Book Reviews for June 2000 from PSCF
Invisible Walls: Why We Ignore the Damage We Inflict on the Planet Ö and Ourselves 127 Peter Seidel
Gardening for the Future of the Earth 128 Howard-Yana Shapiro and John Harrisson
Bioethics: A Christian Approach in a Pluralistic Age 128 Scott B. Rae and Paul M. Cox
Christianity and the Images of Science 129 Granville C. Henry
Science, Life, and Christian Belief: A Survey of Contemporary Issues 131 Malcolm A. Jeeves and R. J. Berry
Big Bang, Small Voice: Reconciling Genesis and Modern Science 132 P. G. Nelson
God, Humanity, and the Cosmos: A Textbook in Science and Religion 133 Christopher Southgate, et al.
The Bible and Healing: A Medical and Theological Commentary 134 John Wilkinson H
How To Stay Christian in College 135 J. Budziszewski
Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials 135 Wendy Kaminer
The Darwinian Revolution: Science Red in Tooth and Claw, 2d ed. 136 Michael Ruse
Evangelicals in Science in Historical Perspective 137 David N. Livingstone, D. G. Hart, and Mark A. Noll, eds.
The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi 138 Michael R. Molnar
Mystery of Mysteries: Is Evolution a Social Construction? 139 Michael Ruse
The Creation/Evolution Controversy: A Battle for Cultural Power 140 Kary Doyle Smout
Prometheus Bedeviled: Science and the Contradictions of Contemporary Culture 141 Norman Levitt
Bright Shadow Of Reality: Spiritual Longing in C. S. Lewis 142 Corbin Scott Carnell
The Jesus Myth 143 G. A. Wells
Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology and Counseling, 2d ed. 144 David G. Benner and Peter C. Hill, eds.
Secular Mind 145 Robert Coles
INVISIBLE WALLS: Why We Ignore the Damage We Inflict on the Planet Ö and Ourselves by Peter Seidel. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1998. 334 pages, index. Hardcover; $32.95. ISBN: 157392217X.
Seidel is an environmental architect who lives in Cincinnati. The title, Invisible Walls, Seidel's view that humanity is not acting to prevent the "rape of our planet" due to blindness to the urgency of our plight. Our beliefs in "progress and confidence in technology to save us" are misplaced ideas acting as "invisible walls" that keep us from planning now to prevent future disaster. These "invisible walls" fall into five categories: (1) humans are the product of evolutionary development that brings some "baggage" we must shed to prepare for the future; (2) our concepts of reality and our place in it; (3) our beliefs; (4) the makeup of our social structures, including governments and other organizations; and (5) our ethical systems that do not foster harmony among people or between people and nature (p. 19).
Many of Seidel's ideas are worthy of serious consideration. He rightly deplores the follies of our consumer-oriented society. Pollution abatement would not be done without coercive laws of the government. We throw away enough food products to feed an underdeveloped nation. Humans are upsetting the balance of nature by "slashing and burning" forests. Seidel is convinced that burning fossil fuels is seriously hastening global warming. We need alternate energy sources to avoid producing more carbon dioxide.
Seidel spends many pages in chapter two explaining the limitations of human brains, which are products of unguided evolution. According to Seidel, "Ö our brains are imprecise and limited." He also spends many pages defining the "bad" and "good" ideas and beliefs held by most people.
Seidel's list of "Bad" ideas (beliefs) is: (1) The idea of a Creator; (2) The Bible teaching that humankind should "exploit the earth"; (3) Religious teachings that are opposed to the laws of nature; (4) Humans should own animals or other people (slavery); (5) The Ten Commandments, because they deal only with humanity's relationship to God and other humans, neglecting the relationship of humans to nature; (6) Feminine, conservative, cooperative, intuitive qualities are superior to masculine, aggressive, competitive, and rational qualities; and (7) Unbridled consumerism (though popular, is wasting our natural resources).
Seidel's list of "Good" ideas (beliefs) is: (1) Evolution is a law of nature and humans are a product of unguided evolution; (2) Respect for nature and planet earth; (3) Schumacher's thesis: "small is beautiful" (1923); and (4) Respect for the rights of future humans (as well as those of other species).
Aside from evolutionary naturalism, what other assumptions does Seidel make to bolster his case? A few assumptions are: (1) Global warming as a result of the increase in CO2 content in the atmosphere will (if unheeded) do great harm to nature; (2) The current rate of loss of topsoil (in the U. S., five tons of topsoil per ton of wheat) if unchecked, will result in great food shortages sometime in the future; (3) Seidel accepts the theory of Malthus: increasing population proceeds faster than food production, and the planet cannot survive without checking population increase; (4) A world government is mandatory.
What does Seidel recommend that we do about the alarming destruction of our planet? First we must "accept our responsibility to establish stability between nature and the new powers we have unleashed" (e.g., indiscriminate location of freeways, and rapid depletion of natural resources to promote a "better economy"). Second, professional societies of scientists, engineers, and others should make emphatic public statements and take out full-page advertisements in newspapers and magazines where they can clarify hazy issues such as climate change. Third, set up a "think tank" of prestigious scientists and thinkers who should launch conferences, seminars, and short courses to educate the general public about the problems facing Earth. Fourth, promote peace among nations to circumvent the horrors of war that inflict damage on our planet.
If Seidel plans a second edition of his book, I suggest that he develop an answer to a question he has not addressed in the current work. The question is: If our current human brain is unsuited to handle the destruction of our planet, how do we decide if Seidel (possessed of the same evolutionary produced brain) has managed to overcome this limitation? How can he trust his conclusions, since he has stated (p. 61) that "evolution has found a system of thinking for us that largely circumvents the need for logic"?
I found the book interesting reading, but somewhat tiring since Seidel spends much space in belaboring the same point, namely, humans are content to put off until tomorrow thinking about future problems. I recommend the book to ASA readers, but they should read it with the realization that Seidel rejects some basic Christian axioms.
Reviewed by O. C. Karkalits, College of Engineering and Technology, McNeese State University, Lake Charles, LA, 70609.
GARDENING FOR THE FUTURE OF THE EARTH by Howard-Yana Shapiro and John Harrisson. New York: Bantam Books, 2000. 240 pages. Paperback; $19.95. ISBN: 0553375334.
This helpful book starts with an undebatable statement: "The key to the future of the world lies with gardening." Then Shapiro and Harrisson show the reader how to "create natural bounty in your own backyard and help save the planet one seed at a time." Shapiro is Agricultural Director of Seeds of Change, the largest certified organic seed company in the USA; Harrisson is a freelance food writer. Shapiro is considered an expert in his knowledge of sustainable agricultural systems, and he has shared his expertise widely via various media.
Reasonably priced and beautifully produced, this book has full-color photographs, fine drawings, and halftones scattered throughout. It shows the reader how to understand and apply principles from organic, permaculture, biointensive, biodynamic, and kinship gardening to the production of flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Among techniques discussed are designing gardens, building soil sans chemical fertilizers, planting and pruning, and seed saving.
Following its eight chapters are a bibliography, resource list, and index. The resource list gives addresses for seed and tree companies and organizations which can supply additional information. Scattered throughout the book to enlighten and entertain are engaging quotes. For example, Ben Franklin: "When the well's dry, we know the worth of water." Or Will Rogers: "They're making more people every day, but they ain't making no more dirt." Finally, Desmond Morris: "The city is not a concrete jungle, it is a human zoo."
Whether you are a gardener or not, this book should hold some interest to you if you are interested in the quality and quantity of the food supply, the ecology of the planet, tending planet earth over which humanity has been given responsibility, and self-sustaining gardening.
Reviewed by Richard Ruble, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, AR 72761.
BIOETHICS: A Christian Approach in a Pluralistic Age by Scott B. Rae and Paul M. Cox. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999. 326 + ix pages, index. Paperback; $24.00. ISBN: 0802845959.
Rae and Cox are both professors at Biola, and have other books to their credit. Rae has written two previous books on bioethics. This joint offering seems to be designed for use as a text in a medical ethics course. (It is unfortunate that books of this type are not called medical ethics, leaving bioethics for the few books that deal with both environmental and medical ethics.) It could also find a place on reading lists for students and professors in ethics and would be of some interest to most members of this Affiliation.
My opinion of this book is high enough that I am seriously considering using it as a text. However, anyone wanting to use the case study approach to teaching will look for another book.
Though they compare all the major medical ethical philosophies rigorously and fairly, Rae and Cox are forthright enough about their Christian approach that not many professors in secular institutions will use the book. They make their own ethical beliefs quite clear. For example, they state: "There is no such thing as a potential person" (p. 86); "Patient autonomy has gone out of control" (p. 198); "Ö in some sense the notion of death with dignity is an oxymoron" (p. 229). Rae and Cox are not willing to say that Jehovah's Witnesses or Christian Scientists should always be allowed to act on their beliefs, though they seem to feel that informed orthodox Christians should be so allowed. In other words, to them, every belief is not right. Scripture is mentioned where appropriate.
Bioethics is divided into three parts: (1) "Influential Approaches to Bioethics," (2) "Pillars of a Christian Approach," and (3) "Employing a Christian Approach." The first part considers several thinkers in depth. These include Catholics, William E. May and Richard McCormick; Protestants, Paul Ramsey and James Gustafson; two Jews; Tristram Englehardt, a postmodern thinker; and Tom Beauchamp and James Childress, secular bioethicists. All of those listed are among the most important writers in the field. Their thought is analyzed carefully and thoroughly. For instance, the approach of Beauchamp and Childress, authors of the most influential bioethics textbook, is shown to lack a secure foundation, and assumes that medicine is value-neutral, which it is not. All those considered are North American, and no feminist (or female) thinker is considered in this section. (No prominent feminist or Old World thinker comes to mind, however. There has been some important bioethical writing done by female authors, although not nearly as important, to this date, as that of the males listed.)
The second part, the longest, includes chapters on "Medical Technology in Theological Perspective," "The Image of God and the Sacredness of Human Life," "The Personhood of the Patient," "Autonomy and the Common Good," "Death as a Conquered Enemy," and "Distributive Justice and Health Care Delivery." Each of these topics is examined from a Christian perspective.
The last part has brief analyses of how Christians in a secular society should deal with the issue of the moral status of the fetus, physician-assisted suicide, and surrogate motherhood. It includes three case studies for student analysis, and also presents a framework showing how to handle medical ethics cases.
The book has sufficient sources and footnoting. There is no bibliography or reading list, and there are no questions at the end of the chapters. Chapter summaries are good. It is well written, and about as simply written as could be expected. There are no diagrams or figures. [The index is not thorough enough. For example, Exod. 21:22-25 is given almost a page, but there are no index entries for Exodus, miscarriage, premature birth, or Mosaic Law that refer to this discussion.]
All in all, this is a solid attempt to write an unabashedly Christian medical ethics text, one that is scholarly and presents other points of view. Would that secular thinkers presented Christian views of medical ethics as well as Rae and Cox present the secular.
Reviewed by Martin LaBar, Professor of Science, Southern Wesleyan University, Central, SC 29630.
Faith & Science
CHRISTIANITY AND THE IMAGES OF SCIENCE by Granville C. Henry. Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 1998. viii +248 pages, index, illustrated. Paperback; $18.00. ISBN: 1573121843.
Henry, a retired professor of science and mathematics with graduate training in theology, has produced a helpful and interesting undergraduate text concerned with understanding how scientific theories have affected the ways we think about God. The author of numerous articles on philosophical aspects of the faith-and-science dialogue, he has also written books on mathematics and Christian belief (Logos, 1976) and on Whiteheadian thought and computers (Forms of Concresence, 1993).
I found the title phrase "images of science" misleading. I was expecting Henry to offer analyses and interpretations of "scientific" images of the natural world provided, e.g., by the Hubble Space Telescope, or photographs of subatomic particle collisions, or even phase diagrams of nonlinear dynamical systems. Or perhaps he might discuss the contemporary iconography of science and technology, or pervasive depictions of science and scientists in popular culture. I was even hopeful that he might interact with the new historiography of visual representations of scientific thought, practice, and discovery. Instead, what the reader will find in the text are fifty-eight illustrations/drawings/diagrams ranging from the stunningly simple ("point" and "right triangle," p. 41) through the problematic ("gene," p. 70) to the metaphorically schematic ("soul," p. 115).
One soon notes that Henry's visual and sometimes verbal "images" are by and large not historical artifacts but geometric reconstructions or symbolizations of past scientific reasoning concerning physical or mathematical concepts, such as four-dimensional space-time. In his historical ruminations, Henry observes that different "images"-- for example, spiritualism, mechanism, materialism, determinism--generate different philosophical perspectives on the sciences. Thus, by "images of science" he means ideas, models, intuitions, ideologies, and interpretive world views that became attached to--and are also detachable from--evolutionary biology, say, or physics. One of Henry's purposes is to suggest "more appropriate" images of science that would allow for a more fruitful relationship with Christian belief.
The book is divided into three parts. The first deals with ancient mathematics and astronomy, and their impacts upon early orthodox theology. The second surveys "classical" scientific and theological issues related to Newtonian mechanics, Darwinian evolution, and psychology (including a brief but stimulating discussion of souls and computers). The third section focuses on the twentieth century: the implications of relativity, quantum theory, and big bang cosmology, culminating in "A Christian doctrine of creation" (chap. 12) and a summary essay on "Faith and Reason" (chap. 13). There is also a short bibliographic essay, followed by a 229-item list of sources. Henry cites texts from the ancient to the postmodern, from introductory to advanced levels, and includes work from evangelical, creationist, and intelligent design camps.
Henry shapes his overall account of science in relation to Christianity according to three historical theses. Thesis 1 states: "Christians normally accept good science. They may then see science as part of theology and contained in the Bible" (p. 21). Thus, many church people accepted (and baptized) ideas from Greek mathematical logic or astronomy or physics--and later revisions during the Scientific Revolution--and proceeded to read them into their Bibles and write them into their theology.
Thesis 2 explains alleged "conflicts between science and religion" as conflict between new science and an older version of science, now hallowed and obscured as orthodox belief. Thus, modern creationism is seen as a "Newtonian" rather than as a biblical critique of Darwinism. Thesis 3 states that new sciences are "necessarily cloaked" in philosophical concepts that can influence theology. The challenge, then, is to forge a "reconciliation" of science and theology through an "appropriate" philosophical framework.
For Henry, the process thought ("panentheism") pioneered by Whitehead and Hartshorne is "the best philosophical medium in which to express biblical Christianity" (p. 10), and he thus interprets both religious and scientific ideas from within that perspective. Red flags might wave for many readers at this point, though I would agree with Henry that events, not "things" are what the world is made of, and that process theology offers a rich metaphysical understanding of God's complex relationship to and activity within nature. Henry is deeply concerned with being faithful to biblical "images" of God. I find he has a "high" view of Holy Scripture as authoritative and divinely inspired, though he is no inerrantist. It is always tricky trying to reconstruct theology in light of new science or new- fashioned philosophy. Some readers might question the wisdom of adopting a post-Newtonian physics of time in seeking to understand what "soul" is, for instance. Granted, the classical (and nonbiblical) view of soul as a continuous, immortal substance is probably better discarded in favor of a "sequence of discrete events" (chap. 7). But then must we not re-revise our theology when current physical theory starts looking dated? We should be careful what we hitch our theological wagons to.
As a historian of science, I am always glad to see scientists paying attention to history, but this can have its downside. Thus, Henry recycles (from Bertrand Russell's 1935 Religion and Science, who probably took it from the old and unreliable Warfare of Andrew Dickson White) the vague and tired line tossed off by Martin Luther in the course of one of his Table Talks, about Copernicus as "That fool [who] wants to turn the whole art of astronomy upside down." (I am quoting from the earlier report of Aurifaber, rather than the later one by Lauterbach.) Luther's hasty opinion from 1539--i.e., before the publication of Rheticus' authorized Narratio Prima (1540), showing the compatibility of heliocentrism and the Bible, and before Copernicus' own De Revolutionibis (1543)--was hardly influential. Henry might have done well to consult some of the literature on science and the Reformation.
Similarly, his basic discussion of Newton's theology (chap. 3) is uninformed by historians of science's recent work. And chapter 5, "Theological Responses to Darwinism," completely avoids the rich historiography on this subject, and is consequently thin and truncated. Students need to be aware that references to historical episodes in introductory texts are no substitute for studying the results of careful historical research grounded in primary source documents.
But to end on a positive note, this is a clearly written book that deserves to be read. Henry has an educator's concern (one that is also pastoral) for avoiding unnecessary crises of faith among young adult believers who first seriously encounter science. He offers short but valuable discussions on important topics, such as free will and causal determinism (chap. 8). And he effectively argues that theologies of creation throughout the centuries have been formulated within, and shaped by, whatever passed as authoritative science at the time. Much current debate about "creation" across the theological spectrum is, I would agree, rooted in old "Newtonian" conceptions of God, nature, and scientific knowledge.
Reviewed by Paul Fayter, Natural Sciences/Humanities,York University, Toronto, Canada.
SCIENCE, LIFE, AND CHRISTIAN BELIEF: A Survey of Contemporary Issues by Malcolm A. Jeeves and R. J. Berry. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998. 305 pages, notes, bibliography, index. Paperback. ISBN: 0801022266.
Jeeves, an honorary research professor at the University of St. Andrews, is the president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Jeeves has written The Scientific Enterprise and Christian Faith and Human Nature at the Millennium. Berry is a professor of genetics at the University College, London, who has published God and Evolution.
This is a revised and expanded update of Jeeves' earlier book, The Scientific Enterprise and Christian Faith. The main motivation for the rewrite is that there have been advances in theological interpretation and the public understanding of science. Thus, it addresses contemporary issues at the science and faith interface, concentrating on natural science. Some attention is given to social psychology from a science perspective.
The principal aim of the book is "to set down with supporting arguments on why we believe that science is a true friend of biblical faith and not, as is often asserted, in conflict with it." Thus, the authors seek to validate strongly the complementary model of divine action expounded in the first edition. They have successfully presented recent changes in the understanding of the science "within a coherent picture of a Universe created and upheld by a God."
Jeeves and Berry discuss Hebrew-Christian and Greek influences on modern science (chap. 1), the relationship of God to his creation (chap. 2), the nature of the scientific method (chap. 3), the nature of explanation, models, images, and reality in science and religion (chap. 4), issues that arise in the physical realm (chap. 5), biological sciences (chap. 6 and 9), evolution and the biblical portraits of human nature (chap. 7 and 8), psychology and neuroscience (chap. 10 and 11), a biblical view of environmentalism (chap. 12), and principles to guide our practice as Christian scientists (chap. 13).
At the start of each chapter, a brief summary is given to indicate the questions addressed and the arguments offered. Most chapters have a conclusion that emphasizes the authors' main point that the scientific description is complementary and not contradictory to the Bible.
This book is one of the few books written by working Christian research scientists. While it can make important contributions, there is a minor weakness in relating Christ's work to nature. For example, this is a logically weak argument: "The point is that if the Fall depended on a genetical change, it could be dealt with biochemically, with no need for Christ's redeeming work. It must necessarily be concluded that the Fall was not a genetical event" (p. 165). It also fails to accurately represent theologian Jurgen Moltemann's position on some issues (pp. 220, 236). It says: "Jurgen Moltemann (1985) has written extensively and helpfully about creation, but is weak on how he regards God's acts in the world and about judgment on earth (Walsh, 1987; Deane-Drummond, 1992)." To my knowledge, however, he clearly affirmed God's acts in the world through Christ and offers his eschatological perspective in his major publication, The Theology of Hope (New York: Harper & Row, 1965).
The authors wish "this book to be helpful to those who organize and contribute to courses in the general area of science and religion." They have included numerous quotations and references to direct more interested readers to the right sources. This book provides a comprehensive survey of contemporary issues at the science and faith interface. It will make readers come away with a feeling of awe for God's majesty. At the same time, it will challenge readers to open their minds to the results of empirical study based on careful scientific investigation.
Reviewed by Eunjeong Lee, 1400 El Camino Village Dr. #1205, Houston, TX 77058.
HOW BLIND IS THE WATCHMAKER? Theism or Atheism: Should Science Decide? by Neil Broom. Aldershot, England: Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 1998. 226 pages. Hardcover. ISBN: 184014517X.
This book concerns a scientist's world view of living things. Broom discusses in depth issues related to recent scientific findings. He shows that in many cases they are interpreted within a materialistic dogma that pervades a great deal of published "science." He proposes that there is an alternate view, held by those with a belief in a Creator, that needs to be discussed.
The author quotes extensively from the writings of others, both scientists and theologians. This provides the reader with the means to further explore these areas of interest. The illustrations throughout the book are appropriate and augment its value. A strength in his argument is that the terms he uses are carefully defined. This is helpful for those less familiar with this important field of study. Broom shows empathy with many of the concepts outlined by Polyani in his writings.
The thesis that emerges is that there is a meaning in nature. It goes beyond the bare facts discovered by the methods and tools of science. From this position, Broom contends that the life sciences do not support the materialistic world view depicted in many books today. He challenges the claim that these findings have dispensed with the need for the activity of God in nature. Yet in his view, science is actually inadequate to evaluate this issue, and this is not its purpose.
The author explores the function of some specific cellular systems of living things. He describes the working of chloroplasts and the DNA template. From published studies, he shows that, even for the simplest cell, these highly complex biological systems and pathways must all be present for it to function. In most cases, the components cannot be brought together or added sequentially. In many of these living organisms, the complex cellular systems described are consistent with design being an integral part of the mechanisms. Yet, any place for a transcendent, personal Being in the cosmos is denied by many scientists. Even the complexity and importance of these complete systems may be downplayed when only the individual components, analyzed in isolation, are discussed. In these circumstances, they may even appear to fit the materialistic, humanist plan. Broom draws the attention of the reader to the fact that materialistic humanists have not explained the origin of life.
Next he examines the increasing complexity of life forms in the fossil record. The neo-Darwinist equates what has been found with a nondirected, random variation in the genetic material of organisms, resulting in an uninterrupted sequence from the primitive to the complex. This view Broom rejects. He assesses and counters the arguments postulated by Richard Dawkins of Oxford and concludes that the Watchmaker was not blind.
This book is not about a "God of the gaps." The contents invite the reader to reflect on the premise that in nature we see an intentionality of purpose. Broom, in my opinion, has done his task well. I enjoyed reading what he had to say. I recommend the book to others, materialists and Christians alike. They will find much of interest for ongoing discussion.
Reviewed by Ken Mickleson, 21 Windmill Road, Mt Eden, Auckland 3, New Zealand.
BIG BANG, SMALL VOICE: Reconciling Genesis and Modern Science by P. G. Nelson. Caithness, Scotland: Whittles Publishing Services, 1999. 157 pages, index. Paperback; £4.50.
The author is a lecturer in inorganic and theoretical chemistry at the University of Hull. He is also a lay preacher who has written other books on the relationship between science and the Christian faith. This book is concerned with the tension that is often felt between the biblical account of creation as described in the book of Genesis and the explanation that is provided by modern science. As the title implies, the author's goal is to reconcile these two accounts so that non-Christians might be more willing to consider the claims of Christianity. He also seeks to provide possible solutions for Christians who believe that the Bible has been inspired by God and is therefore authoritative in its teaching.
The book is divided into four parts with part one being by far the longest. Nelson begins by providing the reader with an overview of the scientific account of origins. This overview includes summaries of the present-day scientific explanations of cosmic, geological, chemical, and biological evolution. This is followed by a summary of the biblical account of origins that is provided in the first eleven chapters of the book of Genesis. Part one concludes with a chapter on the date and extent of the flood with evidence being provided for each of a local, a widespread, and a global flood.
In part two, Nelson assumes that the modern day scientific account of origins is correct and examines how far the biblical account can be reconciled to it without weakening the authority of the Bible. This harmonization of the biblical account to the scientific explanation is accomplished by suggesting that the biblical account may contain figurative language, which means that the literalness of Genesis 1-11 should not be pressed too far. Even if this is the case, the author argues that these chapters contain important theological truths that lay the foundation for the rest of the Bible. Nelson also addresses this question: If the scientific account of origins is correct, what part did God play in it? He answers this question by suggesting that God is capable of determining the overall course of evolution while still allowing indeterminate processes to occur along the way. If all living organisms have evolved by random mutations and natural selection, they have done so according to a particular series of mutations that have been chosen by God. Thus, God could have created the universe in the way that science describes. Nelson admits that this explanation does not in and of itself harmonize science and the Bible since it makes God responsible for suffering. Unfortunately, he does not address the issue of God and suffering anywhere in the book and yet this issue must be confronted if the two accounts are to be adequately reconciled.
In the third part of the book, it is assumed that the biblical account of origins, taken literally, is correct. Nelson then examines how far the scientific account can be reconciled to it without distorting science. He first challenges the assumption that there is a continuous correspondence between scientific models of reality and reality itself. He goes on to challenge two other important scientific assumptions: (1) the universe has conformed to the same laws throughout its history; and (2) nothing has ever happened contrary to these laws. If these assumptions are relaxed, Nelson argues that the scientific account of origins can be reconciled to the biblical one. The way he attempts to accomplish this harmonization is by assuming that God created the universe in six days several thousand years ago, but that he created it with an apparent history that it did not in reality have. By day seven of creation, the distant galaxies would have been moving away from each other, trees would have had rings, the earth would have had smooth rocks on it, and so on. Nelson goes on to explain that the universe as created would have been in an uncursed state, but that God changed the natural order after the Fall.
At the end of this section, two important questions raised by this explanation are addressed. The first question is: If God created plants and animals a few thousand years ago, why should there be fossilized remains dating before this? Secondly, if God furnished rocks with fossils after the Fall and researchers are mistaken when they find these fossils and take them to be of creatures that once existed, doesn't this make God a deceiver? While Nelson provides answers to these questions, these answers are brief and in my opinion, they are less than convincing. The book ends with a brief chapter in which the author concludes that Christians should be free to consider both evolutionary and anti-evolutionary theories of origins in a spirit of tolerance and with a deep sense of mystery.
Nelson makes it very clear in the first chapter of the book that his purpose in writing is to make the discussion accessible to as many readers as possible. He therefore limits his use of technical language, and many of the books to which he refers are books written at an introductory or popular level. However, footnotes are included on nearly every page of the text and the bibliography at the end of the book is quite extensive. It also contains many illustrations as well as a multitude of biblical references. While those who are already familiar with these issues may not find much that is new in this book, it does serve as a brief but thorough introduction to the biblical and modern day scientific accounts of origins.
Reviewed by J. David Holland, Biology Instructor, Springfield College in Illinois, Springfield, IL 62702.
GOD, HUMANITY, AND THE COSMOS: A Textbook in Science and Religion by Christopher Southgate, et al. Edinburgh, Scotland: T & T Clark, 1999. 449 pages, index. Paperback; £17.50. ISBN: 1563382881.
There has been a renaissance of courses in American colleges and universities in science and religion, due in no small part to the innovative programs underwritten by the Templeton Foundation. This is a textbook designed for such courses by a team of British authors who have been exploring aspects of the interaction for quite some time. Rather than each chapter being written solely by a single expert, the authors have worked the text over as a team with five of the eight authors acting as co-authors and co-editors for most of the volume. Single authorities that used input from the five co-editors wrote three chapters. Southgate, a research biochemist and theologian, acted as the Coordinating Editor. The result is a wonderfully cohesive overview for the uninitiated of the major themes and currents in science and religion. The authors consider: (1) the science and religion debate; (2) three types of science and how they interact with religion and theological claims; (3) theological resources for making a model of God, humanity, and the cosmos; (4) science's place in society; and (5) how the debate between science and religion is likely to develop.
The first chapter characterizes the general nature of the debate and uses some case studies to reinforce major points. The concepts of truth and reason in both science and theology are next considered, including the pragmatic-idealist approach of Nicolas Rescher. Then theology and the new physics are discussed with much attention to the anthropic principle and chaos theory. Next a chapter takes up issues related to theology and evolutionary biology, with particular attention to reductionism and human evolution. The interplay between psychology and theology is next considered. We then move to a discussion of models of God in an ecological age, and an excellent chapter on divine action framed as a test case. The final section of the book takes up a variety of miscellaneous but important topics such as science and education, Islam and science, technology and Christianity, biotechnology, and the future challenges for the relationship between science and religion.
Each chapter is succinct and split into smaller units. Conclusions are always summarized at the end of each chapter and sets of questions for discussion or thought are provided. Citations throughout the book guide the reader to an appropriate bibliographic source for an extended treatment of the topic in view. This text is recommended for undergraduate or graduate courses in science and religion as a core text. Instructors can supplement this book with one or two monographs that feature specific topics in greater detail.
Reviewed by Dennis W. Cheek, Director of Information Services & Research, RI Department of Education; Adjunct Associate Professor of Education, University of RI; and Pastor, New Beginnings Christian Fellowship, Mansfield, MA 02048.
THE BIBLE AND HEALING: A Medical and Theological Commentary by John Wilkinson. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998. 294 pages + notes and references, bibliography, and index. Hardcover; $25.00. ISBN: 080283826X.
During the Charismatic Renewal of the 1960s and 1970s in this country, I, as a Christian physician, became interested in the reports of "faith healing." Many questions were raised, including "Is the gift of supernatural healing active in the church today?" and "If so, how does it relate to orthodox medical treatment?" I spent seven years on the faculty of a charismatic medical school, and still did not have a succinct, simple answer to those questions. So, when I saw Wilkinson's book available for review, I jumped at the chance. Maybe this book could help my understanding.
Wilkinson is a physician from Scotland, who spent much of his life as a medical missionary in Africa. He is also a theologian and biblical scholar with training evidently in Greek and Hebrew. Most of his book involves an in-depth study of what the Bible says about health and healing, and a small portion describes the experience of healing in the post-apostolic church.
Part One explores the biblical understanding of health. Both the Old and New Testaments describe health and healing in terms of the whole person, soul and spirit as well as the body. Good health means harmony, completeness, and a right relationship with God. Disease occurs when that relationship is broken. Restoring health, therefore, involves restoring a right relationship with God, pre-eminently through the sacrifice of Jesus.
Part Two discusses disease and healing in the Old Testament. Wilkinson goes into detail describing the diseases reported and speculating on what modern diseases they represent. However, he emphasizes that the meaning and purpose of the disease are more important than the disease itself. There are two essential points, he says: "God is in control of all natural phenomena," and God can use "those natural phenomena in the training and discipline of his people" (p. 52).
Part Three describes healing in the Gospels. Wilkinson first emphasizes the extent of healing in the Gospels: between 10% and 20% of the verses in the four Gospels concern healing. Then he goes into considerable detail in defining the different words used by the Gospel writers for "healing." He evaluates the twenty-six healings described by indicating who took the initiative, when the healings occurred, the response of the audience, what the motive was, and what methods were used. In summary, there was not one specific model that was followed. Wilkinson then describes and draws conclusions from three cases: the epileptic boy, the bent woman, and the man born blind. He also considers the possibility that these diseases were caused by demon- possession and, therefore, their healing would have showed the power of God over Satan.
Part Four studies healing in the apostolic church. The amount of healing was much less than in the Gospel records (4.5% of the narrative in Acts describes healings). Nevertheless, there was healing in those early apostolic days: individual healing, exorcism of demons, raising of the dead, and healing of groups. The healings were more a part of the total ministry than activities of their own. Again the apostles used a variety of methods. The Epistles show even less interest in the healing ministry, spending more time on the gift of healing manifested through a congregation. Wilkinson spends four chapters discussing every conceivable aspect of Paul's thorn in the flesh, including the fact that it went unhealed. (Scoop: Wilkinson thinks it was malaria!) He then discusses healing in the Epistle of James, in which he describes the role of the elders, the connection of sin to disease, and the use of oil (Was it medicinal or religious?).
Part Five describes healing in the modern church. He discusses whether the two healing charges, to the twelve (e.g., Matt. 10:5-14) or to the seventy (Luke 1:1-4), are applicable to the church today. He concludes they are not, because of the geographical and ethnic specificity of the two charges. Nevertheless, he thinks the church has responsibility for a healing ministry. He describes healing as an integral part of the church's ministry until the twelfth century. It declined at that point but resurfaced in the nineteenth century. Wilkinson relates this to a reconsideration of James 5:15: "Ö the prayer of faith will save the sick" and to the medical missionary movement. One of the most interesting parts of the book is the history of healing in the church from its re-emphasis in the middle 1800s, though Wilkinson does not discuss the more recent interest in "faith healing."
Wilkinson thinks that healing is properly a part of the mission of the church today because it was obviously the intent of Jesus to heal people, and because healing of the soul and body is so frequently interwoven in the Bible. This healing should include the prayer of the elders and others, and it should include scientific treatment by members of the body of Christ who are trained in orthodox methods. It is all a part of our biblical mandate.
I recommend this book for anyone interested in the ministry of healing. It is an excellent reference for all the biblical teaching on healing, though it is short on healing anecdotes in today's church. To return to my personal quest in reading this book, I was helped. There is not a cookbook method to be used in every situation. I can pray for my patients and I can write them a prescription, expecting God's blessing on them.
Reviewed by Edward M. Blight, Jr., Professor of Surgery, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA 92354.
HOW TO STAY CHRISTIAN IN COLLEGE by J. Budziszewski. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1999. 143 pages. Paperback; $8.00. ISBN: 1576830616.
How to Stay Christian in College is designed as a freshman handbook for adjusting to campus life. Budziszewski begins the book by relating his own experience as a student and then as a faculty member who made the transition from being "more Nietzschean than Nietzsche" (p. 16) to being a Christian professor. Budziszewski's stimulus for this book, and his related books and articles, is his concern for the struggles faced by Christian students at college.
This college survival manual is divided into three sections: "Worldviews" (God, the world, and non-Christians), "Campus Myths" (knowledge, sex, and politics), and "How to Cope" (socially, religiously, and academically). Each section is divided into short, pithy synopses of campus life, usually no more than a page in length, and succinctly illustrated with poignant examples. Nested within most pages are inserts containing quotes and confessions from both students and past luminaries, and numerous web addresses for additional information.
One of the best sections uncovers "Myths about Love and Sex." Budziszewski does an excellent job of thinking through complex issues in an engaging way, largely through a familiar tone and rhetorical writing style. For example, he writes:
Have you ever wondered why when people get married, they promise to love each other till death? Think about it. Feelings change. You can't promise to have a feeling Ö [but] love is not a feeling. What is it then? Love is a commitment of the will to the true good of the other person (p. 82).
How to Stay Christian in College is an excellent book for Christians entering college. Budziszewski uses a style aimed toward generation X-ers with short, pithy sections that are easily read and yet manage to convey sound advice like wisdom from a friend. This valuable guide deserves to be widely read and would be an ideal gift for students leaving church youth groups to attend college.
Reviewed by Fraser F. Fleming, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA 15282.
SLEEPING WITH EXTRA-TERRESTRIALS by Wendy Kaminer. New York: Random House, 1999. 278 pages. Hardcover; $24.00. ISBN: 067944243X.
Kaminer thinks that "other people's personal religious beliefs and reading habits are none of my business (and surely don't require my approval). But the possible consequence of their inclination to believe is everyone's business and merits everyone's concern." To this issue, she devotes eight chapters with extensive notes (although, unfortunately, no index).
Kaminer thinks Americans too easily accept the ideas espoused by religious leaders, new-agers, therapists, politicians, "technoboosters," and supernaturalists. She argues against gurus of all stripes-- religious and otherwise--and thinks they should be challenged, but they seldom are. She encourages her readers to "argue with them. No one who demands worship, however covertly, deserves respect." She marvels that the public so gullibly accepts the pronouncements of gurus on life, death, angels, reincarnation, and extra-terrestrials.
Some topics Kaminer examines for irrational, uncritical, and unquestioning thinking include classroom prayer, near-death experiences, crack babies, school vouchers, drug policies, and junk science (including creation science). She writes that so much of new age teaching is "offensive gibberish," and undeserving of notice. So-called experts sell this nonsense, she believes, because they pose as authority figures spewing forth dogmatic but unsubstantiated assertions, because they substitute intensity of belief for empirical proof, because they use ubiquity of belief as evidence of truth, and because they argue from the conclusion to the evidence. She thinks there is no evidence to link religious belief with virtue, and believes you do not have to be religious to be moral and ethical.
In short, if you want to know how a liberal, agnostic, rationalist thinks, this book will provide some insight. Kaminer, to disarm the reader, admits that, by going to a homeopath, she herself engages in behavior that might be perceived as irrational and faith-based. While there is much in her book with which evangelical Christians will agree, they will undoubtedly differ with her about Christianity's merits. Reading this book reminded me of two thoughts. The first: To those who believe, no proof is necessary; to those who don't believe, no proof is possible. The second: Believers don't accept Christianity because they've proved it; they keep trying to prove it because they believe it. After all, Christianity is based on faith, but it is not irrational.
Kaminer sees little difference between substantiation for historic Christianity and proof for cults. To her, Christianity's historical basis is no more persuasive than the latest guru's rantings. She writes: "Generally, the only proof offered for a fantastic belief is the passion it inspires in believers. It is usually futile to ask for more" (p. 4). Of course, Christian apologists give lots more. It started with Peter who wrote that Christians "have not followed cunningly devised fables" (2 Peter 1:16).
"Believing that you've been abducted by aliens or that Elvis is alive is, on its face, no sillier than believing that Christ rose from the dead or that God parted the Red Sea" (p. 35). This quote indicates that Kaminer's acceptance of Christian evidences is about on a par with her belief that people "sleep with extra-terrestrials." If you like to be amused, challenged, or irritated, Kaminer will give you basis for some of each.
Kaminer is not hostile or bitter. She is evenhanded in extolling the merits of religion as well as its liabilities. She does not disparage faith and admits that by "reasoning your way to God, you're likely to find only yourself" (p. 12). She is sometimes witty, sometimes humorous, always as fair as possible in her evaluations. However, she is an avowed unbeliever, and a well-informed one. Therefore her viewpoints are arrived at from a strictly skeptical, rational, intellectual, and logical perspective. Her parents may get some of the credit since Kaminer believes she was "blessed with irreligious parents Ö" (p. 18).
Paul's comment to the Corinthians speaks to a strictly rational approach to knowing God: "The world through its wisdom did not come to know God." This quote should not be taken to disparage sanity and reason, because Paul is certainly one of the most sane and reasoned intellects of the ages.
Kaminer has written five previous books (including I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional), as well as articles for the popular press. She is a lawyer and Public Policy Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute, and serves as president of the National Coalition Against Censorship.
Reviewed by Richard Ruble, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, AR 72761.
History of Science
THE DARWINIAN REVOLUTION: Science Red in Tooth and Claw, 2d ed. by Michael Ruse. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1999. 346 pages, index. Paperback; $18.00. ISBN: 0226731693.
When this book first appeared in 1979, it was a harbinger of the new era of Darwinian studies, twenty years after the Darwin Centennial. It was also one of the first books to emerge from the rapidly maturing field of history of science studies. It grounded the Darwinian revolution in the much larger social fabric of nineteenth century science and society while devoting extensive attention to the philosophical dimensions of Darwin's theory and his corpus of work.
Ruse, Professor of Philosophy and Zoology at the University of Guelph, is one of the best contemporary philosophers of science. He masterfully summarizes much of the detailed work of Darwinian scholars up through the late 1970s as well as a large body of primary material that had surfaced since the earlier surveys of Himmelfarb, Greene, Irvine, DeBeer, and Eiseley around the centennial celebrations of the publication of the Origin of Species.
This edition reprints the entire 1979 text supplemented by a new twenty-three-page Afterword and updated bibliography of sources. Ruse lets his entire major argument stand but supplements it with some new work in the intervening twenty years, including his own significant contributions. He continues to press the manner in which professional scientists seek to produce works that will command respect and win widespread support among their colleagues.
Darwin's links to biological progressionism is seen in a more positive light than Ruse originally described. Darwin remains more than ever a man of his time in terms of how his sociocultural outlook and social mores influenced his science. Interestingly, Ruse believes that evolution is much less popular with the general public in our own time than it was immediately following Darwin. It now also, in his view, has second rate status among university science faculties where molecular biology departments outnumber departments devoted to the study of evolution by ten to one (with funding for direct evolutionary studies also marginalized).
This book, which handles the history of Darwinism in such an engaging and accurate manner, can be nicely supplemented by Ruse's other two recent books: Monad Man: The Concept of Progress in Evolutionary Biology (Harvard University Press, 1996) and Mystery of Mysteries: Is Evolution a Social Construction? (Harvard University Press, 1999). To anyone interested in current debates about evolution and its prior history, these books are fundamental reading. Much of what is written by critics about evolution and its antecedents is just plain uninformed. These books can place one on solid historical and philosophical footing and help all of us understand more fully the role of nonscientific factors in scientific endeavor.
Reviewed by Dennis W. Cheek, Director of Information Services and Research, RI Department of Education; Adjunct Associate Professor of Education, University of RI; Pastor, New Beginnings Christian Fellowship, Mansfield, MA 02048.
EVANGELICALS IN SCIENCE IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE by David N. Livingstone, D. G. Hart, and Mark A. Noll, eds. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. 351 pages, index. Hardcover; $45.00. ISBN: 0195115570.
These fourteen essays, along with the synoptic viewpoint of the "Introduction" and a whimsical but challenging "Afterword" by George Marsden, are both timely and of continuing interest. Roots of many issues vexing faith and science ramify through "the Enlightenment" and its Darwinian sequel. These thoughtful evaluations are to the point, touching on questions still eliciting disquiet particularly from those who seek to combine the harmlessness of church "doves" with the wisdom of scientific "serpents" in a critical academic world.
Here theologically-minded historians and a geographer have focused scholarly resources from both sides of the Atlantic on the frequently overlooked but "rich and complex encounter" between evangelicalism and science. Given the variations of history, geography, and personality, these "traditions" are allowed some flexibility, which could raise occasional eyebrows. Though expertise seems academic, some in this colloquy entertain hope that the implications of their careful investigations may penetrate lay minds.
Conceding that relevant aspects must be left aside, "key moments" in time and place have been selected to tap specialist knowledge. Regrettably, with a transnational readership in view, no "Introduction to Contributors" appears, though the notes and bibliographical references convey hints of background interests, and some need no introduction to readers of ASA-related literature. A solid Presbyterian trilogy--David Livingstone, D. G. Hart, and Mark Noll--serve as editors and add substantively to the text, and other authors include David Bebbington, James Moore, and Ronald Numbers-- to pluck a few familiar names from those who have included their "introductory thoughts."
Experts, as usual, are inclined to vary, and readers will be well advised to do more than simply browse. The deft Introduction weaves potentially disparate themes together, and alerts the unaware to the nuances conveyed by tendentious images of "systemic strife" between advancing science and retreating religion.
Thereafter the writers explore different episodes from the Reformation to present times, a tale at times reminiscent, in Wordsworth's phrase, "of old, unhappy far-off things, and battles long ago," but also stimulating current understanding with an awareness of the contexts--social, intellectual, and often political--in which scientific concepts were formulated and religious responses debated. Inevitably, the story touches on many an incident or perhaps an unfamiliar personality, and the diligent reader should keep an encyclopedia (and occasionally a dictionary) handy. What do "Ramism" and "Sandemanian" signify? And is "foundationalism" some new swear word from the postmodernist lexicon?
No review can analyze sixteen, wide-ranging essays, but some intimations of content may be ventured. The five uneven portions begin with Part 1 (Overview), which includes a model of an admittedly rare but "archetypical evangelical scientist," contrasted (in admonition) with others like John Ruskin, who "deconverted," or mutely agonized. In Part II (Orientations), the view that Puritanism and science were uniquely associated is deemed exaggerated, though the logical linkage of theology and science is partially verified as Galileo, Descartes, and Boyle differentially invoke Divine rationalism and voluntarism.
"Theological Engagements" emerge in Part III where American episodes move from Cotton Mather to William Jennings Bryan, and Princetonian acumen develops alongside populist literalism. In England and especially the divided Scotland of early geology and common sense, Thomas Chalmers wrestled with natural and revealed theology before Part IV exposes "Specific Encounters." These include "Scriptural Geology" with its efforts to fix or expand creative days and spread the Flood, while spatial variations characterize Calvinist communions in Edinburgh, Belfast, and Princeton as issues of evolution emerge. Closer to home, perhaps, grains of salt are sprinkled on Darwin's "deathbed repentance," evolution of current creationism, and the search for Noah's Ark.
In Part V, "Wider domains" are surveyed in early American attempts to ground moral philosophy in science rather than revelation, as Canada's social policies are viewed as emergent from Protestant churches rather than secularism, and the tensions inherent in relationships between the modern American Academy and evangelical scholarship are shrewdly explored. Finally, Marsden overhears Olympian backtalk as Socrates, Thomas Jefferson, and William Jennings Byran get involved in pointed politico-religious whimsy.
Thus the reader is episodically, but in depth, moved from Reformation to present times, as aspects in the unfolding of relationships between science and theology are brought into focus, and in the process the reader lives through much in the creation (or evolution) of current thinking. This book, well digested, is an education in itself.
Reviewed by Gordon R. Lewthwaite, Emeritus Professor, Geography, CSU Northridge, CA 91330-8249.
THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM: The Legacy of the Magi by Michael R. Molnar. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1999. xvi and 187 pages. ISBN: 0813527015.
Molnar, astronomer and coin collector, wrote an interesting, easy to read book. He backs up his investigations by referring to literature in astronomy, astrology, theology, and numismatics. The ancient Chaldean astrologers' wording of their horoscopes is critical for his conclusion. Using those sources and astronomy, he describes the skies at the beginning of our calendar. He draws the conclusion that our Lord was born April 17 in the year six B.C.
Molnar started his investigation after buying a first century coin from Antioch. The coin depicted a ram looking back over his shoulder, which he recognized as an astrological symbol. He found that the Ram (Aries) was not the astrological sign of Antioch, Syria, but of Judea. That led him to search the history of Judea and the Near East in the early first century. He studied the biblical story of the Magi, who were most likely Chaldean astrologers, and the Star of Bethlehem. Molnar tried to reconcile the account found in Matthew with what Chaldean horoscopes might show between about ten B.C. and ten A.D. To his surprise he found that the accounts of horoscopes and Matthew were very much alike, which meant that the words in Matthew might mean something different from what we always thought.
The Magi would have been looking at planets in constellations. Jupiter was the royal planet, so specifically Jupiter in Aries meant a king of Judea. But a planet usually does not return to the same place, so how could the Magi see Jupiter again some time later, when they were in Bethlehem? Molnar found that due to a slight three-degree wobbling of the earth in the sky, it might appear that a planet moves back on its way as seen in a constellation, to resume its direction again after some time. So when the Magi were in Bethlehem, Jupiter rose again in the East.
Not only did Molnar look at astrology, he tried as well to find solutions for some historical difficulties found when reading the gospel account of Luke. There we read about Herod, who died in four B.C., and Quirinius, who became governor in six A.D., according to Roman sources. The year six was also the year Antioch started using the Ram on its coins.
The Star of Bethlehem is pleasant and informative reading. Its theme reminded me of what my father had told me as a child that the Christmas celebration started as an alternative to a pagan midwinter feast. Because of this, my father did not want to observe Christmas, an attitude not pleasing to some of his offspring! As I write this review, it is almost Christmas again, which added to my pleasure of reading this book.
Reviewed by Jan de Koning, 20 Crispin Crescent, Willowdale, ON, M2R 2V7, Canada.
MYSTERY OF MYSTERIES: Is Evolution a Social Construction? by Michael Ruse. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999. 296 pages, index. Hardcover; $27.50. ISBN: 067446706X.
Ruse made a name for himself as a young philosopher of science with his early work, The Darwinian Revolution: Science Red in Tooth and Claw (1979). Over the past twenty years, his views about the nature of science and evolutionary theory have grown increasingly more complex and sophisticated. An expert witness in the Arkansas evolution trial of the early eighties, he has taken a hard stand against creationism in all its various guises as having anything directly to do with science. Ruse is Professor of Philosophy and Zoology at the University of Guelph, Ontario, and arguably one of the world's premier philosophers of science.
The central focus of the book is taken directly from its title. Is modern evolutionary theory an artifact of human thinking that owes its life to the sociological and philosophical commitments of its proponents or does it say something concretely about a reality that exists independent of the knower? The question is by no means simple. Ruse goes to great lengths to try to tease out the various threads of analysis and argument necessary to adequately consider it. He opens his treatise with a brief description of the current science wars that chiefly have pitted professional scientists against humanists and social scientists. He quickly moves into a rapid but accurate description of the two competing ideas of the late Sir Karl R. Popper and the late Thomas S. Kuhn. Even in the opening chapter, we catch glimmers of Ruse's later, boldly stated case that neither view of science adequately captures the actual nature of the enterprise. Ruse then sets a frame about the nature of science as viewed through the respective questions generated by these two major philosophies of science (since most other contemporary expositions on this topic arise from the work of either Popper or Kuhn). He then proposes to test the strengths of each position by using evolutionary theory as expressed by some of its major players over the past two hundred years.
Each subsequent chapter considers some of the big names in the history of Darwinian and Neo-Darwinian evolution. First, Ruse takes up the case of Erasmus Darwin, concluding that while he published ideas that were influential in prompting the thoughts of subsequent thinkers, he was never taken seriously as a scientist, even by his own peers. Next Charles Darwin is put under the microscope. We have a fair summary of the strengths and weaknesses associated with his exposition of evolution by means of natural selection. The social and cultural dimensions that bore upon Sir Charles' contributions are tellingly described. Ruse next takes up the case of Julian Huxley who promoted evolution as his religion that required no revelation, but whose scientific contributions were always considered suspect by scientists of his own time. The next witness called is Theodosius Dobzhansky; we learn of the ways in which his own personal life influenced his science--though we now see evolution emerging as a more respectable undertaking for serious scientists. We then move to two chapters that analyze the writings of Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould. We learn that their popularizing of certain extrascientific aspects of evolution separates them from many of their scientist colleagues. Ruse reveals, in considerable detail, how they are influenced by metaphysical concerns that transcend any science involved in their work.
Richard Lewontin is presented as an evolutionist who seeks answers in the genes and has moved increasingly to ever-smaller units of analysis in his quest to make sense of the whole. Ruse still finds many ways in which matters external to the science laboratory intrude on his approaches and influence his interpretation of his results. Edward O. Wilson is then considered as almost the antithesis of Lewontin (in fact, these two scientists were once friends but became bitter enemies) in his willingness to make sweeping metaphysical statements with no apologies or qualifications. Finally, Ruse considers two of what he considers to be a new breed of evolutionists: University of Liverpool biologist, Geoffrey Parker; and University of Chicago paleontologist, Jack Sepkoski. While there are still extrascientific factors that influence their choice of things to study and their understanding of how their work fits within a larger frame, we do have the sense that we have come a long way from the quasi-scientific musings of Erasmus Darwin.
The final chapter sums up the current thinking of Ruse around the question: "Can evolution cut the mustard?" His answer is not a surprise given the careful exposition throughout the earlier chapters. Some readers will be disappointed by Ruse's conclusion that both Kuhn and Popper were right--but only partly. He does not believe science will ever free itself from larger metaphysical, social, and cultural webs of influence within which it is practiced. Rather than deny these connections, scientists simply have to become more aware of how and in what manner they are influenced by these extrascientific concerns.
This is an excellent book and worthy of consideration by everyone interested in the nature of science. It is not the final word by any means on this difficult topic, but it is a wonderful exposition of the twists and turns of evolutionary thought, the social nature of evolutionary theorizing, and a first rate contribution to philosophy of science by using actual case studies to explore a thesis. Nonevolutionists and those who wish to downplay some of evolution's excesses will find food for thought here about the necessary conditions that any alternative approach will have to meet to be judged scientific. I suspect it is the utter lack of meeting these conditions that causes Ruse to be so dismissive of any alternative to contemporary evolutionary theory. Time will tell if he is right.
Reviewed by Dennis W. Cheek, Director of Information Services & Research, RI Department of Education; Adjunct Associate Professor of Education, University of RI; and Pastor, New Beginnings Christian Fellowship, Mansfield, MA 02048.
THE CREATION/EVOLUTION CONTROVERSY: A Battle for Cultural Power by Kary Doyle Smout. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998. 290 pages, chapter endnotes, bibliography, index. Hardcover; $55.00. ISBN: 0275962628.
Those of us active in the great public conversation on creation(ism) and evolution(ism) are well aware that one of the subtexts of these largely contentious discourses is the struggle over who will define its key terms for the public at large. Smout, a professor of English at Washington and Lee University, has produced an engaging and instructive study of the rhetoric employed for this purpose by those involved in this ongoing public debate.
Focusing on key periods of conflict between pro- and anti-evolutionist groups since the publication of the Origin, Smout explores, from a poststructuralist perspective, the struggle between the two sides to define science, religion, creation, evolution, truth, reason, and other crucial terms. In his historical review of literature surrounding the Wilberforce-Huxley Debate of 1860, the Scopes Trial of 1925, and the Arkansas Creation-Science Trial of 1981, Smout discerns a "striking pattern":
the initial debate always centered on a disagreement about the key terms, but later accounts portrayed the debate as a battle between obvious truth and obvious error, in which both sides consistently accused their opponents of ignoring the plain truth, as expressed in simple language, and instead using the language of rhetoric to deceive.
Smout argues that the problem is rooted in a misunderstanding of the purpose of language. Words are not permanent names for things, the meanings of which all agree on, but, as the poststructuralists argue, "tools" used to create and sustain human communities. Each community seeks to have its meanings adopted by others. Within this interpretive framework, Smout proceeds to analyze the battle for cultural power that has been waged over evolution and creation "ever since Darwin," exploring the rhetorical devices proponents have used to create a portrait of the other and advance their own reality-defining language.
After laying out his thesis in chapter 1, Smout examines the literature of the Wilberforce-Huxley Debate. In a fascinating analysis, he points out that a cultural myth about the debate, which was developed by evolutionists, has established itself in the literature. This myth depicts F. H. Huxley, the defender of science and truth, defeating Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, who was painted as the dogged defender of religion. In fact, Wilberforce effectively critiqued the argument of the Origin on scientific, not theological grounds. It was later writers who transformed the debate into a battle between religion and science.
In Chapter 3, Smout surveys the arguments of the Scopes "Monkey Trial" of 1925 and its aftermath. Clarence Darrow and his colleagues used the same key terms as William Jennings Bryan but "attempted to weave a linguistic net in which evolution was linked to science, knowledge, and freedom; and creation was linked to religion, ignorance, and intolerance" (p. 60). Two competing truth claims lay behind the arguments on both sides, but more fundamentally, Smout asserts, two competing world views clashed in the trial.
Beyond the rhetoric of argument that pervaded the trial is the rhetoric of argument over its meaning. Smout examines in detail how the trial was portrayed later, by Darrow himself and others, and in the 1950 play, Inherit the Wind. He again demonstrates how each writer uses and reconceives the now familiar key terms, concluding: "This is not, finally, a battle between truth and error, but a battle about what counts as truth and error" (p. 93).
In the next chapter, Smout turns to the Arkansas Creation-Science trial of 1981, and likewise surveys trial testimonies and later interpretations. He sees in this episode "a compelling example" of the contemporary battle between humanists and fundamentalists. "In telling their own stories of the trial, both sides attempted to persuade the culture as a whole to accept their terms for the controversy and to enact their position as public policy" (p. 105). He makes his case through an analysis of the language used not only by the trial participants but also in the extra-trial writings of creationist commentators.
In a short final chapter, Smout concludes that these battles over control of terminology are ultimately political and cultural, contests among beliefs, values, and differing moral orders rather than between truth and error. While Smout accepts evolution, he shows an obvious sympathy for the creationists' commitment to their beliefs and values. One does not have to accept Smout's poststructuralist interpretation of the function of language to find much to agree with in his lucid analyses and provocative conclusions. Recommended.
Reviewed by Robert J. Schneider, Distinguished Professor of General Studies, Berea College, Berea, KY 40404.
Philosophy & Theology
PROMETHEUS BEDEVILED: Science and the Contradictions of Contemporary Culture by Norman Levitt. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1999. 420 pages, endnotes, index. Paperback; $32.00. ISBN: 0813526523.
Mathematician Norman Levitt gained wide academic and popular recognition as co-author with Paul Gross of the 1994 book, Higher Superstition, in which they attempted to demonstrate the absurdity and destructiveness of attacks on science by the so-called "academic left." Among the anti-science groups they identified were feminists, environmentalists, social constructivists, and postmodernists. In Prometheus Bedeviled, Levitt tries to explain why so many members of society at large are nonscientific, if not anti-scientific, in their assessments of issues that confront them in their everyday lives. His primary new target in all of this is religion, or belief in the supernatural. Not only does Levitt position himself as an atheist, in several places he argues that "in cases of conflict, a reasonably well established scientific conclusion trumps any challenger" (p. 29). Recognizing full well that this position will be labeled by many as scientism, Levitt argues that scientists are too knowing and skeptical to engage in anything approaching faith or reverence, for science is evidential, having "no room for human values, purposes, ethics, or hopes" (p. 21).
Through what might be considered as a compilation of anecdotal evidence, Levitt argues that contemporary society is suffering from a "deep cultural laziness." The evidence for this is to be found in our aversion to mathematics and its attending rigor, our endless quest to find meaning and purpose in everything, and our seeming preference to believe bizarre, novel, and largely nonprovable ideas instead of notions consistent with the corpus of accumulated scientific knowledge. Among those blamed for the present state of affairs are educators, journalists, environmentalists, and the multitude of lobbyists and advocates who represent racial, ethnic, and gender minorities. Even democracy takes a beating for its "unconstrained populism and naive majoritarianism" (p. 295). For Levitt, despite whatever discomfort it may give rise to, cultural authority must reside with the scientists, not with politicians, humanists, social philosophers, or the general public. His advice is "to give science a social authority commensurate with its astonishing success in living up to its own ambitions. The corollary is that we have to ignore or reject its rivals" (p. 307).
This book might be of interest to those who believe that they must somehow defend science against its detractors, whomever they may be, but beyond that, I see this book as little more than a popularist tirade with little academic appeal. Whatever merit Levitt's overall position may have, I do not believe that his book will win many converts to his cause. Rather, it exemplifies clearly one of the phenomena he so vehemently rails against, the attempt to manipulate popular opinion through the marketing of controversy.
Reviewed by Robert A. Campbell, University College of Cape Breton, Sydney, NS, Canada B1 P 6L2.
BRIGHT SHADOW OF REALITY: Spiritual Longing in C. S. Lewis by Corbin Scott Carnell. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999. 180 pages. Paperback; $16.00. ISBN: 0802846270.
Twenty-five years after its first release, Bright Shadow of Reality remains a piercing analysis of the thought and life of Christian apologist C. S. Lewis. Known for his ability to articulate the abstract and cut to the core of Christian experience, C. S. Lewis employed the German word Sehnsucht to describe a phenomenon he believed to be central to human experience: the overwhelming sense of longing for the wholly "other." Literally translated "yearning," this longing has been much a part of the Romantic and neo-Romantic movements in literature, and is more related to the English word "nostalgia." It is related to the experience of the numinous, to ecstatic wonder, and to the "causeless melancholy" of Sir Harold Nicolson. Sehnsucht, says Carnell, is "a sense of separation from what is desired, a ceaseless longing which always points beyond" (p. 23).
After a chapter of relating Sehnsucht to other Romantic motifs, Carnell embarks on an exploration of Sehnsucht through a biographical sketch of Lewis' life. He traces Lewis' development, from his earliest memories of his brother Warnie's toy garden--in which Lewis remembers his first sense of the other, perhaps his first truly aesthetic experience-- through mysticism and atheism, to his unexpected (and unwanted) conversion to Christianity. This biography closely parallels Lewis' autobiography, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life, from which the story presented is primarily drawn.
Following Lewis' conversion in 1929, he incorporates Sehnsucht into the very heart of his prolific writings. First developed in The Pilgrim's Regress, Lewis' thinking matures throughout his writings: The Allegory of Love: A Study in Medieval Tradition; the "space trilogy" (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength); Surprised by Joy; and culminating in his masterful work, Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold. Here the importance of Lewis' thinking on Sehnsucht reaches its apex as Carnell notes: "Till We Have Faces is remarkable on one other count. It contains the only instance of Lewis's identifying Sehnsucht with a person" (p. 116). This is the critical realization:
But there is another important human response involved with this complex of emotions Lewis calls Sehnsucht--man's awareness of the numinous. Lewis believes that Sehnsucht has an object, and his interpretation of what that object is must be understood in the light of what he sees as the connection between "primal Joy-melancholy" and the numinous (p. 94, emphasis original).
Perhaps Lewis' greatest contribution as a Christian apologist has been as a cultural critic of an increasingly spiritually deficient world view. Just as Lewis demonstrates that Romanticism in literature is still viable, and points to an object, indeed a person, so might science, too, be grounded in that same person. Lewis was not a critic of science per se but nevertheless offered some comments that prove remarkably apt today. Says Carnell:
The villain in the process of emptying the universe of dryads, centaurs, etc., is of course the scientist. Yet Lewis' quarrel is not with the scientific method. It is with the bogus priests of technology and progress who would apply science to all of life in such a way that the spirit dwindles or is channelled into an evangelistic, well-planned secularism (p. 17).
Bright Shadow of Reality is a thorough analysis of the concept of Sehnsucht in the writings of C. S. Lewis. Carnell adequately relates Lewis' concept to those of other writers and to Christian life. Contained in the back is a selected bibliography of Lewis' books, shorter writings, and relevant criticism. Intended for a popular audience of Lewis admirers, Carnell offers little that is directly relevant to the practice of science. Rather, this book informs one's world view, always reminding that there is more than can be seen, touched, or tested.
Reviewed by John M. Drake, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556.
THE JESUS MYTH by G. A. Wells. Chicago, IL: Open Court Publishing Company, 1998. 352 pages. Paperback; $21.95. ISBN: 0812693922.
This book is the author's seventh on the subject of the origins of Christianity. Wells is Professor Emeritus of German at the University of London and an articulate advocate for the "mythicist" view of the New Testament. His stated purposes are "to put before the general reader some fundamental facts about the New Testament which will help him or her towards an informed opinion concerning its reliability; and to make out a sustainable view of Christian origins, drawing on the extant evidence-- Christian, Jewish, and pagan."
The book has five chapters divided into several subdivisions, extensive endnotes, a bibliography, and a brief afterword by Roderick Tyler. The first chapter makes up nearly half the book. This very lengthy (111 pages) and tedious chapter provides a review of the "nature of the evidence" which, not surprisingly, Wells finds seriously lacking insofar as it supports orthodox views of the New Testament and Christianity. He goes into some detail regarding manuscript evidence (some dates he gives as later than those found in Comfort1). For example, he explains why Mark was written after 70 A.D. and Matthew and Luke after 90 A.D., and why nobody knows who wrote them. They are, Wells claims, compilations of myths by anonymous people about a personage who probably did not actually exist. They might possibly be based on the career of an itinerant Galilean preacher of the early first century. Paul, who wrote prior to 60 A.D., wrote only some of the epistles attributed to him (e.g., not the pastoral epistles). He knew nothing of an actual Jesus or his teachings, and drew his ideas about him from the Wisdom figure of the Old Testament. After all, if he had known any of the teachings of some actual Jesus, Paul certainly would have quoted him much more often when it suited his purposes.
The second chapter discusses miracles described in the New Testament--the virgin birth, the resurrection, and exorcisms--that obviously are not historical. Though Wells claims this view is reached after careful, objective review of the evidence, and not from any a priori assumption that miracles are impossible, the claim is quite hollow. The entire argument of the book rests precisely on a priori assumptions based firmly in the historical-critical method of biblical scholarship, which, in my opinion, firmly rests on a purely naturalistic world view. Obviously, one's a priori assumptions necessarily affect how evidence is interpreted, and the inferences and conclusions drawn from evidence do, in fact, depend upon those a priori assumptions.
In Chapter 3, we learn what in the Gospels can be attributed to the early church, and what we can consider as authentic information about Jesus, which, of course, is very little. Chapter 4, focusing primarily on Josephus, argues against any of the accepted non-Christian testimony regarding Jesus. The final chapter addresses what of ethical value we might extract from the New Testament--although given that it is primarily a myth, why we should bother is not addressed. Wells views the New Testament as full of ethical contradictions, and while it may contain some good advice, it is muddled by all the nonhistorical elements. Since it is all just myth anyway, ecumenical dialogue should be much easier.
Wells concludes that we should all be nice to each other and get along. We should move toward "inter-faith dialogue" and deal with the real problems facing humanity. He says: "It should be pretty obvious by now that 'humanists' and religious persons, for all their differences, need to work together as far as they can in confronting the problems that face us all." The problem is that it is difficult for Christians to work together with "humanists" because their world views differ so greatly.
To the extent that the views presented in this book are representative of critical New Testament scholarship, it is perhaps a useful book. However, I would recommend this book only for the reader most interested in critical views of the New Testament. Most of Wells' arguments are arguments from silence, and as such are relatively weak, though abundant. Straw men abound. One question the author does not address is why nearly all the Apostles died a martyr's death for what they must have known to be a myth. Wells seems to have clairvoyance when it comes to what biblical writers should have been thinking. Most of his arguments evaporate if one looks at the evidence through the lens of faith; quite different inferences and conclusions can be drawn from the evidence. I would suggest reading one of the books that defend the reliability of the New Testament documents as a companion to this one in order to add some balance.2
The issue of the reliability of the Scriptures, like that of creation, is fundamentally a faith issue. We can trust the Scriptures based on the evidence. It is not simply a question of dates and manuscript evidence interpreted by purely natural means. Our faith is based on the belief that the Holy Spirit inspired and then preserved the Scriptures accurately. So, no matter how many books of this type are written, their arguments fail to convince because as the ASA Doctrinal Statement says: "we accept the divine inspiration, trustworthiness, and authority of the Bible in matters of faith and conduct."
1Phillip W. Comfort, "Texts and Manuscripts of the New Testament," in The Origin of the Bible, ed. Phillip W. Comfort (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1992).
2For example, Gary R. Habermas, The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1997).
Reviewed by David K Probst, Associate Professor of Physics, Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701.
BAKER ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PSYCHOLOGY AND COUNSELING, 2d ed. by David G. Benner and Peter C. Hill, eds. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999. 1276 pages. Hardcover, $59.99. ISBN: 0801021006.
This book is meant to function as a resource that provides "Ö a comprehensive treatment of psychology from a Christian point of view" (p. 7). The second edition of this text builds upon the earlier edition by providing more detailed cross-referencing between topics and a concerted effort to include issues that are relevant to pastoral care and counseling. The importance of keeping clinicians and counseling pastors up to date with information about pathology and new therapies, as well as a Christian analysis of these issues, should not be underestimated. Christian counseling has become an important ministry for the church and educating and preparing professionals in this field is essential. A text of this type provides an easy reference point for those who do not have the time to keep up with the latest research but wish to be informed of recent developments in the field.
The extra attention paid to pastoral care reflects the book's primary audience. The encyclopedia contains a category list, followed by an alphabetical listing of the topics that are common terms for clinical psychologists. Also included in the entries are fundamental concepts that all psychologists should be aware of (e.g., classical conditioning, operant conditioning, reinforcement, sleep and dreaming). Descriptions of terms range from a single paragraph to several pages (i.e., claustrophobia receives three sentences, whereas homosexuality receives almost six pages). The contributor list for this encyclopedia contains well over one hundred Christian scholars from secular universities, Christian colleges, ministry organizations, counseling centers, and many other professions.
In evaluating this text, my first impression was to dive directly into the topics that I am most familiar with (i.e., cognitive psychology, consciousness, Parkinson's disease, and physiological psychology). The entries for each of these terms are well written, clearly communicating the definition of the topic, its underlying importance, and in many cases providing relevant references. All of the definitions address issues that are important (case in point the biological basis and symptoms of Parkinson's), but they do not belabor the details of each issue. The majority of entries are brief enough to give the readers a flavor of the topic, but not overwhelm them with minutia.
After reading the sections on topics in which I am informed, I then chose several topics that I am completely unfamiliar with (i.e., family communications theory, meditation, script analysis) to evaluate the ease with which an uninformed reader might come to an understanding of the terms. Much like the terms that I am familiar with, the entries are clear, concise, and relatively free of clinical jargon. My impression is that someone who is not a trained psychologist will still be able to understand the definition of the term and its importance to the psychologist. The cross-references are helpful when further information is needed.
While paging through the encyclopedia, I noticed that there were several entries that one might not find in a secular encyclopedia of psychology. Sin, promises, pastoral care, Christian growth, Christian existential psychology, divine guidance, and faith jumped off the page and captured my attention. The Baker Encyclopedia has an advantage over its secular counterparts in that it not only includes these Christian themes, but actively incorporates them into the counselor's repertoire.
It is important to note that while this text will be a valuable tool for psychologists in the clinical and helping professions and for beginning students in psychology, the experimental psychologist may find that the entries are helpful only in providing basic level information and definitions of terms. If you are interested in highly specialized information about cognitive science or neuroscience techniques and methodologies, you will not find it here. The audience for this book, however, is not the experimental psychologist; it is the clinical psychologist and those who are working in counseling capacities. With this in mind, the text is highly effective in providing a source for contemporary therapies, theories, pathology, and basic level psychological constructs. Every Christian who works in the clinical/counseling realm (licensed therapists, pastors, social workers) should have a copy of this text. The emphasis paid to including issues that are central to the Christian faith is vital to those who wish to counsel others from a biblical view. It is also a wonderful resource for experimental psychologists who wish to have a better understanding of what their applied colleagues are doing.
Reviewed by William M. Struthers, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL 60187.
SECULAR MIND by Robert Coles. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999. 189 pages. Hardcover; $19.95. ISBN: 0691058059.
Coles is no stranger to ASA members. For many years now his insightful commentary on American life and institutions has garnered international acclaim. The holder of three joint appointments related to Harvard University, Coles has consistently probed ethical behavior as a professional psychiatrist and professing Christian (although perhaps not of the ASA variety). This book takes a deep and probing look at the secular mind as it has manifested itself in literature and human expression from ancient Judaism through to the modern era.
The argument begins by a consideration of secularism in ancient Israel as it manifests itself in the writings and behaviors of Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, and on down through the prophets and early Christians. He paraphrases a discussion with converted (to Catholicism), social critic Dorothy Day that "the secular world has always been 'there,' or 'here'--that's the big story of the Old Testament and the New Testament and it's the big story, sad to say, of Christianity, both Catholicism and Protestantism." He posits that secularism has always been alive and well from the time humankind has been on the earth--both within and outside the Church.
Coles then focuses on the nineteenth century when secularism is generally alleged to have fully dominated Western culture. He considers the philosophical and scientific writings of Kierkegaard, Darwin, and Freud and the fiction of George Eliot, Hardy, Meredith, Flannery O'Connor and Julian Huxley. We see in this detailed exposition the ways in which the religious and secular "mind" has engaged in both conflict and accommodation. Psychoanalysis as the first serious rival to religion in the realm of inner truths is probed in the most depth. He intersperses personal conversations with Anna Freud, Karen Homey, William Carlos Williams, Walker Percy, and Dorothy Day to make his points. The manner in which psychoanalytical thinking has permeated the larger culture is made tellingly clear, including its abundant manifestations in Christian theology and lived practice for thousands of Christians.
Coles remains confident that the secular mind can never fully and adequately encompass all of reality. There will always be room for the sacred and the spiritual quest. The book poses more issues than it resolves and certainly does not reach any firm conclusions. But then, Coles would argue that is the major point about the secular mind--it can never fully know and can never fully apprehend what it fails to acknowledge or countenance.
Reviewed by Dennis W. Cheek, Director of Information Services and Research, RI Department of Education; Adjunct Associate Professor of Education, University of RI: Pastor, New Beginnings Christian Fellowship, Mansfield, MA 02048.