Book Reviews March 1996
SHOW ME GOD: What the Message from Space Is Telling Us About God by Fred Heeren. Wonders that Witness, Vol. 1. Wheeling, IL: Searchlight Publications, Daystar Productions, 1995. 337 pages. Hardcover; $19.99.
This book is for tough-minded students of science interested in its relationship to the biblical world view. Non-Christian skeptics, Athe major identifying characteristic of `baby busters' (those now in their teens and twenties) and biblical believers are both shown how cosmology impacts wider beliefs about the universe and God. Fred Heeren interviewed many of the big names in contemporary cosmology, such as Alan Guth (father of big-bang inflationary theory), Stephen Hawking (a leading theoretical physicist), Robert Jastrow (founder of NASA's Goddard Institute and now head of the Mount Wilson observatory), John Mather and George Smoot (COBE satellite experiment), Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson (1978 Nobel Prize for discovery of cosmic background radiation), Jeremiah Ostriker (co-discoverer of dark matter) and others. George Smoot says in the Forward: "This cutting edge book explores creation where science and religion ask the same questions and think the same thoughts. This is the place where all seek and see the hand of God. Everyone, layman and scientist alike, expects to find enlightenment about the big questions in the beginning of the Universe." The theme of the book (and the series, of which it is the first volume) is to present facts and arguments in support of the credibility of the Bible that serve as equal time to what is often found in school curricula or the information media.
One of the best parts of the book is the preface, Facts That Changed Three Minds. In 1929, Albert Einstein abandoned his Afudge factor in general relativity, required to avoid a beginning of the universe; Archaeologist William F. Albright excavated Bronze Age cities on The Way of the King eventually persuading him of the historicity of Genesis 14; and C. S. Lewis's atheism was shaken by a fellow atheist acknowledging evidence pointing to the historicity of the gospel accounts. Lewis described his awakening by saying: AIt was more like when a man, after a long sleep, still lying motionless in bed, becomes aware that he is now awake.
The format of the book is varied and unusual. In an age lacking the time (or will) to read carefully reasoned multi-chapter arguments in fine print, Heeren has scattered small conceptual chunks of a page or less into the book. Chapters end with a boxed summary of its main points. Throughout are grayed sections, entertaining interludes of imaginary conversation with a Christian book publisher who (like some of those Heeren talked with) shows little interest in truth or literary content, but in banal appeals to prospective readers and sales. These sections are intended to address topics of interest to young students, to keep their attention. Chapter 3 is a science-fiction story about extraterrestrial intelligence. Would humanity care to listen to just any message from space?
After introducing the logical support for the existence of a biblical Creator (ch. 4), the book gets down to the business (in ch. 5) of covering the alternatives to the Big Bang, ending in a discussion of the limitations of science to tell us anything about the universe before Planck time. Heeren says: Those scientists who claim that science tells them something about ultimate origins are not being quite honest, be they atheists or creationists. He invokes scientist/celebrity Carl Sagan to demonstrate the point, and others such as Arno Penzias, John Mather, and even Fred Hoyle, to deny that the universe could come from nothing and that space is not nothing.
The book continues to discuss the key issues of Big Bang theory at an in-depth popular level. Mathematics is absent, but many effective illustrations, measurement data, pictures, and conversations with leading astronomers are woven into the scientific discussion, demonstrating the rich relevance of human personality in science.
Chapter 8 turns theological, discussing the recent creationist position and AThe Other Christian Tradition dating back to at least Augustine, of an ancient earth. While Heeren takes a harmonizing view of science and Scripture, he also faults the view that opts for a biblically-derived science to the exclusion of revelation from creation. Chapters 9-11 address chance and design, with arguments about the fine-tuning of the universe: the proton-to-electron mass ratio, electron charge, protein formation, expansion of the universe, etc. Versions of the anthropic principle are discussed as ways of avoiding the design alternative. Chapter 11 explores the implications of a designed universe and its connection to values and meaning.
The final chapter (12), AIs the Gospel Logical?, argues that Athere is good logic in believing the one cosmic history that fits what we know of God. Common objections to the Gospel are answered. Two Abonus sections follow. The first is a brief survey of the origin of science and descriptions of Fifty Believers Who Led the Way in Science. Section 2 is a chronology of 20th-century cosmological discoveries.
Fred Heeren has been working in a variety of media (film, radio, audio tape drama, theater) and has spent five years on the Wonders That Witness book/tape and radio series to bring the gospel to skeptics. Vol. 1 is a good start at providing a resource for the intelligent non-specialist, whether skeptic or Christian.
Reviewed by Dennis L. Feucht, RD1 Box 35A Townville, PA 16360.
BLAISE PASCAL: Mathematician, Physicist and Thinker about God by Donald Adamson. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press Inc., 1995. 297 pages including notes and references, bibliography, list of Pascal's writings, index. Hardcover; $59.95.
This book summarizes Pascal's achievements and gives excellent references to more detailed works on Pascal. It has 11 chapters beginning with a chronology of Pascal's life before examining specific aspects of his life in each chapter. The text is well indexed and contains an extensive bibliography (19 pages).
This is an excellent book for an introduction to Pascal's accomplishments, his character, and his thinking. The second chapter, Foundations, really sets the style of the book with Pascal's early work in geometry and how this led Pascal to develop a mechanical calculator. Several of these vignettes are discussed in detail, such as the invention of the calculator and the experiments with vacuums and atmospheric pressure. Woven through this is related work by Descartes, Leibniz, and others that provides a balanced picture of how Pascal's contributions affected others and vice versa. Pascal's Christian writings are treated the same way. Several pages are devoted to the death of Pascal's father and how that led Pascal to pen some profound theology that presaged his famous Thoughts.
Most of the book does not focus on Pascal's scientific achievements but his Christian writings and development. This begins with Pascal's association with Port-Royal des Champs, a monastic community with a school that promoted the teachings of Cornelius Jansen (total depravity, irresistible grace, and predestination). Adamson provides succinct examples of how Pascal's involvement at Port-Royal led him to defend Jansenism through his famous Provincial Letters that are treated in a separate chapter. The chapter is full of quotations and excerpts that show how Pascal's literary skill was used to make potentially dull topics light and humorous by writing the Letters to an intelligent, but misguided, friend and Father. Adamson cleverly provides continuity between these excerpts with intervening responses to the Letters so that the reader gets a real feel for Pascal's style and wit. A fine example of [Pascal's] ingenuousness occurs in the discussion of Probabilism, in Letter VI, where Pascal is in the process of demonstrating that the Jesuits' new moral theology will permit or condone any crime or sin, however heinous.
"And how does he reconcile that with [sin]? I asked him. By the subtlest of all the new methods, replied the Father, and by the utmost refinement of probability. I will explain. As you saw the other day, the fact is that both the affirmative and negative of most opinions have some probability, in the view of our doctors, and enough to be followed with a clear conscience. This does not mean that the pro and con are both right; that would be impossible, but just that both are probable and consequently safe. Reverend Father, I replied, how lucky the world is to be governed by you! How useful these probabilities are [so] that people can choose between pro and con just as the spirit moves them, even if they do not believe it to be true. From which I realize that a single casuist can lay down new moral rules as he pleases, and decide in any way he thinks fit any matter of moral behaviour." (pp 88-90.)
Adamson follows this with a well-researched discussion and analysis of Pascal's Letters as seen near the conclusion of this section. Even today Molinism, the doctrine of sufficient grace, and Probabilism, are the approved doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church (p. 111).
After the Provincial Letters Adamson moves to describe circumstances that profoundly affected Pascal's Christian convictions. These circumstances inspired Pascal's ideas on human nature and his famous Thoughts that Adamson suggests were intended for publication as an apologia. The final chapter summarizes Pascal's achievements and places them in the context of their effect on society.
This is an exceptional book for those wanting to learn more about Blaise Pascal. The only two annoyances with this book are the lack of diagrams for some discussions (for example, the discussion of self-enclosed vacuums, p. 29) and the lack of references to the illustrations included in the middle of the book (reference to the photograph of Pascal's calculator would have been particularly helpful). The text is concise, but complete, and is full of references for those who want to read more. Given the high caliber of this book, the price seems warranted but for those who may balk at the price I strongly recommend lobbying your library to purchase copies.
Reviewed by Fraser F. Fleming, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA 15282.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: Seven Patterns for Relating Science and Christian Faith by Richard H. Bube. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1995. 213 pages, index. Paper, $28.50; cloth, $46.00. This book may be purchased directly from ASA.
Physicist Richard H. Bube is emeritus professor of materials science and electrical engineering at Stanford University. For 25 years he taught a course at Stanford entitled AInteractions Between Modern Science and Christianity, and has lectured on that topic on more than 60 college and university campuses. Today, as any walk through a college bookstore will show, there is an abundance of writing published on the relationship between science and theology. How does one evaluate all the authors and various positions and discern which understanding promises to remain true to the natures of both science and theology, or which attempt to relate the two fields promises the most fruitful insights? Perhaps the best guide available is Bube's newest book, Putting It All Together. His vast experience both as a working scientist and science educator, combined with his ability to communicate clearly, enhance this book and make it very user-friendly.
The author examines the enormous body of literature (from New Age to biblical inerrantist perspectives) and all the ways in which scholars relate or unrelate science and the Christian faith, and finds that the published positions fall into seven basic patterns of thought. Before evaluating each basic pattern, Bube provides a thorough (and helpful) discussion on what is the nature of authentic science and authentic Christian theology. The task is daunting, but the author attempts it because among all those actively involved in the practice of science there is a core agreement about what constitutes authentic science. Also, given the difficulty of resolving disagreements in Christian theology without recourse to experimental tests, the author still contends that Athe basic methodology and the central content of authentic Christian theology can be defined with sufficient agreement among different sectors of the Christian community to constitute a meaningful activity. Bube proceeds with great skill and, I believe, does succeed in providing a working understanding of what constitutes authentic science and authentic Christian theology, though one might have wished for more on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, as that doctrine is essential to understanding the Christian teaching on revelation, redemption, and the personal nature of God.
The task of setting forth what is authentic science and authentic theology is fundamental, and with that groundwork laid the reader is then equipped to evaluate each of the seven basic positions against the standard of authenticity, and is thus in a position to recognize when the ways of relating science and theology fail and degenerate into the belief or practice of a pseudo-science or a pseudo-theology. In the course of the book, many of the inadequacies of the various positions are exposed. For example, Bube incisively critiques the belief that science is the only source of valid knowledge (scientism), and his critiques of New Age positions on science and the environment are very timely. Furthermore, he helpfully relates why deterministic or chance as scientific descriptions do not rule out God's interaction with the universe or lend credence to world views of Determinism or Chance.
Bube sees the most promise in the pattern of complimentarity, wherein different models or descriptions of reality are brought together and integrated into one coherent picture that, as a whole, provides richer and deeper insight into reality than either model could have provided in isolation. While I share the author's enthusiasm for the complimentary approach to relating science and theology, I cannot agree with his statement that Athe insights obtained from science and theology are insights into the same reality (p. 168) unless some qualifying definition of same reality is provided. Science searches to understand the universe while theology seeks knowledge of God. God is uncreated Reality, but the universe is created reality and therefore contingent. Thus the two cannot be confused. Nor is there any necessary or logico-causal relationship between God and the created universe. Yet there may be room for overlap and sharing between the two disciplines, for God became incarnate man in Jesus Christ and in his revelation accommodated himself to our human life, speech, and knowing. Furthermore, in both science and theology the methodological necessity to accommodate our understanding of reality to what is given and disclosed by reality, rather than impose our own subjective thoughts upon the object of our inquiry, and the factor of the human knower is the same.
None of this detracts, however, from the fact that the author provides a very helpful discussion on what complimentarity is and what it is not, together with some illustrations of complimentarity. It would have been more icing on the cake if the author had referred the reader to historical studies that present how science and theology have benefited from mutual interaction such as Stanley Jaki's Science and Creation), or other studies that demonstrate the intellectual gain of a complimentary interaction between the disciplines of science and theology. Various works by Thomas F. Torrance come to mind, as well as The Knight's Move by James Loder and Jim Neidhardt.
Without a doubt, a wide readership should be exposed to this book. Bube has done a very fine job in analyzing a massive amount of material, and many can benefit from his insights. We can only hope that he will continue to publish. One regret: it is unfortunate that the publisher has priced this book out of the buying range of most students.
Reviewed by Rev. Mark Koonz, Pastor, First Lutheran Church, P.O. Box 347, Opheim, MT 59250
VITAL DUST: Life As A Cosmic Imperative by Christian de Duve. New York, NY: Basics Books, 1995. 362 pages, index. Hardcover; $25.00.
Author Christian de Duve is Nobel Laureate, Professor Emeritus at the Medical Faculty of the University of Louvain (Belgium) and Rockefeller University, and founder and past president of the International Institute of Cellular and Molecular Pathology (Belgium). He has written two other books, A Guided Tour of the Living Cell and Blueprint for a Cell, that deal with the subject matter closely related to that of the book under review here. In fact, Blueprint for a Cell documents in great detail the theories that are presented in Vital Dust.
The author believes that life is a product of deterministic forces, as the similarities of various living organisms are much closer than could possibly be accounted for on the basis of chance. In this book, he attempts to reconstruct the history of life on earth, starting with the formation of chemical compounds that are significant to life and ending with the operation of human minds. Thus, the book is mainly a step-by-step description of the evolutionary processes of life from inanimate matter to human beings. This description is based on a combination of extant evidences, fossil records, current theories, assumptions, conjectures, hypotheses, suggestions, and even speculations. The author clearly indicates which of the above is used at each point in his presentation.
This book is well written and well organized. The readers must have some background in biochemistry to understand fully the chemical aspects of the arguments; just introductory organic chemistry and general biology are not enough. Although there are many technical terms of biology and chemistry, the writing flows smoothly. So as not to bore the readers, the author has inserted several poetic passages and a few humorous ones throughout the book.
The bibliography is extensive and contains many monumental works in various disciplines. The 68 references in the bibliography are grouped according to their subject matter. The author provides a brief description of and general comments on each of the references. This valuable service is not commonly found in many books nowadays. A glossary of terms is also furnished. However, the book lacks a list of acronyms with definitions which save the readers' time and minimize their frustration. Readers would also benefit from a few more illustrations than the mere seven in the book because, as we know, biology and chemistry are Apicture sciences.
The author does not attempt to address every missing piece of the evolutionary puzzle. For example, although the author mentions the chirality preference of the extant amino acids and sugars in living organisms, he has not provided an explanation for the preference. Nor has he explained how flowering, fruit-bearing plants and pollinating insects evolved to have arrived together at the same time in the history of life.
I believe the most notable part of the book for members of the American Scientific Affiliation is in the last few chapters where the author discusses the human self and free will, the biology of ethical values, and the meaning and purpose of life, all from a scientific rather than a biblical point of view. Here, the author comments on the philosophies of life of others and then presents his own outlook, not only on the meaning of life on earth, but also on the meaning of the universe. These chapters show that the author is indeed a great thinker in addition to being an eminent scientist.
Incidentally, this book has also been reviewed by chemist Richard A. Lerner in the May 15, 1995, issue of Chemical and Engineering News.
Reviewed by James Wing, 15212 Red Clover Drive, Rockville, MD 20853.
FOUNDATION, FALL AND FLOOD: A Harmonization of Genesis and Science by Glenn R. Morton. Dallas, TX: DMD Publishing Co., 1995. 159 pages, index. Softback; $15.00.
Most conservative Christians have puzzled over the question of how to reconcile Genesis with science. For those with backgrounds in science and applied science, this is a significant question, since its answer affects how we carry the Gospel to our colleagues, as well as our colleagues' perception of our integrity. Whether or not we accept the young-earth view, we Christians view the Bible as an inspired document.
For young-earth creationists, the points of friction between science and Scripture include the age of the earth, evolution and the flood of Noah's day. By interpreting the creation week as six literal days followed by a literal day of rest, and by interpreting the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 as describing gapless lists of successive generations, young-earth creationists conclude that the age of the earth must be no more than 7,000-10,000 years. A straightforward reading of the flood account in Gen. 7-9 leads to the conclusion that the flood was global and lasted approximately a year. Evolution is ruled out by, among other things, interpreting the creation account as relating direct acts of God, by the scriptural statement Aand God saw that it was very good, ruling out millions of years of death implied by evolution, and by the shortness of the available time. Seven to ten thousand years is not enough time for evolution. Young-earth creationists view the fossil record as the sediments deposited by the flood.
Glenn Morton is a geologist and a Christian. Although he was once a young-earth creationist, the compelling evidence of the earth's age he encountered in his work led him to an agonizing reappraisal of his faith and his understanding of how the Bible should be interpreted. Happily, Morton exited from this reappraisal a Christian. He no longer subscribes to the young-earth view, however, and this book explains why. In addition, it provides an alternative harmonization of Genesis and science which honors Scripture while treating the physical evidence honestly.
Despite his acceptance of an old earth and evolution, Morton remains convinced that the Bible must be interpreted literally, except where compelling evidence dictates otherwise. The book is a tightly reasoned, meticulously documented interpretation of Scripture and physical evidence which aims to show that acceptance of an old earth and evolution do not require the Christian to abandon a straightforward, honest reading of Scripture. In the process of developing his scenario, Morton derives insights which demand serious attention.
How then, does Mr. Morton make his case? First he shows that the creation days can be understood to be twenty-four hour days in which God announced what he was about to begin creating. The actual realization of the creation took longer, but God set in motion all the required processes in six literal, 24-hour days. Morton is not a deist, however. He sees continued involvement by God in oversight of his creation.
In Morton's harmonization, the origin of man occurred about 5.5 million years ago by a direct intervention of God. While the 5.5 million year figure violates the time scale creationists infer from the genealogies, Morton shows that the phrase Aso-and-so lived x years and became the father of y" can as easily mean that at age x so-and-so became the ancestor of y, and that this is a legitimate interpretation of the Hebrew.
While such an ancient origin of man might seem to cause a problem with genealogies, it solves a problem with the flood of Noah. As a geologist, Morton learned early in his education that there is no evidence for a worldwide flood occurring about 2350 B. C. True, there are few places on the surface of the earth that show no evidence of ever having been flooded, but the flooding of various locations occurred at different times, and there is no time when every location was flooded. Morton's solution for the flood is the filling of the Mediterranean about 5.5 million years ago. There is ample geological evidence that prior to 5.5 million years ago, the Mediterranean was a deep valley. The total inflow from rivers and rainfall did not exceed the water loss by evaporation, and a land bridge at Gibraltar kept the Atlantic Ocean out. This land bridge collapsed, causing a cataclysmic flooding of the Mediterranean.
Some implications of this scenario may seem unsettling. For example, so-called modern man did not appear on the scene until some 100,000 years ago, implying that Adam and his descendants, including Noah, were most likely one of the earlier hominids, such as homo habilis. However, this does not imply that Noah was some sort of subhuman. The physical differences between these hominids and later men do not necessarily imply that they were genetically different. Dogs are all the same species. But a fossilized Chihuahua and a fossilized Malamute might be mistaken for different species if these two fossils were found and dogs were not extant today. Furthermore, fossil differences cannot tell us whether modern man and earlier hominids differed spiritually.
Reading Foundation, Fall and Flood can be tough slogging at times, because of the huge volume of detail presented. But the detail is well organized to support the central theme of the book, and the reader who persists will be rewarded with fresh insights into how Scripture and scientific knowledge can be integrated. If Morton's scenario is correct, the question of whether the earlier hominids were human is answered, at least in part. The question of why the Bible tells us so much about the flood is answered. A flood in 2350 B. C. would surely be documented in the literature of many nations. Records of a flood 5.5 million years ago might be lost had God not told Moses about it. Morton's scenario is a welcome alternative to the disconnected, contradictory arguments of young-earth creationists and the overreliance on allegory some theistic evolutionists are prone to.
Reviewed by Bill Hamilton, Vehicle Systems Research GM R&D Center, Warren, MI 48090-9055.
EINSTEIN LIVED HERE by Abraham Pais. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1994. 282 pages, index. Hardcover; $25.00.
Abraham Pais is a well-known theoretical physicist, who in recent years has devoted himself to the history of science. He knew Einstein personally from 1946 until his death in 1955. In 1983 Pais's biography of Einstein, Subtle is the Lord, won an American Book Award. This book is a companion volume to his earlier biography, providing new inputs, reproducing a few previously published articles, and devoting the entire second half of the book to discussions of Einstein and the press. The epigraph he has chosen for the volume is a quote from Einstein from the New York Times in 1944, AWhy is it that nobody understands me and everybody likes me? although he is quick to point out that the statement is not precise. The central purpose of this book is to show how Einstein was perceived by the outside world of non-scientists. The extensive treatment of AEinstein and the press is the result of the author's conviction that Athe world-wide nature of his renown was the result of the attention he had received from the media.
In spite of Einstein's phenomenal reputation and contributions to theoretical physics during the earlier years of his life, and his role in national and international affairs before and during the difficult days of World War II, it might be inquired as to why this biographical work should be reviewed in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith.
Einstein's personal family life was a tragedy. He fathered a child, who was never heard of again, before his marriage to his first wife. After their divorce, he remarried. The second marriage was also unhappy, and Einstein had several affairs before the death of his second wife. Pais says of him, To be creative in establishing lasting deep human relations demands efforts that Einstein was simply never willing to make. His full creative exertions went completely and always into science. Perhaps here we find an answer to the question why so few dedicated Christian scientists have ever won the Nobel Prize. Einstein did not really care for teaching classes, and never delivered a Ph.D.
Although at several critical junctures of philosophical discourse Einstein used the word God, he was by his own profession not a traditional, religious Jew. He went through an intense religious phase when he was about eleven years old. His brief religious ardor had left no trace, just as in later years he would often wax highly enthusiastic about a scientific idea, then drop it as of no consequence. He wrote, "Through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached the conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true." He did not become bar mitzvah. He did not believe that the course of events can be influenced by prayer addressed to a supernatural being. He could not conceive of a God who rewards and punishes His creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. He did not believe in a God who concerned himself with the fates and actions of human beings. At the same time, however, he said that all the finer speculations in the realm of science spring from a deep religious feeling, and science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. His statement that God does not play dice was his way of stating that he could never stomach the abandonment of classical determinism and classical causality, nor that our physical knowledge depends on specifying how that knowledge is acquired, how experiments are set up. Pais reflects on this with the words, "I have often wondered, why did this man, who contributed so incredibly much to the creation of modern physics, remain so attached to the nineteenth-century view of determinism and causality? but have never been able to produce a satisfactory answer." Again Einstein said, "Honestly I cannot understand what people mean when they talk about the freedom of the human will."
Concerning the relationship between Einstein and the press, which occupies the last half of the book, Pais writes, "To Einstein applies par excellence the whimsical yet profound definition of a celebrity: a person who is famous for being well-known, and cites 297 references in newspapers and magazines to make his point." As Einstein's scientific contributions waned in the later years, the press grew ever more ecstatic about this work. In these years Einstein also became well known for a number of pronouncements in the political area: on pacifism, supranationalism, and civil rights.
This is a well-written, strongly documented account of the life and thought of a scientific genius of recent years. It poses a challenge for the reader to reassess what is truly important in life and how best to invest one's time and efforts if a God-serving witness and lifestyle are desired.
Reviewer's Footnote. When I was a new graduate student in physics at Princeton in 1946, I was living temporarily in a room in a home in town before moving to the Graduate College. One day a young man, recently arrived from the Netherlands, rang the door bell to inquire whether a room might be available for rent. That man was Abraham Pais.
Reviewed by Richard H. Bube, Professor Emeritus of Materials Science and Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305.
SCIENCE AND THE BIBLE by Henry M. Morris. Chicago: Moody Press, 1986. 128 pages, bibliography, index. Paperback.
Imagine a world in which the practice of science is primarily qualitative. A world where the highest use of science is seen as that of supporting one group's interpretation of secondary references in an ancient and honorable book on ethics. A world in which the primary rule of science, Aassume no supernatural, is replaced by its exact opposite, and AGod-of-the-Gaps is an adequate explanation. A world where only two concepts of life's origins are thinkable: God-caused ex-nihilo appearance in six days, or accidental development with no outside intelligent involvement.
Welcome to Henry's World, the world of Dr. Henry M. Morris, a kind, gentle and well-meaning man, who has guided the ICR (Institute for Creation Research) for many years. Welcome to a world in which dissent implies satanism, skepticism implies evil thinking, where shades of gray seldom exist. This book, first issued in 1946 as That You May Believe, was revised and reissued in 1951 as The Bible and Modern Science. Its popularity prompted reprinting in 1956, 1968 and 1979, and now, again, revised and updated, it is reissued under a new title. Its purpose is not to explain science, but ratherto win people to a genuine faith in Jesus Christ. And so it may, but not people who understand science. For these, it may be an excuse to turn away from our faith, for the science it portrays is myopic, irrational, avoids the hard questions, and takes little note of real science, either historically, or in this age.
As the leader of the Religion & Science section of Compuserve's Religious Issues Forum, I regularly see ICR-trained people come by to participate, enthusiastically at first. A week or so later, they generally creep away, bloody and bowed; their ideas on science severely shattered. Tight definitions, quantification, understanding of the issues and, in particular, understanding of opposing positions are tested in our forum, and ICR-trained people are continually found wanting. It is because they have come from Henry's World, and that world does not equip them to compete in the battlefield of modern ideas!
Mentioning all of the problems in this book is not practical in a short review, but a few stand out:
Page 8. Morris claims Athousands of scientists who support an inerrent Bible. He does not mention that many of these find his ideas quite fantastic. He claims Amultitudes of Christian believers also in support, as if this was meaningful (How many people read horoscopes daily?). In Henry's world, Awhat most people think has scientific validity.
Page 13. It has only been a few centuries since the scientists and teachers all believed in a flat earth. Henry's world does not have the same secular history as ours!
Page 86. The world population argument is still cited as support for a young earth, the author not grasping that it is an argument only for the possibility of a young earth, not an argument against an old earth. Logic is not part of science in Henry's world.
Page 87. Morris continues to assert that 80,000 animals could be herded into the ark in a single day (Gen. 7:13-16). No mention of the problems with insects (1,000,000 species), spiders (35,000 species), or worms, snails, freshwater fish, corals, sponges, etc. He makes no mention of the logistical problem for eight (highly motivated) individuals to herd these life forms aboard the ark and bed them down for a year-long voyage at the rate of about one pair every two seconds for a 24 hour period! Let's allow him the use of the doomed townspeople. And give him the full seven days from the Lord's command (Gen. 7:4) to the ark shutting. Still not enough time. In Henry's world, this is not a problem. Perhaps he should watch a circus set up and tear down,
The influence of ICR on this country is extensive; their publications are to be found in thousands of conservative Christian churches. Those of us who see science differently need to know what Morris is saying. For when students come to us, whose training in science is limited to the world of ICR, what shall we tell them? If we are silent, their faith, not founded on the rock of Christ, but on the sands of Henry's world, will likely founder.
Put this book on your shelf then right next to that of Immanuel Velikowski. But it is Morris who is the man of influence. Make no mistake about that. He it is that we will have to deal with in the hearts and minds of students yet to come.
Reviewed by John W. Burgeson, IBM Market Research (retired) 6715 Colina Lane Austin, TX 78759
RIVER OUT OF EDEN: A Darwinian View of Life by Richard Dawkins. Science Masters Series. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1995. xiii + 172 pages, index. Hardcover, $20.00.
In River Out of Eden, Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker, writes with two chief purposes in promoting the gospel of naturalistic Darwinism: to Aaccord due recognition to the inspirational quality of our modern understanding of Darwinian life and to Aconvince my readers that `ways of making a living' [i.e., the vast array of diversity in evolutionary development in organisms] is synonymous with `ways of passing DNA-coded texts on to the future' (xii). Using simplified terms, illuminating (though sometimes overly ambitious) illustrations, and disarming humor, Dawkins attempts to explain to the non-expert the plausibility of Darwinian evolution as he has done more technically in other places.
In his first chapter (The Digital River ), he explains how the river out of Eden, the river of information (DNA) accounts for speciation (i.e., the 30 million branches of this river). Through accidental geographical separation and the resultant variations this produces in a species, interbreeding among animals from the same species eventually becomes impossible (e.g., red and grey squirrels). Chapter two (All Africa and Her Progenies ) tracks human origins back to African Eve (or Mitochondrial Eve), who lived fewer than 250,000 years ago. In this chapter, Dawkins crassly asserts, Scientific beliefs are supported by evidence, and they get results. Myths and faiths are not and do not (p. 33). Not only does such a remark reflect a naive positivism (which is self-refuting) and philosophical amateurism (by reducing all reality to the scientific realm an example of the fallacy of misplaced concreteness), it overlooks the explanatory capacity of a religious system (such as theism) to plausibly account for the origin and design of the universe, the emergence of first life, and the existence of objective morality. (His later assertion that a miracle is nothing more than the total absence of explanation (p. 83) makes sense only if philosophical naturalism is true, an unproven assumption that Dawkins continually makes in his writings.)
Chapter three (Do Good by Stealth ) seeks to show how complexity and beauty are not obviously the result of design but of gradualness in evolution. To prove his point, Dawkins discusses the gradual emergence of the Adance language of bees and the adequacy of even semi-blindness for survival among certain animals.
The fourth chapter (God's Utility Function ) begins by pointing out that humans have purpose on the brain (p. 96). That is, we find it hard to look at anything without wondering what its purpose is. (Could this possibly reflect the imago Dei?) Natural selection, however, answers the question of design. Dawkins goes back to the social habits of the bee to illustrate his argument. Dawkins concludes this chapter by the stark admission that the purposeless universe is Anothing but blind, pitiless indifference (p. 133).
The final chapter (AThe Replication Bomb ) tracks the progression of life (which is Athe replication bomb ) from its Aspontaneous emergence and self-replication on a life-permitting satellite of Sol (p. 137) through its passing a number of thresholds to its final stage (Athe Space Travel Threshold, in which life is transported to other pockets of the universe for colonization and self-replication), which Dawkins admits is highly unlikely.
Despite Dawkins's attempt to defend Darwinism, serious questions emerge that go beyond empirical method and speculative extrapolation to significant philosophical presuppositions: Why can't the finite universe's origins be plausibly explained by a powerful Creator? At what point is it irrational to hold that pure chance is a plausible explanation for the complexity of cosmic constants that make life possible in favor of intelligent design? What indicators could Dawkins give that particular phenomena in nature are best explained by God's creative/sustaining power over against purely naturalistic causes? How does Dawkins know that God was not involved in the process of evolution? When Dawkins admits (in The Blind Watchmaker) that each living cell's nucleus contains Aa digitally coded data base larger, in information content, than all 30 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica put together, why, apart from metaphysical prejudice in favor of naturalism, should God be excluded from serious consideration as the primary or secondary cause for such complexity? In this case, when it comes to choosing between unassisted random processes versus divine design as the ultimate cause for such complexity, theism hardly seems the less-credible option.
Reviewed by Paul Copan, First Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 6, Schenectady, NY 12301.
EVOLUTION, GUILTY AS CHARGED by Frederick C. Kubicek. Shippensburg, PA: Treasure House, 1993. 176 pages, index.
The author of this book has only the highest aim in mind, that of bringing honor and glory to God. But his misunderstanding of the nature of science, his confusion over the nature of evolutionary theory, his dogged adherence to one possible interpretation, long discredited, of the book of Genesis, and his unfortunate mindset which sees enemies where none exist have led him to produce a volume which will surely wreak more mischief than good among much of its target audience. It is likely that more than one young Christian, who has Alearned the story of origins from this book, will find his faith shattered when encountering the data and arguments of the real world of science.
The book has many obvious errors, such as calling Michael Denton an evolutionist, coining a new term entrophy, equating that term directly with the second law of thermodynamics, and alternately using the spelling Segrave and Segraves as the person associated with the Scopes II trial. The Christianity it presents is a sham; the science it presents is dogmatic nonsense. In short, this book is not recommended.
Reviewed by John W. Burgeson, IBM Market Research (retired), 6715 Colina Lane, Austin, TX 78759, E-mail: 73531.1501 compuserve.com
THE SCARS OF EVOLUTION: What Our Bodies Tell Us About Human Origins by Elaine Morgan. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. 196 pages, index. Paperback; $12.95.
This book is a summary of the arguments to support the Aquatic Ape Theory. The theory explains the many unique features of homo sapiens by an aquatic environment or wetland ecosystems in which our earliest ancestors evolved from the arboreal apes. The unique features, called Ascars of evolution by the author, include the bipedalism, loss of fur (virtual nakedness), body fat distribution, tears, sebaceous glands, eccrines and vanished apocrines, descended larynx (crossing of the trachea and oesophagus), absence of oestrus, ventro-ventral copulation, and others. The author believes that these scars could have developed only in an aquatic and not in a savannah environment, in contrast to the Savannah Theory of human evolution.
The book is well organized and generally well written, and the text is comprehensible at the high school level. However, although a bibliography is given at the end of the main text, no reference is marked in the text. The bibliography is also incomplete. For example, in Chapter 2 alone, as many as seven of the important references cited are not included in the bibliography. Thus, the readers will not be able to find the original sources of these references. This is a major deficiency of the book.
The author has not mentioned some other oddities in our bodies, such as the male's nipples, toes, baby teeth, wisdom teeth, and unceasing growth of finger nails. Are they also Ascars of human evolution? Any theory of human evolution should justify these seemingly useless oddities, as they make our Intelligent Designer look stupid.
The word scars in the book's main title may be confusing. A scar is a mark left by the healing of a wound. In human evolution, did our hominid ancestors really encounter wounds and healing to have produced those scars that are mentioned in the book? I think the words peculiar products, oddities, and strange features are more explicit than scars for the title. On page 157, where the author discusses mating of a she cat, the precise word queen should have been used in place of she cat. A queen is a mature female cat that can mate; a she cat can be an immature female cat which cannot, does not, and would not mate.
This book nevertheless should interest those who believe in evolution, creation, or both (yes, there are such people). The unique features of and the oddities in our bodies would indeed challenge these people to come up with their rational commentaries. Incidentally, Elaine Morgan has just written another book entitled, The Descent of the Child: Human Evolution from a New Perspective, in which she adds new evidence to support the Aquatic Ape Theory. I am anxious to see it in print.
Reviewed by James Wing, 15212 Red Clover Drive, Rockville, MD 20853.
AN EARTH-CAREFUL WAY OF LIFE: Christian Stewardship and the Environmental Crisis by Lionel Basney. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994. 168 pages. Paperback; $9.99.
This book, written by an English professor at Calvin College, is important for scientists because it continues a tradition of writing going back at least to Thoreau that questions modern science and technology. Basney provides personal reflections on our current culture that raise fundamental questions about its sustainability. The book is not a theology of creation or a list of A100 simple things you can do to save the earth. Instead, through reflection on everyday activities like working or shopping for food at the supermarket, Basney helps the reader to understand the easily overlooked sinfulness of aspects of modern Western culture. Basney makes accessible and extends many of Wendell Berry's insights, while providing some historical context and very direct suggestions for repentance. We would do well to pay attention.
Basney claims that the way of life we have chosen and idolized cannot continue. One aspect of the problem is our assumption that technology is morally neutral, its goodness depending on how it is used. Basney claims that many technologies are inherently bad and that a central problem in our culture is the use of machines to replace our direct human interaction with nature. This leads us to think of nature as another industrial component available to be exploited without much care. A related aspect of the problem is that science and scientists are controlled by money and the market. Lacking a community in which to meet their basic needs, scientists are forced to sell their skills on the market to make a living.
This makes it difficult to orient science and technology toward Christian service. Like most church people, we lead split lives, reserving our Christian ideals for Sunday, but surrendering our practical lives to the technological culture that systematically destroys community and God's good creation. Basney's solution to these problems is for each of us to again take some responsibility for our basic subsistence and the part of God's good creation that supports our life.
In a brief book of reflections, Basney obviously cannot develop these themes with the full depth that they deserve, but his writing is urgent and insightful. He intends to spur his readers toward awareness and repentance, for he sees that the environmental crisis is at base a spiritual crisis, not a technical one. Basney raises issues that all ASA members must struggle with as we attempt to dedicate our science to the service of God. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by C. R. Boardman, graduate student in environmental studies, UW Madison, Madison, WI 53706.
LIVING WITHIN LIMITS: Ecology, Economics, and Population Taboos by Garrett Hardin. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. 339 pages, index. Hardcover.
This book both captivates and exasperates. Garrett Hardin presents a logical and convincing re-interpretation of Thomas Malthus' theory of population first proposed in 1798. Like Malthus, Hardin foresees a pessimistic future because population growth cannot continue indefinitely in a finite world. But Hardin goes beyond theoretical explanation to also promote strategies for population control, such as eliminating foreign aid and banning immigration. These strategies, rooted in social Darwinism, affront those who accept the biblical command to love one's neighbor, and extend Christ-like compassion to the poor.
Garrett Hardin is Professor Emeritus of Human Ecology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is particularly known for The Tragedy of the Commons (Science, 1968) and Living on a Lifeboat (BioScience, 1974), both of which are espoused in this book.
The book is written for a general audience, using a mix of scientific explanation with historic anecdotes and philosophical musings. The 27 chapters are organized into three parts, moving generally from population theory to criticisms of contemporary population solutions to prescriptions of how to live within a resource-limited world.
The population problem is defined relative to available resources. Malthus, an English economist and minister, is credited with the mathematical explanation that population growth is exponential while increase in subsistence (food) is arithmetic. Contrary to theory, the increase in population over the past 200 years, the highest in human history, has been sustained by procurable resources. Hardin amends Malthus' theory with a Malthusian demostat, a type of cybernetic or homeostatic regulator which acts to maintain an equilibrium between population and resources. Natural forces regulate the demostat through negative (e.g., starvation, disease) and positive (e.g., fertility rate) feedback. However, the homeostatic equilibrium or demostat is periodically reset by advances in human ingenuity (e.g., technology). This resetting of the demostat is the main reason why Malthus's vision has, as yet, not been fulfilled.
While Malthus identified food as a limiting resource, Hardin focuses on finite living space and dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels. Extra-terrestrial migration is rejected as a means of increasing habitable space. Nuclear energy is discounted as a viable alternative to fossil fuels because of its environmental and technological risks. According to Hardin, the resource side of the homeostatic equilibrium is at its limit, but population continues to grow. The only way to live within the limits imposed by available resources is to contain population growth.
Hardin knows that controlling population is not about abstract theory but human behavior. He disparages behavior motivated by the faith qualities of compassion and charity, and substitutes them with a psychological motivator: Areward determines behavior. Hardin advocates withholding all forms of foreign aid, except information sharing, unless poor and populated countries demonstrate population control. He invokes his analogy of life boat ethics whereby poor nations of the world are swimming around a life boat with rich countries already on board, but which cannot possibly hold everyone without certain death for all. Hardin clearly places his faith in the demostatic mechanism of natural selection to control population.
The logic of the tragedy of the commons is used to denounce the welfare state generally, and the Amedical commons in the United States specifically. For example, Hardin decries the high cost of neonatology which benefits only a few infants but whose cost is shouldered by all.
Hardin goes beyond biology, demography, and ethics to also include a religious perspective. He extends the conventional bounds of religion to fittingly label progress of economic growth and Aideology of western individualism as religions, but faith and spirituality are treated simplistically, even disdainfully. Scripture is quoted now and then, and occasional reference is made to Judeo-Christian beliefs and events, sometimes reverently but mostly sarcastically. Hardin, a non-Buddhist, claims a Buddhist path of looking for the causes of human sorrow before seeking freedom from it. This is thin religious veneer. Hardin's faith in natural selection prevents him from integrating a meaningful spirituality or faith perspective in this inquiry into a major human predicament.
This book raises penetrating questions for Christians about population growth and control, especially those who readily defer to the cultural mandate. There is an urgent need for advanced Christian thought on population and resources. This book demonstrates the type of thinking which Christians will need to confront.
Reviewed by Harry Spaling, Department of Geography, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1.
CARING FOR CREATION: An Ecumenical Approach to the Environment Crisis by Max Oelschlager. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1994. 285 pages, bibliography, index. Hardcover; $30.00. CARING FOR CREATION: An Ecumenical Approach to the Environment Crisis by Max Oelschlager. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1994. 285 pages, bibliography, index. Hardcover; $30.00.
Oelschlager is professor of philosophy and religious studies at the University of North Texas. In this book he wants to show how religion can help us clean up our ecological mess. Religion is not limited to the Christian and Jewish religions, although Oelschlager discusses the Judeo-Christian tradition more extensively.
The writer hopes that religious awareness and action may change the direction in which the indexes of environmental degradation are moving. Oelschlager confesses that in the past he thought that Christians caused the ecological crisis. Gen. l:28 gave man dominion over creation. Now he realizes that this dominion is no more than being stewards for God. That is not to say that Oelschlager is a Christian. He wants all religions to act to save the world. Modern life is an ecological disaster. Government and business are only considering short-term economic, and egotistical arguments to rule. Many point out that future generations must pay huge bills to correct the damage done to the environment. Politicians are only offering short time solutions, if any. Most people think that science will find a solution. In the past decades, science has not solved the problem and the disaster is growing.
Oelschlager believes that only religious people together can produce a voice strong enough to reverse the tide. He calls religion a legitimating narrative and discusses it following a Wittgensteinian socio-linguistic path. Religious discourse remains a language of the heart which speaks about purposes and issues outside the modern materialistic vocabulary of utilitarian individualism, he says. The language of utilitarian individualism is strong, and institutionalized in our political economy. It dictates governmental social policy and influences everything else, including our character. This last statement is strong, but I think that Oelschlager is right. We are often like our neighbors, who are just living for the moment and a good income. For that reason this book is a call to action for us all, even if we do not agree with the writer's background.
In chapter three the writer describes the administrative despotism, which evolves out of the political system we now have. It is virtually impossible to change direction politically. Political parties are almost indistinguishable. Consequently, administrators rule. Oelschlager claims (p.<|>109) that the church is perhaps the only institution in modern society which can resist administrative despotism. He shows how several religions are committed to care for creation. He provides Christians with biblical texts, which show that they must take care of their surroundings. We are God's stewards. Now, says he, the economist is high priest and GNP the holy Grail. Even ecological questions are considered from an economic point of view. The author rightly shows that economics is not value free. Some economic growth undercuts the possibility of a good society, and he gives examples. Religion can show how to expand the cultural conversation.
Oelschlager discusses the views of several Christian and Jewish conservative, moderate, and liberal churches and synagogues. He even proposes plans for church education based on the Bible. He does not shy away from original sin and its consequences. One great plus of the book is that he shows how Christians may work together to achieve the purpose of taking care of creation. Only religion can achieve that purpose.
I heartily recommend this book to all Christians, scientists and non-scientists. Christians must take care of God's creation. Maybe the concerted effort of churches can reverse the ecologically disastrous direction in which we move.
Reviewed by Jan de Koning, Instructor of Mathematics, Box 168, St. Michael's College (University of Toronto), 81 St. Mary Street, Toronto, Ont., M5S 1J4, Canada.
CHRISTIANITY, EVIDENCE AND TRUTH by Roger Forster and Paul Marston. Crowborough, Great Britain: Monarch Publications, 1995. 113 pages, index. Paperback.
Forster has an M.A. in theology and mathematics, while Marston has a B.S. in economics, an M.S. in statistical theory, another M.S. in the history and philosophy of science, and a Ph.D. in science/religion issues.
This is a brief book on apologetics written from an evidentialist perspective. The authors review some of the standard evidence for the existence of God. There is an attempt made to interject humor into the discussion with some amusing cartoons at the beginning of each chapter.
The book is fairly easy to read with the exception of part of chapter 5 which deals with biology in a technical manner. As one who eschewed physical science courses throughout my college career, I was lost when the discussion turned to eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells!
While the basic material will be familiar to anyone who has done much serious thinking about apologetics, the book does have some new and fresh ways of presenting old ideas. I enjoyed the card trick illustration one of the authors uses to illustrate the chance vs. design debate (p. 32).
The main weakness of the book is the same weakness found in all books which argue evidentially for the existence of God. You end up with statements like these: "Our physical universe seems to cry out that it was designed " (p. 19, italics added), and "the Christian view makes overall the most coherent sense of reality" (p. 21, italics added). While I believe there is a place for evidentialism, when it stands alone it offers not certainty concerning God, but possibility. It seems that God possibly exists is the bottom line for evidentialism. This is inevitable when one begins with evidence as perceived and evaluated by fallible human beings. The problem is that evidence is subject to different interpretations and therefore can only lead to Amaybe God exists. The intelligent unbeliever can easily respond by saying, I interpret the evidence differently.
The book would have been strengthened by having at least a chapter on presuppositional apologetics where the argument for God is reversed. Instead of starting with man and trying to reach God, presuppositionalists start with God and then challenge the unbeliever to give a sensible explanation for reality apart from presupposing the existence of God (e.g., Cornelius Van Til's The Defense of the Faith). In my own days of confusion and unbelief, I would not have been impressed with the arguments in this book. I agree with the evidentialists conclusions now, and I enjoyed reading the book, but that is only because I am a converted Christian.
The book seems to be aimed at college students or new Christians. It could be a useful tool to put into the hands of someone who believes that science rules out the possibility of God's existence. If an unbeliever will even admit perhaps God exists, he or she may then be more open to the claims of Christ. However, at some point it is important for every Christian to come to the realization that nothing makes sense apart from the Christian/biblical world view being presupposed. While the human mind can sometimes correctly understand evidence in the natural world, the notion than our human wisdom is adequate to reach up to God is arrogant at worse and foolish at best. We must come to grips with Paul's inspired revelation which declares, Athe word by wisdom knew not God (1 Cor. 1:21) and his ironic statement the foolishness of God is wiser than men (1 Col. 1:25).
Reviewed by Richard M. Bowman, Director of Research and Publications, Disciple Renewal, Lovington, IL 61937.
IRRATIONALALITY: Why We Don't Think Straight by Stuart Sutherland. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1994. ix + 357 pages, bibliography, index. Hardcover; $24.95.
Is there any hope that humans can learn to make rational decisions that will enable responsible and optimal actions in their daily lives? Reading this book will make one rather pessimistic about the answer to that question. Sutherland's thesis is that everyone from the completely unsophisticated to the highly trained professional is irrational for at least two reasons: one is their unrecognized irrational nature and the other is the fact that even intellectuals shy away from the hard thinking required to make rational decisions.
Sutherland began his career as a journalist but is now Professor of Psychology at the University of Sussex and has written extensively on psychological subjects. Irrationality is written for a lay audience, although the work is well footnoted and has a short bibliography. The narrative flows smoothly, is enlivened with a dry wit, and contains a minimum of clearly explained technical jargon. Each chapter is closed with a list of Amorals drawn from the data.
After an introductory chapter setting forth the folly of the human race, Sutherland devotes 18 chapters to individual areas of failure. For example, the American fleet was completely surprised at Pearl Harbor because Admiral Kimmel ignored warnings from above and obvious evidence from all around him, even refusing to believe that the Japanese sub sunk outside the harbor was Japanese. He was, naturally, supported by his staff, who were busily being a good example of the irrational tendency of subordinate staffs and committees to rubber stamp nonsense advocated by a strong leader. Sutherland's point is that this is Anormal behavior; we all do it every day, albeit usually without the headline grabbing results of Kimmel's blunder.
Ingeniously designed experiments have demonstrated that we cannot concentrate on enough of the evidence at the same time, we selectively remember the evidence, and when the results are in we Aremember that the results are what we had predicted all along, even when that is not true at all. Two chapters follow setting forth methods that can be used to make rational decision, one based on a modern statistical version of Ben Franklin's pro and con lists, and the other based on calculating utility, broadly based. He concedes that these methods are too cumbersome for any but really important decisions, however. A chapter on the paranormal deals mostly with magic, clairvoyance, astrology, and related disreputable activities, by which he rejects all supernal. In fact, early in his book, he unwittingly demonstrates his own categories of the irrational, the Ahalo effect and distorting the evidence, by classing the squeaky clean Billy Graham with religious charlatans and profiteers, specifically with Jim Bakker.
Sutherland provides some hope for a methodology for major decisions by government and corporations or perhaps major life decisions of an individual, but little else is provided for the individual except the suggestion that a habit of rational thinking will have a snowballing effect. The final summary chapter, Causes, Cures and Costs, is good as far as it goes, but seems a bit weak in view of the overwhelming pessimism of the preceding material.
The chapter headings give a nice gross structure; unfortunately, there is within the chapters a disturbing amorphous quality to the structure of the presentation. It is an entertaining string of results of psychological experiments, anecdotes, theoretical examples, and comments, but to get the full benefit of the material, one must read critically and thoughtfully, organizing and analyzing for oneself, an activity which the bulk of the book seems to be assuring the reader that he cannot and will not do. The AMoral at the end of the chapters is often insightful and always contains at least one humorous, even facetious, point, but seems weak. The book does not adequately summarize the points made in the chapter, nor does it provide satisfactory guidance for doing something about the doleful situation. Sutherland's confidence in statistics is unconditional.
On the other hand, the book brings to us a comprehensive and impressively documented exposÈ of the ways we all misinterpret evidence, ignore evidence, simply refuse to believe the obvious, and generally mess up our lives. If we refute the author's thesis by actually doing a significant amount of hard thinking we are bound to improve our personal and professional lives and the lives of those affected by our decisions.
Reviewed by Eugene O. Bowser, Reference Librarian, James A. Michener Library, The University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO 80639
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE IN THE AGE OF MARY BAKER EDDY by Stuart E. Knee. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1994. 158 pages, index. Hardcover; $49.95.
Peculiarities and contradictions appear to have been the only consistent aspect of the life of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder and high priestess of the Christian Science Movement. This book chronicles many of these.
Eddy's relationship with her parents was peculiar for the early nineteenth century as she seemed more heavily influenced by her father than her mother. Likewise, her relationship with her son was hardly what one would expect from a woman who liked her adherents to call her Amother. She was generally an absent mother until her son was twelve when she essentially abandoned him to be raised by relatives and friends. Knee writes, "Before 1866 she dealt with this dilemma by rationalization. After 1866 she did so by an interesting twist: she became the `mother' to a community that she could not be or was not capable of being individually."
Around the same time Eddy became interested in medicine. About the time of the Civil War, the medical profession in America was beginning to come into its own. Eddy began to study some of what was going on and began to dabble with drugs as a means of healing. She claimed to have healed a person using drugs that had been so diluted as to have become placebos. "There was my first discovery of the science of the mind," according to Eddy.
Though at times unwilling to be much involved in many of the workings of her organization, and thus avoiding conflict, Eddy certainly did not lack in ego. In 1900 she wrote, "Jesus was not Christ. Christ is spiritual...Jesus was a Godlike man...I am a Godlike woman...Jesus was not understood at the time [he] demonstrated, so I am not." Knee writes, "Her frequent allusions to abandonment, friendlessness, loneliness, suffering, martyrdom and spiritual, not bodily resurrection indicate that she reserved a position for herself at the heart of the drama rather than at its periphery...She also once told a convert,I was born an unwelcome child but I mean to have the whole world at my feet before I die."
After examining the beginnings of Eddy's physical and philosophical life, Knee traces the history of the Christian Science movement, the responses from society, both church and secular.
The response to Eddy's work was, not surprisingly, a point of division among the religious community. In England, many in the nobility began to embrace Christian Science. English theologians responded by criticizing Science's rejection of the cross, public prayer and Anglican communion. The criticism was stimulated by a desire to defend the scientific age, Christian Science, clerics intoned, was unscientific. The response to Christian Science from the fundamentalists, evangelicals, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists tended to be much more negative. Knee contends much of the Methodist opposition was due to a large loss of membership to Christian Science. Among the criticisms was Christian Science's inclusion of the evil eye, witchcraft, and voodoo and lack of participation in Christian missionaryism. Knee writes, summarizing other criticisms, the `gospel' of Christian Science, if it had one at all, bore no similarity to Christ's. The Presbyterian New York Observer referred to Science as `a craze of speculators and clairvoyants.' Among the American Episcopal Church, the Congregationalists, and the Unitarians, Eddy found support, though rarely enthusiastic.
Particularly interesting is Knee's discussion of Mark Twain's dabbling with Eddy's philosophy. Knee paints a picture of Twain that is different from the usual perceptions. He shows us a guilt-ridden man going through many financial problems who seeks Amind cures for his ailing daughter. The death of his daughter, in spite of mental science, drove Twain further into guilt and Ahis work was informed less by humor and hominess than by a certain grayness tinged with bitter memory, cynicism and bleakness. The failure of Christian Science to help his daughter led Twain to write several very scathing articles about Eddy and Christian Science. "Christian Science is for sale and the terms are cash in advance... Its god is Mrs. Eddy first, then the dollar." He also stated that Eddy's followers would one day replace Virgin Mary with Matron Mary.
Knee does a wonderful job of bringing together the philosophy and history of the day and the philosophy and history of Christian Science. The result is a highly interesting, insightful treatment of Christian Science that is likely to be enjoyable reading for anyone interested in learning about an unusual woman and her legacy.
The book can be ordered with a credit card by calling: 1-800-225-5800.
Reviewed by Fred Worth, Associate Professor of Mathematics, Henderson State University, Arkadelphia AR 71999-0001
THE FACTS OF LIFE: Science and the Abortion Controversy by Harold J. Morowitz and James Trefil. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. 179 pages, index, illustrations. Hardcover; $19.95.
Having been charmed by previous science meditations written by popular science writer and physicist James Trefil, I was anxious to read his contribution to the abortion debate written in collaboration with his colleague, biologist Harold Morowitz. Setting out to provide a summary of current scientific literature relevant to the abortion issue, the authors argue from paleontology, evolutionary history, developmental biology, neurobiology, and neonatology that abortion on demand up to the twenty-fifth week of gestation is legitimate because it is around this point in fetal development that humanness is acquired.
According to the authors, what makes us human is our large cerebral cortex. They argue that while at a molecular level we are no different from other living things, our tremendous cerebrum (and its glorious products) makes us unique and serves as the characteristic feature of Homo sapiens. Nothing is said about what contributions religious or philosophical conclusions about Ahumanness make to the abortion debate (and in all fairness, they never pretend to).
Having identified a large cerebral cortex as the obvious human distinctive, they then proceed to demonstrate that its function begins at 25-32 weeks, the period during which humanness is acquired. They argue that synapse formation (rather than brain size) is crucial for neural activity, and this occurs from weeks 21-38. EEG testing can identify meaningful signals at 25 weeks, suggesting the initiation of organized neural activity. This is the basis for their assignment of 25 weeks as the crucial point at which human fetuses acquire humanness. One question never answered was whether neural activity at 25-32 weeks was the humanness to be acquired, or whether it allowed humanness (some other attribute) to be acquired, i.e. does the ability to perform cerebral functions make one a person, or allow one to become a person?
Finally, the authors argue that in spite of tremendous advances made in medical technology and neonatology since 1973 (the year of Roe v. Wade) the survival rate for premature neonates born earlier than 25 weeks gestation continues to be very low and before 24 weeks virtually zero. It is suggested that this period of fetal development represents a wall, before which the developing fetus cannot live outside the uterus, and in their understanding, before which the fetus has acquired humanness. The initiation of brain function at 25 weeks, coupled with the realization that fundamental developmental processes necessary for independent fetal survival occur leading up to 24 or 25 weeks of development, provides the basis for their conclusion that humanness is acquired at 25 weeks of fetal gestation.
The authors conclude that while abortion is not desirable; it is a necessary part of living in a less than ideal world. They argue that while a decision as important and sensitive as abortion cannot be made on purely scientific grounds (but they themselves offer no other grounds), we must use scientific information to guide our moral and political judgments. Surely this is a perspective which we in the ASA welcome.
While done in a friendly, inoffensive manner, The Facts of Life is clearly designed to defend abortion on biological, unemotional, and a-religious grounds. For example, the authors take pains to discredit the film Silent Scream, calling it the traditional pathetic fallacy. They also demonstrate that the often mentioned evidence for the beginning of brain function at eight weeks is a canard passed around carelessly since 1963.
While recognizing that much of the furor of the anti-abortion movement stems from religious or philosophical convictions, and that these convictions are an important part of the process of evaluating the appropriateness of abortion, there is a subtle implication that religious convictions which lead one to conclude that fetuses possess dignity as persons before the twenty-fourth week of gestation, and perhaps even to the point of conception (a point in development which they consider irrelevant to the abortion issue), are unscientific and unreasonable.
While I enjoyed this book and agreed with the approach taken in determining the contribution of biology to the abortion issue, I thought the book failed to take seriously the basic tenet which underlies most pro-life thinking, the spiritual uniqueness of humans. So it is at this point I need to recommend as companion reading to The Facts of Life parts 9 and 16 of Dick Bube's AScience and the Whole Person series, The Significance of Being Human Journal of the ASA (March 1979) and Abortion (September, 1981). As with Horowitz and Trefil, Bube distinguishes between the terms human (those organisms possessing a Homo sapiens genotype) and person (a human creature beyond a certain necessary stage of human development). Acknowledging the process of development necessary for the acquisition of personhood (humanness in Horowitz and Trefil's terminology), Bube used a biological argument in agreement with Horowitz and Trefil, but expands the discussion to also account for the soulful (intellectual) and spiritual aspects of humans and how they figure in the abortion debate.
The Facts of Life is written for a lay audience. To those well-versed in biology, the science is rather simple, but the conclusions they draw are new and convincing. It may be a book to share with pro-life friends who in passionate defense of the spiritual uniqueness of humans, ignore the biological components of personhood. If willing to have your personal views of abortion held up to the light of reasoned biological evidence, consider reading this commendable little book.
Reviewed by Mark A. Strand, Medical Team Director, Evergreen Family Friendship Service, Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, China, 0300002.
EMOTION AND SPIRIT: Questioning the Claims of Psychoanalysis and Religion by Neville Symington. New York, NY: St. Martins Press, 1994. 197 + viii pages, index. Hardcover.
Symington, an Australian psychoanalyst, believes that traditional religion is not relevant to modern man: human sciences repudiated core values of religion. With Freud as its founder, psychoanalysis has explicitly and vehemently abjured religion. Symington claims that the core values of religion are locked away within a primitive religious framework making them unavailable for us in our world (p. 27). He believes that Socrates is a better model than Buddha or Jesus (p. 42). Thus Reason becomes God.
In chapter seven Symington defines religion, after telling the history of religion, as he sees it. He says that about 100,000 years ago men started burying their dead, a sign that they honored the individual. Symington calls it the beginning of primitive religion. With Socrates, Isaiah, and Buddha, mature religion began. Here Symington shows faith in progress through evolution. For Symington the stories about the battles between God and the devil are just a picture of battles between good and evil within us.
The author believes that traditional religion failed to bring true spirituality into the world. Religion caused man to flee the world, rather than reform it. Since psychoanalysts try to heal the inner person, psychoanalysis is, like religion, a spiritual activity. The author thinks that this spirituality can save the world and that psychoanalysis works with modern scientific methods. Therefore, Symington concludes (p. 191) that because psychoanalysis is scientific, it is appropriate for our scientific age.
The title of the last chapter is Science and Religion. For Symington science is religion. In psychoanalysis he uses the scientific method: starting from a hypothesis, he probes inner man. Symington knows that his psychoanalysis is atheistic. The book shows how modern scientific thought can be dangerous for Christians. We must discuss modern science's presuppositions. Only then are we able to see the danger of psychiatry based on the philosophy Symington uses.
Reviewed by Jan de Koning, Instructor of Mathematics, Box 168, St. Michael's College (University of Toronto), 81 St. Mary Street, Toronto, Ont., M5S 1J4, Canada.
LEAVING THE FOLD by Edward T. Babinski. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1995. 462 pages, 4 appendices, index, notes. Cloth; $32.95.
The purpose of Leaving the Fold is to give a clear picture of what attracts a person to the fundamentalist faith and what can drive believers away from their religion. There are more than 30 testimonies from people who have left the fold of fundamentalism. The first section is called AFundamentalism's Grotesque Past. In the next section, eleven testimonies of former fundamentalists who are now more liberal Christians are given. The bulk of Leaving the Fold is found in the third section where testimonies are given by former fundamentalists who are now agnostics or atheists.
The author, Edward T. Babinski, is on the staff of J. B. Duke Library at Furman University. Judging from his personal testimony given in the book, he is well-qualified to write on this subject. Before becoming an agnostic, Mr. Babinski was an evangelical Christian who felt he had the absolute knowledge of life and death (p 210).
Over and over in Leaving the Fold, it is pointed out that fundamentalists hold to the belief that the Bible is Aabsolute knowledge without any trace of error. Professor John Barnhart, department of philosophy at the University of North Texas, put it this way: "I came to believe that without an error-free or infallible Bible to serve as the foundation of the Christian structure, the structure would collapse and possibly morality along with it" (p. 334). Having absolute knowledge is one of the attractive things about fundamentalism. Another one is having the promise of eternal life. Kevin R. Henke said, "How could I live without God, and the promise of eternal life?" (p. 245).
The two most common reasons people leave the fold according to this book are the hypocritical lives of fundamentalists and errors in the Bible. A turning point in Babinski's life came when he read a series of articles in the Skeptical Inquirer in which scriptures were cited that seemed to show that the Bible's authors truly believed in a flat circular earth (p. 29). However, this so-called scientific error of the Bible is actually a result of Mr. Babinski's weak interpretation of scripture. No scientific inaccuracy can be found in the verses he cites (Is. 40:22, Jer. 31:37 and Ps. 22:27). For instance, Isaiah 40:22 says, "He (God) sits enthroned above the circle of the earth." The word Acircle in this verse is the word Asphere in Hebrew (chuwg). It is a figure formed by a circle turning about its diameter.
Jeremiah 31:37 says: "Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel." Mr. Babinski comments: "In other words, just as Israel will never be totally `cast off' the foundations of the flat earth are portrayed as ever remaining a mystery to man" (p. 230). A better interpretation would be that God will preserve Israel as a nation, and man will never be able to find the end of the universe. Of course, the facts are that in 1948 Israel was constituted a nation again, and even with our largest telescopes man has not found the end of our huge universe. Furthermore, Mr. Babinski says, "the biblical earth is often described as having `ends. A flat, circular earth would square well with such speech" (p. 229). Psalm 22:27 says: "All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord and all the families of the nations will bow down before him." This is just a figure of speech meaning that everyone everywhere will bow before the Christ of the cross one day. King David in this passage is describing Christ's crucifixion hundreds of years before the Jews knew of that method of capital punishment. The Jews executed by stoning. Yet, you read these words in Psalm 22:16, "They have pierced my hands and my feet." In fact, over a dozen exact medical descriptions of death by crucifixion are given in this passage.
Although there is some extremely bad interpretation of scripture in Leaving the Fold, it does have value. It is a very thought-provoking book which discusses almost every aspect of the fundamentalist viewpoint. The major weakness of this book is its failure to realize that leaving the fold is never caused by intellectual problems with the Bible. That is just a popular excuse. Hebrews 3:12 tells us the real reason people leave the fold. It says, "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God."
Reviewed by Everette Hatcher III, P.O. Box 23416, Little Rock, AR 72221.
PAIN: The Gift Nobody Wants by Paul Brand and Philip Yancey. HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY: 1993. 352 pages. Index.
Known for their previous books, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made and In His Image, Paul Brand and Philip Yancey have again collaborated to produce this fascinating book. Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants is a combination of autobiography, non-technical science, and personal philosophy.
The book is divided into three parts. In Part One, My Path Into Science, Brand describes his birth and early life in India, schooling in England, training as a carpenter, plans to return to India as a missionary, decision to enter medicine, and training as a surgeon prior to and during World War II. AA Career in Pain, Part Two, contains a discussion of Dr. Brand's career as a surgeon and leprosy specialist. He describes how he returned to India as a surgeon to work with the medical college at Veilore, and how his life was changed by an invitation to visit a leprosarium. Shortly after this visit, he began to treat leprosy patients. Eventually he did pioneer work in surgery and rehabilitation of the hands and feet of patients suffering with this disease. This continued throughout his career and eventually brought him to the United States to a hospital for leprosy patients in Louisiana. Not only did he work with the physical treatment and rehabilitation of these patients, but also with their re-entrance to society, much of which required education of the outside world in regard to this disease.
In Part Three, Learning to Befriend Pain, Brand discusses the nature of pain, its effects upon the person, and some approaches to living, dealing, and accepting pain. Much of this reflects his own personal philosophy. One might ask why, other than his medical background, did he write about pain? It has to do with the nature of leprosy. This is a disease which destroys nerve tissue leaving the patient without the sensation of pain. Brand points out that a lifetime of treating patients without the sensation of pain has convinced him of the necessity for the existence of pain.
This is not merely a philosophical book and actually deals very little with the so-called Aproblem of pain. Also, although the two previous books were somewhat apologetic in nature, this book was not written in that style. That is not to say, however, that it does not present a very positive view of Christianity. Further, the combination of Brand's faith and scientific and medical research makes this book a well-written description of the interaction of science and faith in the life of an individual.
I enjoyed this book very much and have a feeling that I will be coming back to it for further reflection as I deal with pain in my life and in those around me.
Reviewed by Phillip Eichman, University of Rio Grande, Rio Grande, OH.
THE MAKING OF THE NEW TESTAMENT by Arthur G. Patzia. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995. Softback.
In answering the question, How did we get our New Testament? Patzia emphasizes the humanity of the writers whose ears were more likely assaulted by the urban clatter of busy intersections and bustling markets than attuned to a still small voice. This volume could well serve as a textbook on the origin, collection, copying, and canonizing of the New Testament documents. The material is familiar (e.g., criteria for canonization), the questions asked elementary (e.g., Why are there four gospels?), the writing succinct (e.g., just 205 pages to cover seven major parts with sub-sections, six appendices, a glossary, notes, bibliography, and two indices) and evangelical (the Scripture is inspired). Patzia, a faculty member associated with Fuller Theological Seminary, has previously written Ephesians and Colossians. The book is dedicated to his parents, one of whom is alive and 92 years old. They introduced him to the New Testament, and it is a touching illustration of how 'the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.'
Reviewed by Richard Ruble, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, AR 72761.