Book Reviews for December 1999
CHRISTIAN FAITH AND THE ENVIRONMENT: Making Vital Connectionsby Brennan R. Hill. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1998. 318 pages, notes, index. Paperback; $22.00.
Hill is professor of theology at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. This book is a part of the Orbis Ecology and Justice Series. The goal of this series is to publish books that seek to integrate an understanding of the earth as an interconnected life system with concerns for just and sustainable systems that benefit the entire planet. Hill considers this book to be a beginning, "a modest pioneering effort to join Christian scripture, doctrines, spirituality, and ethical values with our contemporary concerns for the earth." The overall goal of the book is to make "vital connections" between many areas of Christian belief and the environment. It is the authorís hope that this book will stimulate Christian churches to "take their place in the vanguard of those determined to provide future generations with a healthy and beautiful world in which to live."
Hillís approach to the development of an environmental theology is first and foremost a biblical approach. In the second chapter of the book, the "Hebrew scriptures" of the Old Testament are examined for their perspectives on human life, the nature of the earth, and the relationships between the Creator and the creation. In chapter three, the "Christian scriptures" of the New Testament are surveyed with most of the attention given to the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels. While Hill believes that Christian environmental theology must draw from the Old and New Testament as its primary source, he goes on to suggest that biblical views must be critiqued when they either fall short or are detrimental to sustaining the earth.
Besides being biblical, the authorís approach could also be described as doctrinal. In chapter four, Hill discusses in depth the doctrine of the incarnation and its implications for the development of an environmental theology. The focus in chapter five is the sacramental theology of the Catholic Church, which Hill believes can "put us in touch with the sacred dimensions of the cosmos itself." In chapter seven, after presenting the development of modern atheism and its role in the degradation of the environment, Hill outlines several positive approaches to the "God question" and reflects upon how they might affect attitudes toward creation.
A third way to describe the authorís approach is that it is deeply spiritual. The type of spirituality advocated in this book is both contemplative and active. It is contemplative in that it seeks to "experience the Divine within the self, others, and in the world." It is active in that it strives to "bring love, peace, and justice into a troubled world." It is a spirituality centered on Jesus Christ and looks to his Spirit with hope for the restoration of creation. It is also prophetic in that it proclaims the reign of God and challenges those forces that oppress both people and the earth. These and other aspects of the spiritual nature of the authorís environmental theology are presented in depth in chapter nine, which is entitled "Christian Spirituality."
One other way to summarize Hillís approach is that it is correlational, linking Christian beliefs and moral values with environmental issues. He draws from the pioneering work of Paul Tillich, who wrote extensively about the intimate relationship between religion and culture. In the final chapter of the book, Hill suggests that Christians need to move away from a morality that is private and otherworldly and toward an ethic that resists self-centeredness, greed, and consumerism. It is an ethic which encourages all people to live simply, to be generous toward others, and to act responsibly toward the environment.
Anyone with an interest in the ongoing development of a "Christian environmental theology" should take the time to read this book. Although the book is written from a Catholic perspective, Hill prefers to use the word "Christian" as he attempts to bring theology and ecology together. While he draws at times from the writings of Catholic theologians, such as Karl Rahner, David Tracy, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, his emphasis on developing an environmental theology that is biblically based and centered upon the example of Christ makes this book a useful resource for Christians from a variety of denominational backgrounds. Hill also addresses contemporary issues including the shortcomings of a dualistic world view, the strengths and weaknesses of panentheism, and the positive contributions from ecofeminist theology. The breadth and depth of the topics covered in this book make it a valuable resource for scientists and theologians who have an interest in the ongoing development of a Christian environmental theology.
Reviewed by J. David Holland, Biology Instructor, Springfield College in Illinois, Springfield, IL 62702.
REMEMBER CREATION: Godís World of Wonder and Delightby Scott Hoezee. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999. 144 pages. $14.00.
In the Introduction of this short, well-written book, Hoezee, a Christian Reformed Church minister, emphasizes how many books on "creation" deal with the creation/evolution controversy and how few books deal "with Christian ecology for the world today." Furthermore, of the books which do consider the subject most "tend toward the academic end of the reading spectrum." Therefore, we need books for "the popular evangelical readership." Remember Creation is just such a book.
Relying heavily upon Scripture, Hoezee emphasizes: (1) that God delights in his creation, (2) that we likewise should enjoy the beautiful world God has given us, and (3) that we, as his stewards, should be concerned about its wise use and preservation. The two great themes of the Bible are creation and redemption and we need to emphasize both. The emphasis on creation should not be limited to debating evolution. If we are lovers of God, we should love his creation, which includes "the big things like distant galaxies" and "the small things like protozoa and subatomic quarks."
In his second chapter entitled "Letís Play: Making Godís Delight in the Creation Our Own," Hoezee urges us to spend more time enjoying and marveling at Godís creation because God wants us to share his handiwork.
Do some today spend more time looking at colorful home pages on the Internet than they do absorbing the natural color on bird wings and tulip petals? Ö Why do so many people travel to the West, not to grasp at the majestic deserts and mountains, but instead duck into darkened Las Vegas casinos to gamble their life away?
In his third chapter, Hoezee emphasizes that we should enjoy Godís creation, care for it, and preserve it. It is heretical to allow it to be plundered and polluted. In discussing this, he carefully urges us to avoid the extremes: there is no problem vs. it is so bad we cannot do anything about it. We need to appreciate creation but avoid any pantheistic worshiping of it. Furthermore, animals are Godís creation (like humans) but biblically are not on the same level. In the fourth chapter, he emphasizes that "Saving Nature, but Only for Man" (as considered by Charles Krauthammer) is not a Christian approach. We are to be servant/stewards of nature. We are also to avoid the radical environmentalist claim that we do not count.
In the fifth chapter, Hoezee gives us some practical suggestions on how we can enjoy and preserve Godís creation. He again emphasizes the need to avoid extremes whether New Age or Gnostic. Neither atheists nor pantheists are right. He closes this chapter with some suggestions for simple ways to be stewards: recycle, carpool, support efforts to preserve, and give money and time to environmental projects. In chapter six, he concludes with a meditation on 2 Peter 3. This passage reminds us of Godís power for destruction and renewal, and that we should live holy, righteous lives. We should also remember that we were created to take joy in Godís creation.
This is a book that is easy to read, Bible-based, stimulating, and challenging. It is a book that Iím sure I will enjoy for many re-readings. I enthusiastically recommend it whatever the readerís previous impressions of "creation" or "environment." And the index to Bible references will be most helpful.
Reviewed by Wilbur L Bullock, 13 Thompson Lane, Durham, NH 03824.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL CRUSADERS: Confronting Disaster and Mobilizing Communityby Penina Migdal Glazer and Myron Peretz Glazer. University Park, PA: Penn State Press, 1998. 193 pages, notes, index. Paperback.
Myron Glazer, a professor of sociology at Smith College, co-authored this book with his wife, Penina Glazer, who is a professor of history at Hampshire College. They have written a similar, highly acclaimed book, Whistleblowers: Exposing Corruption in Government and Industry (Basic Books, 1989). This time the Glazers have attempted a sociological analysis of grassroots environmentalists, looking for similiarities in experience which transcend national borders and certain issues. Each chapter focuses on a specific aspect of the environmental movement (e.g., secrecy, the role of mothers, fighting toxic landfills, and protecting natural resources) and includes analyses by environmentalists from the United States, Israel, and Czechoslovakia.
The Glazers seem supportive of grassroots environmentalists, yet do a good job of detaching themselves to look for common experiences. They point out that many environmentalists started out as unconcerned citizens who believed everything authority figures told them about the environment. For instance, the government was not questioned about the health effects of radiation exposure to residents of Hanford, Washington, until a local farmer began to relate stories of health effects on animals and, over the long term, people who lived in the community. Many times, communities became bitterly divided over the economic benefits of an industryís interests (e.g., logging in California) and the value of protecting natural resources or public health. People had to balance the prospect of losing jobs with adverse environmental effects. Activists frequently found themselves ostracized until they could build "alternative networks of power" by using the media, university professors, and national groups to focus attention on the environmental problems.
In cases of public health, it was easier to mobilize the community when the adverse effects were obvious to all. They did, however, have to master complex technical issues and argue in legal proceedings with well-funded experts hired by industry or government. These battles sometimes lasted years and involved significant commitment; some even lost their families because they were so personally involved. In one case, (Czechoslovakia) environmental activists served as the core group of dissidents responsible for the Velvet Revolution that displaced communism in 1989.
The book gave me an appreciation for the courage ordinary people can show in the face of overwhelming opposition. It also made it obvious that government and industry have not always been forthright about the effects industrialization has had on modern society. The environment has too often been an afterthought or regarded as the price to be paid for progress. It would be interesting to examine any cases of excesses by the environmentalists themselves. Unfortunately, the Glazers did not include this in their study.
This book could also be viewed as a textbook or "lessons learned" on grassroots political activism. I found myself noting how some of the principles could equally apply if one were protesting the establishment of a local abortion clinic. For instance, the Freedom of Information Act was a powerful tool in securing the data necessary to inform the public about environmental dangers. This highlights the fact that grassroots political activism is heavily dependent on information. In effect, activists are conducting "information warfare" by attempting to alter commonly held views or misconceptions. In a sense, this is the "spiritual warfare" we are called to as Christians: to bring the good news of Christ to a complacent world unaware of the spiritual disaster of sin.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in how to organize a community of ordinary people to confront controversial issues. It will be of particular value to those who believe Christians are called to be public advocates of justice, whether social or environmental. In a sense, justice is Godís political platform.
Reviewed by David Condron, Engineer, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren, VA 22448.
TURNING OFF THE HEAT: Why America Must Double Energy Efficiency to Save Money and Reduce Global Warmingby Thomas R. Casten. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1998. 274 pages, foreword, glossary, notes, index. Hardcover; $26.95.
The unspoken question behind much of the environmental policy debate is, "How do we save the earth without ruining the world?" Casten offers an answer in this book. Casten is the founder and CEO of Trigen Energy Corp., a company that specializes in improving the efficiency of electric power generation. He participated in the White House conference on global climate change. Common Purpose named his 1997 report, "Barriers to Efficiency," the best policy paper of the year. This book is an elaboration of that report.
The book consists of ten chapters. The first three chapters are intended to make the scientific, economic, and ethical cases that global warming is a problem that needs to be solved. The next six chapters go into greater detail about the nature of the problem, obstacles that stand in the way of a solution, and recommendations for surmounting those obstacles. The last chapter is a proposed act of legislation that summarizes Castenís recommendations.
Castenís message is that anthropogenic carbon- dioxide-induced global warming is a problem that demands a solution. In the U.S., electric power generation accounts for one-third of the carbon dioxide emissions. Current approaches to solve global warming rest on the faulty assumptions that electric power is generated with optimal efficiency and that a decrease in fossil fuel use necessarily entails a decrease in the standard of living. Casten argues that monopoly protection of the generators of electric power prevents maximum efficiency from being achieved. Thus, the cornerstone of his proposed solution is deregulation of the electric power industry. Deregulation alone, though, is not enough because both consumers and generators of power need stimuli to see that conservation of fossil fuels is in their self-interest.
To stimulate consumers to lessen energy waste, Casten recommends a combination of economic incentives, such as tax credits for energy-efficient cars and appliances, and initiatives like a national shade- tree-planting program. To stimulate the power industry to lessen fossil fuel use, Casten urges the adoption of a Fossil Fuel Efficiency Standard, which is defined as the ratio of all fossil fuel burned to generate electricity to all electric and heat energy generated. This standard, based on statistics already compiled in fulfillment of various paperwork requirements, will be reduced to 1.0 (about half of todayís level) over twenty years. Businesses that fail to meet the standard will pay fines.
Casten persuasively shows that the electric power industry is a monopoly and that protection of this monopoly no longer makes sense because of technological advances in the last 35ñ40 years. Moreover, this monopoly prevents the correct price signals from being sent to consumers and producers alike. Casten acknowledges that political realities prevent the rapid and complete deregulation of the power industry, so he includes some less dramatic but more feasible proposals that will reward efficiency.
Although far superior to other books, such as Vice President Goreís Earth in the Balance, this book has weaknesses. The irony is that Casten advocates a government regulation to correct a situation caused by government regulation. Another irony is that Casten faults economic models that rest on invalid assumptions and fail to account for observed data, yet he accepts the predictions of climate change models that are subject to the same criticisms.
Casten begs several questions. For example, he never explicitly states to whom businesses will pay their fines for noncompliance with the Fossil Fuel Efficiency Standard. If the answer is the government, a real risk will be that the government will come to depend on the fines as a source of revenue and take measures to ensure that the fines persist. Payment of the fines to competing power companies or to consumers would seem to be better options. Another unanswered question deals with other countries. Casten thinks they will follow the lead of the U.S. so as not to lose competitive advantage, but what if countries like China do not change their power industries?
Because Casten is neither a climatologist nor an ethicist, the weakest chapters of the book are the first and the third. Chapter one is an attempt to summarize the scientific case for global warming. Casten relies heavily on a study of 160,000 yearsí worth of ice core data that relate atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration to temperature. The graph he includes (p. 19) clearly shows a large increase in carbon dioxide concentration long before industrialization took place. A similar increase since 1700 is not accompanied by a corresponding temperature increase. These data also suffer from a failure to distinguish whether the temperature changes are primarily regional or global, in winter or summer, at night or day. In addition, there is at least one recent study that suggests carbon dioxide concentrations increase after temperatures increase.
Chapter three covers the ethical reasons for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Castenís guiding dictum is, "To whom much is given, much shall be required." He attributes this precept to his mother (p. 70), but it is not clear if he knows the biblical origin of the teaching. In Castenís estimation, the human race has gained godlike powers over nature and now faces godlike responsibilities. To meet these responsibilities, "we must find a way to increase human thinking power" to develop a deeper sense of ethics (p. 80). In order to move forward responsibly, we must have "collective, global cooperation" to pursue knowledge (p. 80), and "we must work as a collective thinking organism" (p. 81). According to Casten, this organism already exists in the form of a free market. Some readers of this journal might find Castenís faith in the free market bordering on or constituting idolatry. Others might see him as appealing to the baser instincts of people. Also, many might be suspicious of his humanistic approach or offended by his reference to God as "she" (p. 72). Readers will be relieved that Casten does not promote Gaia-worship but that he does advocate responsible stewardship.
Despite its weaknesses, this book should be essential reading for anyone who shapes energy policy and for civic-minded citizens who are interested in environmental issues. With a fairly non-technical writing style, Casten charts a course that does not pit the economy against the environment in a false dichotomy. His proposals merit serious consideration.
Reviewed by George D. Bennett, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Millikin University, Decatur, IL 62522.
IS GOD A VEGETARIAN? Christianity, Vegetarianism, and Animal Rightsby Richard Alan Young. Chicago: Open Court Publishing Company, 1999. 187 pages, indexes. Paperback; $19.95.
Young is professor of New Testament Studies at Temple Baptist Seminary and founder and board member of EarthCare, an ecumenical Christian environmental organization. He is also the author of Healing the Earth: A Theocentric Perspective on Environmental Problems and Their Solutions and Intermediate New Testament Greek.
Biblical characters ate meat and vegetables. They also made use of animal and plant products for clothing, tools, and decorations in accordance with God granting humans dominance over every living creature. Even Jesus ate fish and, mostly likely, the flesh of other animals. The Bible records numerous animal sacrifices as well as Godís occasional destruction of his own creation to show his righteousness, including the killing of humans, animals, and plants. Given these settings, how can anyone justify Christian vegetarianism and advocate animal rights on the basis of our Holy Scripture?
In his book, Is God a Vegetarian? Young comprehensively describes the dilemmas of following the Bible and justifying vegetarianism. He also discusses the conflicts between our dominance over animals and animal rights. Instead of resolving these dilemmas and conflicts, Young offers an escape approach. He first points out that our present world is different from the ancient world. Thus, we no longer need to follow the customs, traditions, and lifestyles of biblical times. He insists that we not focus on particular Bible verses and not search for historical accuracy in the Bible. Young then suggests that we look at the grand picture of Godís creation plan and aim at building a community, the "kingdom of God," in which there will be no killing and suffering of any kind. He believes that God is guiding and leading us in this endeavor toward that peaceful goal, and that Christians can accomplish that task by becoming vegetarians and stopping animal abuses.
Two basic issues in Youngís thesis bother me. First, he over-emphasizes Godís love and neglects to mention his righteousness. Some of those biblical particulars that Young quotes in his discussions are truly Godís commands that we Christians must obey. If one can ignore certain particulars in the Bible, as Young suggests, then a Christian can surely argue for any kind of lifestyle he or she prefers, such as homosexuality, alcoholism, and celibacy, even though many preachers say the Bible clearly indicates that these lifestyles are not permitted. There is also the big question of who has the authority to determine which biblical particulars Christians can overlook and which we must follow.
Secondly, I, for one, believe that plants have as much life and as many rights as animals. Indeed, all living organisms, whether humans, animals, plants, bacteria, or virus, have lives of their own and have rights to survive as Godís creation. In this book, Young talks about animal life, animal suffering, animal abuses, and animal rights only, but not about those of plants, To me, this is rather one-sided and is unfair to plants. When we harvest vegetables, we also kill them. Plants can be abused by humans and, in some cases, suffer more than animals. For example, maple syrup is obtained by scoring the skin (bark) of a maple tree, sticking tubes into the wounds (notches), and bleeding (collecting) its blood (sap). The bleeding (collection) takes days and the tree is left to suffer the pain. One may maintain that this is a clear case of plant abuse. Animals are rarely abused that badly.
Without death, there will be no life; without suffering, there can be no gain. That is why Jesus must suffer a painful death so that we believers may have everlasting life. My understanding of Godís creation plan is this: Certain plants must die (be eaten) to give life to herbivores, and animals must die (be devoured) to give life to carnivores. God commands us to rule over all creatures, living and nonliving, so that we may live well, remain healthy, and serve him thankfully. Without the maple treeís suffering, how else can we get real maple syrup?
If we follow Youngís arguments and take the position that we should not kill and abuse any living organism for food, then what is left for Christians to eat? The answer obviously is synthetic food. It is now feasible to chemically synthesize carbohydrates, amino acids, fats, vitamins, minerals, and even some active ingredients in condiments and seasonings, all from nonliving materials. The major problems with synthetic food at present are the high costs of producing most of these food items and the publicís reluctant acceptance of them. When synthetic food becomes readily available, affordable, and acceptable, it will challenge chefs and gourmet cooks to come up with recipes for preparing delicious and nutritious meals with it. Would anyone want to take up that challenge?
Reviewed by James Wing, 15107 Interlachen Drive, Unit 1014, Silver Spring, MD 20906-5635.
PROFESSORS WHO BELIEVE: The Spiritual Journeys of Christian Faculty by Paul M. Anderson, ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998. 238 pages. Paperback; $14.99.
Professors Who Believe is a collection of twenty- two essays whose theme is the relevance of the Christian faith to academic life or life in general. This riveting book chronicles Godís action in the lives of some excellent scholars, from a range of academic disciplines and theological persuasions. The editor is a professor of biochemistry at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, who seeks to show that Christianity is as valid and relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago.
The title of this book is enough to tantalize even the most restrained book-buyers, but what lies inside the covers? Many of the essays provide testimonies of Godís providential ordering in events that appeared inconsequential at the time but later exerted a profound effect in personal or professional development. "I ascribe many of my best ideas to divine inspirationóthe ëAha!í Insight" (Patricia Reiff, p. 61). In this sense, the essays are an excellent encouragement for Christian professors trying to seek Godís relevance in the university. They are particularly valuable for those in positions where reflection on the interaction between faith and their academic discipline is lacking.
The essays are generally very personal in style. Reading the collection is like an intimate conversation with a friend, at times intense, at times hilarious, but always with the aim of illustrating Godís faithfulness. The book does not seek to elaborate deep theological insightsóalthough there are someóbut rather describes the more difficult task of integrating theology and vocation. "Mere Christianity is much harder in the living than in the thinking" (Keith Yandell, p. 215). The result is a book that serves to stimulate self-reflection and an evaluation of oneís own openness to Godís leading. Several of the testimonies are a source of ideas on approaching delicate issues from a Christian perspective.
This book is an excellent resource for all Christian professors. Several essays are ideal articles for non-believing academics, and others might be useful for leading discussions. ASAers should consider giving copies to Christian colleagues and students embarking on academic careers, but remember to keep a copy for yourself!
Reviewed by Fraser F. Fleming, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA 15282.
THE COMPLETE BOOK OF EVERYDAY CHRISTIANITY by Robert Banks and R. Paul Stevens, eds. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press 1999. 166 pages. Paperback; $24.99.
This volume is billed as an A-to-Z guide to following Christ, a down-to-earth guide showing how Christianity illuminates everyday life. Many areas of daily existence are explored including family, church, job, money, relationships, entertainment, sports, and politics. This could be categorized as a how-to book: how to resolve conflict, how to age gracefully, how to find Godís will, how to choose entertainment, how to be healthy, and so forth.
Topics of particular interest to readers of this journal include creation, ecology, education, global village, leadership, nature, and technology. Cross references and end-listings are helpful in locating particular subjects. The editors, who have also authored other books, wrote some of the articles. They were assisted by dozens of other writers. The book might be used as a text in churches or schools, as a resource in preparing a talk, and as a source for information to satisfy curiosity or solve a problem.
Reviewed by Richard Ruble, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, AR 72761.
Faith & Science
SCIENCE, LIFE AND CHRISTIAN BELIEF: A Survey and Assessment by Malcolm A. Jeeves and R. J. Berry. Leister, England: Apollos, 1998. 304 pages, notes, index. Paperback.
Jeeves and Berry have furnished a delightful smorgasbord of topics with both meat for the intellect and wine for the soul. This book updates and expands Jeevesí earlier book, The Scientific Enterprise & Christian Faith (1969), with a synthesis of their more recent work. The earlier volume synthesized discussion at a 1965 Oxford conference organized primarily by members of Christians in Science and ASA. Both works explore the link between science and faith by pointing the reader to Godís two great books.
Jeeves and Berry, both active in Christians in Science, are Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Jeeves, a neuroscientist and psychologist, is currently president of the latter organization and professor emeritus at St. Andrews. Berry, an ecological geneticist, is Professor of Genetics at University College London. Jeevesí integrative work on psychology and faith includes Mindfields: Human Nature at the Millennium and Psychology and Christianity: The View Both Ways. Berryís recent volumes include God and the Biologist and God and Evolution.
The book opens with a discussion of the nature of science and its relationship to a Creator who seeks to make himself known. Later chapters address specific topics, especially within the life sciences, and their implications for Christians. The level of discussion presupposes some prior understanding of science and is appropriate for an advanced undergraduate course. The twenty-five pages of detailed endnotes flesh out many arguments for the more advanced reader. Finally the bibliography, lacking in Jeevesí earlier books, is a helpful addition.
Chapter one explores the role of the Greek and Hebrew-Christian traditions in shaping modern science. Although the relationship between science and faith is complex, they maintain that it is not primarily one of warfare, but of complementarity and affirmation. This chapter adds an informative short history of the ASA and a footnote on the breaking away of the Christian Research Society.
In chapter two, Jeeves and Berry discuss the relationship between the Creator and the laws of nature. They draw extensively from the work of Donald MacKay, neuroscientist and contributor to the original conference. MacKayís view of God as Creator- participant is especially helpful here in stressing a theistic, as opposed to a deistic, understanding of Godís constant action in upholding the universe. Our God is one who self-reveals by stepping into his creation in order to be known personally by his created beings. Because the laws of nature are descriptive, rather than prescriptive, it is misleading to think of miracles as interventions in which God suspends natural laws; instead, all existence depends on his continuing to uphold the universe.
Chapter three centers on the scientific method. I found the link between Kuhnís theory of knowledge and the development of subjectivism in postmodern thought particularly insightful.
Drawing from MacKayís discussion of parallel levels of explanation, chapter four deals with the use of models and analogies in both science and religion. They contend that a misunderstanding of the use of models in science may have led theologians to an overly zealous demythologizing of Scripture.
The next three chapters assess current debates on origins. Further study in Big Bang cosmology, the Anthropic Principle, and/or chaos theory may provide insight into Godís relationship to the physical universe. The scientific and biblical accounts should be seen as complementary, with science addressing the mechanism, but not the ultimate reason for creation. We are reminded that science is "thinking Godís thoughts after him," a way of describing his normal mode of operation in the world as he sustains it moment by moment. The biblical account reveals the derived and temporal nature of matter dependent on God for its existence. Yet we must be careful not to limit his freedom to surprise us with unexpected acts. This discussion draws on the ideas of Houghton and Polkinghorne besides those of MacKay. An extensive endnote details the exegetical possibilities for the use of "day" in Genesis. Most of the discussion on Genesis, however, deals with the origin of our now-fallen sexual and social nature and its implications for obedience to God.
Chapters 8ñ11 deal with the nature and behavior of human beings. An extensive discussion of nefesh, psyche, ruach and pneuma support the authorsí claim that the biblical portrait of human nature is of an embodied soul, dependent on God for existence, redemption, and resurrection. This is in contrast to a Platonic view of a naturally immortal soul which inhabits a mortal body. The resurrection thus becomes a divine creative act in which God recognizes us on the basis of our previous relationship with him. This discussion underlines the importance of our bodies and the necessity of avoiding a body/soul dichotomy in our Christian walk. The evidence from psychology shows that our outward actions actually come to shape our beliefs, attitudes, and character. Freely pursued behavior becomes written in the brain as part of personality.
Jeeves and Berry provide no easy answers for complex dilemmas at the beginning and end of life, but they aver that the image of God resides in our capacity for relationship with him rather than in our DNA. For example, they feel the strongest argument for protection of the early fetus may be our uncertainty of its degree of personhood, while maintaining that historically the church has given increasing protection to the fetus as development proceeds. Another challenging discussion involves biological determinism and free will. The authors emphasize the ever-tightening mind-brain link and MacKayís view of logical indeterminacy. On the mind brain problem, they reject both substance dualism and reductionist physicalism, adopting an emergentist position not unlike popular, functionalist accounts. Regarding free will, they argue that it is compatible with determinism, a view consistent with a Calvinist position on the sovereignty of God, but one which in my opinion entails a weakened understanding of human freedom. I also felt that at points (e.g., sexual orientation, aggression in XYY individuals) they overemphasized the role of genetic and hormonal determinism at the expense of environmental influences and free will.
The closing sections remind us that the primary purpose of creation is the glorification of the One who is its Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, rather than our own convenience. Various spiritualist approaches to environmentalism are discussed in contrast with the Christian view which emphasizes both Godís immanence and transcendence. Through adept use of Scripture, the authors confirm our role in creation as stewards responsible to him (e.g., Luke 20:9ñ19 can be read secondarily as a condemnation for failure to practice responsible management of renewable resources).
This well-documented analysis of the comple- mentarity of faith and science successfully challenges the reader to evaluate some contemporary issues. I found much with which I agree. In other areas, such as the discussion of free will, I was stimulated to reappraise my own position in the light of Scripture. I thoroughly recommend this enjoyable volume to both students and researchers.
Reviewed by Judy Toronchuk, Trinity Western University, Delta, BC V4C 1R2, Canada.
BEYOND THE COSMOS by Hugh Ross. Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 1996. 265 pages, sketches, index, endnotes. Paperback; $12.00.
In Beyond the Cosmos, Ross examines how the discovery of multiple dimensions beyond our own realm of space and time explain some paradoxes of the Christian faith including free will, miracles, hell, and the Trinity. He explores the wonder of God in eleven dimensions of space and time as defined by the work of modern-day scientists. While our lives are constrained by four distinct dimensions, Ross claims that it is time to go beyond that limit to understand Godís abilities. The bottom line is that this is a book about thinking beyond the realms of our physical existence.
Right away critics will claim that Ross "answers the fools according to their folly," and correspondingly, he finds himself emulating them by trying to reason science into theological terms. Nevertheless, theological questions have been around since the "beginning of time" and have provoked traditional teachings by the churches of the world. This book addresses the many subconscious uncertainties Christians and others may have. Even if his assessments and analyses are totally inaccurate, it does no harm to believe that God has a multidimensional role in our lives. Scriptures will attest to it and Ross attempts (very convincingly) to give us a scientific connection.
A noted astronomer and an associate minister for the Sierra Madre Congregational Church, Ross is a highly respected orator on the topics of faith and science. His weaving of Scripture and science as complements to each other bring the realms of both to feasible, viable, and realistic perspective. While the "lay person" may not comprehend all the technical aspects of the book, much knowledge, discernment, insight, and faith will be gained from perusing it. This book is wonderful in the context of applying science facts to the philosophy of creation.
Beyond the Cosmos sheds serious doubts on theories of human evolution and greatly strengthens the creation theory. It offers profound concepts with which we can think about the unknowable. Using analogies, paradoxes, and contradictions, Ross adds new meaning to many curious aspects of our existence. After reading this book, one will gain a real feeling of the close personal presence of Christianity.
In short, Beyond the Cosmos should be a required study for fundamentalist ministries. It demonstrates rather than contradicts the truth of the Bible. Ross does nothing more than articulate the evidence that the Creator has given us to heed. The book fortifies rather than threatens and provides greater insight into the meaning of the Scriptures.
While some may get wrapped up in the mathematical theorems presented in Beyond the Cosmos, what is important are the superimposed meanings behind each analytical model. To be sure, Ross does not provide perfect insight into the physics of the cosmos nor the "ground truth" in scientific terms which, arguably, will forever remain beyond our capabilities. However, what stands out, as strikingly salient in this book, as stated by Ross, is that "the limits on our abilities to know the truth and visualize truth merely remind us that we are the creatures, not the Creator."
God is alive and well on planet Earth, and Ross provides some excellent food for thought in Beyond the Cosmos. Interjecting Scriptures and balancing scientific proofs about Godís existence are what makes this book most intriguing. Ross offers new relevance to the most difficult ideas in Christian teachings and presents us with an avenue to better seek the Lord and understand his interaction in our lives.
Reviewed by Major Dominic J. Caraccilo, Regimental Plans Officer, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, GA 31907.
THE ROOTS OF SCIENCE: An Investigative Journey through the Worldís Religions by Harold Turner. Auckland, New Zealand: The DeepSight Trust, P.O. Box 87-362, 1998. 204 pages, index. Paperback; $29.95.
Turner is a retired university professor of theology and religious studies who has written a number of books and scholarly papers on religion. This book is one of the first in the publication series of The DeepSight Trust, a New Zealand "cross-denomina- tional missionary organization" which seeks to be "a gathering point for those wishing to engage our modern Western culture at a deeper level." This Trust absorbs and continues the work begun by the earlier Gospel and Cultures Trust, and so traces back to the Gospel and Culture Movement in Britain from the early 1980s.
The first few chapters of the book describe three distinct families of religions and their corresponding cosmologies. The first family, described in chapter two, includes the "primal religions," which are characteristic of tribal cultures around the world and which extend deep into the historical past. Turner describes their view of the universe and its contents as a "unitary, closed cosmology" that can be summarized by the term "encapsulated." The second family of religions, which are referred to by the author as "axial religions," are presented in chapter three. This family consists of the new religions that arose in Asia during the first millennium BC and became major faiths extending beyond any one tribe. These include the Hindu and Buddhist faiths in India as well as Taoism and Confucianism in China. These religions are characterized by a "dualist cosmology" which separates the spiritual realm of the divine from the material realm of nature. The third family, discussed in chapter four, includes the three Semitic or Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Turner suggests that the cosmology of these faiths is characterized by "duality," which is different from a "dualist" world view in a subtle but very important way.
While describing the important characteristics of these three families of religions, Turner introduces the main thesis of the book: the roots of science could only have taken hold in one of these three families of religion, that being the fertile soil of the Abrahamic faiths. He argues that science could not develop among the tribal religions with their encapsulated world views because there was no room for the concepts of rationality, regularity, consistency, and coherence in a natural world permeated by a host of uncoordinated gods and spirits of ambivalent and uncertain temper. Neither could science develop among the axial religions because of the distinctions they make between the spiritual and the material world, with the material world being depreciated because of its "lower, shadowy" nature.
While Turner admits that technology existed among tribal peoples and even flourished among the great civilizations which adhered to various axial religions, he stresses in chapter four that true science could only develop within the cosmology of the Abrahamic faiths. This chapter, which is entitled "The Hebrew Revolution: De-sacralization," describes the necessary ingredients of a world view conducive to the development of science. These ingredients include the Hebrew belief in one supreme God, who was not only personal but was a rational and consistent God, whose creation is orderly and therefore comprehensible.
Two other important prerequisites for science are also discussed in chapter four: contingency and de- sacralization (of matter, time, and space). According to Turner, these revolutionary developments in Hebrew religion, including the replacement of the sacred temple with secular synagogues, produced a paradigm shift which was inherited by the early Christian fathers (chapter five) and eventually passed on to the Christian "scientists" of the Middle Ages (chapter 7). The contributions of the Christian scientist John Philoponus (ca. 490ñ566) and the creed drawn up by the Council of Chalcedon in 451 are highlighted as evidence for the authorís thesis in chapter five.
After establishing that the roots of science could only have flourished in the fertile soil of the Hebrew (and subsequent Christian) cosmology, Turner goes on in chapter six to explain why science reached an impasse within the context of Islam. Further confirmation for Turnerís thesis is provided in chapter nine, which describes several examples of modern day tribal responses to Christian missions. Twentieth-century religious and scientific reversions to unitive and dualist cosmologies are critiqued in chapters ten and eleven. Developments cited in these chapters include the panentheism of process theology, Asian mysticisms, the New Age movements, the postmodern movement, cultural relativism, and constructivist education. In chapter twelve, the last chapter of the book, the author argues that science and Judeo-Christian theology face the same threats and must therefore present very similar defenses. He firmly believes that science and theology can and should be in partnership since they share the same struggle for truth.
Turner presents his thesis in a clear and concise manner. Throughout the book, a number of charts provide visual overviews of main points and important relationships. One criticism of the book is that it should be longer, considering the vast historical timetable that is addressed. However, Turner freely admits in his postscript that the main purpose of this book is to provoke further investigation into his thesis. He has provided us with a panoramic overview of the relationship between science and theology, leaving to others the task of filling in the remaining gaps in our knowledge. Turner realizes that not everyone will agree with his thesis that only the Judeo-Christian tradition provides the necessary basis for science, but he is content to let the facts of history speak for themselves. Anyone with an interest in the historical and contemporary relationships between science and religion should take the time to read this book.
Reviewed by J. David Holland, Biology Instructor, Springfield College in Illinois, Springfield, IL 62702.
THE SACRED DEPTHS OF NATUREby Ursula Goodenough. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. 197 pages, notes, index. Hardcover; $24.00.
Goodenough has written a very interesting and very readable book. In twelve chapters, each ending with reflections or meditations, she describes biological facts. At the end of the first chapter, she confesses that Deism does not work for her since she can only think of a creator in human terms. A God creator would spoil her covenant with Mystery. Thus, she can use Christian hymns and Lao Tzuís writing in the same breath. At the end of chapter four, she describes a baptismal service and concludes that she is in charge of her own emergence. In the reflections of chapter eight, she writes: "Each crucifix calls us to the pathos of Christ. Each image of the Buddha invokes a reflective serenity." For her all religions are on the same level.
This book is worth reading as it shows how a part of creation, in this case biology, can become so important that it becomes oneís religion. Thus everything is seen in the light of the part of creation that gives rise to our musings. This book shows how dangerous it is to let life be guided by a little though important part of life, which then becomes a religion.
Reviewed by Jan de Koning, 20 Crispin Crescent, Willowdale, ON M2R 2V7, Canada.
HEAVEN IS NOT MY HOME: Learning to Live in Godís Creationby Paul Marshall with Lela Gilbert. Nashville: Word Publishing, 1998. 269 pages, index. Hardcover; $17.99.
Heaven Is Not My Home is touted as a book "that will first inspire you, then challenge you to take a closer look at the role we have been called to play in the restoration of the world" (front flap). In seventeen chapters, Marshall moves from the nature of creation, sin, and redemption (Parts I and II), through work and rest (Part III), and culminates in "Our hope for the world" (Part V, the final five chapters). Marshall has previously written in the area of work and vocation, and more recently has focused on religious persecution.
Marshallís aim is to give a "spiritual orientation as we live as Godís people in Godís world" (p. x). He devotes a significant number of pages to broadly-accepted evangelical themes, such as sin, redemption, and salvation and this limits the discussion of the very ideas that he wants to address. The problem of content is further compounded by his desire to provide general ideas for reflection, rather than focusing on the ramifications of a fallen, but essentially good, creation. Unfortunately, many of the ideas are underdeveloped, often resulting in conclusions that are trite and unhelpful. The following quote is typical:
Many women and men struggle to survive financially and are burdened with heavy fiscal responsibilities. They are forced to work long and hard. But it does not add to our financial burdens to remember that Jesus has called us to absolute dependence upon him. This does not mean that we stop working, stop trying, stop caring. But it does mean that we must entrust our financial concerns to him and not immerse ourselves in work simply because we are obsessively afraid of humiliation or financial disaster (p. 96).
This paragraph would be a good introduction to financial stewardship but occurs at the end of a section without any further elaboration.
The book is a call to a balanced theology of creation; it is easily read and may be of interest to those who have never spent time reflecting on these issues.
Reviewed by Fraser F. Fleming, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA 15282.
GOD AND CONTEMPORARY SCIENCEby Philip Clayton. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997. 274 pages, notes, index. Paperback; $25.00.
This book is part of the series "Edinburgh Studies in Constructive Theology" edited by Clayton and K. J. Vanhoozer. Clayton is Associate Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Sonoma State University in California. He has produced a valuable book that, while rough going at times because of the complexity of his arguments, should prove interesting and useful to those concerned about the dialogue and interaction between science and theology.
The title is a little misleading. While Clayton does present a comprehensive discussion of both theological thought and current cosmology, the bookís main purpose is to defend panentheism as a way to think about the problem of divine action in the universe. Not to be confused with the highly problematic concept of pantheism, in which God is basically identified with the universe, panentheism is the idea that, in Claytonís words, "the world is in God, although God is also more than the world." Clayton sees panentheism as a suitable way to reconcile scientific discovery with theological concepts.
The book is in three parts. The first part, "The God Who Acts: Towards a Biblical Theology of God and the World," is concerned with laying the foundations of the science-theology debate. Much of the material in this section will be familiar to ASA members, and can serve as a good introduction or review of these foundations. One chapter is devoted to the biblical view of creation as set forth in the Hebrew Bible, focusing on the importance of the concept of Godís creative power as an integral component of the science-theology conversation. In the next chapter, Clayton examines the claims of Christianity and its own special problems in resolving conflicts with scientific knowledge of the world. The thesis of the book is fully introduced in the last chapter of Part One, where Clayton carefully draws historical and conceptual connections from polytheism to monotheism to radical monotheism, finally ending at the concept of panentheism. In this chapter, the reader receives the most detailed (yet highly readable) discussion of panentheism and the arguments in favor of it.
Part Two is devoted to a single chapter concerning current research and thinking in cosmology. Clayton provides an informative review of the field, highlighting the work of notable figures such as Davies, Jastrow, Tipler, Wesson, and others. By doing so, he strives to make his point that even our current knowledge of the universe, as impressive as it seems to be, is not complete or fully understandable without the contributions of theology.
This leads directly to Part Three of the book which is devoted to the use of scientific knowledge and the already-introduced idea of panentheism in deriving a theological theory of divine action, which Clayton sees as one of the most intractable problems in theology today. This section of the book contains Claytonís most closely reasoned arguments and may be difficult for many. He begins with a chapter entitled "The Presumption of Naturalism." Here he examines the difficulties of the idea of divine action in the face of a prevailing assumption that every event in the natural world has a natural instead of a supernatural explanation. In the chapter entitled "Scientific Causality, Divine Causality," Clayton uses concepts borrowed from quantum physics to explore the possibility that God can guide events without violating natural laws, avoiding the tempting "God of the gaps" pitfall. The final chapter of the book, "Understanding Human and Divine Agency," is Claytonís discussion of what he calls the "panentheistic analogy," a way of understanding how God relates to the universe by understanding how the human mind relates to the body with, of course, attention to how Godís relationship to the universe is also different from that of our minds and bodies. This is in an effort to be true to both theological tradition and current thought in science concerning the mind-body relationship.
I highly recommend this book; it serves as an excellent introduction to many of the important topics in the science/theology reconciliation, while advocating an intriguing solution to some of the inherent problems. Because Clayton takes the time and effort to carefully build his argument using the work of some of the greatest thinkers in the field, this book would be suitable for advanced students at the graduate or even the undergraduate level, as well as for readers who are already familiar with the field. The book also contains exhaustive notes; these would serve well as a "reading list" for readers wishing to dig deeper.
Reviewed by Randall K. Harris, Associate Professor of Biology, William Carey College, Hattiesburg, MS 39401.
THE DOCTRINE OF CREATIONby Colin E. Gunton, ed. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1997. 176 pages, index. Hardcover; £19.95.
Gunton begins his introduction by saying: "It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that in the modern world the doctrine of creation has in many places given way to discussions of the relation between science and religion." Most readers of this journal are interested in such discussion, and this collection of papers from a conference called by the Research Institute in Systematic Theology is relevant to them. It does not, however, deal directly with topics such as biological evolution or the expanding universe. The essays concentrate on the theological issue of how the doctrine of creation has been and should be understood. As the subtitle says, this is a collection of "essays in dogmatics, history and philosophy."
One of the basic issues in todayís theological discussions of creation, and indeed in all of theology, has to do with Godís involvement in time. The first two essays take up that issue. Robert W. Jenson is critical of the Augustinian tradition of divine timelessness and argues that "Godís eternity is not his immunity to time but his having all the time he needs" (p. 24). Paul Helm, on the other hand, argues for what he sees as a proper way of understanding God as timeless.
Gunton himself offers two essays that focus on the history of the doctrine. The first, on the tradition of spiritualizing Genesis, brings out the fact that some Jews and Christians were bothered by aspects of the Genesis creation accounts and tried to interpret them as other than literal history long before Darwin and Wallace proposed their theories. Gunton clearly points out the problems that the platonic tradition has introduced into the doctrine of creation. This is, however, a place where greater contact with the natural sciences would have been helpful, for the platonic views of some modern theoretical physicists should be considered here. In his second essay, Gunton describes the way the doctrine developed through the Middle Ages and Reformation, and argues that Luther and Calvin were able to give the doctrine stronger connections with Trini- tarian thought than their predecessors had.
Alan J. Torrance provides an appreciative but critical discussion of the way in which J¸rgen Moltmann in God in Creation has dealt with the idea of creatio ex nihilo in terms of divine "withdrawal" in order to make "room" for creation. Daniel W. Hardyís essay addresses the relationship between creation and eschatology. Scientific developments have drawn a great deal of attention to issues of origins, and for some time theologians, such as Moltmann and Wolfhart Pannenberg, have been emphasizing eschatology. Making connections between these two aspects of theology in a way which is adequate to the modern understanding of the world, however, is just getting under way.
The last two papers turn to ways in which humans respond to divine creation. Brian Home writes about "Divine and Human Creativity" with some consideration of Dorothy Sayersí The Mind of the Maker. Christoph Schw–bel concludes by offering a "dogmatic basis of a Christian ethic of createdness."
Serious discussion of a topic such as "creation and evolution" requires that participants know what mature doctrines of creation really are. The authors whose contributions are collected here focus on the biblical material and theological themes which are germane to creation while still casting their nets widely enough to bring out important connections with other doctrinal areas. The book can provide a good orientation to what modern theologians are saying about the doctrine of creation, and will supply a basis for study of more specialized aspects of that doctrine.
Reviewed by George L. Murphy, 538 Cynthia Lane, Tallmadge, OH 44278.
CONSTRUCTING THE BEGINNING: Discourses of Creation Science by Simon Locke. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999. 235 pages, index. Paperback; $24.50.
The study of communications today is quite a sophisticated undertaking. The classic discipline of "rhetoric" has been supplemented by the diverse insights of discourse analysis, postmodern critiques, sociological perspectives, and constructionism. This groundbreaking study was originally part of a Ph.D. thesis in communication at a British university. Its author now holds a post at Kingston University in England. Creationism is the focus of the analysis, as exemplified by the pamphlets and other materials of the British Creation Science Movement (formerly the Evolution Protest Movement). The authorís intent, however, lies much deeper. He engages in a detailed empirical analysis of the discourse of creation scientists in order to focus on public understanding of science and the "representation in sociological theory of the role and position of science in relation to modern society and culture."
This book draws heavily on the discourse analysis model of Jonathan Potter and his colleagues and the rhetorical-dilemmatic approach of Michael Billig and his colleagues. Locke gives a very fair and balanced treatment of British creationism. He points out the fundamental similarities in many of the rhetorical devices used by both them and their critics. He constructs a clear argument that there are three fundamental problems facing creationists: (1) the competing account of the worldís reality in the form of evolution; (2) competing accounts of the Bible in the form of different versions of Christianity, some of whom find no incompatibility with evolution; and (3) the need for a "discursive syncretism" that ameliorates the creationistsí own version(s) of the world and the Word. Locke juxtaposes these dilemmas with three recent theoretical accounts of modernity that try to account for the fragmentation that seems to describe modern culture and movements around the globe. These accounts seem to defy by word and action any framework of rationalization that spokespersons in contemporary science seek to impose.
The end result is a rich interplay of ideas and analysis that is helpful in understanding the rhetorical complexities in conversations about origins, the limits of scientific knowledge, and the limitations inherent in "scientific" discourse. Locke argues that we need to view science as a cultural resource but also acknowledge that there exist other fruitful cultural resources, such as Christianity and religions more generally. All of these resources should be appropriated to better apprehend our existence and meaning in the universe.
Reviewed by Dennis W. Cheek, Director of Information Services & Research, RI Department of Education and Adjunct Associate Professor of Education, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881-0806.THE GOD OF EVOLUTION: A Trinitarian Theology by Denis Edwards. New York: Paulist Press, 1999. 144 pages, notes. Paperback; $14.95.
Theological exegesis confronting conventional scientific explanations of the "big bang" theory are increasingly the subject of many who contemplate natureís evolutionary process. Theologians and scientists have long pondered the evolution of humans and nature. Given the scientistsí ability to reaffirm what has historically been believed to be "ground truth" there appears to be a larger void in the two conclusions. Edwards captures the essence of this increasingly age-old examination in The God of Evolution: A Trinitarian Theology.
Edwards, a priest of the Archdiocese of Adelaide, Australia, and an instructor of theology at Flinders University, provides a detailed discussion to help understand the ties between the neo-Darwinist approach to human evolution and the biblical insights into the mysteries of the universe. Smartly compartmentalized and thoroughly explored, The God of Evolution offers a reformulation of Christian theology in light of contemporary science perspicacity by convincingly contrasting the two, and then subsequently relating both. Referring to established scientists and theologians, Edwards superimposes the patriarchal narratives over the biological theories of natural selection.
The God of Evolution is a well-documented ratiocination of the comparative biological and theological theories of evolution. Edwardsí research and footnotes offer an extended level of analysis to accompany the already extensive amount of evidence offered in the main body of the book. In short, The God of Evolution is a well-organized and documented work.
Science clearly has the ability, through a multitude of means, to prove how the earth and the solar system have been developed and evolved into the structure it holds today. The scientific means are so convincing it is difficult to refute the establishment of the scientific process in favor of say, the evolutionary formula offered by the Book of Genesis. Edwards challenges all presuppositions in this book by reflecting deeply into the trinity of God as Creator and Redeemer. At times difficult to follow for he leaves no stone unturned in his excruciating analysis, in the end The God of Evolution illuminates what the Trinity means to the evolutionary process.
Exploring the first eleven chapters of Genesis, the methodologies surrounding pedagogical constructs aimed at teaching theological truths, and the relationship each theory contributes to the world view offered by contemporary science, Edwards pleas for Christians to embrace both the theological teachings of Genesis and the theory of evolution. His analysis takes a stance that "it is reasonable, coherent, and enlightening to hold both sets of insights together in one unified view."
By accepting his "mutual relation" theory as found in the Trinitarian vision of God as a God of the such, Edwards believes that "it might be helpful to situate [this approach] in the context of recent approaches to evolutionary theology that concentrate on God as the principle of altruism." Using the writings of Theissen and Hefner to expound the connection between biological and cultural evolution, and on the emergence of altruistic or self-sacrificing love, Edwards claims that it is better to "look beyond altruism to express the ultimate Christian vision of the reality that is behind our evolutionary history."
These principles and others offered by Edwards are not easy to grasp without some deep thought and an imagination to interpret how God works in and through the laws of nature and in and through the randomness of the process. Nonetheless, if we believe that God is indeed self-limited by love and respect for finite creatures and that creation is a sacrament of the divine presence, we can begin to understand the connection Edwards has made in this book.
The diversity of life on Earth, interconnected and interdependent in the biosphere of our planet, is a sacrament of divine Wisdom. The God of Evolution articulates a theology of God, one that stands in the Christian tradition, but also engages with the insights and challenges offered by evolutionary biology.
Reviewed by Major Dominic J. Caraccilo, Regimental Plans Officer, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, GA 31907.
TOWER OF BABEL: The Evidence against the New Creationism by Robert T. Pennock. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1999. 429 pages, notes, references, index. Hardcover; $35.00.
Pennock is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. He has written several articles on the issue of Darwinism versus creationism, including the article, "The Prospects for a ëTheistic Science,í" that appeared in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, September 1998. These articles are incorporated into some sections of his book, Tower of Babel.
This book is an excellent reference on the defense of science and scientific methodology in general, and of the theory of biological evolution in particular. It is also a useful guide on arguments against creationismóbut not against any religion as a whole. The main theme of the book is that Darwinís theory of biological evolution, as all other accepted scientific theories, is based on evidence. Creationism and others like it, such as creation science and theistic science, are not based on evidence and, therefore, are not science.
Pennock takes pain to describe the major aspects of and evidence for biological evolution (common descent with random modification, natural selection mechanism, and branching of lineage). He also explains the methodology that is used in scientific investigation. Readers of this book should appreciate the elaboration by this philosopher-author on the proper use of logic, inference, and argumentation that is essential in scientific research. Pennock then points out that there is neither evidence nor a need of a supernatural Omniscient Creator or Intelligent Designer for the generation of complex specified information in living organisms and for biological speciation. In addition, he shows the fallacy in the theory of a young earth that some creationists have formulated.
Those who are afraid of the idea of evolution should realize that, whether they like it or not, evolutionary processes are taking place at all times in various human activities, such as culture, language, and even religion. Pennock uses the development of human languages to illustrate the close analogy of linguistic evolution to biological evolution, and indicates that there is really no evidence for an Intelligent Designer or Creator to account for the present diversity of languages, in contrast to Gen. 11:6ñ9. The reason Pennock chooses to include linguistic evolution in this book for the discussion of biological evolution versus creationism is that a lot of people do not comprehend science and can easily shy away from the discussion. However, he believes that these people should be able to understand languages and, by providing the arguments for linguistic evolution, he hopes that they will see the parallel arguments for biological evolution. Thus, the main title of this book can be rather misleading. The book does not advocate intelligent design as the origin of languages in accordance with Genesis, but, instead, it gives evidence for linguistic evolution.
Throughout the book, Pennock recounts the sophisticated tactics and strategies that creationists use in their assaults on evolution biology and, above all, science. In the last chapter, he warns about the danger of the creationistsí disguised infiltration of religious ideas in public schools, especially the promotion of creationism in science teaching. He also warns of their constant attempts to introduce religion to legislation. Although the author offers no particular action that one must take to counteract these creationistsí efforts, his book can be effective in inspiring readers to take initiatives to safeguard separation of church and state.
Reviewed by James Wing, 15107 Interlachen Drive, Unit 1014, Silver Spring, MD 20906-5635.
ORIGINS: Linking Science and Scripture by Ariel A. Roth. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1998. 384 pages. Glossary and Technical Terms, Index. Hardcover; $29.99
Roth has a masterís degree in biology and a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Michigan. He has held appointments at several universities including chair of the biology department at Andrews University and Loma Linda University. From 1980 to 1994, he was director of the Geoscience Research Institute at Loma Linda and he has been editor of the journal Origin for twenty-three years. His research in various aspects of biology has been funded by several agencies including NIH and NOAA. Roth has been active in evolution-creation controversy and has served as consultant or witness in California, Arkansas, and Oregon. He has more than a hundred publications in scientific and popular journals. (I have not previously seen any of his work nor have I seen any references to any of his publications).
Origins is written in six sections: "The Questions," three chapters; "Living Organisms," six chapters; "The Fossil," three chapters; "The Rock," four chapters; "An Evaluation of Science and Scripture," four chapters; and "Some Conclusions," three chapters. Roth has chosen to discuss topics, which he believes present the greatest challenge to Scripture and to science, including historical, biological, paleontologi- cal, and geological interpretations. In his words, "a number of conclusions I present are not mainline." He states that he has "made special efforts to be fair to the data, paying special attention to the most reliable data." Of course, the most reliable data is that which is consistent with his belief that the biblical account of beginnings implies an origin of life a few thousand years ago and that the fossil record was formed by the universal flood of Genesis which reconciles the geologic column to the six-day creation week. According to Roth, "when one incorporates the Genesis flood into an earth model, and this is implicit in sacred history, a number of possibilities emerge that can resolve many of the time problems suggested for creation."
For Roth, a correct biblical view requires a recent creation, most likely less than 10,000 years ago. He maintains that in general the founders of modern science believed in a recent creation. It was not until the middle of the eighteenth century that the ideas of longer periods of time began to take root. In the nineteenth century, a slow increase in the perceived age of the earth developed. I find Rothís position on this issue very difficult to support. Roth dedicates most of the book to explaining how "reliable data" properly interpreted is consistent with a recent creation. As indicated earlier, his interpretations do not represent mainline science. For example, for the Genesis flood to have been universal, the flood stage could have been caused by the sinking of the continents and the uplifting of the oceans, then a post-flood stage with uplift and lateral compression of the continents could have been followed by deformation, erosion, and redeposition of rock types. Roth suggests that "the standard scientific literature echoes a small but persistent note of doubt about the validity of the whole plate-tectonic concept."
Rothís discussion is much broader than the few examples I have mentioned and deserves a reading. His perspective is consistent with the recent creation position, which asserts that God prepared the earth and created the various kinds of living organisms in six, 24-hour days less than 10,000 years ago and that the fossil record can be accounted for by the Genesis flood. He only mentions other possible views between creation and evolution (that the universe was formed by natural causes billions of years ago and that life arose spontaneously) near the end of the book.
The many views between creation and evolution (e.g., gap theory, progressive creation, theistic evolution, etc.) tend to be ill-defined. Such models have no basis in either Scripture or the data from nature and have little support from either source. The intermediate views provide a way to gradually move from belief in creation toward naturalistic evolution.
This book was interesting reading but very difficult to review. I struggled with Rothís arguments as he interprets the observations of natural data to make them consistent with recent creation. I find the arguments of someone like Hugh Ross more convincing. I was very much in agreement with Roth in his position that "an exclusively naturalistic scientific system of thought excludes many areas that, we suspect, are also part of reality Ö Any wholistic worldview must account for those areas of experience beyond naturalistic explanations." I was also appreciative of the lack of rhetoric that I have often experienced in the writings of recent creationists.
Reviewed by Bernard I Piersma, Professor of Chemistry, Houghton College, Houghton, NY 14744.
Philosophy & Theology
IMPOSSIBILITY: The Limits of Science and the Science of Limits by John D. Barrow. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. index. 279 pages. Hardcover.
Barrow, Professor of Astronomy at the University of Sussex, has written a very engaging and even playful book. He attempts to show how certain "laws" governing "Nature" help us to separate the possible from the impossible. Knowing what is impossibleówhether in science, art, literature, logic, and theologyóhelps shed "new light on the nature and content of the actual" (p. vii). Impossibilities define actualities. Furthermore, Barrow offers an array of anecdotes, quotations, diagrams, and illustrations to reinforce the theme of his book.
In Chapter 1, "The art of the impossible," Barrow writes that pseudo-science claims to have an answer for everything whereas true science acknowledges limits and barriers. Science acknowledges uncertainties (such as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and quantum mechanics) which "predict that we cannot predict" (p. 26).
Chapter 2, "The hope of progress," speaks about the nature of scientific progress in light of the "surprisingly few fundamental laws of Nature" (p. 26). He assesses both pessimistic and optimistic voices about science, Kantís "limits" of reason, the deleterious influence of Comteís positivism on French science, and explanations of consciousness and freedom of the will. Barrow offers an interesting glimpse at Gunther Stent, who sees the increase of leisure creating a loss of motivation for technical advance in the West, and John Horgan, who thinks that science is moving into the area of speculative ideas far removed from observation and testing.
Chapter 3, "Back to the future," reminds us of the "few" and "simple" laws of nature (e.g., the four fundamental forces), but these few laws have complex outcomes. Furthermore, there is a difference between that elusive "Theory of Everything" and understanding the complex outcomes of those laws. In this chapter, Barrow sketches four pictures of how science grows.
In Chapter 4, "Being human," Barrow offers some discussionóat times reductionistic and philosophically impreciseóregarding the human person such as mental activity, art, psychology, and language. For instance, he speaks of the brain as though there is no such thing as first-person states of subjectivity: "It learns; it remembers; it forgets; it dreams; it creates" (p. 86). But does my brain learn, or do I learn?
Chapter 5, "Technological limits," discusses various topics in physics and astrophysics such as the universeís expansion, star formation, the relationship of the four forces, thermodynamics and the energy required to obtain information. Of course, Barrow continues his theme of "impossibility" to speak of the limits of technology and the potential for breakdown and disaster that comes with technology. As humans we shall have to come to terms with the limits that Nature imposes on the speed at which we can transmit information.
Chapter 6, "Cosmological limits," gives a brief survey on important themes in contemporary cosmology such as the state of the universe just after the Big Bang, star and galaxy formation, the universeís inflation, and possible future scenarios of the universe. Again Barrow raises the questions of possibilities and limitations. For instance, there is a boundary to our visible universe ("horizon") determined by the speed of light. We can know nothing of what lies beyond this horizon.
Chapters 7 and 8, "Deep limits" and "Impossibility and us," are full of interesting discussions on the nature of time travel (including some theological musings about whether or not God could change the past and divine foreknowledge and human freedom). Primarily, however, these chapters focus on the doomed search for completeness in mathematics, which David Hilbert pursued. G–del and Turingóthough not the first to show this was not possibleóreinforced the belief that mathematical completeness is not within our grasp.
Finally, Chapter 9, "Impossibility: taking stock," is simply a summary of the bookís contents.
One downside to the book is that Barrow brings a distorted picture of a theistic God into his work (pp. 7ñ11) without the necessary philosophical rigor to make his case. For example, Barrow states: "the presence of an omnipotent, interventionist being who is unrestricted by laws of Nature undermines faith within the consistency of Nature" (p. 10) and "Natural selection killed the idea that the world is a finished product arrived at by design. Design is unnecessary" (p. 40).
Despite minor points of disagreement, overall, Barrowís book is enjoyable, informative, and thought provoking.
Reviewed by Paul Copan, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, 4725 Peachtree Corners Circle, Suite 250, Norcross, GA 30092.
HOW BLIND IS THE WATCHMAKER? Theism or Atheism: Should Science Decide? by Neil Broom. Aldershot, England: Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 1998. 226 pages. Hardcover; £ 37.50. ISBN 1 84014 517 X
This book is about the drama of living things. The author makes use of his extensive reading and understands concepts of the philosophy of science. He includes quotations from the writings of scientists and theologians which, together with the illustrations, augment the text.
Broomís thesis is that there is a meaning in nature which extends beyond the information that science has discovered. Carefully defining the terms he uses, Broom contends that the life sciences do not support the materialistic world view depicted in many books today. He challenges the claims that the findings of these studies have dispensed with the need for God in nature. Science, in his view, is inadequate to evaluate this issue. Materialistic humanists have not explained the origin of life and the cellular systems, and yet they deny any place for a transcendent personal being in the cosmos.
The author explores the function of some cellular systems along with the workings of the chloroplasts, the DNA template, and other cellular mechanisms. He agrees with many of the concepts outlined by Polyani in his writings. The highly complex biological systems of even the simplest cells function as a whole. The complexity and importance of these systems is sometimes downplayed simply because the individual components can be analyzed in isolation. They are then often fitted into a materialistic humanistic plan.
The increasing complexity of life forms in the fossil record is examined. The neo-Darwinist equates this with a nondirected, random variation in the genetic material of organisms. This view is rejected. The author assesses, then counters, the arguments of Richard Dawkins who holds this view. Broom concludes that the Watchmaker was not blind.
The 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. The writerís task is done well. I enjoyed reading what Broom had to say and recommend the book to others. Materialists and Christians alike will find much of interest for ongoing discussion.
Reviewed by Ken Mickleson, 21 Windmill Road, Mt. Eden, Auckland, New Zealand.THE LORD OF THE ABSURD by Raymond J. Nogar. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1998 (Herder and Herder, 1966). 157 pages. Paperback; $12.00.
This is one of the rare books on evolution, science, and religion that is still fresh and current one-third century after its authorship by a Dominican priest-professor. Nogar became a Catholic during his senior year at the University of Michigan. With a background in field biology and anthropology, he eventually became a philosophy professor at the Angelicum University in Rome and then at the Aquinas Institute of Philosophy in River Forest, Illinois.
This collection consists of reflections following up Nogarís lectures and discussions with students and faculty members, including George G. Simpson, that wrestle with philosophical and theological themes on the relationships between evolutionary science and Christian faith. Given on ten campuses from Harvard to Stanford and Miami to Michigan in 1964ñ1965, the lectures followed the 1963 publication of his book, The Wisdom of Evolution (reviewed favorably in JASA 24 [June 1972]: 69ñ70, as "one theological solution to the creation-evolution dilemma"). (Its successor, The Problem of Evolution: A Study of the Philosophical Repercussions of Evolutionary Science with co-author John N. Deely was published by Appleton-Century-Crofts in 1973 after Nogarís death.)
One of his themes is: "It takes a critical thinker to disengage the scientific evolution of some men from their philosophical evolutionism which they are selling as part of an ideological system" (p. 65). In tune with the unmentioned ASA, he advocates professional dialogue between the increasingly fragmented, overspecialized academic disciplines and hopes for a language to promote communication among the intellectual "cultures within cultures" that are not speaking with each other. Interdisciplinary dialogue is one of the vehicles that can contribute "spiritual solidarity and meaning to our destiny" (p. 66).
Christian faith undergirds Nogarís work. He emphasizes that divine providence is concerned more with a change of heart than a change of place and time. "We believe in Christ, not in a world-view" (p. 110). Jesus Christ is "an inescapable datum face to face with which each man must make up his mind" (p. 137). The world needs demonstrations of Godís personal presence among us, not more attempts to prove his existence that convinces only believers. His main contribution to that end was "interpreting the problems of evolution in terms of ultimate meaning and human relevance. If Christ could not convey this with Ö a world-view that could be systematically formulated, but had to live this meaning out in the drama of His life, how could it be otherwise for us today?" (p. 24).
If Nogar had been a Protestant, he might have related his belief in an evolutionary unfolding of humanity, the human spirit, morals, and the cosmic order to the dispensational theology that believes Godís revelation has unfolded in stages of cumulative deposits of truth. To use the words of the Scofield Reference Bible: "Ö the progressive order of Godís dealings with humanity [reveals] the increasing purpose which runs through and links together time-periods during which man has been responsible for specific and varying tests as to his obedience to God Ö [in] the divine economy of the ages." Nogar, along with dispensationalists and many other Christians (although they use diverse theological concepts and semantic labels), believes that there is an unfolding of Godís action in relationship to the universe in all its parts, including humanity and the human spirit, and that this occurs in an evolutionary fashion.
Anyone who is wrestling with issues related to the conflicts and tensions that prevail between Christian faith and scientific evolution will benefit from the insights sprinkled lavishly throughout this book. It clarifies Nogarís conviction that atheistic and evolutionary humanism have failed, that religious faith is natural and science mysterious, and that the ever-increasing recognition of the intricate ways in which order succeeds order in space and time points all the more to the necessity of the existence of God as the Source of the evolution of natural development. "The Lord of the Absurd" is the God who works mysteriously to accomplish his purposes through the messiness, waste, and disorder of evolution, the paradoxical dilemmas of the human situation, and especially the "preposterous drama" of salvation through the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ.
Reviewed by David 0. Moberg, 7120 W Dove Ct., Milwaukee, WI 53223.
BESIDE STILL WATERS: Searching for Meaning in an Age of Doubt by Gregg Easterbrook. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1998. 318 pages, index, footnotes. Hardcover; $25.00.
Over two millennia ago, the philosopher Epicurus asked humanityís foremost question, "Is deity willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? If so, then whence comes evil?" On the basis of this single question, many have decided that the most reasonable way out of the question is to posit no deity at all.
There are answers within Christianity to the Epicurus question. Few people I know, even those who espouse those answers, find them quite satisfying. Easterbrook proposes a unique answer, perhaps not new, but one I do not see addressed in current literature. Perhaps God is not omnipotent! Perhaps God is evolving!
In a highly readable, well-documented, surely controversial book which demands recognition, if not acceptance, Easterbrook, a contributing editor for the Atlantic Monthly and a distinguished fellow of the Fulbright Foundation addresses some of the most fundamental spiritual issues of our times. His central thesis is that the Bible never actually asserts an all-powerful God and that "omnipotence" is a human-made doctrine. How this works out is a well-balanced exposition of both Scripture and science in this remarkable book. It is not "normative" Christianity, to be sure, but it does suggest a clear set of answers to such questions as "Why does God allow natural disasters?" and "Why is there such a difference between the God portrayed in the two testaments." Some of the reasoning appears (to me) somewhat strained; most of it, however, appears worth consideration, even without acceptance of the authorís admittedly unconventional views.
This is a recommended read for all ASA members, as well as others within our religious fellowships who "think they think." I am always excited when a book takes me beyond my current thinking, and this one does that well.
Reviewed by John Burgeson, 6731 CR 203, Durango, CO 81301.
EVOLUTION AND EDEN: Balancing Original Sin and Contemporary Science by Jerry D. Korsmeyer. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1998. 170 pages, notes, bibliography, index. Paperback; $14.95.
The writer states in the Introduction that "faith can benefit from our scientific knowledge of the universe, and from the insights of process philosophy." Korsmeyer refers in the first chapter to Pope Pius XIIís 1950 encyclical Humani Generis where we read that Roman Catholics cannot support a theory which states that after Adam a human race developed which did not descend from Adam. That idea cannot be reconciled with the doctrine of original sin. Korsmeyer writes that original sin resulted from fifteen billion years of persuasive divine creativity and the co-creative response of all entities in our universe (p. 122). Original sin is the biologically and culturally inherited state responsible for the human characteristics of survival and self interest. Korsmeyer uses the fact that the Roman Catholic doctrine of the soul is based on Platonic philosophy to argue that modern science and philosophy should assist us in explaining biblical texts. He speculates about what might happen to the doctrine of original sin when we meet extraterrestrials. After all, they are also Godís creatures.
The bookís conclusion is that evolution shows that the Augustinian doctrine of "original sin" is incorrect. Augustine, Luther, and Calvin did not know about evolution yet, but there are theologians in their traditions who accept the facts of evolution and still believe the doctrine of "original sin." Though the book is one sided, it may be of interest to scientists and theologians who want to see connections between theology and science.
Reviewed by Jan de Koning, 20 Crispin Crescent, Willowdale, ON M2R 2V7, Canada.