Book Reviews for March 2001

Environment

THE LAND THAT COULD BE: Environmentalism and Democracy in the Twenty-First Century by William A. Shutkin. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2000. 262 pages. Hardcover; $27.95. ISBN: 026219435X.

Shutkin is founder and president of New Ecology, Inc., and cofounder and former executive director of the environmental justice organization, Alternatives for Community & Environment. He is lecturer in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT and adjunct professor of law at Boston College Law School.

The first four chapters are a critique of the elitism of environmentalism and an extension, called civic environmentalism that includes consideration of humans as well as wilderness and spotted owls. Shutkin comes down hard on the legal and technical command and control (top-down) structure adopted by all mainline environmental organizations. The next four chapters are case studies: Boston's Dudley Neighborhood, Oakland's Fruitvale Transit Village, rural Colorado, and suburban New Jersey. The final chapter is a projection of a new model of environmentalism.

There are six core concepts that jointly amount to a definition of civic environmentalism: democratic process, community and regional planning, education, environmental justice, industrial ecology, and place (physical and emotional space). The intent of democratic process is to make planning decisions bottom-up rather than top- down. This implies the informed involvement of all stakeholders.

It is worth recalling here that Aristotle thought that democracy was only suitable for small groups; mid-sized groups would be governed by an oligarchy and large ones by a monarchy. It is not clear to me that decisions should be made on the strength of a majority vote, which involves winners and losers; it would seem preferable that decisions be made by consensus. Environmental justice has a severely limited application. By this is meant only that it is unjust that low income and racial minorities be the recipients of the most of the pollution. The wealthy can buy their way out. In this context, one thinks immediately of the aquifers, including the Ogallala, which have been depleted by irrigation demands. World wide the water table is retreating mainly due to irrigation pressure.

What is the limit of justice? Fundamental to industrial ecology is the internalization of environmental benefits that are currently externalized (ignored). This will obviate the absurdities of accounting for national well being using a measure like the GNP. It will also require that a value be placed on those environmental benefits that are currently "free." There is also the obligation that producers accept total responsibility for any product over its entire life cycle.

This book has some strange omissions. First, and perhaps not surprisingly since the focus of the book is on the United States, there is no reference to any of the outstanding documentary work of the WorldWatch Foundation. For example, Shutkin did not give enough attention to the issues of regional population growth, water scarcity, and meretricious consumption. Mainline environmentalism is very much restricted to the Western world, but civic environmentalism purports to broaden the lens greatly and it should not be parochial.

Second, I was disappointed not to find some discussion of E. F. Schumacher's position. He devoted much of his life to developing an economic system for a smaller world, that is, one in which regions, usually bioregions, are largely self-supporting.

Third, I missed any discussion of the Natural Step, which inveighs against any buildup of material either from the earth's crust or from human production. Shutkin complains that environmentalism has not produced an ethical system to justify itself, but the Natural Step is such an ethic, and it is highly elaborated and systematic. In his defense, he did offer two systems with similar goals: industrial ecology, or complete product life cycle producer responsibility; and "The Hannover Principles."

Finally, there was no discussion of enlisting the people of faith into the movement. This, in my opinion, is fatal to civic environmentalism, because without some theologically justified support in the form of the ground of being, any progress will evaporate when it becomes inconvenient.

In spite of its limitations, this is a useful book mainly for its challenges to mainline environmentalism; the criticism of the governmental regulatory structure is withering. Shutkin is not the first to recognize that there are problems in the movement, but he has done an excellent and well-informed job of documenting them. Agencies such as the EPA have the mandate to control pollution, one pollutant at a time, not prevent it. Civic environmentalism is a partial answer to some of the problems.

Reviewed by Braxton M. Alfred, Biological Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 2E9.

THE ENVIRONMENTAL PENDULUM: A Quest for the Truth about Toxic Chemicals, Human Health, and Environmental Protection by R. Allan Freeze. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. 309 pages. Paperback; $19.95. ISBN: 0520220471.

Freeze gives a highly readable account of the problems associated with toxic waste prevention, remediation, and environmental regulation. He writes in a way that makes it easy for lay readers to understand fairly complex technical subjects, and furthermore to enjoy reading about them. Each chapter has a useful summary of points made, and the conclusions of the whole book are summarized at the end. A glossary of acronyms (especially for non- American readers who might not understand some of the regulatory organizations), and technical terms would be useful additions.

The main theme of the book is that environmental regulations concentrate too much on expensive clean-up operations of sites with low risk and divert funding that could be used for more serious social and environmental concerns. Freeze supports regulation to prevent the worst abuses from short-sighted industry interests but believes that they need to be fine tuned. The book is free from polemic, while still making it clear from the first chapter that all the players in the environmental game are pursuing their own agendas and must take responsibility for pollution on the one hand, or over-regulation on the other. This includes industry, the media, politicians, environmental groups, and local NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) activists.

The second chapter describes the industrial process and the author makes a number of salient, but disturbing, points that must be considered by anyone concerned about the environment. The first of these is that waste is an unavoidable part of industry at all phases of manufacture, and therefore anyone who purchases manufactured goods is part of the problem. The second is that leachate control systems, no matter how well designed, will fail long before the leachates become inert. The third point is that conflict between industry and environmentalists is inevitable. The industrial economic interests result in letting future generations worry about cleaning up their mess, since future costs are heavily discounted. Environmental costs, however, always have to be paid in full.

The third chapter summarizes the known human health effects of commonly used chemicals, and how these are experimentally tested, using animal "models." Freeze discusses the efficiency of environmental remediation and other public spending projects, in terms of lives saved per dollar spent. The health risks associated with pollution is several orders of magnitude lower than those associated with drinking, smoking, or driving a car. The author concludes that the legal minimum allowable levels for many contaminants are far too strict, and that much public money may be better spent improving road safety, or providing clean needles to drug addicts.

The final two chapters discuss the regulatory and legal system in the United States. As such they may not be of much interest to readers from other countries. Freeze sees regulation as a zero-sum game, and points out how cumbersome and expensive it is for both protagonists in the conflict. The strong point of the book is the well-presented technical explanations. Freeze has also done a service in pointing out the consequences of pollution generated by a consumer society, and the high costs of cleaning it up. The problems of litigation and regulation, and the flaws in a legal system based on adversarial conflict are also clearly set out.

However, given that Freeze sees the problem so clearly, his solution--more of the same, with a bit of fine-tuning--is rather disappointing. This book would be improved by a discussion of the effect some of the green economic initiatives (such as a dismantling of the power of corporations, and a more restorative justice system) might have on pollution prevention and control. Freeze also does not distinguish between voluntary and involuntary risks, and how this should affect public and industry spending priorities. Taking drugs and driving a car, e.g., are both voluntary activities by people who should know the risks involved. Only human health aspects are mentioned, yet frequently it is animals that suffer the most and gain the least from our human lifestyle. Animals not only suffer health effects through human waste products, but they are routinely "sacrificed" in tests to determine the safety of our own pollutants.

These flaws are fairly minor, however, and do not detract from the main strength of the book This book will be useful to anyone interested in the stewardship of our environment, but especially to North American readers. It will be especially beneficial to engineering and geological lay people wishing to know more about technical aspects of water pollution.

Reviewed by Michael Morris, Ecology and Environmental Science Laboratory, Shibaura Institute of Technology, Fukasaku 307, Omiya, Saitama 330-8570, Japan.

Ethics

GOOD CARE, PAINFUL CHOICES, 2d ed. by Richard J. Devine. New York: Paulist Press, 2000. 268 pages. Paperback. ISBN: 0809139243.

Devine is a Vincentian priest who teaches medical ethics at St. John's University. This is the second edition of a book that was published only four years ago. Since the field of health care is developing very rapidly, a new edition that would address the issue of cloning and present the current state on AIDS treatment, reproductive technologies, and euthanasia had become necessary. The reader recognizes immediately that this very readable book is up-to-date. Six of the thirteen chapters contain references more recent than the middle of 1995. Several references are from 1998.

The chapters include basic moral issues, the beginning of life, illness and disease, the end of life, and health care. Each chapter stands alone so that it is not necessary to read the book from cover to cover to find information on a specific topic. Each topic is addressed from five points of view; the first is that of the medical-scientific community. Frequently, the first paragraph defines the term, but, in a few cases, a history of treatment begins the presentation. Next is a discussion of what research teaches, followed by an explanation of the different available treatments. All of the information is well documented, and technical terms are defined in a lay reader's vocabulary. Relevant publications are referenced in the notes that follow each chapter. The presentation is thorough and is aimed at the "ordinary person."

In the second section, Devine summarizes what the law has to say on the subject. All court decisions through 1998 appear to be included. Again the presentation is factual and in terms an ordinary person can understand.

The third section is devoted to the socio-cultural framework in which Americans view the subject. Devine addresses each subject from various perspectives that pervade our society such as interventionism, feminism, hedonism, equality, respect for life, importance of privacy, and importance of family. Again, sources for his factual statements, primarily polls and quotes from the popular press, are presented in the text or in the notes.

In the fourth section, Devine reviews the formal teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on the issue. For the most part, these sections lead off with a quote or series of quotes from statements made by the American Catholic Bishops or by the Pope. However, in a few chapters (for example, the chapter on abortion), Devine also includes a summary of early Church teaching as well as some theological commentary.

Finally, Devine engages in some moral reflections. If readers expect to find a conclusion in which the author either states his position or makes a recommendation, they will be disappointed. In these final sections, Devine raises more questions than he answers, in contrast to the earlier sections in which the reader has experienced Devine as a lecturer, clearly presenting all the instruction needed. It is evident that Devine understands the most important factor in good teaching: since human beings do not act on the basis of the mind alone, the heart and soul must be hooked if behavior is to be affected. Congruent with this desire to affect behavior, Devine ends each chapter with a set of study questions. These are open-ended questions intended for group discussion.

In summary, this is a well-organized, tightly knit, and comprehensive book which enables readers to find all the necessary information in one place and to come to their own conclusions based on a thorough understanding of the factual and moral dimensions of various decisions. Anyone reading this book would learn many interesting and useful facts and would be challenged to subject his or her answers to moral scrutiny. Hopefully some reader will respond by vocalizing a biblically based theology of medical care that would provide guidance to evangelical ministers and lay people who face these issues or who counsel others who do.

Reviewed by Elizabeth M. Hairfield, Professor of Chemistry, Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, VA 24401.

BODY AND SOUL: Human Nature and the Crisis in Ethics by J. P. Moreland and Scott B. Rae. Downer's Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000. 345 pages, index, endnotes. Paperback. ISBN: 0830815775.

Moreland (Ph.D., University of Southern California) is professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. He has written for many philosophical journals and written or edited twelve books. Rae (Ph.D., University of Southern California) is associate professor of biblical studies and Christian ethics at Talbot School of Theology. He has authored Embryo Research and Experimentation (Crossroads) and Brave New Families: Biblical Ethics and Reproductive Technologies (Baker).

This book is divided into two parts: Part One (six chapters) addresses the metaphysics of human personhood; Part Two (four chapters) reflects on the ethical consequences of human personhood. Endnotes are used extensively throughout the text, so use of a bookmark is encouraged for ready reference to the notes while reading.

The main point of this work is to offer a view of human personhood that is both scripturally supported and philosophically defensible. Moreland and Rae offer a version of Thomas Aquinas' dualism which they call "Thomistic substance dualism" as an alternative to the physicalist world view prevalent in modern ethical discussions. Part One dives very deeply into technical philosophical discussion exposing the fallacies of physicalism and the defensibility of Thomistic substance dualism in a scientific age. The authors forewarn the lay reader to skip this section if desired because one can quickly become bogged down in the metaphysical language of philosophy. They have, however, produced a first-rate academic argument that contributes new clarity to the foundation for a Christian ethic of personhood.

Part Two takes Thomistic substance dualism and applies it to the thorny ethical issues of reproductive technology, cloning, and abortion. Understanding what a person is from the dualist perspective develops a consistent and scriptural ethic in these issues. Much of the current ethical confusion is due to the clouding of categories; Moreland and Rae pierce through the fog.

My impression of this book is best communicated as an analogy. In the 1980s, the U.S. Navy needed fire support for Marines ashore that was unavailable from any ship in the inventory. The Navy re-commissioned the old battleships with some minor modern improvements like Tomahawk missiles. These battleships quickly established supremacy over southern Lebanon for the Marines. Thomistic substance dualism is like those venerable battleships: an aged dreadnought re-commissioned with stunning results and some minor modernization. Its salvos have blasted a hole in the ethical battlefield with the sheer weight of their force. I recommend this book to any reader interested in bioethics. Those with little or no philosophical training can simply take the authors' advice and skip the technical chapters, but one learns how to appreciate the artillery with even just a little knowledge of ballistics.

Reviewed by David Condron, Aerospace Engineer, Woodbridge, VA 22192.

Faith & Science

MY FAITH AND GENESIS by Daniel Heinrichs. Published by the author: Daniel Heinrichs, 103-333 Vaughan St., Winnipeg, MB R3B 3J9. 157 pages. Paperback; $10.00.

Heinrichs is a longstanding member of ASA. Now in his eighty-first year, he has recorded the fruits of his scholarship and long life. Concerning Genesis he writes: "I feel that many views expressed read far more into Genesis than is justified. Genesis had to be understandable to the people who first received it, and it was written within the culture of the time." Furthermore, says Heinrichs, my view on Genesis takes cultural factors into consideration and "is closer to the truth than many of the complicated articles usually published in ASA."

Heinrichs' book is divided into thirty-six brief sections with only the last section on Genesis. Other topics considered include many theological ones, such as monotheism, the Bible, the church, suffering, Israel, heaven, and hell. The book includes some empirical material based on research with a dash of personal observation and opinion added. Heinrichs' purpose in writing this book was "to make a simple statement of faith and to attempt to gain an insight into God's plan for the human race " The book is available from the author.

Reviewed by Richard Ruble, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, AR 72761.

SCIENCE AND RELIGION IN SEARCH OF COSMIC PURPOSE by John F. Haught, ed. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2000. 137 pages, essay endnotes, index. Hardcover; $49.95. ISBN: 0878407693.

This collection originated as papers delivered at the 1997 symposium "Cosmology and Teleology." Haught, Director of the Georgetown Center for the Study of Science and Religion, invited a distinguished array of experts in science and religion to address questions of cosmic purpose.

In his introduction, Haught notes that the sense of cosmic purpose expressed in our cultural and religious myths has been challenged by claims that modern science offers little warrant for teleological notions but rather supports the pessimistic conclusion that we live in a "pointless" universe. Yet some would argue that our current scientific knowledge and understanding of the universe is "remarkably consonant" with a religious sense of cosmic purpose. As to "whether the cosmic visions of the world's great spiritual traditions can be reclaimed in an age of science," these essays offer various views and common themes.

The first two essays present scientific perspectives. Andrei Linde, in "Inflationary Cosmology and the Question of Teleology," surveys big bang and inflationary theories. He concludes that our "domain" of the universe does not reproduce its original design and thus "cannot carry any message from the creator whatsoever." Yet, he adds, we cannot fully comprehend the universe until science considers its relationship to consciousness and considers ultimate questions it has been unwilling to face.

In "Darwin and the Teleology of Nature," Francisco Ayala argues that Darwin discovered a teleological process within nature inherent in the interplay of mutation and selection--creative and directive, though not conscious--and distinguished by the criterion of utility. Appropriate to biology but not to physics, Darwin's model preserves teleological explanations without recourse to an external agent or a vital force.

The essays that follow examine three older religious cosmologies. In "Islamic Cosmology: Basic Tenets and Implications, Yesterday and Today," Seyyed Hossein Nasr reviews medieval Muslim cosmology and its contributions to questions of purpose. Thanks to its holistic integration of theology and cosmology, Islamic thought escaped the bifurcation of Cartesian dualism and the reductionism which, in Nasr's view, has impoverished Western understanding of the universe.

This critique of reductionism is taken up by Anandita Niyogi Balslev in her essay, "Cosmos and Consciousness: Indian Perspectives." She emphasizes the holistic approach to cosmos and telos that pervades ancient Indian thought, with its claim that there is an intimate and integral relationship between the universe and consciousness, between the natural and the moral orders. "We cannot escape the law of karma any more than we can escape the law of gravity" (quoting A. L. Basham).

This claim of a relationship between the moral and natural orders appears in another eastern tradition, as Mary Evelyn Tucker explains in "Cosmology, Science, and Ethics in Japanese Neo-Confucianism." The two seventeenth- and eighteenth-century thinkers she surveys, Kaibara Ekken and Miura Baien, both pioneers in Eastern scientific method and cosmology and its ethical implications, did not impute purpose to the cosmos in any material, modern sense, but they did see the cosmos as meaningful, and inviting harmony between humanity and nature.

With "Cosmic Directionality and the Wisdom of Science," the reader returns to modern cosmology. Brian Swimme argues that the universe gives plenty of evidence not of random development but of different kinds of directionality: expanding differentiation, autopoesis, and interrelatedness. Stressing our crucial role in affecting the future course of biotic evolution, Swimme outlines the purposeful (ethical) steps he believes we must consciously take to leave a healthy and biologically rich planet for our children.

In his essay, "Information and Cosmic Purpose," John Haught argues that the hierarchical vision of the universe rejected by reductionistic scientism can be validated by information theory, which offers a way of thinking about order and meaning that is also consonant with the Taoist concept of wu wei and with kenotic theology. The notion of an underlying though elusive patterning element that becomes evident in discontinuous levels of hierarchy while not disrupting the continuous development of nature "allows us to hold simultaneously a belief in evolutionary science and a trust in cosmic meaning."

In the final essay, "Is there Design and Purpose in the Universe?" Owen Gingerich asserts that the answer lies in a faith enriched by the astonishing coherence one encounters in the fine tuning of the universe which has allowed the evolution of conscious beings who can behold it in wonder. In the contingency and freedom that characterizes the universe, Gingerich sees a world "organized with purpose, direction, a pervasive sense of movement toward higher organization, but not necessarily with a total blueprint."

These eight essays are informative, interesting, and clear. And one may discern an overarching theme: to make sense of the universe, one must look at it holistically. Reductionistic materialism precludes this very notion; but a holistic approach brings matter and consciousness together and finds moral purpose through a conscious reflection on this universe enriched by the wisdom of the world's religions. Recommended.

Reviewed by Robert J. Schneider, Distinguished Professor of General Studies, Berea College, Berea, KY 40404.

History of Science

FAITH AND REASON IN THE 19th CENTURY, vol. 2 of Christianity and Western Thought by Steve Wilkens and Alan G. Padgett. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000. 436 pages, index. Hardcover; $24.99.
ISBN: 0830817530.

Wilkens is associate professor of philosophy and ethics and Padgett is professor of theology and philosophy of science at Azusa Pacific University. Wilkens is a trained theologian with an interest in philosophy, while Padgett is a trained philosopher with an interest in theology. This book is a sequel to Colin Brown's Christianity and Western Thought, vol. 1, which surveys the history of the interactions between philosophy and Christian theology from ancient times up to the Age of Enlightenment. Wilkens and Padgett are also at work on a third volume that will survey the developments of twentieth century philosophy. Once completed, Christianity and Western Thought, in three volumes, should become the premier text of philosophical history written from a conservative Christian perspective.

Although Wilkens and Padgett clearly indicate in the preface of their book that they are writing from a Christian perspective, they go on to explain:

This is not a book of apologetics, and it does not have as its primary function the criticism of ideas and systems that are contrary to the Christian faith. Rather, we seek to fairly explain the philosophical arguments and conclusions of great thinkers that have influenced our culture.

They also state that "to write this from a Christian perspective means that we are Christianly interested in the work of these thinkers, their view of God and religion, and their impact upon theology as well as philosophy and culture."

This approach follows the lead of Brown, who states in his introduction to volume one that the aim of his book is:

Not to present a defense of Christianity against all comers. Rather, it is a historical sketch, written to help students-- and anyone else who might be interested--to get a better grasp of the love-hate relationship between philosophy and faith that has gone on for close to two thousand years.

In addition to these kindred approaches to the subject matter, there are other similarities between the two volumes. Both volumes include an extensive section of endnotes that includes references to both secondary source material and translations of primary resources. Relevant quotations from translations of primary sources are interspersed throughout the text of both volumes. The arrangement of the subject matter is also similar. Individual philosophers are introduced with a brief overview of their family background, education, vocations, and interactions with other philosophers and philosophical systems of thought. These biographical summaries are followed by a presentation of the major aspects of each person's approach to the relationship between philosophy and theology. Critiques of these ideas are then offered by pointing out the inherent weaknesses and inconsistencies of each philosophical system. Both volumes include a final chapter entitled "Retrospect and Prospect" that not only includes helpful summary statements, but also provides a smooth transition to the next volume in the series.

Though the two volumes are similar in style, there is one major difference between them. While Brown surveys the field of philosophy from Pythagoras in the sixth century B.C. to Immanuel Kant in the eighteenth century, Wilkens and Padgett write a similar number of pages on the philosophical developments of a single century! Wilkens and Padgett, therefore, are able to go into more depth in their treatment of individual philosophers and their systems of thought. They also are able to include lesser known individuals and movements that would get passed over in a survey with a broader time frame. A unique feature of volume two is the inclusion of the development of the social sciences into their own distinctive disciplines.

Volume two begins where volume one leaves off, with the agenda-setting influence of Kant and ends with Sigmund Freud who, according to Wilkens and Padgett, is an important transitional figure between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Philosophical systems extensively covered include rationalism, romanticism, idealism, dialectical materialism, nihilism, existentialism, positivism, pragmatism, confessionalism, liberalism, and Darwinism. Individual philosophers and theologians discussed include Coleridge, Schliermacher, Hegel, Strauss, Compte, Fuerbach, Marx, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Mill, James, Ritschl, Darwin, and Weber along with some lesser known figures. Intersections between developments in philosophy and Christian theology during the nineteenth century are highlighted throughout the book.

This book can easily be used as a text in any college or seminary class that seeks to cover the intellectual world of the nineteenth century from a Christian perspective. Like volume one, the material is presented in a clear and concise manner that is easily accessible for ministers, scientists, and anyone else who may be looking for a readable desk reference work on the history of the relationship between Christianity and Western thought. Anyone who already owns a copy of Brown's volume one will definitely want to purchase a copy of volume two. Wilkens and Padgett hope to finish volume three, which will survey twentieth century philosophy, by the end of 2002. Once this trilogy is complete, the breadth of coverage and the readability of the material included should make it a standard reference and text for years to home.

Reviewed by J. David Holland, Biology Instructor, Springfield College in Illinois, 1500 N. Fifth Street, Springfield, IL 62702.

DARWIN'S WORMS: On Life Stories and Death Stories by Adam Phillips. New York: Basic Books, 2000. 148 pages. Hardcover; $20.00. ISBN: 0465056768.

Charles Darwin had a lifelong fascination with earthworms. In November 1837, the same month that he finished revising the diary of his voyage on the Beagle, he read a paper at the Geological Society of London on how "every particle of earth forming the bed from which the turf in old pasture land springs has passed through the intestines of worms." In his last book, Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms (1881), Darwin returned to his unsung subterranean heroes and celebrated their inexhaustible work that makes the earth fertile. Worms not only prepare the ground for plants and seedlings, over time they bury and preserve objects that do not decay. They preserve the past and create conditions for future growth; they bury to renew; digest to restore.

Sigmund Freud had a lifelong antipathy to biography. In 1885, when he was twenty-nine and well before he had established his reputation, he burned all of his professional papers and notes in part to confound future biographers. In 1936, he wrote to his would-be biographer: "Anyone who writes a biography is committed to lies, concealments, hypocrisy, flattery and even to hiding his own lack of understanding, for biographical truth does not exist "

Biography, in Freud's mature thought, was "a monument to the belief that lives were there to be known and understood, rather than endlessly redescribed." Moreover, it was a function of Freud's concept of the "death instinct" to make narrative coherence impossible by spoiling the connections we or other people might make of our lives. Human lives do not have a shape; they cannot be plotted; and they are not reducible to a coherent story. Freud was interested in how our lives tend to resist our stories about them.

In Darwin's Worms, British psychotherapist and writer Adam Phillips uses Darwin's fascination with worms and Freud's hostility to biography to view mortality, extinction, and death from the perspective of those have "removed God from the big picture." Phillips is especially interested in how both Darwin and Freud viewed destruction as conserving life. Aging and death for them become not alien but integral to life. Phillips suggests that both Darwin and Freud were drawn to consider "losses that could be survived--or even seen to be sources of inspiration" the fossil record, half-remembered dreams, and childhood memories. They frequently returned to the theme of the impermanence of natural phenomena. Life for them, Phillips contends very convincingly, was about "what could be done with what was left, with what still happened to be there." They redescribed scenes of loss from a secular viewpoint in order to show why people and animals do not give up. They tell us that the only life is the life of the body; consequently, death is "of a piece with life." Darwin's opportunistic worms, then, present us with a new vision of heroic nature. Phillips' closing message is that we must not be dismayed by our mortality, but live with our own deaths.

Phillips has written an interesting and very readable essay on the theme of loss in Darwin and Freud. But on the matter of there being nothing between humanity and nature, I find him not only unconvincing, but much too glib. One need not be any less appreciative of the thankless labors of earthworms to suggest that the removal of God from the modern world was generally a far more traumatic and disturbing matter than Phillips lets on. While Darwin and Freud focused on worms and death instincts and did battle against creationists and biographers in order to celebrate how death in the natural order conserves life, many others were disoriented, even devastated, by the collapse of religious truths. To my mind, A. N. Wilson's recent God's Funeral gives a much more nuanced and sober picture of the loss of faith in the Victorian era. Undoubtedly, this was not Phillips' objective. He has written a secular inspirational book of sorts, one that wants to convince contemporary readers that they are not trapped or diminished in a world of continuous loss.

And I must concede that if, in fact, modern Western humanity attended "God's funeral" in the late nineteenth century, then Phillips is correct: we are not fallen creatures, but simply creatures. And the project of re-conceptualizing both life and death becomes absolutely essential.

Reviewed by Donald A. Yerxa, Professor of History, Eastern Nazarene College, Quincy, MA 02170.

Natural Sciences

MEAN GENES by Terry Burnham and Jay Phelan. New York: Perseus Publishing, 2000. 146 pages. Hardcover; $23.00. Paperback; $13.00. ISBN: 07382012304.

"It's in the genes, Stupid." This may be the title of the banner displayed by authors Burnham and Phelan when advertising their new book, Mean Genes: From Sex to Money to Food Taming our Primal Instincts. This book observes the world through a Darwinian lens as it examines tough issues like love, adultery, family, violence, greed, and the primal instinct. It is, according to the Introduction, "an owner's manual for your brain."

Interjecting many biologically sound examples to support their premises, the authors show their extensive knowledge of both Darwinian exegesis and biological definitions. Burnham is an economics professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and Phelan is a professor of biology at UCLA. They fully decompose each area of interest (compartmentalized into chapters titled "Debt," "Fat," "Drugs," "Risk," "Greed," "Gender," "Beauty," "Infidelity," "Family," and "Friends and Foes") so that the reader is offered evidence about why each characteristic exists and, more importantly, what people can do to improve life.

The authors' goal is to use scientific studies to aid the premise that a human is "actually two things: a personality who has likes, dislikes, desires, and dreams. But inside a man's body is also a machine, [a] brain, that process[es] commands and acts on those dislikes, desires, and dreams." In the end, the authors conclude that in most cases the brain usually wins, because an individual is predisposed to certain failings based solely on genetic influences. These mean genes are, according to Burnham and Phelan, "masters of the visceral" and control our lives through satisfaction, pain, and pleasure.

In stating their case, the authors rely heavily on findings from the animal kingdom. This approach reveals some fascinating facts about the characteristics of numerous animal species, such as the gray squirrel that hoards its food. The squirrel is genetically inclined to hoard food while the human species struggles to save even a minuscule amount. Additionally, the authors claim that humans are products of a mammalian heritage that thrives on a genetically inclined feel-good attitude, to spend now instead of saving for a future.

Numerous examples of transferable lessons are replete in this thought-provoking book. For instance, the natural tendency for humans to fulfill their appetites is based upon a world where plentiful food was inconceivable. Therefore, if individuals belong to an industrialized world where food is readily available, obesity becomes prevalent. Stories of an Australian social spider as her actions relate to family values, to the bizarre realities involving spiders that break off their genitalia after copulating, to certain frog species that "continue individual bouts of mating for several months" are included as means to understand the underlying reasons for people's behaviors and to outline steps that can be taken to tame primal instincts and to improve the quality of life.

Evolution by natural selection is a powerful tool for understanding behavior. Using this tool reveals many aspects of human life that can be understood and the authors of this interesting book readily expose these issues as they reveal humankind's struggles for self- improvement. In the end, Mean Genes is the first book that converts the modern Darwinian revolution into practical steps for better living. Author Robert Frank of Cornell University correctly concludes on the back cover of this very instructive guide that "Burnham and Phelan not only unmask the devil inside us, they hand us the tools to disarm him."

Reviewed by Dominic J. Caraccilo, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army, 1212 Whisperwood Drive, Columbus, GA 31907.

IN SEARCH OF DEEP TIME: Beyond the Fossil Record to a New History of Life by Henry Gee. New York: The Free Press, 1999. 267 pages, endnotes, index. Hardcover; $26.00. ISBN: 068485421X.

Gee is chief science writer for Nature. He received his doctorate in zoology from Cambridge University, where he studied vertebrate paleontology. There he became personally acquainted with "a den of subversives intent on fomenting academic revolution." Those subversives were engaged in developing a new way of understanding natural history radically different from the "establishment" lines-of-descent approach, a way that became known as cladistics.

In Search of Deep Time is an unabashed apologetic for the new way: "cladistics is the best philosophy for the scientific understanding of the history of life as we unearth it from Deep Time." Gee asserts that the very concept of Deep Time (i.e., geological time, where the time units are intervals of millions of years) makes any attempt to construct a story of life on earth inherently futile: "Deep Time can never support narratives of evolution." This conclusion drives cladists to seek a pattern to natural history "free from subjective, untestable stories," a pattern less authoritarian, more tentative, and more modest in its goals and claims than the conventional view, a pattern that leads to some unorthodox conclusions about evolutionary relationships.

Chapter 1 establishes the case that the fossil record is too sparse to permit the construction of anything like the evolutionary history of a species. It goes on to show what is possible: one can construct a cladogram, a branching chart showing the closeness of relationship of two or more species, extant or fossil, on the basis of shared characteristics.

Chapter 2 illustrates how applying cladistics to particular taxa may lead to unorthodox conclusions. As regards fossil fishes and primitive extant fishes, "Acanthostega tells us that whatever limbs with digits evolved for, they did not evolve for walking on land On the evidence tetrapods evolved limbs before they came ashore for reasons unconnected with walking on land." Gee cites cladistic analyses of conodonts, echinoderms, and giant sloths that produce equally surprising results.

Chapter 3 is philosophical. While affirming Darwin's basic hypothesis, it warns against constructing a natural history for an extant species based on the present function of a structure: "Scenarios about adaptation contain a logical non sequitur: that the adaptation of a structure for a particular purpose necessarily tells you anything about how that structure evolved."

Chapter 4, entitled "Darwin and His Precursors," actually deals as much with those who followed Darwin and contributed to the Modern Synthesis: Dobzhansky, Mayr, Simpson, and Romer. Gee finds these men largely responsible for constructing the establishment view of evolutionary history, a view leading to "children's stories" of adaptation and descent that only cladistics can correct.

Chapter 5 introduces the heroes of cladistics, the "Gang of Four" fossil fish specialists whom Gee came to know as a graduate student in London. Gee tells the story of how cladistics was developed, argued for, strengthened by new genomic studies, and ultimately accepted in areas of biology outside paleontology (where the fight goes on). Chapters 6 and 7 apply cladistics to two questions in natural history of great current interest: the relationship between birds and dinosaurs, and the relationships between humans and the various hominids.

In Search of Deep Time is written from a secular perspective. Chapter 4 affirms non-teleological Darwinian evolution and narrates how one particular hypothesis of Darwin (concerning nectar-eating moths and orchids in Madagascar) was tested and confirmed by Nilsson, thus proving Darwinism. Readers of PSCF, whatever their own views on evolution, will find Gee's argument here weak and simplistic. I got the impression that Gee assumes that Darwinian evolution is so well accepted that almost anything will do to prove it. Apart from the unquestioned naturalism, the book is not anti-religious. It simply takes no notice of religion at all.

A Christian interested in natural history would find this book a profitable and enjoyable read. Gee writes for the non-specialist. For those who have only the vaguest notion of cladistics, it provides an understandable explanation of what cladistics is, what cladists seeks to do, and some of the more unorthodox conclusions cladists have reached. Gee includes enough anecdotal material to maintain reader interest. Christian readers will resonate with Gee's warning against the authoritarianism of establishment views: "Paleontology read as history is additionally unscientific because, without testable hypotheses, its statements rely for their justification on authority, as if its practicioners had privileged access to absolute truth The assumption of authority is profoundly, mischievously, and dangerously unscientific."

Reviewed by Robert Rogland, Covenant High School, Tacoma, WA 98465.

DOOMSDAY: The Science of Catastrophic Events by Antony Milne. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2000. 208 pages, notes, bibliography, index. Paperback; $55.00. ISBN: 0275967476.

On the heels of certain apocalyptic predictions pertaining to the advent of the third millennium (2000 A.D., Y2K), Milne's recent book is addressed to an audience inundated with (if not, at this point, incredulous to) doomsday literature. An "eschatology" for scientism, Doomsday enlivens certain fears that may have subsided following a notably uneventful New Year. The message of Doomsday is clear: cause for concern about a catastrophic end is not over yet.

As perhaps revealed by the subtitle, Milne espouses a view of intellectual history that categorizes modern scientists into two groups: uniformitarians, those who believe that nature is relatively stable; and catastrophists, those who do not. Catastrophe theory, according to Milne, explores the dynamics of discontinuous phenomena poorly described by the conceptual apparatus of classical physics: the bursting of a bubble, the state transition from ice to water, and turbulence. But do not be deceived; the engaging rhetoric of this book does not lie in technical expositions of recent developments in mathematics or theoretical physics. In fact, there is none of this. "But catastrophe theory deals, as its name implies, with much more fundamental, even violent, macro changes" (p. 27).

The first chapter, "The Legends of Catastrophe," summarizes various myths and legends pertaining to both the world's creation and destruction, from ancient times to current. The second chapter, "The First Catastrophists," presents an equally cursory (though nonetheless very interesting) account of a shift from uniformitarianism to catastrophism in the science of the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. Though most of this chapter concerns geology and paleontology, Milne also considers biology.

Milne is not concerned here with detailing the development of any one field, but the paradigms of the scientific community in general. Darwin's Origin "seemed to be offering the biological cousin of uniformitarianism" (p. 21). Milne here notes the contributions of key scientists--William Buckland, William Whewell, Rev. Thomas Burnet, John Ray, Leibniz, Newton, John Woodward, William Whiston, Buffon, Laplace, Cuvier, Lyell, Adam Sedgewick, Jean Louis Agassiz, and Darwin--all in eleven pages.

I found the first two chapters to be the most captivating in their presentation of catastrophe as an ideological construction underlying the interpretation of natural phenomena. They are primarily anecdotal, though this feature contributes to their appeal. In fact, historical vignettes may be found throughout the book, such as one of George Green, the nineteenth-century Nottingham miller who developed differential equations (p. 26); or, of Daniel Whitmire's and John Metese's Planet X theory in which a tenth solar planet returns in its orbit every fifty-two million years, intersecting the comet cloud and explaining the Great Dyings of approximately every twenty-six million years in earth history (p. 139).

The remaining chapters treat the origin of the universe, seismology, evolution, the death of the dinosaurs, climate change, floods and natural disasters, cosmic-collision theories, and the death of our sun and of the universe as a whole. Milne often refers to chaos theory, but fails to explain clearly even its primary suppositions. For example, Milne writes, "The term 'chaos' means chaos in a mathematical or abstract sense. But it can also mean conventional social disorder and mass panics: fears of deadly rays from the sun and food poisoning are reminiscent of earlier collective fears that ought to have disappeared from today's world" (p. 154). Milne conflates the ramifications of chaos theory and popular connotations of chaos. Furthermore, by failing to delineate mainstream scientific theory from "fringe" science, Milne may confound more than he clarifies.

Doomsday is intended for a popular audience. Most citations of scientific research are from The Times, Discover Magazine, New Scientist, and similar periodicals, though occasional reference is made to journals, such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Nature. Such facile treatment is not scholarship. However, Milne does provide an entertaining collection of stories from science, presented from a particular point of view for the enjoyment of a casual reader; here he produces a satisfactory contribution.

Reviewed by John Drake, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556.

Origins

EXTINCT HUMANS by Ian Tattersall and Jeffrey H. Schwart. New York: Westview Press, 2000. 247 pages. Hardcover; $50.00. ISBN: 0813334829.

Tattersall, curator of the American Museum of Natural History, and Schwartz are well-known writers in the area of anthropology, and have written numerous books. Extinct Humans, they say, came about as part of their effort to personally study all the hominid fossil material and reclassify it. After reading the book, one is disappointed that so grand a goal is scarcely accomplished.

The book's chapters are divided along the lines of current hominid classification. The Australopithecines, H. habilis, H. erectus, H. ergaster, Neanderthals and anatomically modern H. sapiens are each in their turn given a chapter. Discussed in each chapter are reasons why the authors believe that an entirely new hominid classification is due. They dismiss all similarities between the fossil hominids and argue for separate species for almost every specimen in the world's museums. They argue that many more genera must be introduced to explain this amazing hominid morphological diversity.

To understand their argument one must know a bit of anthropological history. Prior to 1950 almost every fossil was given a unique genus and species name. This resulted in an inability to understand any of the evolutionary trends in human evolution. At the 1950 Cold Spring Harbor Conference, Ernst Mayr argued that all hominids, from Australopithecus to modern man should be placed in the same genus. Paleoanthropologists would only go along with him to the tune of two different genera, leaving Australopithecus in its own genus.

Along with this consolidation came the view that no more than one biological species occupying the same ecological niche could exist at any one time. This restricted any specimens to fit into a chronological sequence of species. Tattersall and Schwartz believe that consolidation by Mayr and others was wrong. They propose to split the human lineage into multiple species genera, but they made no proposals along this line in their book. Inconsistently, they claim that humans of the past were to be placed in multiple species, but then fail to explain why modern humans today all fit into a single species. Like hippies of the sixties, they rage against the current situation and yet make no suggestion for how to change it.

Their methodology appears less than scientific as they discount numerical morphometrics (the science of multidimensional analysis of shapes) and instead use all sorts of qualitative terms to describe the fossils, such as "puff," and "puff out," which seem to be their favorites. They claim that morphometrics is wrong because people have not properly decided which measurements to make. Yet, once again, they give no clue as to what measurements they would make. They use microscopic and extremely minor variations in skeletal anatomy as the basis for separating two otherwise very similar fossils. They admit, in a moment of weakness, that if one applied this method to modern human skeletal material that " you'd never be able to tell if we constituted our own species or not" (p. 197).

For a book that claims to be scientific, it is odd that there are no footnotes to the primary scientific literature. Many of their conclusions are just those, conclusions with no scientific argumentation. In arguing that Neanderthals and humans did not interbreed, they dismiss the 24,000-year-old Neanderthal/human hybrid, found in Portugal in 1998, with the simple statement that it does not stand up to scrutiny.

They dismiss Neanderthal symbolic and musical abilities by never mentioning the flute made by Neanderthals found in Croatia (that flute looks amazingly like the lower flute Tattersall and Schwartz show in Fig. 122, p. 241). They selectively cite genetic data that supports their view of the origin of modern man but never mention other data that would contradict their assertions. They argue that the evolution of new hominids had to occur in small populations, but then inconsistently rule out any important human evolution in the fringes of the hominid world, Europe and Java, where those populations would have been isolated. They have all new hominid variants arise in Africa where the population was the largest and least isolated.

It is the omitting of such data, selective citation, cursory dismissals of important facts, and the lack of footnotes that make this book appear to be an apologetic rather than a serious scientific examination of the issues. Indeed, this is the most aimless and confusing book on anthropology I have ever read. One would better spend the $50 on a good steak dinner.

Reviewed by Glenn R. Morton, Aberdeen Pouch, c/o Kerr McGee, 16666 Northchase, Houston, TX 77060.

WHAT'S DARWIN GOT TO DO WITH IT: A Friendly Conversation about Evolution by Robert C. Newman, John L. Wiester with Janet and Jonathan Moneymaker. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000. 147 pages, illustrations, photographs, notes, bibliography, index. Paperback; $9.99. ISBN: 0830822496.

What's Darwin Got to Do With It is a fun and educational book quite unlike most Darwinist or Creationist volumes on the market today. The contributors pose two imaginary professors in a debate between the merits of Darwinism versus Intelligent Design.

Newman is a professor of New Testament at Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, and coauthor of Genesis One and the Origin of the Earth. Wiester is an instructor in biology at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, and author of The Genesis Connection. Jonathan Moneymaker is a teacher, curriculum designer, and writer. Janet Moneymaker is a cartoonist and illustrator. Together, these four theorists combine their talents for debate on this age-old query.

This quaint, illustrated adventure leads to the meeting of Professor Teller and Professor Questor, two biologists who challenge each other's views regarding the question of origins. Each page gives arguments pro and con for each theory, providing the reader information upon which to make a decision about each theory's merits.

The authors imaginatively present two viewpoints: one viewpoint says we are made in the image of God, who designed us for a purpose and wants us to experience life to the full. Contrariwise, "others say we are byproducts of an impersonal and mindless process that cares nothing for us." Thus, there are two major creation stories in our culture. One story is theistic, asserting that a preexisting intelligence created and designed the universe. The other story is materialistic, asserting that only matter-energy has always existed and that life owes its origin to a process of undirected evolutionary change from molecule to humanity.

Both theories are well presented. In the end, the reader is challenged to reconsider the strengths and weaknesses of each hypothesis. What's Darwin Got to do With It is an enjoyable and intellectually stimulating adventure. I recommend it, especially to those who enjoy whimsy and visualization.

Reviewed by Dominic J. Caraccilo, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army, 1212 Whisperwood Drive, Columbus, GA 31907.

CREATION, EVOLUTION, & MODERN SCIENCE by Ray Bohlin. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2000. 192 pages. Paperback; $10.00. ISBN: 0825420334.

A plethora of topics relevant to the creation/evolution controversy is covered in Bohlin's new book. Bohlin is the executive director of Probe Ministries, an organization dedicated to addressing societal issues from a Christian perspective. This is his second book; the first was the widely acclaimed The Natural Limits to Biological Change, coauthored with Lester Lane.

This book is divided into four parts covering evolution, intelligent design, evolution and society, and evolution and the Bible. In the first part, the standard anti- evolutionary arguments are advanced: There are said to be no transitional forms, the Cambrian explosion is too explosive, chance will not work, information requires intelligence, etc. There are no new arguments presented. The intelligent design section discusses the possibility of alien civilization, Phillip Johnson's strategy to avoid telling people how the Bible fits with science, and irreducible complexity. The last two sections cover such topics as sociobiology, the Papal statement on evolution, how to speak with our children about evolution, and a chapter on why we believe in creation.

Most conservative Christians will feel quite at home with this book. This conservative Christian does not. The biggest flaw in the book lies in its outdated scholarship and failure to get simple observational facts correctly related to the reader. In the first section, like a mantra, the claim is made over and over that all the phyla (save one) first appeared in the Cambrian strata (pp. 23, 41, 48, 51, etc.). This simply is not true. There are almost one hundred million years of macroscopic life forms found in the rocks beneath the Cambrian that are related to and are transitional to Cambrian forms, but are unmentioned by Bohlin. He does not cite Conway Morris's 1998 book. Since Morris is the world's foremost expert on the Cambrian explosion, one would expect a citation to him. These problems may result from Bohlin's use of a 1985 reprint of a 1972 vertebrate paleontology book by Stahl as his only source of paleontological information. This outdated book must say all the right things as Johnson also used it in Darwin on Trial. Nowhere does Bohlin acknowledge the fact that five phyla are now found in the pre-Cambrian including sponges, molluscs, worms, jellyfish, and arthropods. Thirteen phyla are first found in the geologic column after the Cambrian. Bohlin also mistakenly states that the Cambrian period is only five to ten million years long (p. 50). The most widely accepted Cambrian chronology is that of Gradstein and Ogg (1996) and they list the Cambrian as lasting for fifty million years.

Of Cambrian animals, Bohlin claims that Anomalocaris, Ottoia, Wiwaxia, Hallucigenia and Opabinia have just become familiar to paleontologists during the last twenty years (p. 49). This is not true. All but Hallucigenia were described by Walcott in 1911-1915, and Hallucigenia was described in 1977. He erroneously claims that these animals are placed in single species phyla. Within the past five years, general consensus has settled on all these as members of modern phyla with Anomalocaris and Opabinia being arthropods, Hallucigenia being a lobopod, Wiwaxia being an annelid, and Ottoia has always been placed in the modern priapulid phylum. Getting facts wrong like this will not be noticed by most readers, but Bohlin's claims are definitely wrong. He claims that the modern coelacanth, discovered in 1938, has remained the same for one hundred million years (p. 38). Once again, this simply is not true. The 4.5-foot-long bones of the modern fish are never found as fossils. Indeed, the modern fish is unique among the coelacanths for its size. It simply is not the same animal.

When it comes to anthropology, the claims are equally outdated or false. He claims that anthropologists are only able to work with casts, never the original material (p. 30). One wonders where he gets these erroneous ideas. Michael Day in The Guide to Fossil Man laments the fact that there is so much handling of the original material that many of the valuable specimens are scarred and scraped by the calipers used to make measurements.

Most disappointing is that a person of Bohlin's obvious talent has insulated himself from the scientific data. In his technical chapters, 56% of his references are to creationist or nontechnical sources and the average age of the scientific articles he cites is 1988, ancient by scientific standards. By using such restrictive sources, Bohlin leaves himself open to the charge that he really has not examined the modern scientific literature and thus mistitled his book. This is substantiated when he discusses the Cambrian explosion. Time magazine accounts for ten of his fifteen references. If one wishes to discuss modern science, one should refer to the modern scientific literature, not news periodicals. Bohlin's book has fallen very short in scholarship.

One final comment. In the chapter entitled "Why We Believe in Creation!" not a single scientific reason is given. All the reasons are theological. Indeed, he feels that God would never use a cruel method like evolution where animal eats animal. He cites Jesus advocating mercy to others as evidence that evolution is contrary to his character. Bohlin does not explain one major contradiction. If Jesus wanted animals to be kind to animals and us to be kind to animals, why did Jesus rip those fish apart and feed them to the 5,000? Why did Jesus himself eat fish if he was against cruelty to animals?

With all of these factual errors, failures of scholarship, and logical puzzles, parents should be wary of using it with their children. Unfortunately, as Bohlin told me, a bad review here may help his sales. I fear he is correct.

Reviewed by Glenn R. Morton, Aberdeen Pouch, c/o Kerr McGee, 16666 Northchase, Houston, TX 77060.

Philosophy & Theology

THE ELUSIVE MESSIAH by Raymond Martin. Boulder, CO: Westview, Press, 1999. 236 pages. Hardback; $25.00. ISBN: 0813367050.

Martin, a philosophy professor at the University of Maryland, has distinguished himself as a teacher and writer. In addition to winning teaching and scholarly awards, he has written Self Concern, The Past Within Us, and Self and Identity.

This book is about the quest for the historical Jesus, which has shown a burst of activity in the past two decades. Underlining the currency of the topic was a two- hour presentation by the ABC network on the current status of the quest. Implied in this quest is the assumption that the New Testament documents are untrustworthy. In view of this, what might this quest mean to Christians? Martin addresses his comments primarily to ordinary people, not to scholars. While he does not take a position on who is right about Jesus ("I have no particular religious or antireligious beliefs"), he does critique the methods used to arrive at conclusions and offers Christians suggestions on how to respond.

Christians have three basic responses to the secular quest for the historical Jesus, says Martin: (1) the only faith response; (2) the faith seeking understanding response; and (3) the only reason response.

In this debate, there are two camps: conservatives who subscribe to traditional portraits of Jesus and liberals who take a highly revisionists approach. Martin believes that when the experts agree, we accept their conclusions; when they disagree, we should suspend judgment. Since we are amateurs, "most of us have no business even having an opinion" (p. 94).

Martin could have expressed himself more accurately. For instance, he says that "historians agree that many of the words" (p. 13) and deeds "attributed to Jesus in the New Testament are not actually his words" (p. 14). Or "Scholars agree that many parts of the Gospels were copied" (p. 15). He meant to say "many" historians and scholars.

In addition, Martin sometimes misrepresents a scholar's view. For example, he claims that Luke Johnson believes that "it is only the present that matters" (p. 154), when in fact Johnson believes no such idea. (What Johnson believes is the love his wife showed him in the early years is not disturbed by any interpretation he might lay on it in the present. Likewise, Johnson's argument is that the different interpretations Christians legitimately place upon Jesus does not negate their agreement that he is the Savior).

Martin's misunderstanding of Johnson leads him to the false conclusion that Johnson is inconsistent when he says that Christians should base what they believe about the resurrection on the Gospels. When Johnson says that the community of faith should have a say in the interpretation of the Gospels, it seems obvious he is speaking of the historic, orthodox group of Christians who have accepted the Gospels at face value. Therefore, to Johnson there is only one community of faith, not many, as Martin implies there should be (p. 160). Martin also confuses essential Christian faith (belief in the resurrection) with nonessential (belief about the date of the Gospel of Thomas). Through the centuries, orthodox Christians have affirmed the bodily resurrection of Jesus, an essential of salvation (Rom. 10:9-10). Their different views on many other issues, such as the dates or authors of books, in no way affects their essential core of beliefs which in the twentieth century were called the fundamentals.

Perhaps I am being a little too hard on Martin. Overall, he deals with the subject quite objectively, even-handed, and even sympathetically to the traditional view. However, his suggestion that Christians adopt a multiperspectivalism approach will not be welcomed by evangelicals. Multiperspectivalism advocates that non-experts "suspend belief among all kinds of expert interpretations, including religiously inspired ones " and "take a more relaxed, multiperspectival view that spans the gap between narrowly naturalistic interpretations and more expanded approaches" (p. 196).

What are the implications of Martin's suggestion? Multiperspectivalism enjoins Christians "not to assert the superiority of the perspective of their religious faith over that of secular reason" (p. 200). I doubt that many evangelicals could take such an approach since they are convinced that their "perspective" is accurate and will lead to salvation.

In summary, this is a helpful book which gives the current state of affairs about the search for the historical Jesus. Martin has done an excellent job of familiarizing himself with the various scholars and their views. He lucidly shares his research with helpful analysis and commentary.

Reviewed by Richard Ruble, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, AR 72761.

TRUTH DECAY: Defending Christianity against the Challenges of Postmodernism by Douglas Groothuis. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000. 280 pages, index, appendix. Paperback; $12.99. ISBN: 0830822283.

Groothuis, an associate professor of philosophy at Denver Seminary, pays tribute to Francis Schaefer and Carl F. H. Henry who taught him "to love the truth and understand the times." He is well qualified to address this topic.

The Enlightenment movement began in Europe in the seventeenth century and grew to fruition in the eighteenth. The dominant conviction of the movement was that right reasoning could lead to truth. Truth, of course, meant reality. The philosophical view known to us as "modernism" arose from the application of reason alone to test the prevailing world view of Roman Catholicism, as well as other past philosophical views of medieval times. Ancient dogmas were jettisoned as reason scrutinized them. Protestant Liberalism is the outgrowth of the modernist world view.

Postmodernism is the philosophical view that rejects the modernist concept of objective truth. It asserts that truth is a relative term and is produced by a particular human population or culture at a particular time. Reality is what the community accepts as reality. Reality is what is useful for the community. There is no "yardstick" or standard to judge between the views of truth held by one culture compared to that of another culture. To quote Groothuis: "Postmodernism, broadly understood, has disposed with truth and has replaced it with truths. Some take this as liberating, even for Christian endeavor. I take it to be very bad news philosophically, ethically, apologetically and theologically. The burden of this book is to show why" (p. 11). Groothuis makes the astute observation that "postmodernism is modernism gone to seed."

Groothuis hopes to spark national debate on two topics: (1) the value of postmodernism for Christianity; and (2) the truth of Christianity in relation to both modernism and postmodernism. In chapter one, Groothuis states: "Truth decay is a cultural condition in which the very idea of objective, absolute and universal truth is considered implausible." He defines truth as "what represents or corresponds to reality." He also deftly uses the law of contradiction to refute some postmodern concepts and uncover the unreasonableness of postmodern assertions. Groothuis quotes postmodernist Richard Rorty extensively and demonstrates how strongly he has been influenced by John Dewey and Friedrich Nietzsche

In the chapter on "Postmodernist Challenge to Theology," I think Groothuis is at his best. He ably defends propositional theological truths found in Scripture, as well as the view that "God does speak in ways which we can understand." He reminds us that Christianity is a revealed religion, not one dreamed up by human reflection. I found the chapter on "postmodernism and apologetics" extremely interesting since I enjoy participating in this debate. Some readers may be surprised that Groothuis believes Newbigin and Kenneson (contemporary Christian apologists) are weak in defending the objective, empirical facts of Christianity in dealing with unbelievers.

Groothuis is widely read in his field and presents his views in a professional manner. His writing style is lucid and concise. It would be helpful to have a dictionary handy when reading some portions of the book. I highly recommend the book to ASA members.

Reviewed by O. C. Karkalits, Dean, College of Engineering and Technology, McNeese State University, Lake Charles, LA 70605.

Social Sciences

AFTERWARDS, YOU'RE A GENIUS: Faith, Medicine, and the Metaphysics of Healing by Chip Brown. New York: Riverhead Books, 2000. 400 pages. Paperback; $13.95. ISBN: 0573227765.

Journalist and freelance writer Chip Brown provides an entertaining, informative, and thought-provoking exploration of the relationship between spirituality and healing. Written in a relaxed and conversational style, this work is largely autobiographical and represents a personal journey spread over several years. At the heart of Brown's journey is the struggle to find a path between the "physical-materialist and the idealist-transcendentalist positions" on healing (p. 282). However, in spite of his many years spent exploring, the author never appears to lose his skepticism. This is unfortunate because the resultant detachedness, which some might see as an attempt at objectivity, detracts from the spirit of openness that one would expect from a genuine explorer and gives the book an unfinished quality.

As his personal story unfolds, Brown introduces the reader to important figures in the history of holistic healing, such as Franz Anton Mesmer and Abraham Flexner. Similarly, Brown's recounting of his interviews with present day healers like Barbara Brennan and Shelby Hammitt give us good insight into the people as well as their methods. Brown spent extended periods as a patient and a student of many of these individuals, attending one on one sessions and group seminars all over the United States. In a few spots, Brown describes how healers were able to bring about significant physical or psychological changes in him, even if these were short lived, and it was these experiences that motivated him to keep searching.

If I understand Brown's point in this book, I think it is that healing is a process and, more importantly perhaps, a process of doubt. In this regard, he cites a lesson he learned from reading V. S. Naipul's A Bend in the River that beliefs can be shaken but faith is the result of being shaken (p. 379). Our belief in the physical-materialist world of modern scientific medicine can be shaken by its failure to meet our needs, and our faith in more idealist-transcendentalist alternatives can emerge as our needs are met in different ways. However, for Brown, there are no absolutes. You are never completely healed. Rather, healing is a lifelong process through which you come to terms with the self and the environment in which you live. Complacency and acceptance are the real sources of illness. It is questioning and searching that heals.

This is an interesting and enjoyable book for those who are on their own voyage of discovery and who, if only for the sake of knowing that they are not alone, would like to learn the details of someone else's struggles and triumphs. On a technical note, I hope that my copy, which was missing pages 247 through 278, does not reflect broader quality control problems at the publisher.

Reviewed by Robert A. Campbell, University College of Cape Breton, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada B1P 6L2.

THE AMERICAN PARADOX: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty by David G. Myers. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000. 414 pages, bibliographic notes and index. Hardcover; $29.95. ISBN: 0300081111.

Myers is John Dirk Werkman professor of psychology at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. He has published extensively in professional journals but is most well known for his best-selling textbooks, Psychology and Social Psychology. His clear, readable style and devotion to accuracy has produced books geared to a general audience, such as The Pursuit of Happiness: Discovering the Pathway to Fulfillment, Well-Being, and Enduring Personal Joy. He has made major contributions to the study and practice of integrating psychology and faith with books, including The Human Puzzle: Psychological Research and Christian Belief and Psychology: Through the Eyes of Faith with Malcolm A. Jeeves.

His current work mobilizes values-based social science research to shape social policy. After providing a clear statement of his values orientation and the importance of objective evidence in informing policy debate (a model statement for ASA members desiring to be forthcoming about the impact of values on their scientific work), he describes the current state of society while detailing his vision for the future. The communitarian philosophy he espouses balances the respect for personal rights common to individualistic societies with the respect for the larger social good characteristic of collectivist cultures. This philosophy provides a common perspective from which to view many characteristics of contemporary society.

Myers examines American society with regard to attitudes toward sexuality, marriage and children, the effects of violence, socially irresponsible affluence, the pervasiveness of individualism, the negative impact of the media, the possibility of character education and the potential positive impact of faith.

Although the title suggests a paradox between spiritual hunger and economic affluence, it is only paradoxical if you assume, as Job's comforters did, that spiritual health should equate with financial success. Also, the discussion of spiritual hunger is largely limited to the last chapter.

One of the recurrent threads throughout Myers' works is an appreciation of yin and yang, the dialectic of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. In this book, that theme is expressed as a naively optimistic attitude toward bi-partisanship that assumes that Dan Quayle and Hillary Rodham Clinton are actually on the same page due to superficially similar, but vaguely stated, goals. For example, Myers lists Pat Schroeder, William Bennett, Marian Wright Edelman, Gary Bauer, Bill Bradley, Jack Kemp, Louis Farrakhan, and Bill McCartney as supporting the concept of the nuclear family. It seems that Satan is in the specifics.

A similar simplification occurs in Myers' reading of the increased attention given to spirituality in contemporary society as indicative of openness to communitarian religion. This is particularly ironic since the form of spirituality popular in today's society is quite individualistic in contrast with communitarian religious practice.

The editing could have been much tighter in many sections, such as when imaginative turns of a phrase are used repeatedly and when a torrent of statistics are occasionally released making the argument difficult to follow. Readers familiar with Myers' writings will recognize much of the content here from previous works. The parts that are new, such as the social policy recommendations, are, in many cases, not fully developed (and in some cases are undercut by Myers' lack of confidence, e.g., "I am just a social scientist").

There are also sections, including those on media and work, that call for an examination of the ramifications of technology. Myers writes approvingly of the Canadian approach of suppressing materials that "subordinate, degrade or dehumanize women." However, if pornography and other negative media influences are soon delivered by the Internet (which is relatively immune to regulation), some of Myers' recommendations regarding changing the balance between First Amendment rights and social responsibilities, will no longer be practical. The web's movement toward even greater individualism also does not bode well for a communitarian philosophy. On the positive side, as Myers notes, technology may allow more parents to work from home--returning us, in many ways, to the child rearing advantages of an agrarian economy. In any case, technology will soon render many of these policy recommendations irrelevant.

This book provides a deeply researched communitarian critique of many social trends but, although Myers remains optimistic regarding the future of American society, most of the social policy recommendations discussed seem either impractical or ineffectual.

Reviewed by Rick Froman, Associate Professor of Psychology, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, AR 72761.


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Letters

On God, Science, and Perspectives

The September 2000 issue of Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith left me in a somewhat exasperated state. It seems to me that we are reworking the same issues in the relationship between science and religion as we were when I first subscribed to our Journal many years ago. It is almost boring. At the ripe age of 81 years, I look back at a lifelong interest in both, religion and science and am amazed that our leaders have advanced so little in understanding both.

 

I believe that God is the creator of the cosmos, and hence has established all the natural laws that comprise the various fields of knowledge that are open to our intelligence: mathematics, astronomy, all the areas of science, health, weather, communication, gravity, functioning of the human mind, etc., etc. That is, God has set in motion the whole cosmos and put the controls on it which keep it functioning properly as we experience it today. It is all the work of God.

 

Obviously this means that everything the scientists tell us describes God's handiwork and how it functions. Of course, scientists make mistakes, they still are far from possessing the ultimate truth, they interpret findings from their own presuppositions, and they frequently change their views. It is only a few years ago when they scoffed at the notion of shifting continents, and at the suggestion that the magnetic pole could reverse polarity. We have similar problems in interpreting our Christian faith. How does God control the cosmos, and what are his purposes in what he does? These are difficult questions for puny humans, and may be forever beyond human comprehension.

 

Some of the articles get tied up with the philosophical questions about what God can do and what he cannot do. They extend into questions like "Can there be death before sin?" I think that God had a good laugh at our periodical while he was perusing it over a cup of coffee during his morning break, in heaven. Of course, I know he is a rational God, but I suspect he plays a few jokes on us when he is tired of our puny philosophizing, when we try to restrict his abilities according to the limits we set on what he can do. Our wise philosophers are poor at defining God and putting limitations on what he can do.

 

Although our contributors are learned in science and in philosophy it seems they are still not able to understand the language of the Bible, especially Genesis. Genesis is not a treatise on science not is it a record of history, although it is more reliable in these areas than any contemporary pagan writings. As soon as the serpent talks with a human voice in Genesis 3 we know that we are dealing with a fable because we know that serpents do not talk. Also, when we compare the two creation accounts in Genesis 2 and 3 we realize that God is revealing the truth to us through paradox. As I have studied the literature of five different languages, I am clearly aware that truth is revealed through paradox, and if we study God's Word carefully we find that God uses this method throughout the Bible.

 

I shall end with a note on suffering. If we could go through life without suffering, especially unjust suffering, we would end up as spineless jellyfish. Evil and suffering force us to use our ability to choose, by means of which we create our character and personality, and rise above our animal nature. Through them God fashions us for the purposes He has in mind for us after we graduate from this earth.

 

Please excuse my language, I know it has been too harsh at times, but sometimes I just rebel at what I hear among "educated" Christians.

 

Daniel Heinrichs

ASA Retired Associate Member

103-333 Vaughan Street

Winnipeg, MB R3B 3J9 Canada

 

 

Behe and Intelligent Design Theory

In Michael Roberts article (PSCF 51 [December 1999]: 244-52) comparing Buckland's (1832) "Design" with that of Michael Behe,1 I believe Roberts fails to properly portray Behe's position. He refers to Behe's "two-tier view of creation, part designed and part naturalistic." Behe's position is very similar to that of my own,2 and though I have presented evidence, as has Behe, that certain processes were designed, I have tried to avoid stating that other processes were not designed. In fact, I have emphasized the traditional Christian statement: "that God is the Author, Sustainer and Finisher of all natural processes."

Roberts (p. 248) quotes a statement in Behe's book as follows: "If a biological structure can be explained in terms of those natural laws then we cannot conclude that it was designed" (p. 203). Roberts then indicates that this statement is equivalent to saying that "it was not designed." I submit that the second tier of Behe's position is that area where the evidence is simply not sufficient to say clearly whether a process or a structure was designed or whether it was not designed. Both Behe and I, as trained biochemists, acknowledge the role of chance (i.e., in mutations, etc.). We simply argue that chance is not sufficient to explain many of the complex processes or structures of living organisms.

Roberts makes specific reference to two structures that Behe supposedly said were a consequence of chance: cell membranes and hemoglobin. The words Behe used were: "it is difficult to infer intelligent design from cell membranes" (p. 206), and "Given the starting point of myoglobin, I would say that hemoglobin shows the same evidence for design as does the man in the moon: intriguing, but far from convincing" (p. 207). Behe is not saying that at some level, they might not have been designed, but that as a careful scientist, he does not see sufficient evidence to argue for design. I could take it a step further and note that for cell membranes and hemoglobin, the complexity of the amino acid sequences in the protein molecules of the membrane and in the alpha, beta, and gamma chains of hemoglobin, provides considerable evidence for design of the protein structures. Behe himself has noted the complexity of amino acid sequences in proteins in an earlier paper.3

In a previous paper,4 I suggested three possible levels whereby a Creator might be involved in supplying designs to organisms. These may be summarized as follows: Level A, "every one of these processes and every connective pathway in the possibility space of viable creatures is a mindfully designed provision from a Creator possessing unfathomable intelligence."5 Level B, "organisms possess the intrinsic capacity to organize themselves along developmental lines that have largely been predetermined by information that is either contained within or is assessed by the genome."6 Level C, "in the history of the origin and development of living organisms, there has been a continuing provision of new genetic information by an intelligent cause."7 Behe defines irreducible complexity as follows: " a simple system of well matched interacting parts that contribute to the basic function wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning" (p. 39). This definition is somewhat narrower and probably comes closer to my Level C, but it is certainly not meant to exclude Levels A and B as I have cited them from Van Till and Corey.

Consequently to suggest that design theorists must classify a process or a structure as either (a) designed or (b) not designed, would be a totally unreasonable requirement. Rather than a two-tiered view as described by Roberts, Behe's view is really three tiered: (1) Those structures or processes that show clear evidence of design; (2) those structures or processes where the evidence is insufficient to make a statement; and (3) those that may be explained by chance events. This three-tiered approach overcomes the primary criticism that Roberts has of Behe's view of intelligent design.

Notes and References

1M. Behe, Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (New York: Free Press, 1996).

2G. C. Mills, "A Theory of Theistic Evolution as an Alternative to the Naturalistic Theory," Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 47 (1995a): 112-22; also see ------, "Theistic Evolution: A Design Theory Utilizing Genetic Information," Christian Scholar's Review, XXIV (1995b): 444-58.

3M. Behe, "Experimental Support for Regarding Functional Classes of Proteins to be Highly Isolated from Each Other," in J. Buell and V. Hearn, ed., Darwinism: Science or Philosophy? (Richardson, TX: Foundation for Thought and Ethics, 1994), 60-71.

4G. C. Mills, "Similarities and Differences in Mitochondrial Genomes: Theistic Interpretations," Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 50 (1998): 286-91.

5H. J. Van Till and P. E. Johnson, "God and Evolution: An Exchange," First Things (June/July, 1993): 32-41, p. 38.

6M. A. Corey, Back to Darwin: The Scientific Case for Deistic Evolution (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1994), 309.

7G. C. Mills, "A Theory of Theistic Evolution," 114.

Gordon Mills

ASA Fellow

4207 Fleet Landing Blvd.

Atlantic Beach, FL 32233

 

Dissoulution?

There has to have been a multiple breakdown to produce part of Ben M. Carter's "The Salvation of Your Souls: But What Is a Soul?" (PSCF 52 [December 2000]: 242-54,). There are errors that a review or proofreading should have caught and corrected.

Psucho (pp. 243f) is not a noun. Indeed, I do not find a corresponding form for any ancient Greek noun, though it is a possible modern katharevusa dative of the adjective meaning "cool." It is a verb which means "to breathe or blow" (recognized on p. 243), "to make cool or cold," and hence "to refresh." In modern Greek, it means "to cool." In the New Testament, it occurs only once, tropistically, of waning love (Matt. 24:12). It occurs a few times, only three certain, in LXX.

Psuchon in 1 Peter 1:9 (p. 243) is the genitive plural of psuche. Only the latter is the citation form. The word may also be the genitive plural of psuchos, meaning "coolness," "chill," or "frost." This word, though not in the form Carter gives, occurs three times in the New Testament and three or four times in LXX. It has nothing to do with the soul except in being derived from the same root. What may mislead is that psychon looks like a second declension neuter. However, psuche is first declension and psuchos is third.

Psuche, like the Latin anima, basically meant "breath." Then, because breathing is connected to animal life, it came to mean the principle of life, then a living entity, and finally the continuing portion of a human being.

The situation with Aristotle is not quite as presented. Body is potentiality because it is on the material side. Soul is actuality because it is another term for the eidos or form. All that is combines form and matter except at the extremes: prime matter, which is totally irrational, and Pure Form, which is his deity. At the lowest level, prime matter is formed into the four elements, which in turn are formed into inanimate and animate entities. At the animate level, the eidos may be termed a soul.

In generation, according to Aristotle, the female provides the matter and the male provides the form. Among human beings, if the form is vigorous, the result will be a boy who will become a proper man. A lesser form will produce a girl or a slave. But, because the eidos or soul can only exist embodied, Aquinas, in adopting Aristotle as "the Philosopher," had a problem with an immaterial soul that survives the dissolution of the body. This is a major reason why Catholics usually hold that the soul of each infant is specially created rather than generated along with the body. The two views are known as creationism and traducianism, respectively. There is a third view, infusionism, which is more likely to be associated with metempsychosis.

Aquinas did not originate the notion that there is only one soul in a person (p. 245). He found that in Aristotle, where every entity has but one eidos, though the constituents may also have their forms. Some living things have only a nutritive soul, while others have a soul that has both nutritive and sensitive powers, etc.

Noting such problems in matters with which I am familiar, I can only hope that those knowledgeable in other areas will not find additional errors.

David F. Siemens, Jr.

ASA Fellow

2703 E. Kenwood St.

Mesa, AZ 85213-2384

dfsiemensjr@juno.com

 

 

Repeating Error: Another Perspective

After carefully reading John McIntyre's communication, "Repeating the Catholics' Galileo Error," (PSCF 52, no. 4 [December 2000]: 255-9) and discussing it with him at length, it is clear to me that McIntyre's position has some serious, perhaps fatal, flaws:

1. McIntyre says "Christians should wait for the scientific verdict before interpreting Scripture." [p. 256] I understand this to mean (and McIntyre confirmed my correct understanding in his final response to me) that whatever topic we might choose to address from Scripture, if the scientific community should choose to address the same topic from their materialistic perspective, the church is obliged to back off and defer to the scientists. I am unable to see how this differs from the rightly criticized "God-of-the-gaps" mentality, where the church backed off of every theological statement as science encroached on it. McIntyre was unable to help me see the difference, if he even tried to do so.

2. The atheists in the scientific community have a (materialistic) "scientific" explanation for every phenomenon of our existence. Since they are (by definition) offering a "scientific verdict," the church therefore is obliged to retreat from "all" pronouncements about anything at all--except perhaps a Mammy Yokum-ish "Good is better than evil, because it's nicer." This is the same as no church at all, and the atheists win. McIntyre did not reply to this point.

3. McIntyre offers essentially a David Hume definition of science, the "faithful report of the senses." Hume argues from the uniformity of the senses against the possibility of miracle, and I see no way to refute that from McIntyre's position. The "faithful report of the senses" tells us that the only way to get wine from water is to pour it on the ground in the vicinity of grapevines, wait some months, gather the fruit and crush it so that the yeast on the surface will ferment the juice, then wait some more for the flavors to chemically interact. Scripture has a different story, which McIntyre would have us interpret in the light of the "faithful report of the senses." In other words, it did not happen that way. The "faithful report of the senses" (aka science) tells us that a human body in which the heart and brainwave activity has been stopped for three days cannot be resurrected. If Christ be not raised from the dead, then we are yet in our sins, and our faith is futile. McIntyre did not reply to this point.

4 The Big Bang theory is not the "faithful report of the senses" but an interpretation of an interpretation of the dials and printouts of our instruments. Nobody has ever "sensed" the 3-degree radiation with their senses, and they certainly have never sensed the Big Bang. Except God. McIntyre was unable (or unwilling) to explain to me why we should believe the interpretations of the cosmologists over against the clear historical record offered by God. It is important to realize that in the Galileo example offered by McIntyre, the church attempted to interpret poetry as history; McIntyre now seems to wish to re-interpret history as poetry. Both are invalid interpretive techniques, whether applied to Scripture or to the musings of atheistic cosmologists. The Big Bang theory may be the best science we have today, but the historical grammatical interpretation is the best exegesis we have--and we use it to read the scientific papers.

5 The Galileo example cited by McIntyre is misleading as presented, as he admitted to me by email. Hummel clearly points out that the church actually sided with the scientific community in this case. For fifteen hundred years the "faithful report of the senses" was (and remains today) that the earth is stationary and the sun and stars move around it, and this was the position of the scientific community until Copernicus thought up an abstraction based on Scripture, in which he supposed that circles better reflected the glory of God in his creation than the complex epicycles of the Ptolemaic model. With Galileo the church followed exactly the procedure McIntyre recommends, and they were wrong. McIntyre did not reply to this point.

6 This is not to say that the Big Bang is wrong or that the Recent Creationists are right; there are other, more compelling arguments for making that decision. McIntyre chose rather a weak argument to defend his perspective in a very important controversy. I find it particularly disturbing that PSCF regularly publishes papers arguing this position, and says "we've seen enough of this discussion" when I ask why the other side is not given more print.

Tom Pittman

P.O. Box 6539

San Jose, CA 95160-6539

72457.2237@compuserve.com

 

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

ASA Associate Member

Berea College

Berea, KY 40404

Robert_schneider@berea.edu