Intelligent Life in the Universe, considered by many to be his best book. By 1967, he was arguably the world's leading expert on extraterrestrial life. But the field had its critics, several of whom were on the Harvard astronomy faculty. Sagan was informed that he should not apply for tenure.
Sagan "landed" at Cornell and soon became its most illustrious faculty member. Even though there were complaints that he was unavailable for undergraduates (there was an "I Touched Carl Sagan" contest to spoof his absenteeism at Cornell), Poundstone notes that "a large fraction of the nation's best planetary scientists funneled through his classes." While at Cornell, Sagan was instrumental in shaping NASA's post-Apollo phase of robotic exploration of the solar system which he framed as a quest for extraterrestrial life.
Sagan staked the most productive years of his life on the success of the Viking craft--to land safely on Mars and to conduct scientific experiments, particularly, to detect the presence of life. Poundstone does a wonderful job of recreating the drama and excitement of the two Viking missions, which provided the first ground-level photographs of Mars and enabled scientists to conduct several experiments. They did not give Sagan much cause for optimism that life would ever be detected on the planet. Especially in light of the recent photographic evidence from the Mars Global Surveyor of water near the surface, this extended treatment of the Viking program was riveting.
The PBS Cosmos series, which debuted in September 1980, had an enormous impact on Sagan and his career. In particular, the success of Cosmos transformed how Sagan's colleagues perceived him. Some groused that his "fame-to-accomplishment ratio" was anomalously high and that he had become the "Joyce Brothers of astronomy." Despite this, in 1992, he won enough votes to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences. His nomination was challenged, however, and his candidacy became something of a referendum on whether popularizers should be admitted to the Academy. He was denied membership.
Sagan's second marriage broke up in 1980. He had fallen in love with Ann Druyan, the fiancee of Sagan's friend and Rolling Stone editor, Timothy Ferris. They were married in 1981, and with Ann's encouragement Sagan reinvented himself as a politically engaged science-popularizer. He spoke out on a wide range of issues, especially on the threat of nuclear war. He called for a radical reduction of nuclear warheads, vigorously opposed the Star Wars anti-missile program, and publicized the concept of nuclear winter, his most politicized contribution to science.
Readers who remember Sagan chiefly for his controversial claim that "the Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be" likely will be disappointed that Poundstone does not pay much attention to the criticism that his views generated in Christian and theistic circles. Keay Davidson in his Carl Sagan: A Life does a somewhat better job with that topic. Nevertheless, using numerous interviews with family members, friends, and colleagues, Poundstone weaves an utterly fascinating narrative of Sagan's provocative professional and tempestuous personal life.
Reviewed by Donald A. Yerxa, Professor of History, Eastern Nazarene College, Quincy, MA 02170.
NEUROSCIENCE AND THE PERSON: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action by Robert John Russell, Nancey Murphy, Theo C. Meyering, and Michael A. Arbib, eds. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1999. 496 pages, index. Paperback; $26.95. ISBN: 0268014906.
This is the fourth volume in this series. Earlier titles were Quantum Cosmology and the Laws of Nature, Chaos and Complexity, and Evolutionary and Molecular Biology. This book departs from the earlier formats in that some participants and one editor (Arbib) are nonbelievers. Many of the other contributors have been well represented in the earlier issues: Murphy, William Stoeger, Ted Peters, and George Ellis. Along with such well-known writers as Arthur Peacocke and Ian Barbour, they saved the enterprise.
In her introduction, Murphy complains about the failure of a meeting of minds, that the two groups (scientists v. philosophers/theologians) were "talking past each other." This shows. The scientists were, for the most part, intent on presenting their results and getting some stroking for what they have discovered, while the other group focused relentlessly on what the scientists have not discovered. Only one paper--by Wesley Wildman and Leslie Brothers--involved collaboration between a theologian and a psychiatrist. There is no covering theory for neuroscience, and they have not a clue about how to connect the mental with the neurological. Because of this, they are unable to contribute anything of interest to the question of personhood.
I was eager to do this review because of my very high regard for the past efforts of this group and because I am totally innocent of any neuroscience. I am likewise innocent of quantum cosmology and not very sophisticated about chaos, but from those volumes I was well and truly informed on the subjects. I cannot say the same for this volume. Neuroscience is very diffuse and seems to be in an altogether primitive state for all the whiz bang technology that is involved. Chaos would not have been discovered without heavy-duty computing muscle, so the presence of the technology is not necessarily a deterrent to fundamental discovery, though it is all too frequently the case. The difference, of course, is "vision." One must be able to understand what is being computed or simulated. This appears as a serious deficiency among the neuroscientists. Stoeger observes that it is not even clear what an adequate model for explaining the mental, in terms of brain processes, would look like.
Among the philosophers, none are dualists, and most have embraced a form of monism. There are several variations on this theme, however. For example, Barbour argues for a dipolar form as is indicated by process philosophy. Clayton, on the other hand, presents emergentist-monism. Peacocke considers the mental to be an emergent level above the biological. He also presents a panentheistic account of God's relationship with the world such that God is understood to be immanent within the whole of creation yet the world is seen as contained within the divine.
Downward causation received a lot of attention. It is surprising to me that no one treating this problem ever mentions biofeedback. Since the 1970s, this has been used in therapeutic settings, e.g., to lower blood pressure and in research settings, and to raise the temperature of the left hand (even the first finger on the left hand). It clearly involves "mind over matter." Its success seems to me to have put this question into the solved file.
There are some occasional, minor editorial lapses-- misspelled words, misplaced punctuation--which I do not recall from the earlier volumes. However, all that said, I do recommend the book for Christians despite the inadequacy of the "scientific" sections. The contributions from the philosophers are excellent--insightful, rigorous--and more than make up for the deficiencies. I hope that the group will not attempt such a foray again and will stick to what they do best, because they do that very well.
Reviewed by Braxton M. Alfred, Biological Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 2E9.
OUT WALKING: Reflections on Our Place in the Natural World by John Leax. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2000. 144 pages, Hardcover; $14.99. ISBN: 0801011973.
Leax is professor of English and poet-in-residence at Houghton College in Houghton, New York. His work has been widely published in periodicals and anthologies. He is also the author of eight books and three volumes of poetry. He is an avid gardener and caretaker of Remnant Acres, his five-acre wood lot. This collection of short essays and poems is based upon his experiences in his garden, his wood lot, and his travels to other parts of the country. These written reflections are founded upon the assumption that "the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof." With this assumption in mind, Leax writes about his own personal experiences in ways that challenge his readers to ponder their own relationships with the natural world.
The book is divided into five sections. The first two sections, "out walking" and "the edible yard," consist of a number of short essays. Section three, "the larger flow," contains twelve poems appropriately referred to as psalms. Leax returns to the short essay format in section four, which is introduced with the simple title, "the wild." The last section, "moonwatching with thoreau and basho," consists of twelve proses composed in the spirit of haiku. Most of the short essays are no more than two or three pages in length while the prose and poetry selections are normally only a page or two. Each contribution though short in length is meant to be read thoughtfully and repeatedly, as each one is an invitation to reflect deeply about our relationship with the natural world from a thoroughly Christian perspective.
In his prologue, Leax sets the tone for the essays and poems that follow by sharing a childhood experience. He once asked his father if he could borrow his hatchet to go "hacking" with his cousins and uncle in a nearby woods. His father replied, "You don't chop trees without a reason" and turned away. Leax writes: "That day he shaped my conscience. Like Christ speaking a parable, he did not even explain. He spoke instead out of his character and placed in my mind an unshakable sense of the meaning of stewardship: the earth is not mine to use as I please."
In this book, Leax quietly urges the reader to resist the temptation to think that the earth exists solely for the purpose of human use and abuse. Yet he does not advocate that we keep our hands off it altogether. A number of the short stories provide examples of the author's own impact upon nature. He struggles with a proper response to the water snake in his backyard pond and the groundhog in his garden. But the main lesson that Leax is trying to teach through these personal reflections is that the ongoing tension between human culture and the natural world can best be resolved by living in a way that is both respectful and restrained. This involves paying closer attention to the effects that our everyday actions have on the world around us.
Anyone who is already committed to a biblical view of environmental stewardship will enjoy reading this book. It will challenge all Christians to consider more seriously their own interactions with the natural world. This book would be an excellent text for a composition or literature class at a Christian college, as Out Walking is an example of nature writing from a Christian perspective at its best.
Reviewed by J. David Holland, Biology Instructor, Springfield College in Illinois, 1500 N. Fifth Street, Springfield, IL 62702.
THE HIDDEN HEART OF THE COSMOS: Humanity and the New Story by Brian Swimme. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1996. 112 pages, index. Hardcover and paperback. ISBN: 1570752818.
THE HIDDEN HEART OF THE COSMOS with Brian Swimme. Video: color. 80 minutes. Mill Valley, CA: Center for the Story of the Universe, 1996.
Anyone who has heard Swimme lecture knows his passion for the Cosmos. In this lyrical and prophetic meditation, issued first as a book and then captured in a three-part video with Hubble and other space images as Swimme's background, this same passion radiates as he addresses the spiritual peril and promise of our time. Rather than try to summarize each of the book's short fifteen chapters, let me go to his thesis and highlight important elements.
As we have come to the end of the twentieth century, science has presented us with a new story of the beginning and development of the universe and the place of humanity in that story. But this cosmology has yet to be integrated into our larger spiritual visions of creation. Our traditional religious institutions--churches, synagogues, and mosques--rightly imbue believers with their messages of the relationships that ought to exist between God and humanity, and among human beings. But they have failed to place these crucial questions of meaning into the new cosmological framework. And all believers face a serious rival in what has become the dominant cultural religion: Consumerism. How can we free ourselves and especially our children from its spiritually desiccating grasp? And how can we revitalize our religious traditions developed under older and now outdated cosmologies, so that the new story becomes an integral part of theirs? Swimme offers an answer to these urgent questions.
He begins with a trenchant criticism of consumerism. "Before a child enters first grade science class, and before entering in any real way into our religious ceremonies, a child will have soaked in thirty thousand advertisements." (The number is probably even higher today!) Immersed as we are in this consumerist culture, in which "the advertisement is our culture's primary vehicle for providing our children with their personal cosmologies," it is not surprising that "nothing that happens in one hour on the weekend makes the slightest dent in the strategic bombing [of advertisements] taking place each day and night fifty-two weeks of the year." What is the sermon relentlessly preached by this religion? "Humans exist to work at jobs, to earn money, to get stuff." And while we may live in the universe physically, the fact that our children can sing commercial jingles but not distinguish the call of a meadowlark and a mockingbird, shows how disconnected we have become from the Cosmos.
In the chapters that follow, Swimme offers an antidote to this perversion of the spirit: the new story of the Cosmos--a story to be learned through experiencing it. Those who would be our new storytellers, like those ancients teaching the young around the tribal fire, will make our children aware of "the magnificent stellar generosity" that pours forth from our Sun, giving life to everything on this planet, including ourselves. Given a "new understanding of the cosmological meaning of sacrifice," the child imbued with these truths understands that a Eke energy in the human heart urges one "to devote one's life to the well-being of the larger community," giving rather than grasping.
Once we emotionally, aesthetically, spiritually, and cognitively understand our place in the solar system, we can look out into the galaxy. Lie on your back, Swimme says, and look down at the Milky Way. Imaging this different perspective helps us to sense the enormous power of the gravity that holds the galaxy together. Then, moving beyond our Local Group and the immensity of galactic clusters beyond, we introduce our children to the astonishing story of the creation of our space-time universe. Swimme artfully tells the story of Einstein, Slipher, Friedmann, and Hubble, and the valuable lesson of Einstein's difficulties in re-imagining the universe. This is what we share with our children as we chart the course of the night sky for them: the amazing insight that we are at the center of an omnicentric universe of expanding space; and that everywhere there exists "an all-nourishing abyss" out of which matter spontaneously forms in the foam of the quantum.
"To enter this omnicentric unfolding universe is to taste the joy of radical relational mutuality." Recognizing that atoms of our body created in stellar explosions might have inhabited a sequoia or a pelican or an asteroid can make us more aware of how integrally a part of the whole universe we human beings are. We belong to the Cosmos in the most intimate sense, and the Cosmos belongs to us.
The scientific dimensions of this new story are not the whole story. Many paths lead to truth, "and when these various paths arrive at a common consensual knowledge we have the possibility of a story of the universe that can guide us as a whole species as we enter a new millennium." Swimme invites the committed person of faith to find a way to bring this new universe story and the stories of his spiritual tradition together. This Christian welcomes the invitation.
Reviewed by Robert J. Schneider, Distinguished Professor of General Studies, Berea College, Berea, KY 40404.
THE CRUCIBLE OF CREATION: The Burgess Shale and the Rise of Animals by Simon Conway Morris. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. 224 + xxiii pages with index. Paperback; $16.95. ISBN: 0192862022.
Cambridge paleontologist Morris is a person those involved in the science-theology issues should know. He first came to my attention with the publication of Stephen Gould's book, Wonderful Life, in which he was one of the triumvirate who reinterpreted the Cambrian Burgess shale fauna. Gould used that reinterpretation to argue for an evolution that was totally contingent, unpredictable, and totally ruled God out of the picture. If you reran the tape of life, Gould stated, life would be totally different from what we see today. One would think that Morris, whose work was used, would follow suit. It is quite the opposite. He argues in this wonderful book that evolution is constrained to solve problems along certain predictable avenues.
Convergence is the phenomenon in which different lineages evolve similar structures in answer to similar ecological pressures. If life were to start over and evolution proceed again, Morris says that, while we would not get exactly what we have today, what we would get would be very similar. In support of this, he notes that ecological niches in the Cambrian seas are very similar to what we have today. This places certain adaptive constraints upon successful morphology, and different lineages will solve their biological problems along the same lines. The marsupial sabre-tooth "cat" of South America remarkably resembles the placental sabre-tooth cat. Motion through the water seems to be solved in very limited manners by limited morphologies. Because of this, evolution is really predictable and should lead to similar ecologies with creatures filling similar niches and having similar morphologies.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this book for those involved in the creation/evolution controversy involves the development of evidence for the evolution of phyla. Creationists have long insisted that phyla level connections did not exist and that the phyla require divine creation. But like many previous God-of-the-gap assertions, this one, too, has been filled with advancing knowledge.
For arthropods, the story begins with the discovery of a complete Anomalocaris fossil. Prior to this discovery, Anomalocaris parts had been found separately and ascribed to various animals: the mouth had been called a holothurian, and the legs were seen to be those of a giant arthropod. When the first almost complete fossil was found, it was realized that this had been the superpredator of the Cambrian seas and the arthropod-like "legs" were used to grasp prey, but they were not really legs. Further discoveries showed that this creature had wing-like projections from the sides of its body (which were used in propulsion as well as breathing) and lobopodian legs. A lobopodian is a worm-like animal with legs which are basically muscles surrounding a blood-filled chamber called a lobopod. These structures provide an efficient means of locomotion. These true legs of Anomalocaris showed the connectionto the lobopods, and the arthropod-like grasping appendages showed the connection to the arthropods. In Anomalocaris, we had the perfect transitional fossil between lobopods and arthropods. And the story of arthropod evolution may go even further back as Precambrian animals, Spriggina and Bokamellia, have arthropod features, like a head similar to trilobites and lobes similar to Anomalocaris, respectively.
For brachiopods, the story begins with the Halkieriids which were animals with characteristic scales, called sclerites, along the body and two dermal plates at each end. The interesting thing about these plates is that they looked just like the plates possessed by the early Cambrian brachiopods. It is surmised that by curling up with the two plates coming together in a defensive move, evolution eventually guided Halkieria into a lifestyle in which both dermal plates became the connected shells of the brachiopods.
Morris also follows another lineage from Halkieria. The scales of Halkieria are identical to the sclerites found on Wiwaxia; however, Wiwaxia lacked the dermal plates of Halkieria. What it had though was even more amazing. The scales (sclerites) of Wiwaxia had the microlamination structure characteristic of polychaete annelid worms! But Wiwaxia also had a soft sole foot just like the foot seen in molluscs, like the snail, and a feeding apparatus identical to the radula of mollusca! Halkieria, thus, is related to Wiwaxia, which in turn is related to both annelids and molluscs. Thus Halkieria may have given rise to three different phyla: the molluscs, the brachiopods, and the annelids. Creationists can no longer claim that there is no evidence of phyla level evolution. They must deal with this data.
This book is entertaining, informative, and important. Anyone with an interest in the Cambrian explosion should have this book on his or her library shelf.
Reviewed by Glenn R. Morton, Aberdeen Pouch, c/o Kerr McGee, 16666 Northchase, Houston, TX 77060.
GOD AFTER DARWIN: A Theology of Evolution by John F. Haught. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2000. 221 + xii pages, index. Hardcover; $25.00. ISBN: 0813367239.
Haught is a professor of theology at Georgetown University and director of the Georgetown Center for the Study of Science and Religion. He is also the author of Science & Religion: From Conflict to Conversation. This is a scholarly, but readable, book with almost no typographical errors. Seventeen pages of notes mention a wide variety of sources, including Hans Jonas, Vaclav Havel, Daniel Dennett, Ernst Mayr, E. O. Wilson, Stephen Jay Gould, Michael Behe, Phillip Johnson, and many others. For the first time, I read of Seyed Hossein Nasr, apparently a contemporary Islamic scholar. There is quite a bit about Teilhard de Chardin, the French Jesuit paleontologist who emphasized that evolution is moving toward a consummation, which he called the Omega point. Haught seems to consider himself a disciple of de Chardin.
So what is a theology of evolution, according to Haught? He says:
It is not yet evident that theology has thought about God in a manner consistent with the data of evolution (p. 81).
In any case, the notion of God as an intelligent designer is inadequate. The God of evolution is an inexhaustible and unsettling source of new modes of being, forever eluding encapsulation in orderly schemata. Looking beneath the anxious quest for intelligent design, a theology of evolution seeks to highlight the disquieting--but ultimately fulfilling--presence of a promise and power of renewal ÷ Such a theology is no threat to what [E. O.] Wilson speaks of as science's own work of "revelation." In fact, by envisaging a universe that satisfies science's implicit need for ever new frontiers of discovery, a theology of evolution points us toward the very soil within which science can forever find fresh nourishment (p. 9).
Consider this statement:
A considerable portion of Western theology and spirituality is still ruled by a metaphysics of the "eternal present," according to which the natural world is the always deficient reflection of, if not a perverse deviation from a primordial reflection of "being" that exists forever in a fixed realm generally pictured as "above" creation, untouched by time. In accordance with this traditional "metaphysics of the eternal present," the inevitable "becoming" that occurs in evolution can be interpreted only as meaningless straying from a timeless completeness, rather than as genuinely new creation (p. 85).
In other words, God after Darwin is about what Haught perceives God to be doing in the world through evolution.
Haught is to be commended for his attempt to marry scientific truth with theology. Most readers of this journal who read this book will probably concede him considerable success. God is at work in the world, in ways we cannot understand or detect, and there should be more emphasis on the future than on the past or the present. Haught is familiar with the most important philosophies of science, and apparently with theology. He writes well, and seems to interpret his many sources fairly.
However, there are problems. The most glaring is that there is not a single Scripture reference in the book, and his theology does not seem to be founded on scriptural revelation. This leads to some strange statements, such as the one on page 133, where he claims it is the evolutionary perspective that connects us to nature. I thought it was the biblical idea of stewardship of God's creation, or an aesthetic appreciation of God's creation, or working in and with the outdoors, or some combination of these, that did that. Another such statement is on page 141, where he says that evolutionary science shows us that there never was an original perfection. Maybe not, but Scripture teaches that the original creation was good, and maybe perfect. In other words, Haught is much more ready to base his thought on scientific discoveries and theories than on revelation.
Reviewed by Martin LaBar, Professor of Science, Southern Wesleyan University, Central, SC 29630.
Another View on the Review of God After Darwin
Having recently finished the book, I read Martin LaBar's review of John F. Haught's, God After Darwin: A Theology of Evolution (PSCF 52 [December 2000]: 278-9) with mixed feelings. I appreciate that Professor LaBar compliments Haught on his presentation, quotes some well-chosen passages that illustrate central themes in his theology, and credits him with his broad knowledge of scientific and philosophical ideas.
However, I feel compelled to say that the reviewer is off the mark when he states that "there is not a single Scripture reference in the book, and his theology does not seem to be founded on scriptural revelation." Thumbing through God After Darwin, I found citations of Gen. 9:12-17, Isa. 43:19, John 3:16, Rom. 8:22, 1 Cor. 1:25, Phil. 2:5-11, 2 Peter 3:10, and Rev. 21:5. There are also allusions and explicit but uncited references to, among others, Adam and Eve, Abraham, the prophets, Jesus' message of the kingdom of God and several of his parables, and the "Come, Lord Jesus" prayer.
More importantly, Haught's theology of evolution is suffused with major biblical themes. One is the kenosis theme of Phil. 2:5-11: the notion that Christ "emptied himself" of divinity in the incarnation has been richly suggestive to other theologians besides Haught of God's "letting the creation be" in ways new to thinking about the Genesis text. Another is the eschatology that pervades the New Testament, in which Haught grounds his notion of God's promise of future fulfillment in nature and creation evolving to realize that promise. Contrary to the reviewer's assertion on p. 279, the ecological dimension of Haught's theology connects the interrelationship of humanity and nature explicitly to the creation theologies of Genesis (he mentions stewardship), Psalms, the wisdom literature, the prophets, and the cosmic Christologies of John and Paul (p. 149), not merely to "the evolutionary perspective."
I hope these references are enough to show that Haught's theology of evolution is grounded in scriptural revelation as well as scientific knowledge. Haught illustrates again how scientific knowledge can enrich our understanding of revelation and help us discover dimensions in it that may not have been recognized in the past.
Robert J. Schneider
NEW INSIGHTS TO ANTIQUITY: A Drawing Aside of the Veil by Richard Petersen. Phoenix, AZ: Engwald & Co., 1998. 326 pages, index, bibliography. Hardcover; $27.95. ISBN: 0966213416.
Petersen was born and reared in Phoenix, Arizona, and studied physics at Berkeley. He did graduate research in solid state physics, received his doctorate, and served in the semiconductor industry in research and engineering. Spending his leisure time investigating ancient mysteries, Petersen culminates his historical detective work in this book.
The book is divided into a Prologue, twelve chapters, an Epilogue, and five Appendices. It contains an extensive bibliography, fifty-eight plates, and ten figures. The inside cover is a reproduction of a historic map which is relevant to the subject matter.
Petersen begins the book almost as a mystery novel, attempting to describe the seven Indian cities of Arizona reputed to have been seen by a Spanish missionary. After an extensive discussion of these cities and their "disappearance," he moves on to discuss the loess deposits around the world and how they could not have been formed by glaciers. He uses these points to show why he thinks the Uniformity Principle cannot explain Earth's history. He believes that cometary impacts in conjunction with an extra-dimensional interaction account better for the mysteries of antiquity. He even ties in the Atlantis and Easter Island mysteries.
This book was pure torture to read. Petersen's mystery novel approach to the first half of the book may have portrayed how he came to believe in this form of Catastrophism, but it was exceedingly burdensome to me. He lost my interest after about two chapters. He shows the anomalies of such things as loess deposits and why standard geologic interpretations are faulty, but then presents his solution as if it were the only explanation, even though it flunks Occam's Razor.
He proposes that massive amounts of material are deposited from another dimension interacting with ours. There is no way to test his hypothesis and it conveniently allows him to throw stones at theories while residing in a glass house. His hypothesis is that comets cause these extra-dimensional interactions and also such things as volcanism (the hot comets remain buried in the Earth).
Unfortunately, Petersen does not state his hypothesis up front and then support it, but requires the reader to slog through chapter after chapter of discussing the problems with the current theory before presenting his own. Then, he makes a wild claim like proposing extra dimensions and later refers to this as having been "shown" simply because of all the problems with the other theories! This book is not appropriate for any audience and is not worth the time spent reading it.
Reviewed by David Condron, Aerospace Engineer, Woodbridge, VA 22448.
Philosophy & Theology
DEATH AND THE AFTERLIFE by Brian Innes. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000. 176 pages. Hardcover; $26.95. ISBN: 0312227051.
Peter Pan said, "To die will be an awfully big adventure." This book examines what cultures and religions think of this big adventure. The discussion of death and the afterlife touches on such items as the tombs of the pharaohs, Mexico's Day of the Dead, the biblical vision of heaven and hell, and Victorian funeral customs. The colorful photographs are quite impressive, and they provide an emotional experience to the casual reader apart from the accompanying prose.
The book is printed on letter-size, expensive paper. It contains a helpful index and a valuable bibliography. The text was composed by a scientist who worked in biochemical research before becoming a writer. His proclivity toward mysterious phenomena is illustrated by his recent book, The Catalogue of Ghost Sightings.
Christian customs, both biblical and traditional, are included on many pages. The index lists ten citings, some with multiple pages. Pictures include Christian visions of both heaven and hell. During the Black Death epidemic plague in Europe, images of the "dance of death" became a popular art form. Representations of decaying corpses, skulls and bones, a skeleton with a scythe (the "grim reaper"), and hourglasses appeared on tombs, in manuscripts, woodcuts, and paintings.
This book might be somewhat unsettling to those fearful of death, which according to Rousseau, includes everyone: "He who pretends to look upon death without fear lies. All men are afraid of dying ÷" Some of the pictures are morbid and terrifying. On the other hand, some people might find this book informative and stimulating. It offers a plethora of data and provides a basis for comparing the Christian viewpoint on death and the afterlife with other viewpoints.
Reviewed by Richard Ruble, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, AR 72761.
BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF CHRISTIAN THEOLOGIANS by Patrick Carey and Joseph Lienhard, eds. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2000. 608 pages. Hardcover; $125.00. ISBN: 0313296499.
If you noticed the price of this volume, you will realize that only specialists, theologians, or libraries are likely to purchase it. However, it is worth listing here because part of the title of this journal is "Christian Faith." Just what that is has been written about for the past 2,000 years, and here in one compact volume is a list of the Christian theologians who have devoted their intellects to the task.
My guess is that most readers of this journal will be familiar with the "big names" like Augustine, Barth, Calvin, Hodge, Luther, Machen, and Warfield. But there are more than 450 Christian theologians profiled here (entries include theologians who died before 1994 when this project was started). Only professionals are likely to be familiar with Althaus, Bouquillon, Gomarus, Leclercq, and Soderblom. Articles sketch the theologian's education, career, major works, and contributions to theology. A short bibliography of primary and secondary works concludes each article.
Excluded from consideration are exegetes, canon lawyers, and philosophers of religion such as Descartes, Kant, and Hegel. Theologians from the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant traditions are included with particular emphasis on the English-speaking world. The length of each article reflects the editors' perception of the theologian's importance. The primary audience the editors had in mind was graduate students in a master's degree program in theology, although they hope clergy, scholars, and other readers will find this book useful.
Reviewed by Richard Ruble, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, AR 72761.
THE SPIRITUAL UNIVERSE: One Physicist's Vision of Spirit, Soul, Matter, and Self by Fred Alan Wolf. Portsmouth, NH: Moment Point Press, 1999. 352 pages. Paperback; $17.95. ISBN: 0966132718.
Physicist Wolf writes not as a scientist but as a philosopher. He instructs as a charismatic guru. He does well in each category. Modern physics is used in analogy to give understanding and credence to his philosophy. There is a good precedent for using physical analogies for spiritual truth. Jesus used the wind in comparison to the Spirit with Nicodemus. Wolf's arguments are powerfully convincing in the sense of debate rather than in the sense of overwhelming experimental data. Wolf also writes from a background of wide scholarship--his thought is much more than something that came to him one night. He needs to be heard. His analysis of the present day spiritual malaise of Western culture seems almost prophetic.
Like most modern-day thinkers, he assesses the present-day representations of Christianity as having missed the spiritual mark. And I would agree, but I would begin a search within the Bible for a more living faith. Wolf begins his search with an attempt to understand ancient traditions, which are, for the most part, with their pantheistic and animistic views, not in accord with the biblical message. For example, the statement "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" implies to me, at least, that there is only one God, and that something other than God came into being. The something other is objectively real--he created--it is there whether anyone looks at it or not. When applied to the moon, the objectivity question seems foolish, but when applied to the quantum world, it is not foolish. Of the several ways of philosophically understanding the quantum world, one treats light, for example, as having no observable reality until observed. The same thinking can be extended to include the validity of history. In a sense, history is what one's experimental questioning requires it to be. In other words, there is no fixed history before one questions.
By taking quantum mechanics as the expression of all reality, Wolf extends the contingent nature of quantum mechanics to the whole universe. In contrast, I believe that Feynman was correct when he stated that quantum mechanics was to be understood as a "calculus" and no more. Quantum mechanics provides us with the right answer in every experimental situation, but it does not tell us the nature of reality. If this is so, we are severely limited in how far we can go beyond pure analogy to the support of a particular view of spiritual reality. Many times Wolf seems to encourage the reader to hurdle the logical barrier separating certainty from possibility. It is not always clear whether he has taken the leap himself. However, in the final chapter, he greatly clarifies his position. If I understand him correctly, he is essentially a Buddhist whose spiritual insight is expanded by the extension of quantum mechanical understanding of the physical world to the spiritual. He ends with the acknowledgment that he is still on the way to a more perfect understanding.
His presentation of quantum mechanics is necessarily brief and can provide the uninitiated with no more than wide-eyed wonder. From the fact that a vacuum can create particle-antiparticle pairs out of nothing, he posits that is how all things came about, including consciousness. "The vacuum is fundamentally unstable. Anything that comes into existence did so through the soul's desire to manifest" (p. 10). The Soul is God, and there is only one God. It is an illusion that allows us to think of our many individual souls, but each of us has something of the one Soul--something like a piece of a hologram. This is demonstrated by our actions of compassion, as it is the Soul that prompts us into such action. We need to learn to listen to the voice of the Soul. Listening will be our salvation. One of the things we will learn is that all effects have a reason (studied by science) and a purpose (not yet seen by science, but real and understood by the Soul). The knowledge, which the Soul will teach us, will make us free from the bondage the flesh imposes.
Much of what Wolf teaches is in harmony with the "New Thought" movement. A large center of the movement is in Oregon, "The Living Enrichment Center," under the direction of Mary Manin Morrisey who has written a number of books on trusting God. Her books have been a definite help to many Christians and been life changing for others.
As a Bible-believing Christian, I am challenged by Wolf to examine my faith as practiced to see if it is truly Christian. In my stress to uphold the words of Jesus, "No man comes to the Father but by me" (John 14:6), have I found no meaning in "Seek and you shall find" (Matt. 7:7)? Wolf claims that he has been a seeker. Has he been led to the Father?
Reviewed by George Blount, 12340 Highway 66, Ashland, OR 97520.
COSMOLOGY AND CREATION: The Spiritual Significance of Contemporary Cosmology by Paul Brockelman. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. xii + 187 pages. Hardcover. ISBN: 0195119908.
This book has as its thesis that "the new scientific cosmology which has emerged over the past fifty years has broad and profound implications for our present situation and possibilities, particularly in the spiritual, moral, and cultural dimensions of our lives." Members of the ASA will certainly agree at this level of abstraction.
Brockelman affirms the value of creation myths as ways of describing the transcendent breaking into the mundane. He sees cosmology as scientifically developing a story of the origin and development of the physical world. He is impressed with the creativity evident in the universe. It is natural to ask whether cosmology provides room for God in its description, and for the author, "what is sacred about all of nature is precisely this welling-forth of Being that we encounter in the perseverance of each and every entity that is." So, for Brockelman, God is not a creator but that which holds the universe in existence, or "the actual existence of the universe." Thus, no God exists, but rather existence itself is God.
He goes on to argue for a religious and ethical orientation to a life of love based on this understanding. Those of us who see the biblical Creator behind both creation myths and cosmological explanations have long since parted company with this analysis.
Reviewed by David T. Barnard, University of Regina, Regina, Canada.
BIBLICAL HOLY PLACES: An Illustrated Guide by Rivka Gonen. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2000. 288 pages. Paperback; $18.98. ISBN: 080913974X.
If you are interested in archaeology, biblical sites, or travel, this book will interest you. If you are a Sunday School teacher, a preacher, a Bible teacher, one who engages in comprehensive Bible study, or a writer, you should buy this book. It is compact, thorough, and reasonably priced.
Biblical Holy Places provides a guide to 210 important places in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. The user-friendly format is arranged alphabetically by countries (Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, The Holy Land, Italy, Jordan, Malta, Syria, and Turkey). The places referenced in each country are also listed in alphabetical order.
The two hundred locations are identified with a pertinent quote from the Bible, some explanatory material, and a complete site description. The 250 color photographs, appropriate maps, index, and concise one-page historical outline add to the book's beauty and usefulness.
The front data page reveals that this book was originally produced in Jerusalem. Macmillan Publishers first published it in the United States in 1987. I assume this is a revised and undated edition. Books-in-print lists six volumes by Rivka Gonen, all related to ancient history. This book would make a wonderful gift, so buy two!
Reviewed by Richard Ruble, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, AR 72761.
MEASURES OF RELIGIOSITY by Peter C. Hill and Ralph W. Hood Jr., eds. Birmingham, AL: Religious Education Press, 1999. viii + 531 pages. Hardcover; $99.95. ISBN: 089135106X.
Psychologists Hill (Grove City College) and Hood (University of Tennessee at Chattanooga), the forty-nine other contributors who reviewed the scales, and the John Templeton Foundation, which gave a grant to support much of the work on this massive double-column compendium, have made an immense contribution to the social and behavioral sciences.
The seventeen chapters describe 126 scales for measuring various aspects of religion. Organized by topic categories, they cover measures of religious beliefs and practices, attitudes, orientation, development, commitment and involvement, experience, religious/moral values or personal characteristics, multidimensional religiousness, coping and problem-solving, spirituality and mysticism, God- concepts, fundamentalism, views of death and afterlife, divine intervention/religious attribution, forgiveness, institutional religion, and, finally, related constructs that overlap with measuring religion (dogmatism, free-will and determinism, purpose in life, self-actualization, etc.).
Each chapter has a general introduction on the relevance, scope, methodological operationalization, and interrelationships of the scales it covers. Then a section on each scale includes a concise discussion of the variable(s) it covers, its description, practical considerations for its use and application, norms/standardization, reliability, validity, location (where it is available), subsequent research, published references, and an appendix with the scale itself.
Nearly all the scales consist of "paper and pencil" items answered by checking such predetermined responses as True/False, Yes/No, five or six categories from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree or from Not At All to A Great Deal, or numbers on a scale from Least to Most. Answers are reduced to numbers that combine to form a statistical score for each person.
Only a few scales are interview schedules that consist of questions to ask in oral interviews. For example, the Religious Status Interview by H. Newton Malony of Fuller Theological Seminary has thirty-three open-ended questions on aspects of Christian religious maturity. After the answers have been recorded, the interviewer rates the person on a subscale for each question. Then subscale scores are combined under seven subcategories that in turn are added to give the Christian maturity score. More complicated is James Fowler's Faith Development Interview Guide. It takes one to three hours of contact and ideally at least three readings of the transcript before assigning scores. (It was reduced to a nine-item Faith Development Scale by Barnes, Doyle, and Johnson with but two alternative responses to each item.)
The main purpose of this book is not to evaluate the quality of the respective measures but "to relieve researchers of the unnecessary task of creating scales for which adequate measures already exist" (p. 3). Unnecessary duplication of measuring instruments hampers the advancement of the psychology of religion and its sister disciplines, so this reference source is a guide to determining whether or not a new instrument is needed. Its information about each scale is sufficient to determine whether further references about it should be explored in depth.
The contributors who reviewed and described the respective scales were instructed neither to report what they considered the best measures nor to critically evaluate each scale. Those evaluations are left to the readers--a wise decision because there are so many diverse perspectives, criteria, values, and research needs by which to judge the quality of any scale that any general overall rating could be misleading. (Much of the measurement work and many of the reviews are by evangelical Christians.)
Every researcher who studies religion or includes religious variables in research on other topics will benefit from this significant volume. On most psychosocial religious variables, one no longer will need to spend hours, or even days, searching for the widely-scattered data-collection instruments or spending even more time developing an original one. Instead of proliferating the measures for religious constructs, one can quickly discover instruments already in use and determine whether they can be adopted or adapted to meet one's research needs.
The book has but one major flaw: It has no indexes, so even some cross-references to other scales within the volume are difficult to locate. Neither can one easily find the numerous mentions of work by theorists and researchers like Gordon W. Allport, Charles Y. Glock, Bernard Spilka, and others that contributed directly or indirectly to the development of several scales. While the Table of Contents lists each scale by its name, author, and year of origin, many other peripheral measures that are tucked away in various scales are hidden because there is no subject index. These include measures of evangelism, faith development, religious feelings or emotions, character, Catholicism, philosophy of life, belief in reincarnation, prayer, humanism, altruism, love, doubt, toleration, motivation, faith development, morality, fanaticism, sinfulness, guilt, attitudes toward the church, and the role of religion in health and illness, among others.
Everyone engaged in social or behavioral research on or including religion should consult this compendium. Every college and university library and social research center should add it to its collection. Even non-researchers can adapt many of the scales for informal use as a means of calling attention to significant issues in adult Christian education or to help focus thinking about particular topics in faith-related discussion groups.
Reviewed by David O. Moberg, 7120 W. Dove Ct., Milwaukee, WI 53223.
PREDICTIONS: Thirty Great Minds on the Future by Sian Griffiths, ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. 352 pages. Hardcover; $16.95. ISBN: 0192862103.
Thirty people with "great minds" were profiled in a series in The Times Higher Education Supplement and each person supplemented the interviews with a prediction for the twenty-first century. This book presents the interview and the prediction, together with a photograph, of each person.
The featured people are: Chinua Achebe, French Anderson, Noam Chomsky, Arthur C. Clarke, Paul Davies, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Carl Djerassi, Andrea Dworkin, Umberto Eco, Francis Fukuyama, J. K. Galbraith, Daniel Goleman, Stephen Greenfield, Lynn Margulis, Don Norman, Paul Nurse, Roger Penrose, Steven Pinker, Sherwood Rowland, Amartya Sen, Elaine Showalter, Peter Singer, Dale Spender, Chris Stringer, Sherry Turkle, Kevin Warwick, James Watson, Steven Weinberg, and Slavoj Zizek.
While many readers may not be acquainted with all of them, many will be familiar. Scientists dominate the group. One wonders how the "great minds" were chosen, but selection criteria are lacking. Most of those selected are British or American.
Not surprisingly, there is some prediction controversy here, but the relative narrowness of the selection yields less diversity of views than one would find in the broader society from which these people are drawn. There is, for example, little recognition that many people believe in a spiritual reality as well as a physical one and that many people are committed to ethical and moral standards based on revelation.
Nonetheless, the book is interesting recreational reading. These are great minds. Some of the predictions are stimulating; some of the interviews provide interesting perspectives on people that I had known only as authors or as public figures.
Reviewed by David T. Barnard, University of Regina, Regina, SK S4S 3X4.
SHADOW CULTURE: Psychology and Spirituality in America by Eugene Taylor. Washington, DC: Counterpoint, 1999. xii, 317 pages, index. Hardcover; $27.50. Paperback; $16.00. ISBN: 1887178805.
SPIRITUAL MANIFESTOS: Visions for Renewed Religious Life in America from Young Spiritual Leaders of Many Faiths by Niles Elliot Goldstein, ed. Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Publishing, 1999. xviii, 226 pages. Hardcover; $21.95. ISBN: 1893361098.
Spirituality has become a prominent theme in popular culture, but attention to it is actually more "renewed" than "new." In his well-written and carefully documented historical analysis, Taylor, a senior psychologist in the Psychiatric Service of Massachusetts General Hospital, lecturer at Harvard Medical School, and faculty member of Saybrook Institute, shows that spirituality has been an important concern during much of American history. It has been especially evident in the alternative religious movements, healing therapies, and folk psychology that comprise a "shadow culture of Judeo-Christian Protestantism, ÷ [comprising] a vast unorganized array of discrete individuals who live and think differently from the mainstream" (p. 9). By alterations in consciousness, they live in a transplanted, syncretic, and visionary culture while they participate in daily activities of the dominant culture of normative science and religion.
Taylor calls attention to many visionary streams, including the Puritans and mystics of the First Great Awakening, the visionary communities of Quakers and Shakers, the Swedenborgians and transcendentalists (Margaret Fuller's feminism, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, James Freeman Clarke), homeopathy, phrenology, mesmerism, utopian socialism and the Second Great Awakening (including Mormons and Seventh-Day Adventists), spiritualism, Theosophy, New Thought, Christian Science, psychical research, scientific psychotherapy, the psychology of religion, swamis who came to America from India and Japan, the Americanization of Freud and Jung, Esalen and the counterculture movement of the 1960s, and humanistic and transpersonal psychology. All of these have contributed to the current scene.
Taylor's book in some respects elaborates his previous studies of William James' psychology and The Psychology of Spiritual Healing, and it concludes with "Psychology and Spirituality: Another Great Awakening?" He believes that the flourishing of alternative and nonconventional forms of spirituality is due to the failure of traditional religious institutions to address the new scope of people's experience along with hostility toward acknowledging their validity, although evangelicals are beginning to respond and denominational churches may follow their lead, thus swelling the ranks of all forms of institutional religion (p. 289). He expects there soon will be an unprecedented cross-cultural exchange of ideas between the East and West and a dramatic change in the status of psychology that will make it into "psychology as epistemology" and "the foundation of all knowledge accumulation" for the meaning of personal experience. This spiritual psychology is at the heart of the American visionary tradition and the American cultural consciousness as a spiritual democracy (p. 117).
In discussing various movements, Taylor tends to exaggerate their strength. Thus, phrenology swept the American therapeutic scene in the 1830s (p. 105), around 1860 "seances became the rage" (p. 138), psychical phenomena "had reached almost epidemic proportions by the 1880s" (p. 159), and "in general, by the late 19th century, Americans appropriated Asian ideas to fit their own optimistic, pragmatic, and eclectic understanding of inner experience" (p. 189). There is no clear indication that only a relatively small proportion of Americans actually became "spiritual pilgrims" in each movement of "the American visionary tradition." Besides, he usually glosses over the harmful effects of many of them. He completely ignores significant movements that genuinely reached masses of people, like the Methodist circuit riders, the numerous strands of Baptist and Presbyterian churches, the Campbellite movement, the "Americanizing" Roman Catholics, and other relatively conventional Christian groups that also contributed significantly to the psychospiritual revolution, "the freedom of religious expression as a basic human right" (p. 205), and transformation of the American consciousness.
In spite of Taylor's gentle sub rosa advocacy of psychic/mystical perspectives and enlightenment from Eastern religions (especially Buddhism), his analysis of "shadow culture" movements is an innovative analysis of American social and cultural history, a reminder that the science-making process itself has been influenced by those movements, and a strong reminder that the current interest in spirituality is a recurrence, if not a continuation, of the fascination of Americans with the subject.
Spiritual Manifestos presents the "visions" of eleven religious leaders (three Jewish, five Protestant, two Roman Catholic, and one Buddhist), most under age 35, in ten semi-autobiographical essays. All focus upon expressing the spiritual impulse in new forms, adapting their religion to meet their perceptions of the needs, interests, and styles of our day instead of hiding behind dogma and believing that formal prayers and ancient rites are the best means to improve human lives.
The goal is to show both believers and skeptics that there can be a place for everybody in houses of worship and "that we are infusing our synagogues, churches, and zendo with new creativity and transforming them from the dull and uninspiring institutions that they too often are into welcoming sanctuaries for the spirit where our deepest longings and common needs might be met" (p. xvii). The focus is not upon theology or ideology but upon methods of delivery. Thus, a brief discussion of Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Church in "The Protestant Counter Reformation" by Associate Pastors Lynn and Mark Barger Elliott of First Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, focuses upon its style and methods, not upon the Gospel it proclaims. Yet Brad Ronnell Braxton, pastor of a black church, asks: "Has our style of worship become more important than the substance of worship? ÷ Excitement in church on Sunday must lead to empowerment on Monday" (pp. 140, 141). Rabbi Goldstein similarly hopes for "a Judaism that is not just studied but lived" (p. 164).
While this is not an apologetic collection to show the superiority of each author's religious group, it definitely is an apologetic for innovation, and it implies that all religions are equally valuable. That goal seems violated by Father Greg Kimura, vicar of the Holy Spirit Episcopal Church Mission in Eagle River, Alaska, who negatively critiques fundamentalist and evangelical churches because, he alleges, they "valorize, a time when outside groups were not seen as an equal part of the community," are "more interested in monologue than dialogue," and try to convert infidels or "drown them in the water of baptism" (p. 59).
Closest to expressions of an evangelical Christian faith is "The Church as Midwife: Ushering in Life and Hope" by Dominican Sister Theresa Rickard who shares what it means to be the church: God's compassionate presence in the world, always renewing itself and creating authentic spirituality that goes beyond inner peace and personal healing in commitment to God and a community of faith. This is not a church of fuzzy feelings, nor one that condones all behaviors, but one that accepts people where they are and invites them to a change of heart.
While there is no pretense that these accounts describe the direction in which most religion in multicultural America is moving, they do exemplify significant innovations occurring within the religious groups represented and portend a spiritual scene in which humanistic, relativistic, and pluralistic values dominate what Goldstein labels our "age of intense spiritual yearning" (p. 174).
However one may disagree with some of the theological orientations reflected in these books, many of the trends reported in them are reflected in one's own denomination and congregation. In order to preserve any church's spiritual values and mission in a rapidly changing world, it must continually adapt its organizational structures, worship patterns, credal language, and outreach methods.
Besides intellectual stimulation and even intimations for needed research, Christians can benefit in at least three ways from reading these accounts. They can (1) learn what others are doing, (2) discern well-intended deviations from biblical faith and practice, and (3) pick up hints for their own methods of Christian outreach and service.
Reviewed by David O. Moberg, Sociology Professor Emeritus, Marquette University, 7120 W. Dove Ct., Milwaukee, WI 53223.
TOWARD A JUST AND CARING SOCIETY: Christian Responses to Poverty in America by David P. Gushee, ed. Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Books, 1999. 574 pages. Paperback. ISBN: 0801022207.
Christians want a just and caring society. Thus, it is disturbing to see statistics of increasing poverty in North America, while hearing that the economy is booming. Especially in large cities, the contrast between rich and poor neighborhoods is very evident. Scholars are often shielded from seeing this contrast because they work in laboratories and colleges. This book, therefore, can be an eye opener.
In 1996, Evangelicals for Social Action brought together sixteen scholars, mostly professors at colleges and universities. The group included economists, sociologists, theologians, and statisticians. The introduction states: "We share a passionate desire to see the poor of our nation empowered to enjoy successful participation in the bounty of American economic life."
This book has two parts on empowering the poor: "Foundational Reflections" and "Components of a Civil Society and Policy Response." Each chapter, written by a different scholar, can stand alone. The writers retained the unity of the book through meeting regularly. Due to the strict division of sciences in modern universities, natural scientists often have little contact with colleagues in other areas. Thus, we appreciate reading results of studies that touch all people.
This book is well written, easy to read, informative, and challenging. Christians concerned about poverty and social justice should read it.
Reviewed by Jan de Koning, 20 Crispin Crescent, Willowdale, ON M2R 2V7.
THE EXPLICIT ANIMAL: A Defense of Human Consciousness by Raymond Tallis. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999. 297 pages, index. Paperback; $18.95. ISBN: 0312224184.
Tallis is a professor of geriatric medicine at the University of Manchester. He has written about 150 medical publications. His writing outside the medical field includes short stories, poetry, reflections on art and science, and philosophy. The reason this book is entitled The Explicit Animal is that Tallis believes that explicitness is the core of what it means to be human. By explicitness he means consciousness; that is, humans are explicitly aware of their own selves and make explicit free-will decisions. In this book, addressed to all those who are interested in the philosophy of mind, Tallis vigorously defends attempts to minimize the incomprehensibility of human consciousness. In particular, he attacks the ideas that (1) consciousness can be explained in biological terms; (2) consciousness can be explained in computational terms; and (3) consciousness can be explained in functional terms. The book is primarily his objections to the philosophies of others rather than positive statements of his own views.
In the first chapter, Tallis presents a summary of modern attempts to minimize or eliminate the existence of human consciousness. The full depth of human consciousness is an embarrassment to those who hold a naturalistic world view because it simply cannot (yet) be explained in purely naturalistic terms.
In chapter two, he attacks the biological explanation of consciousness by asserting that consciousness does not have any evolutionary survival value. An unconscious automaton would seem to function at least as well (or maybe better) than a conscious animal. Not only are there no "how" and "why" explanations for the evolution of consciousness, but Tallis presents several arguments that indicate that there is simply no possibility that consciousness could have evolved naturally.
In the third chapter, Tallis attacks the Causal Theory of Perception, which states that consciousness simply consists of the exchange of information between the outside environment and an animal's nervous system. This is an interesting and highly philosophical chapter that discusses such things as the definition of information, the possibility of objectively measuring sensation, and the relationship between perception and objective fact.
Chapter four attacks the attempt to computerize consciousness. There are those who argue that the mind-to-brain relationship is analogous to the computer software-to-hardware relationship. Tallis insists that a computer will never attain consciousness. Computers may be able to simulate consciousness but they will never possess consciousness. His points here are well taken, but they may be overstated due to his lack of expertise in the field of artificial intelligence.
The fifth chapter argues that consciousness cannot be reduced to a set of input-output relationships. That is, Tallis attacks the functional theory of consciousness, the theory that consciousness is an externally observable phenomenon rather than an internal and subjective quality. There are those who believe that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck. Tallis would not agree and spends this chapter asserting that the external manifestations of consciousness do not capture its essence.
Chapters six and seven characterize the nature of consciousness by exploring the qualitative differences between humans and animals. Tallis says that although animals are conscious, human consciousness is qualitatively different from animal consciousness. Some manifestations of human consciousness that are fundamentally different from corresponding animal qualities include rationality, economics, morality, religion, politics, history, technology, speech, and the spirit of exploration. Tallis asserts that it is clear that the human body has evolved from the bodies of nonhuman predecessors, but the existence of consciousness does not seem to fit into that paradigm.
The book concludes with forty-three pages of notes and references (nearly as interesting as the text itself) that attest to the author's high level of education on this problem of mind. I came away from the book a bit frustrated in that Tallis does not propose any positive explanation for the existence of consciousness. He defends himself in this by stating that, at times, "the truth may be unfruitful." However, he goes on to say that it is necessary to show that existing theories do not work before we can see what the current tasks of philosophy should really be. Tallis has presented a formidable multi- pronged challenge to those who seek to explain consciousness in purely naturalistic terms.
Reviewed by Dan Simon, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH 44115.