Book Reviews for December 1992
SCIENTISTS BELIEVE? Some Examples of the Attitude of Scientists to Religion by Nevill
Mott (ed.). London: James, 1991. 182 + vi pages. Hardcover.
The book is a collection of articles written by fifteen scientists from different parts of the world and from different religions, including one unbeliever. All these articles in a more or less explicit way attempt to substantiate one of two opposing claims: a scientist can be a believer, or a scientist cannot be a believer. Most of the answers revolve around the former position. However, the ways of answering this question range between reducing religion to an insignificant phenomenon having very little to do with science on one hand and giving religion and faith priority over science on the other.
The scientists who wrote the articles in this book come from different disciplines and they try to throw some light on the problem of religious beliefs using arguments stemming from their disciplines. For instance, D.J. Bartholomew, a statistician, points out that an existence of real randomness in the world is in no conflict with God's working; he also shows the absurdity of M. Minsky's claim that the mind is a product of random accidents in the brain. P.E. Hodgson, a nuclear physicist, mentions "the debilitating effects of the Copenhagen philosophy of quantum mechanics" exemplifying views which being Ainimical to theism are also ultimately destructive to science itself" (p. 72). John Eccles, a neurologist, argues in his technical paper for the thesis that "the religious concept of the soul achieves recognition in the new concept of mental units or psychons" (p. 97). John J. McGlone, an animal scientist, remarks that in science most of what we know has to be taken by faith, and a believing scientist "feels sanctification from knowing God has designed" the wonders of nature (p. 158).
Most of these scientists present their views in a humble way,admitting that the world is much too complex to be known fully and the knowledge of God cannot be fully attained in this world C probably with the exception of the editor of the book, Nevill Mott, who says he is "repelled by the element of the miraculous which forms part of Christian doctrine." Thus, in Bultmann's demythologizing spirit he rejects the basic elements of this doctrine. Virgin birth and resurrection are but fables, sacrifice for sins is meaningless, God's statement, "and it was good," is hollow, an omnipotent God is to him like "a tribal god." God is needed to him only to give meaning to the mystery of human consciousness, this mystery that cannot be explained by science he admires so deeply. Otherwise, God is not needed. In this we may see a return to the old doctrine of gnostics who admitted only what they were able to know. The person of God is curtailed according to the power of imagination and admitted just as an afterthought,who more adequately can be seen as a tribal god. And if our achievements, not God, are made the starting point, one has to come to such a crippled image of God. It is more appropriate, however, to repeat after G. Ludwig that "even the findings of physics are not our achievements, but a gift, and our contribution in work and effort is but trivial in comparison" (p. 106). Yet it is very painful for human pride to admit it.
Reviewed by Adam Drozdek, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA 15282.
SCIENCE EDUCATION: The Importance of Theories and Their Development, by Richard A.
Duschl. Teachers College Press, Columbia University, 1990. Paperback; $15.95.
The old style of science education is the "survey approach," where the teacher requires the students to memorize a long list of facts that describe things that are found in the world: animal taxa, minerals, etc.. More recently, science education has focused on getting the student to learn to ask questions, and design investigations for him or herself, to learn science as a process of discovery. Duschl, in this book, suggests taking science education a step further.
Duschl objects to teaching science as if it were a finished product, a completed body of wisdom, for obvious reasons. He also objects to teaching science as if the changes that occur in science are of an accretionary nature: that new facts gradually accrete to the old facts, new theories grow up as slight modifications of old ones. He says that, if science is taught in this way, our science curriculum is philosophically invalid (p. 96). Instead, in the post-Kuhn age, we understand science as progressing through a series of revolutions "...in which dynamic change ... [is] the rule rather than the exception" (p. 36). If that is the way science operates, Duschl suggests, then that is also the way we should teach science."...scientific inquiry is not as neat and clean as science educators often propose" (p. 6).
He has a good point. Science is changing so rapidly that a student is likely to have the "facts" s/he learned in high school overturned by new discoveries s/he will learn in college. If the student understands science to thrive on revolutions in which new theories overturn new ones, s/he will be ready to handle a rapid pace of change that would otherwise be upsetting. One danger Duschl alerts us to is that such students may feel that the growth of scientific thought is a series of whimsical, irrational shifts" (p. 7) and end up believing that a scientific conclusion is Aonly a theory" and can be ignored. Another danger is that, if teachers ignore the processes by which scientists have arrived at our modern understanding of the world, students might dismiss the great but mistaken intellectual endeavors of the past as mere stupidity.
Moreover, Duschl elucidates, the processes by which students learn (according to psychological studies) and the processes by which scientists operate are very similar. "...both the processes of learning and the growth of knowledge in the field of science involve mechanisms in which new ideas replace old ideas" (p. 6). If science and education are similar processes, and if science has proven so successful, then shouldn't education operate the way science does?
Duschl explains that scientific theories can exist at different levels. Some are at the core, and no one doubts them, for instance the cell theory; some are at the frontier, well established but with some internal inconsistencies remaining, such as evolution; some are at the fringe, which might someday prove to be right but at the present consist of grand speculations, such as scientific creationism. This approach makes more sense than a simple black-or-white AIs it science or isn't it?" argument. This book is written by someone whose specialty is education, not science. This may account for some errors such as the author's reference to Andrew,rather than Alfred,Wallace, and William Thomas rather than Thomson (Lord Kelvin). And the reader should be prepared for a dose of educationese. However, although I have never studied education, I found the book readable. Unfortunately, it does not seem to me that the last chapter carried out its promise: it did not help me figure out how to apply the growth-of-knowledge approach to the teaching of biology.
Despite the quality of Duschl's book, I still do not believe that the American crisis in science education can be solved by implementing the approach Duschl suggests. I will have to agree with Andy Rooney. The problem is not that teachers are teaching badly (this is generally not true) but that students are not learning. Although not all science education in America is good, even that which is excellent seems to bounce right off of the students' heads, perhaps because of social problems such as drugs, perhaps because they have been raised as greenhouse couch potatoes, perhaps (as Rooney suggests) because of parents who have not taught them to think.
As evidence for this assertion, I offer the example of Japan. I sat in a Japanese high school science class in 1973. The methods employed, bordering on rote memorization, were what education researchers such as Duschl consider to be the worst possible ones. Yet somehow, despite these experiences (or is it because of them?), Japanese students lead the world in a mastery of science. Japanese education has been successful using methods practically the antithesis of what Duschl suggests. So while Duschl has done an excellent job, and while I already use some of the methods he suggests and plan to implement more, I cannot believe that "restructuring science education" will rescue science education in this country.
Reviewed by Stanley Rice, Department of Biology, Huntington College, Huntington, IN 46750.
WORD OF SCIENCE: The Religious and Social Thought of C. A. Coulson by David and Eileen
Hawkin. London: Epworth Press, 1989. 127 pages. Paperback; ,5.95.
Physical scientists educated in the decade following World War II became acquainted with Charles Alfred Coulson (1910-1974) through his popular works on atomic and molecular structure. Educated at Cambridge University, his interests encompassed the areas of mathematics, physics, chemistry and molecular biology. His use of quantum methods to study molecular structure led to election as a fellow of the Royal Society in 1950. He held academic posts at St. Andrews, University College, King's College and Oxford. Raised in a Methodist home in a family that valued education he became a Christian during his college years.
Coulson's most well known integrative work, Science and Christian Belief (1955), was foundational for an earlier generation of ASA readers. Reading the Hawkins' summary of his ideas brings home the recognition of our debt to this creative thinker. Coulson's views on issues ranging from "the god of the gaps" to "the design argument" seem commonplace today because his ideas have been so thoroughly accepted.
Coulson's interests ranged far beyond traditional metaphysical concerns to encompass the societal implications of scientific advance. Although embracing a pacifist view shortly after his conversion in 1930, he would counter those who decried the contribution of science to war with what he viewed as the great potential contribution of scientists to improving the lot of undeveloped nations. In his Science, Technology and the Christian (1953) he championed nuclear energy as the "great" energy source and encouraged scientists to help improve third world food production. For Coulson, science had to be buttressed by religious faith if were to serve the best interests of humanity.
Memorial University of Newfoundland Professors David (religious studies) and Elaine (mathematics) Hawkin have provided a readable study of Coulson's thought on science and faith. It would have been helpful to see how Coulson related to other scientist-Christians and the Research Scientists Christian Fellowship. The late Donald MacKay (both men were at St. Andrews University and University College) once noted that his thought closely followed Coulson. It would have been valuable to spell out this relationship as well as the sources of Coulson's thought. Other than a cryptic note indicating that his father first showed him the "unity of science and faith," we have no suggestions of links to others. The Hawkins have done an excellent piece of work with the themes that they have chosen to address. Someone still needs to write the history which links English thinkers on science and faith in the early part of the century with their counterparts in the current generation.
Reviewed by J. W. Haas, Jr., Chemistry Department, Gordon College, Wenham, MA 01984.
THE SHROUD AND THE
CONTROVERSY by Kenneth E. Stevenson & Gary R. Habermas. Nashville, Tennessee:
Thomas Nelson, Inc.. 1990. 246 pages l index. Hardcover.
Question: What happens when you mix an engineer with an apologetics-oriented philosopher? Answer: thoughts expressed in a book which argues for the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin based on both detailed scientific evidence and on more philosophical arguments. Stevenson and Habermas team up again to reprise their 1981 bestseller, Verdict on the Shroud. Many people accept the results of the carbon-14 dating performed in 1988 which indicate a medieval age. So why another book about a fake,a clever forgery? Stevenson and Habermas hope to dispel a too ready confidence in the 1988 dating tests by citing the lack of proper scientific protocol. Furthermore, they consider new evidence computer imaging and evaluate other theories of the formation of the image. Their aim is also more modest,to state conclusions in terms of "probability" since "proof is not available here. The tone of the book is forceful (although some restraint has been shown) and apologetic/evangelistic.
The book first complains of Christian-bashing which Shroud supporters receive, and then proceeds to a robust defense as it counters the skeptics' claims and arguments purporting to demonstrate the forged status of the cloth. The process of image formation is the "crux of the controversy." Either it is the result of some known natural process,either deliberate or incidental,or it is some unknown unnatural process, like the after-image of a body resurrecting through a burial cloth. This puts the burden of proof on the skeptics. They would much rather just shelve the image formation away as"still unknown but potentially knowable,without resorting to a Godhypothesis." Stevenson and Habermas do not focus on this more cautious response. Rather, they proceed to debunk the many naturalistic explanations offered so far. Furthermore, the scientific credentials of the STURP team which conducted the primary analysis and the peer-reviewed research results attest to the credibility of this debunking. One sindonologist can even "produce an image very close to that on the Shroud" on small portions of cloth with high energy ionizing radiation but would require 1000 KW(!) to produce a body size image.
The carbon-14 dating is similarly critiqued and other tests employed. Since the radiometric dating procedure was "flawed",in at least ten ways, pollen, textile, archaeological and more types of analyses are cited to support a first century origin for both the cloth and its image. Historical, pathological and philosophical arguments are also marshalled in support of the authenticity of the Shroud. The book concludes with some personal interviews with scientists involved in Shroud research (including the skeptic Pellicori) and some answers to common questions Christians and atheists might ask.
Nevertheless, some questions remain. If a genuine Shroud "provides evidence for the validity of Christianity," would Christian apologetics and/or Christianity really have "nothing to lose" if new evidence confirms the Shroud to be fake? Haven't sindonologists and Shroud specialists wasted a lot of time, money and arguments in a dead end street guided more by wish-fulfillment than good judgement? Why does the burden of proof fall on the atheist for the image formation process while the Christian apologist only offers a God hypothesis? Even with these nagging questions the book is informative and useful beyond its attempt to validate the authenticity of this relic.
Reviewed by Marvin Kuehn, 48 Carling St., Hamilton, Ontario L8S 1M9.
ROAD TO JARAMILLO: Critical Years of the Revolution in Earth Science by William Glen.
Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1982. 459 pages. Hardcover; $49.50.
This book discuses how the plate tectonics revolution in the earth sciences happened, the key discoveries that made it possible for the first time to seriously consider continents moving and sea floors spreading, and the scientists whose work in the 1950s and 1960s brought about this revolution. According to the dust jacket, at the time of writing The Road to Jaramillo Glen was a research associate in the Office for History of Science and Technology at the University of Berkeley. He is a geologist turned historian. This book is based on more than 500 hours of interviews with over 100 of the scientists who achieved this revolution in the earth sciences. The focus is primarily on how the plate tectonics revolution developed with all the conflicts, zig-zags, missed opportunities and contributions from what were at the time seemingly unrelated fields, and most especially on the scientists whose work led to this revolution.
There are three major sections to this book: 1) Building the Hourglass: Young-Rock Potassium-Argon Dating, 2) Uncovering the Key: Geomagnetic Polarity-Reversal Scales, and 3) Turning the Key: Applying the Scale. Parts I and II of this book comprise Dr. Glen's doctoral dissertation. The Table of Interviews reads like a Who's Who of the earth sciences in the 1950s through the 1970s. The extensive index makes finding a scientist or topic in the book quite easy. The bibliography is likewise quite thorough. The 36 figures in the book clarify some of the technical aspects (e.g, the potassium-argon dating method), track the evolution of the geomagnetic time scales, and illustrate the sea floor magnetic data. There are also numerous photographs of the scientists whose work is discussed.
The book's title comes from the Jaramillo magnetic event discovered in rocks from Jaramillo Creek in the Jemez Mountains in New Mexico. This was a short event of normal magnetic polarity of the earth's field that occurred about 0.9 million years ago sandwiched between events of reversed polarity. The Jaramillo event was the basis for the eleventh version of the time scale that Allan Cox, Richard Doell, and Brent Dalrymple constructed. And it was this version of the time scale that was used by Neil Opdyke's group at the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory to interpret magnetic data from the sea floor. The magnetic profiles from the sea floor rock in conjunction with the time scale that included the Jaramillo event confirmed sea floor spreading and led to the plate tectonics revolution.
Our understanding of the earth, its history, and the forces that shape the land masses even today has been profoundly affected by the ideas in plate tectonics. The upper surface or crust of the earth is a relatively thin shell of brittle rock some 30 to 70 km thick under the continent and 6 to 8 km under the ocean. This thin shell of crustal material is split into numerous plates, each of which moves as a unit and interacts with adjacent plate at its boundaries. Plate collisions can cause mountains like the Himalayas or the volcanoes of Japan or faults such as the San Andreas. And even the flora and fauna of the earth are changed when continents are broken apart or joined. All these events at the earth's surface are driven by the slow convection currents of hot rock that boil up from deep inside the earth. Thus plate tectonics links many diverse phenomena on the earth's surface and its interior.
But before the plate tectonics revolution could occur, some very important scientific techniques had to be developed, and these are documented in The Road to Jaramillo. Part I discusses the development of the potassium-argon dating method in the early 1950s by John Reynolds and Joseph Lipson at UC Berkeley, who built a mass spectrometer and applied it to potassium-argon age dating. In the mid-1950s, when Garniss Curtis and Jack Evernden joined them, rocks as young as 30 to 40 million years were datable, and as techniques were refined they and their students were able to determine dates as low as a few thousand years.
Part II of this book discusses the development of paleomagnetics and the study of geomagnetic reversals when the earth's magnetic field was reversed compared to what it is today. Numerous individuals worked on this problem of polarity reversal, including Allan Cox, Richard Doell, and Brent Dalrymple. These three were trained at Berkeley, worked at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, and according to Glen Acontributed the majority of the data during the pioneering stages of the polarity-reversal scale." In the early 1960s, work on determining and dating the polarity-reversal time scale progressed rapidly, a series of time scales were produced, and by 1966 the eleventh time scale with the Jaramillo event was published.
Part III discusses the Vine-Matthews-Morley hypothesis and the work done on sea floor spreading. In 1963 Fred Vine and D.H. Matthews at the University of Cambridge, and independently L.W. Morley, suggested that geomagnetic field reversals are imprinted on rock at the ocean floor to form a series of alternately magnetized stripes when the sea floor spread from the mid-ocean ridges. The stripe widths are proportional to the alternating intervals of the polarity reversal scale. Although this hypothesis was poorly received initially, in 1966 the time scale with the Jaramillo event was successfully correlated with the magnetic anomaly profiles across mid-ocean ridges, and work progressed rapidly in plate tectonics.
When I was an undergraduate at the University of Nevada at Reno in the MacKay School of Mines (1967-1972), many if not most of my professors were dubious about plate tectonics. But when I started graduate school at Stanford in September 1972, I entered an academic environment that took plate tectonics profoundly seriously. In my first year at Stanford, Allan Cox,whose work is featured prominently in this book,was my advisor, although later my research interests changed and I was assigned another advisor. While I was in graduate school, I also worked at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Menlo Park, and did my research on fault motions. Because of Allan's connections to both Stanford and the USGS, I kept hearing about him and his work, and the work of other contributors to plate tectonics such as Jack Evernden and Brent Dalrymple at the USGS. I never got to know Allan well or the other plate tectonics contributors personally, and so I was quite interested in their biographical information and the development of their professional work detailed in this book. Reading this book brought back memories of the studying I did for my Ph.D. qualifying exams. Only this time, instead of trying to master the scientific papers about what plate tectonics is and the observations and data that support such a theory, I was learning about the individual scientists and their contributions to the development of plate tectonics. So now, some 18 years after learning the scientific basis for plate tectonics, I also have learned about the people involved and how they accomplished their work.
I can recommend this book to anyone who either has a strong interest in the earth sciences and specifically in plate tectonics or who has some background in earth sciences. The book itself is not especially technical. However, the focus is on the technical details of how a scientific theory (plate tectonics) developed and on a particular method for age dating of rocks (potassium-argon). One can read this book solely for its human interest and the biographies of scientists instrumental in developing the ideas and techniques that led to the plate tectonics revolution. And on this level one can skim over the technical aspects. On another level, one can read this book for its chronicling of how a particular scientific theory came to be, in which case one must have some understanding of the technical issues. In either case, some knowledge of geology or geophysics would be useful, and specifically some acquaintance with the basic concepts of plate tectonics would be very helpful.
Reviewed by Stuart McHugh, Research Scientist, Lockheed Palo Alto Research Laboratory, Palo Alto, CA 94304.
LOST? Natural Science and the German Theological Traditions of the Nineteenth Century
by Frederick Gregory. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992. viii + 341 pages.
Historical studies of the relationship between Western scientific thought and religious belief have focused primarily on the Anglo-American world, with relatively scant attention paid to the rich traditions of the European continent. University of Florida Historian of Science Frederick Gregory has begun to fill in this gap with his study of natural science and religion in 19th century German-speaking Europe. Gregory, with degrees in mathematics (Wheaton), theology (Gordon-Conwell) and history of science (Harvard) is eminently qualified to accomplish his main purpose and relate his findings to the American scene. Gregory's goals and methodology are clearly spelled out in an initial historiographic chapter. One touchstone in his analysis is the way that the participants conceived of truth through their espousal of either the correspondence (realism) or the coherence (fits a set of beliefs) theories of truth. He identifies four major schools of science-religion thought which were dominant in the post-Darwin period.
Chapter Two provides an overview of German protestant theology from the Enlightenment through the 19th century. One important school, the theological rationalists, favored the correspondence school of truth in asserting that the supernatural elements of scripture should be held up to the light of reason and discarded if found wanting. Conservative supernaturalists used reason to buttress church confessions but denied that reason could apply to such doctrines as sin, redemption and the afterlife. Between these opposing schools, the school of Schleirmacher took a different turn in reinterpreting the basic themes of Christianity along Romantic lines.
Chapter Three describes the most radical theological response to science as embodied in the thought of David Friedrich Strauss. Strauss was the first theologian to adopt a thoroughly Darwinian world-view. He invoked a purely naturalistic explanation of the cosmos based on a causal necessity which excluded God. His The Old Faith and the New (1872) outraged most Germans, yet attracted some adherents who felt that Ahe had restored unity to a world-view that had been fractured by the rapid and enlightening growth of natural science" (p. 109).
Orthodoxy's reaction to Darwin found a champion in Otto Zockler, who was the earliest and most prolific theological critic of Darwin on the continent and in the English speaking world. Raised in a conservative Lutheran home and influenced by conservative Catholic reformers, he spent much of his career defending Christianity against materialism and atheism. Gregory notes Zockler's early shift from using scientific information in apologetics as symbolically illustrative of the doctrines of the Christian faith to something that stood factually in harmony with Christian belief in general. His 1861 essay Uber die Speziesfrage discussed the views of Louis Agassiz and Darwin. He found both to be deficient in assuming that the natural laws of the past were the same as those of the present and chastised Darwin for espousing scientific ideas that could not be proved. He argued that the biblical interpretation of creation was a viable option for historical events. He felt that the ultimate truth would come out of the objective truth of science when correctly carried out. Gregory notes that Zockler took the position that American Charles Hodge would later take in ascribing the fundamental question as one involving presuppositions.
Zockler spent the remainder of his life dealing with the challenges of various forms of materialism, pantheism, and deism to biblical theism. He developed a "concordance" theory to correlate the Mosaic account of creation with current geology. He did not insist on six literal twenty-four-hour days in developing a system which correlated the biblical order of creation with the geological story. He estimated that humans were created about 4000 B.C. He was suspicious about geological dating, arguing that geological time could be speeded or slowed, in opposition to the prevailing uniformitarian view. In his historical writings Zockler argued against A. D. White's and John Draper's "conflict-history" of the relationship between science and religion. Zochler opposed Darwinism for its Aanti-biblical implications of descent" rather than Hodge's concern with the "anti-teleological implications of natural selection." While supportive of Darwin's science, he was concerned with the threat that Darwinism held for Christianity and deplored the accommodation strategies of those who sought to relate the two perspectives. Darwin's creation story had to be false. Ironically, the conservative creationist and pantheistic naturalist shared a belief in the correspondence theory of truth.
Gregory's next figure, Rudolf Schmid, played a mediating role between the extremes of Strauss and Zockler. In holding a position which drew from both the left and right, Schmid joined them in affirming the correspondence theory of truth. One of the impressive things about these theologians was their ability to grapple with the scientific aspects of Darwinism. Each had a more than casual interest in science even though they were pursuing a religious vocation. Schmid, who had a lifelong interest in geology, started in the ministry but soon turned to education and the study of the relationship between science and religion. He held steadfastly to the doctrine of salvation and maintained a teleological world view which advocated the complete freedom of natural science. Unwilling to polarize science and religion, he was willing to revise traditional biblical interpretations or restate evolutionary theories for his purposes. He denied that one could be both a Darwinist and a Christian, but refused to isolate science and theology or reject design. Schmid's willingness to accept both Abooks" and the ensuing struggle that entails, reflects the position of many current evangelical scientists.
The final actor, Albrecht Ritschl, and his followers would radically abandon both realism and truth as correspondence by divorcing natural science from any link with religion,nature lost! What truths one could derive in the two areas of thought were unconnected,warfare was impossible between two camps which did not share common ground. Gregory draws on the work of Wilhelm Herrmann, whose critique of the realistic status of scientific conclusions would join him with scientists and philosophers who felt that the correspondence theory of truth was suspect in science. The extension of this notion to religious truth was inevitable. Gregory's detailing of Herrmann's thought is one of the high points of Nature Lost. He suggests that Herrmann had anticipated Kuhn's Aincommensurability of different paradigms." His influence on young scholars such as Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann led to an exclusion of science and nature from the thought of two leading 20th century theologians, the effects of which are only today being addressed.
His concluding chapter, "The Future Challenge," provides a 20th century overview of the effects of the 19th century discussion. For much of the century the dominant existential school held sway for academics. Gregory argues that most scientists and lay people still sought to relate their science and faith in the context of a realist perspective and the pendulum has swung in academic circles to one of the realist positions. Karl Heim (1953), and more recently Jurgen Moltmann, Gunther Altner, Jurgen Hubner and others have led a growing effort to yoke science and religion to enhance the human condition.
Gregory has done yeoman's service in weaving the changing political scene of 19th century Germany into the science-theology story. Few historians of science are sure-footed in theology and thus avoid theological details for other cultural influences with which they are more comfortable. Evangelicals interested in more fully understanding the roots of contemporary science-religion discussions should read this work.
Reviewed by J. W. Haas, Jr., Chemistry Department, Gordon College, Wenham, MA 01984.
HIDDEN DANGERS: Environmental Consequences of Preparing for War by Anne H. Ehrlich
& John W. Birks (eds.). San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books, 1990. 246 pages.
Can America afford the environmental and economic costs of our military industrial complex? Ehrlich and Birks and thirteen other scholars think not. And in our post-Soviet Union world the futility of building a society and an economy around military products seems more plain than ever. This book is divided into two parts: the realm of nuclear weapons production and research, and a collection of papers on consequences of non-nuclear military production.
The nuclear section contains eight papers dealing with nuclear reactors, wastes, transportation, unsafe plants and technologies, weapons testing, nuclear winter and the conflict between production vs. safety and cleanup. The authors carefully detail a well-documented history of the U.S. nuclear weapons program. The authors paint a consistent picture of deliberate government misinformation, mismanagement, unsafe and expensive projects, all of which damage both the health of the populace and the economy.
Secrecy and expediency were paramount in the World War II days which precipitated the rush into nuclear weapons. Then the Cold War from Stalin to Reagan allowed the cloak of secrecy and the appeal to national security to maintain the headlong rush to more, bigger and more potent weapons. Small accidents and dissenting critics were dismissed until Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Since then, the safety and economics of building, running and finally decommissioning nuclear reactors and weapons production facilities has become an alarming concern to informed observers. The authors do note that public pressure is proving effective in making the DOE and the military-industrial complex more accountable.
The chapters on nuclear weapons testing and nuclear winter are particularly effective. They clearly lay out the consequences of past tests and the possible results of nuclear conflagrations in the future. While previous chapters occasionally overwhelmed this reader due to the long lists of large numbers (35 million curies, $85 billion, 35,000 tons of mercury), the human faces and anecdotes provided a readily accessible yet still overwhelmingly horrific account of what nuclear bombs actually do.
The second part of the book opens with the chilling prospect of even greater problems associated with biological and chemical weapons. The development, testing, stockpiling and eventual disposal of this class of weapons exhibits the same features found in the nuclear weapons program: danger to human health, adverse effects on the economy, cost of cleanup...
The book closes with essays by psychologists and economists showing the deleterious effects of militarizing a country.
The General Accounting Office estimates the cost of cleanup and maintenance to the Department of Energy's nuclear weapons complex at $175 billion (the annual nuclear weapons budget is $8 billion). The two contributing economists trace the link between military spending and an ailing economy quite ably by analyzing the economic histories of the U.S.A. and the (former) U.S.S.R. in comparison with post World War II Japan and Germany. Yet a cautious note of hope is sounded. The peril of nuclear war may strengthen the desire to resolve conflicts through diplomacy and "challenge...our species to grow out of its adolescence into full adulthood." Secondly, an economic reconversion from military back to productive civilian technologies would strengthen the economy of America, reverse the arms race, and keep more of the citizenry gainfully employed.
Hidden Dangers does indeed expose the problems America faces from its socio-economic militarization. The authors present a scathing review of the history and present-day state of the military-industrial complex. Is it one-sided? Yes, but the other side will have great difficulty making a case for continued military development in our society. Issues that were once poorly understood, or deliberately ignored, now are becoming increasingly important to a voting public: safety, the necessity of more weapons, the utility of our present arsenal, the cost of production, the costs of maintenance and cleanup, the likelihood of enemy attack and also the psychological effect on society. These concerns must become part of the algorithm used to set Pentagon policy.
Reviewed by Marvin Marcinko Kuehn, 106-3731 W. 6th Avenue, Vancouver, BC.
METHUSELAH'S TRAIL: Living Fossils and the Great Extinctions by Peter Douglas Ward.
W.H. Freeman & Co., 1992. 212 pages. Hardcover.
Ward is Professor of Geological Sciences and Curator of Invertebrates at the Thomas Burke Museum at the University of Washington in Seattle. A paleontologist, he has published extensively on the nautilus and its fossil relatives, the ammonites. The present book, as its title implies, deals primarily with those organisms who have survived the great extinctions of the past 500 million years. Although the author considers most extensively those invertebrate organisms with which he is most familiar, such as brachiopods (clams, etc.), gastropods (snails, etc.), and cephalopods (nautilus and ammonites, relatives of modern day squid and octopi); he also has chapters on the horseshoe crab and the coelocanth, and considers briefly the extinction of dinosaurs. He discusses the types of plants that were prevalent in the various periods, and the role they play in the survival and disappearance of animals.
Dr. Ward is an entertaining writer and he intersperses descriptions of field trips with his discussions of paleontology. The book is not written in highly technical language, and where the latter is used, adequate definition of terms are generally given. The book does not have an extensive listing of references and many of those listed refer to books. This aspect might prove to be a limitation for the use of the book by those who are more technically minded. The field trips described by Ward take the reader from the examination of Cretaceous boundary fossils along the coast of Spain, to the cold deep waters of Puget Sound, to the coral ridges of the south seas, as well as to many areas of the United States. Although the findings of these trips are seldom dramatic, the reader is given a feel for the rigors and the varied types of field study carried out by paleontologists.
Philosophically, the author generally subscribes to the punctuated equilibrium explanation of evolution proposed by Niles Eldridge and Stephen J. Gould, although he does deal extensively with Darwin's ideas on gradualism. He notes that Darwin felt that if gradual change could not be demonstrated in the fossil record, his ideas on natural selection would be totally inadequate. The lack of Precambrian fossils followed by the sudden appearance of many phyla in the Cambrian period (about 590 million years ago), has always posed a problem. Ward discusses this in considerable detail, and describes more recent evidences of multicellular life without skeletons in the Ediacarian fauna (late Precambrian). He considers the limited number of Precambrian fossils and the variety of Cambrian fossils to be more satisfactorily explained by the punctuated equilibrium hypothesis. Ward is a paleontologist and not a molecular biologist. Consequently, he considers the fossil record from the standpoint of sequential change, using words like "evolve," "evolution," etc., in that sense, implying ancestral relationships for those with similar structures. He considers the role of natural selection in the establishment of new organisms to be very important once the organisms are formed. Only once did I note the term "mutation" as an explanation for the development of new characteristics. He presents a fascinating discussion of the types and significance of new morphological structures in various animal species; also the role of these structures in the survival of new species and in the disappearance of older species. He discusses such features as shells, including development of air pockets within these shells; modes of locomotion; and ability to survive in deep water, or in waters of various salinities. It should be noted that there is much speculation involved in discussing matters such as these, yet I felt he was attempting to be fair in presenting his ideas. He often presented alternative explanations when he deemed it appropriate.
As noted in the title, a major theme of the book is the paleontological evidence for the major mass extinctions. He noted that the most extensive of these, the Permian extinction of about 250 million years ago, does not appear to have any extraterrestrial explanation (e.g., a meteor impact) and suggests that it may have been a consequence of climatic changes due to the continents coming together as a single land mass (Pangea). Other extinctions (213 million and 66 million years ago) are considered by Ward to have been a more likely consequence of collisions with meteors or other extraterrestrial bodies. In each case, however, Ward considers the possible climatic changes (temperature, rainfall, sea level changes, glaciation, etc.) to have ultimately played a greater role than the immediate consequences of the impact. He comments extensively on the effect of mass extinctions, not only on the number of species, but also on the number of families and genera. He then notes the rapid diversification of surviving organisms following the extinctions, to fill the vacant ecological niches. He does, however, note that some organisms (e.g., the nautilus and coelocanth) survive, but do not diversify, and considers possible explanations for these latter findings. An interesting question posed by the author is why the ammonites, who survived all previous extinctions, disappeared at the end of the Cretaceous period (66 million years ago), yet the related organism, the nautilus, has survived to the present day. In considering the disappearance of various organisms, Ward pays particular attention to the role of predators, both on land and in the seas.
In considering vertebrates who might be classed as living fossils, Ward goes into considerable detail regarding the coelocanth. This lobed fish has not been noted in the fossil record in the last 100 million years, although Ward found evidence of coelocanth scales in strata about 80 million years old. He describes in detail the saga of the discovery of living coelocanths near the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean 40 to 50 years ago. The coelocanth had long been considered, based on studies of fossil bones, to be a possible intermediate between fish and reptiles. Yet Ward notes that modern studies on the internal organs of the coelocanth do not fit that interpretation. He emphasizes the dangers of building too much interpretation on structural features preserved in fossils (bones, primarily), when little is known of other functional organs of the body.
If one keeps in mind some reservations regarding philosophical interpretations noted earlier, this reviewer would recommend this book highly for ASA readers. As the authors note, invertebrate organisms do not have the dramatic popular appeal of dinosaurs and large mammals, but they do have a very important story to tell.
Reviewed by Gordon C. Mills, Department of Human Biological Chemistry and Genetics, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas 77550.
ANIMAL LIBERATION by Peter Singer. New
York: New York Review of Books, 1990, 2nd edition. 320 pages. Hardcover.
The first (1975) edition of Animal Liberation has been an extremely popular and influential book, and it has provided a tremendous impetus to the animal liberation movement. The title of the book was derived by analogy to other liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s, black liberation, women's liberation, etc. The second edition updates the first by including some of the major developments which have occurred in the animal liberation movement since 1975, by updating many of the examples of animal use and abuse, and by considering some of the many publications which have appeared since 1975.
The gist of Singer's philosophical position is that our current attitude towards animals is"speciesist." That is, according to Singer we are guilty of "speciesism" which he defines as "a pre-judice or attitude of bias in favor of the interests of members of one's own species and against those of members of other species" (p. 6). Singer develops his argument against animal use by drawing parallels to racism and sexism. "I ask you to recognize that your attitudes to members of other species are a form of prejudice no less objectionable than prejudice about a person's race or sex" (p. v). An underlying assumption of his argument is that humans are animals like all others (or at least like all others capable of suffering), and that there are no grounds for considering humans distinct and in a different ethical category from other animals. He considers that the capacity to suffer and/or experience enjoyment is the only defensible boundary of concern for the interests of others (p. 8). And since this capacity is shared by animals, the interests of animals must be considered equally with the interests of humans.
About half of the book is devoted to chronicling the abuse of animals by humans in research and in factory farming. Many of the examples of animal use in research, given by Singer, are atypical and appear to be selected because of the apparent abuse of animals that occurred. While describing the experimental techniques involved, Singer rarely supplies the rationale or context for doing the experiment, so that the impression one is left with is that animals were being made to suffer for no useful purpose. While Singer does tend to identify worst case scenarios, many of these abuses are real. However, it is entirely reasonable to want animals better treated than they are and to want abuses corrected wherever they exist, without promoting the abolition of all use of animals or without adopting Singer's philosophical assumptions.
It is the claim that the interests of humans and animals are equivalent that most Christians will find objectionable in Singer's philosophy. Singer clearly recognizes that his position is incompatible with the Christian perception of humans as being made in the image of God and set apart from the animals. Singer appears to interpret the scientific theory of evolution as supporting an atheistic origin of the universe (pp. 205-207). This assumption then underlies his conclusion that humans and other animals are morally equivalent.
I found this book well written and easy to read. The author presents his ideas unambiguously and, although one may disagree with him, he presents the case for "animal liberation" with clarity and skill. It is particularly important that those who use animals either for food or for research be knowledgeable about the sort of opposition that is developing in the animal rights and animal welfare movements. The goal of these movements is the abolition of animal use by humans both in research and as food, not simply the elimination of unnecessary cruelty. Animal users, including not just researchers but all non-vegetarians, need to be prepared to present a well articulated justification for their use of animals. This book is better written than a good deal of the literature emanating from the animal rights movement (much of which is based on emotional appeal) and clearly articulates some of the underlying philosophy on which the animal liberation movement is based. I would recommend it as required reading for anyone interested in the current animal liberation debate or in the use of animals by humans.
Reviewed by Steven R. Scadding, Department of Zoology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, N1G 2W1.
HOPE FOR THE LAND:
Nature in the Bible by Richard Cartwright, Austin, Atlanta. John Knox Press, 1988.
Hope for the Land is the third book in the series Environmental Theology. In the first book, Baptized into the Wilderness: A Christian Perspective on John Muir, Austin develops a framework for a Christian appreciation of the natural world, and illustrates this framework from the writings of John Muir. The second book, Beauty of the Lord: Awakening the Senses, develops a framework for awareness of God's communication to us by an appreciation of the natural world, illustrated by the writings of Jonathan Edwards. A fourth book is projected, in which application of these principles is made to both personal ethics and environmental issues. The author has given much effort to these subjects both as a Presbyterian minister focusing on environmental theology and its associated political issues and also as an organic farmer.
This book is subtitled Nature in the Bible and true to its title, its most noticeable characteristic is the wealth of extensive Biblical quotations. Until one actually goes through the Bible and collects the quotations that make mention of soil, plants, and animals, as Austin has done, one does not suspect what great attention the Bible devotes to the natural world. Many other books and articles about the relationship between the Bible and ecology cite just a few verses. This is particularly true of the writings of Lynn White and of Roderick Nash, in which reference is made to little except Genesis 1:26. Even H. Paul Santmire's The Travail of Nature (reviewed in Journal ASA 39:54-55), and George S. Hendry's Theology of Nature, good as they are, use scanty Bible references by comparison to Austin's. Luchar por la Tierra, published in Ecuador by an obscure Jesuit priest, is the only other book I have seen so extensively reviewing what the Bible says about the relationship between land and people.
Austin expands the concept of ecology to embrace a "moral ecology": "The purpose of the covenant, which embraced holy people and holy land, was to recreate the moral ecology, so that god, humanity and nature might again have just and fruitful relationships" (p. 155). The theme that our relationships with God, with each other, and with the land form one continuous fabric pervades the book.
In the manner of Wendell Berry, Austin makes the point that our relationship with the natural world cannot be separated from our relationship with one another; in particular the relationships between men and women reflect and influence our treatment of the land. For instance, the commands regarding the "sabbath of the fields" were at once intended to give rest to the land, to provide gleanings for the poor, and as worship to God. He also points out that violation of the responsibility to let the land rest was serious enough of a sin to be cited (II Chronicles 36: 20-21) as a reason for exile of the Israelites. Even more, Austin refers to scriptures that say that the earth itself is one of the parties of the covenant between God and Israel; the land itself has covenantal rights. He supports this with such quotes as Deuteronomy 22:6-7 and especially Hosea 2:18 ("I...will make a covenant with the beasts of the field..."). As a result, modern mans' (including Christians') love affair with materialism constitutes "technological idolatry" (p. 197).
My only substantive criticism is that the author does not seem convinced that the Bible is really a reliable communication from God, and seems only weakly convinced that the "tales" in Genesis, Exodus and Joshua even held meaning for the Israelites in general (p. 150). I believe he could have found even richer insights in Scripture than he did if he was convinced that its writers were completely guided by God. And in a couple of places I think he went too far: "The goal is for all species, through Christ, to recognize each other as God's children" (p. 207) and "Apart from the earth there is no salvation" (p. 208).
A recurring problem for Christian environmentalists is to fit environmental preservation in with Christian eschatology. The Bible presents differing visions of the ultimate future: some parts suggest a fiery destruction of the earth, while others (such as Isaiah 41: 17-20 and Ezekiel 47: 1-12) depict an ecologically healthy earth. Understandably, Austin has not resolved this difficulty, and has simply chosen to go with the latter vision:
"Christ did not come to rescue a handful of believers from this world. He came to renew creation, to restore humanity and nature to full communion with God, and to bring all creatures into just and compassionate relationships with each other through the inspiration of his own humble sacrifice" (p. 206),...[and]...biblical visions give me hope that the redeemed community will be realized on this earth among the species and the cultures familiar to us" (p. 215).
I was deeply moved by reading this book and felt renewed in my participation in Christ's mission of healing the broken relationships among humans, God, and creation.
Reviewed by Stanley Rice, Department of Biology, Huntington College, Huntington, IN 46750.
GROUND: A Personal Story of Faith and Environmentalism by John Leax. Grand Rapids,
MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991. 127 pages. Paperback; $7.99.
New York State needed a site for a nuclear waste dump. Commissioners chose locations near the author's home town in Allegany County, an undeveloped and sparsely populated area. Poet and Houghton College professor John Leax began to see the dump site as a moral issueCone that shows the nuclear industry's irresponsibility hiding behind the lie of cheap power. Leax joined a protest group, the Allegany County Non-Violent Action Group (ACNAG), and after small skirmishes, court injunctions, threats of $1000 fines and imprisonment, a showdown occurred. On April 5th, 1990, protestors blocked a bridge with chains, farm equipment, and about a hundred people. A phalanx of state troopers began to make arrests, eventually hitting people and even horses with their nightsticks. Midway to the site, the troopers retreated. That is the narrative of Leax's short journal.
But that story is not the joy or even the essence of Standing Ground. In fact, the showdown between the New York State Police and ACNAG is too short to be climactic.
Leax has a vision deeper than split atoms and cheap power. He writes, "The dump is an issue. It is not the issue. The issue, even here, is love" (p. 57). Leax writes thoughtfully about being a Christian, saving a beautiful spot on the earth, and even hating (yes, hating) commissioners and their industrial kin. Debunking the stock notion of hating the sin but loving the sinner, Leax writes, "At what point does a sinner become his sin? At what point does the distinction cease to matter?" (p. 43).
This book is not a call to action. It is not a diatribe on the evils of the nuclear power industry. It is a meditation in the midst of turmoil. Leax wrote this daily journal in his makeshift cabin beneath a hemlock tree, as protests against a proposed nuclear dump (and arrests) escalated. The result is a mixture of calm insight and calculated rage. For example, at one point, Leax draws a tough conclusion about love and tolerance:
"Too often I confuse holy with nice, and I choose niceness. I lack the rage of a prophet, of an Amos or a Hosea. We in the Church of the Sanitized Word have become like the patrons of art who consider a Van Gogh on the wall status but a Van Gogh in the family hell." (p. 34 )
There is a bold and even blunt honesty in Standing Ground, not merely the confessional honesty of admitting he'd rather hide than be arrested or of calling their non-violent protest, in reality, "semi-violent." Remarkably, his honesty includes the positive. He shows the beauty of the hemlocks, the rain, the bluebirds, and even the silence on his four and one-half acres. His honesty includes quoting Will Campbell's eight-word definition of Christianity: AWe're all bastards but God loves us anyway" (p. 72). His honesty includes five beautiful, celebratory psalms that close the book. And finally, after the dust of the struggle with the policemen settled, his honesty includes saying, AI cannot comprehend...what it all means" (p. 16). Like his other journal, In Season and Out, this book is like a walk. It stops and savors unexpected things. It has a destination, but the joy and the insight more often result from what jumps onto the trail.
Reviewed by James G. Bishop, Instructor of English, USAF Academy, Colorado Springs, CO 80840.
FOR CREATION by Anne Rowthorn. Wilton, CT: Morehouse Publishing, 1989. 14 pages,
notes, index. Paperback; $11.95.
The purpose of these two books is to present a new Christian perspective on ecology and environmental concerns, to counteract what has been usually only a slight involvement of Christians in these issues. This is a critical area of concern for Christians and one that needs to be much more extensively considered and discussed. At least since Lynn White, Jr., proposed the thesis in his 1967 paper, "The Historical Roots of our Ecologic Crisis," that indifference to and degradation of the environment could be traced directly to the Judeo-Christian view of the superiority of mankind over nature, thereby granting human beings the right to exploit nature as they pleased, Christians have been sensitive to this charge and sought to refute it. Already in 1970 Francis Schaeffer responded in Pollution and the Death of Man: The Christian View of Ecology, arguing that the Christian response to the abuse of the creation mandate was not to move to the other extreme of redivinizing and resacralizing nature, but rather both to affirm the oneness of human beings at the level of creaturehood with the rest of creation, and at the same time to emphasize the role of human beings as special creations of God to be God's stewards of the rest of creation for Him.
These two books are written by Christians with a deep concern for the integrity of the earth and its environmental care. Anne Rowthorn has previously authored two other books and is a member of Witness for Disarmament. Michael Dowd is pastor of a congregation in the United Church of Christ; he and his wife are directors of the Living Earth Christian Fellowship, an organization committed to learning, living, and sharing the new cosmology with others. Both books testify in a dramatic way to the intense concern of the authors for environmental issues and their desire to have Christians play an appropriate role in dealing with them. Both books, however, run considerable risk of obscuring the biblical perspective.
Rowthorn finds our current dilemma to be the result of a failure on the part of Christians "to affirm the world as God's own Creation, to affirm it generously and wholeheartedly," on "Christians' lack of appreciation for the connectedness of all of life, both natural and animal, as well as our lack of recognition of our dependence upon the natural world," and on Christians' "dualistic approach to the world that says some of life is sacred, the rest secular." These are at least partially justified critiques and ones to which Christians need to pay far more attention. The case becomes a little overstated when Rowthorn goes on to say that "the well-being of the world and all its people is, or ought to be, the church's first consideration."
Rowthorn's chapter titled "The Rape of Creation" is sobering reading indeed, as she points out the large number of ways in which human civilization has and is acting to destroy the created world and its creatures. The tragic misuse of resources must be confessed when Athe same amount now being spent every two weeks by the nations of the world on armaments would be enough to provide adequate food, water, education, health care, and housing for every person on earth for a year." She argues that in the Bible "there is nothing to suggest that human beings are to dominate other people or that in ruling the natural world they are to rule the forces of nature."
Rowthorn appeals for a vitalization of the laity (one of her other books is The Liberation of the Laity) to avoid the Adeadly duel between clergy and laity" that characterizes too many churches. When faced with difficult issues like environmental concerns, "both sides hold back to avoid division within the community." In another place she writes,"Since the end of World War II, our churches have been dominated by the CPE therapeutic model (Clinical Pastoral Education). Pastors became therapists; churches became places where parishioners, particularly women,took their 'problems."
The chapter titled "Causes and Consequences" starts with a number of poignant illustrations of how badly alienated we are as sinful human beings from God's calling for us to live consistently for Him. The path becomes a little less clear when Rowthorn makes a strong call for the "resacralization" of nature. If by this she means that we need to see nature as a creation of God and thereby invested with intrinsic value, well and good; but if she means that we really need to resacralize nature so that we perceive natural objects as being identified with God Himself, we have moved down the path toward pantheism in our effort to preserve environmental concern. Again when Rowthorn says that "sin and blessing are,in every way,two sides of the same coin," it begins to sound uncomfortably like "yin and yang."
Distinctives are also blurred in the chapter on "Listening to the Land; The Witness of Native Cultures." Native cultures may indeed have been more sensitive to their relationship to the environment than we have been, but it does not follow that the details of their models for expressing this relationship should be accepted by Christians. One might wonder what is meant when Rowthorn writes,"everyone needs to remember that Christ came for the sake of the world,not the church,and Christ lived and died for the well-being of the world and of every person and aspect of Creation." Or how one should interpret her final question, "Can we evolve spiritually and emotionally in time to control the overwhelming evil that our advanced and rational intellect has created?" Is the evil the result of our rationality or our innate sinfulness? Is our salvation in our ability to evolve spiritually and emotionally, or in yielding our lives as servants to Jesus Christ?
Dowd's program is much the same as Rowthorn's, for he also "sees the divine in everything that lives." But he has fastened on what he considers anew cosmology" arising from the findings of modern science that enables us to save the material world by declaring it to really be spiritual. Although Dowd's goal is certainly one with which Christians will agree, and his deep felt sense of concern for the environment and the earth is something with which Christians can readily identify, his method is particularly unfortunate since the claims for the new cosmology" are not rooted in reality. Modern science simply does not provide the insights or results that Dowd refers to.
Some of the fundamental errors in the "new cosmology," referred to by Dowd, may be summarized as follows. It is not true that "scientists have come to see that all matter has a mysterious, psychic/spiritual dimension." It is not true that physicists are beginning to tell us that every atom of the universe has an inner intelligence which is non-material and ultimately unknowable." It is not true that "the earth is alive and we are the Earth's reflexive consciousness." It is not true that "there is nothing in existence that does not have subjective experience." It is not true that "every being, from individual atoms, to individual persons, to individual solar systems, to individual galaxies, has a non-material center, an inner intelligence." It is undeniable that several people have made such claims, and have argued that these claims are based on modern science; it is essential to recognize, however, that such claims arise not at all from science but totally from the personal faith convictions of those who speak in this way.
It is equally unsettling when Dowd reveals what the impact of these falsely assumed recognitions are for Christian theology. He considers one person who preaches "the need to repent, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and surrender our lives to the will of God in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven" as saying much the same thing as a person who proclaims Athe need to humbly change our thinking and live according to the laws of nature so that evolution can continue with awareness." There is no point in being committed to Apersonal salvation unless one is equally committed to planetary salvation." Sometimes the position sounds disturbingly like a kind of monism: "Sin is the fruit, not the root of the problem. The root of the problem is alienation from our larger Self." Personal salvation becomes "the process of reconciling with God, other people, and nature,to one's larger Self,and participating in the reign of love and truth." "To 'evangelize the world' or 'preach the gospel' in the coming millennium will mean educating people in the new cosmology from a Christian perspective."
Theologically, it is not true that "this cosmology can be understood as an integral part of what the church has traditionally anticipated as 'the second coming of Christ." It is not true that "ignorance, not evil, seems to be the root of the problem." It is not true that the commandments of God are found "through empirical observation of the universe."
Although he affirms that "the Bible has been, is now, and always will be our inspired and authoritative spiritual guide," he follows almost immediately with "Nature is the primary Bible." His position leads him to believe that differences in religious development are the consequence of the will of God, and that efforts to remove these differences (to evangelize all people into Christians) would be contrary to God's will. "The primary scripture of the universe clearly indicates that God's will never was, is not now, and never will be that all people become Christians." What is at least one significance of the incarnation of Jesus? "Through the differentiated subjectivity of Jesus, the universe experienced in consciousness the fact that it was an incarnation of God."
Finally Dowd summarizes by saying, "We are neither stewards, nor caretakers, nor anything else that assumes we are separate from nature. We have no existence apart from the living Earth. We are the Earth." Most unfortunate is the continued assertion, "Recent discoveries in the natural sciences have led to a new understanding of reality." Whatever truth there is in this statement, it cannot be applied in the way that Dowd and others are attempting.
Christians who want to have their thinking about Christian perspectives on the environment stimulated and broadened can certainly use these two books to exercise their considerations. But we must not let the idea take root in the Christian community that these aberrations on Christianity are the prescribed way to go.
Reviewed by Richard H. Bube, Professor of Material Science and Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305.
DUST BOWL: Can We Stop the Destruction of the Land Before It's Too Late? by C. Dean
Freudenberger. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1990.
Earth's environmental problems, in particular the erosion and decertification of arable land, are complex interactions of the natural and social sciences, of economics, of philosophy and religion. These problems require the attention and diligent work of many experts in narrow fields, for instance toxicology and agriculture, but also require leadership from cross-disciplinary individuals who are able to integrate these many different fields of study. One such individual is the author of this book. Freudenberger has an extensive background in international agriculture, but is professor of Christian ethics at the Claremont School of Theology. He worked as an agricultural consultant in more than thirty countries for thirty-five years during a time when agriculture in many "developing countries" was beginning the long and incomplete transition away from colonial export agriculture and toward becoming self-sustaining in food production. He describes his experiences as an agriculture student in California and as an agricultural consultant in Sarawak and what is now Zaire. We who teach or are concerned about issues either of the destruction of our common environment, or of feeding the hungry, need to listen to Freudenberger's voice of experience.
This book does not attempt to be comprehensive. It is a slim volume of personal reflections, but also contains many interesting and vitally important facts. Furthermore, the author exhibits clear thinking about big issues; for instance, he explains that neither capitalism nor socialism is the answer to our dilemma (p. 21), thus breaking free from the dichotomous thinking that enslaves so much modern writing on global subjects. Further, he points out that strong agriculture is as important for "national security" as is a strong military defense. He also describes the similarity between the predicament of third-world agriculture and of U.S. agriculture: both have been colonialized, the first by the interests of the industrial countries, the second by the interests of the industrial cities. This is a disturbing insight to those of us who think that colonialism is something that happens somewhere else.
Most of us can agree with the author's conclusions; and we can accept the definition, guidelines, goals, strategy, values, and motivation of agricultural ethics that the author presents (pp. 105-106). The author's viewpoint is consistent with Christian ethics but he could have made a much more biblically-centered case while reaching the same conclusions. When he said "Humanity is not the measure of all things," (p. 32), this would have been the perfect place to declare that humans have a responsibility to love the creation because it is an expression of the Creator, but instead he says, "Perhaps the health of the earth is the measure." He seems to suggest that right and wrong are defined by their effects on the environment (as Aldo Leopold said, "A thing is right when it contributes to the ... harmony of the biotic community. It is wrong when it goes the other way") rather than by their consistency with God's will. So while many of us can agree with practically all of Freudenberger's conclusions, and share his powerful concern, we may follow a different line of reasoning to reach those conclusions.
One point in particular has inspired me in reading this book: Freudenberger says that the concepts of preservation of natural resources, and of land stewardship, are not good enough; we should not merely conserve the land, but should enrich it, leaving it better than we found it. This, plus pieces of good news (for instance, the success of the French government in restoring the family farm, and the recent increase in funding for research into ecological agriculture), serve as a challenge and an encouragement to those of us who sometimes wonder if our teaching, writing, and labor can have any effect.
Reviewed by Stanley Rice, Department of Biology, Huntington College, Huntington, IN 46750.
THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS by David
G. Myers. New York: William Morrow & Company, 1992. 331 pages. Hardcover; $20.00.
Although this book has a 1992 publication date, Myers has obviously been thinking about happiness for many years. One of the chapters in his (with Malcolm Jeeves) Psychology Through the Eyes of Faith, published in 1987, is titled AThis Way to Happiness." The skeletal ideas which appear there are here fleshed out with data extracted from sources listed in 43 pages of bibliography. Myers' purpose in writing this volume is Amore to inform than to prescribe or advise."
The book answers some intriguing questions about happiness: Is happiness rare? Can money buy happiness? Does age affect happiness? Are men happier than women? The answers to these questions (no) and many others are catalogued. A useful and succinct epilogue summarizes the true and the false about happiness. Some myths: tragedies permanently erode happiness; the elderly are the unhappiest people; women typically suffer an empty-nest syndrome; men typically experience a traumatic mid-life crisis; one sex is happier than the other; trial marriages reduce the risk of later divorce; and religious faith suppresses happiness. Some truths: happiness is promoted by health, positive self-esteem, optimism, outgoingness, supportive friendships, challenging work, and an active faith.
Myers is a social psychologist, an award-winning teacher, a recipient of the Gordon Allport Prize for research, the author of eight books, a Christian, and a member of the American Scientific Affiliation. He is certainly one of today's most popular and readable writers. This book will appeal to anyone who wants a grip on the variables related to happiness,and that will include most people.
Reviewed by Richard Ruble, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, AR 72761.
I? WHAT AM I? Searching for Meaning in Your Work by Calvin Redekop and Urie A.
Bender. Academie Books, Zondervan, 1988. 316 pages.
When I was a student I lived with my paternal grandparents. That experience made me very aware of the pattern of my grandfather's working life in Canada as a youth in a large family with few marketable specialized skills.He was thankful when he found steady work, especially during the depression years when he was able to provide for his family by dint of diligent effort.
My own experience has been very different. The struggles about work that my wife and I face have to do with choosing among a surfeit of opportunities, and keeping commitments to work in some sensible balance with commitments to family and church. We are better educated and more affluent than our parents and grandparents, but we share with them a struggle about work. We too have problems, but very different problems.
Although my particular experience is not universal, the authors of this book point out that work is changing in many waysCthe types available, the amount available, the remuneration for it, its impact on humans, and the implications for society are all different than in the past. They set out to produce a "first word" on a Christian perspective on work, and to invite dialogue in response to their efforts. Their approach is informed by the social sciences, and seeks to be aware of our partnership with God in work - God's work is ultimate, human work is not - and to be aware at the same time of the humanness of the environment in which we carry out our work.
Difficulties about work arise for many reasons: there is a tension between recognizing the goodness of work and wanting to minimize the hardship associated with it; many jobs are "too small" for the people doing them, and are thus boring and demeaning; meaningless work can lead to alienation, although the authors suggest that there are so many needs in the world that nobody should have to do alienating work; increasing professionalization of work means that norms are determined by the group rather than the individual, and this can lead to conflict; many feel mastered by their work rather than masters of it. What is needed is a moral response to work, something based on standards brought to bear on this aspect of our lives from outside it, since society cannot be corrected from within.
Reading this book is a stimulating experience. There are times when its responses seem unsatisfying, although in many areas of life perhaps it is necessary to stop at general, seemingly vague, truths. It is a good first word. At the end of the book, the reader shares the authors' hope that more will be said,that others will participate in this dialogue.
Reviewed by David T. Barnard, Associate to the Vice-Principal (Resources), and Professor, Department of Computing and Information Science, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.