Science in Christian Perspective
Book Reviews fromPSCF March 1999
THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION by Steven Shapin. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1996. 218 pages. Hardcover; $19.95.
Shapin is a professor of sociology at the University of California, San Diego. He has established himself as a reliable historian in his previous two books, Leviathan and the Air-Pump and A Social History of Truth. Using insights from social science, he enriches the traditional history and philosophy of science.
The Scientific Revolution, a term coined in the early twentieth century, was considered as a watershed that surpassed everything since the rise of Christianity, and as the real origin of the modern world and its mentality. This book tries to explain the Scientific Revolution as a continuation from its medieval past: there was a diversity of understanding; there was no sudden and clear break from the past; and there was no immediate essence of the revolution. Although there may not have been a single revolutionary event, there is no doubt that key players, such as Boyle, Bacon, Galilei, and Descartes, were studying nature in a new way. Shapin describes this period of history as a social process. This book has three chapters that deal sequentially with what, how, and why.
The first chapter, "What Was Known," discusses the mechanization of nature and the depersonalization of natural knowledge. Shapin states that philosophers of the mid-seventeenth century used a mechanical metaphor to describe nature in contrast to the older school that ascribed to nature the capacities of purpose or intention as in anthropomorphism and animism. Some Christian philosophers also worried about "Renaissance naturalism" which projected supernatural power onto things to the detriment of Christian belief. Another characteristic of this Revolution is the mathematization of natural philosophy, which used mathematics to describe natural phenomena. This came from the ancient root of Greek geometry. Its practicality was fully demonstrated by Kepler's law about planetary distances. It culminated in Newton's Principia which unified mathematics with both heavenly and earthly mechanics. However, there was and still is the debate of whether this mathematization of the universe describes or truly explains nature's causes.
The second chapter, "How Was It Known," discusses the attempted mechanization of knowledge. Shapin describes science in the making, rather than science as static and disembodied belief. He points out that Copernicus argued that heliocentrism was an ancient view. Flemish anatomist Andrea Vasalis saw himself as reviving the pure medical knowledge of the Greek physician Galen. Many natural philosophers (Bacon, Kepler, Newton) claimed that the ancient sources were pure, but had become corrupted over time. They followed the tradition of Renaissance humanism which reinspected the original Greek and Latin sources to reclaim cultural knowledge. However, the Scientific Revolution was new in its empiric principle of epistemology because it relied on environmental evidence and reason rather than on tradition. To increase empiric knowledge, artificially and purposefully contrived experiments were used in addition to natural observation. The scientists also recognized the boundary of natural knowledge by excluding theological, moral, metaphysical, and political discussions. They spoke only in mechanical terms. However, the difference still existed between theorists who explained through mathematical certainty versus experimentalists who recognized the limits on certainty.
The third chapter is entitled "What Was the Knowledge For?" and discusses the aspiration to use reformed natural knowledge to achieve moral, social, and political ends. First, different scientific societies and academies encouraged the collective effort of obtaining new knowledge, and regulating the rules of proper behavior in making and evaluating natural knowledge. Second, natural knowledge was used to support and extend broadly religious aims. Science was used in the argument from design for the existence and intelligence of a deity. In general, scientists acknowledged God's miraculous exercise of divine will as well as recognized his creative wisdom. Boyle even described experimental research as a kind of worship. Regarding the place of mystery in a world of science, different views between Newton and Descartes were described.
Shapin has demonstrated the heterogeneity of natural knowledge in the seventeenth century. Just as the beginning of Christianity, the beginning of science was not monolithic. Both took a long time to establish a central essence, method, and dogma. This book is very concise, but full of ideas and facts, and can serve as an authoritative bibliographical essay on the Scientific Revolution. It would be an excellent text for a history and philosophy of science course.
Reviewed by T. Timothy Chen, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892.
GOD, REASON AND THEISTIC PROOFS by Stephen T. Davis. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1997. 204 pages. Paperback; $26.00.
Davis, professor of philosophy at McKenna College, has written papers dealing with theistic proofs, as well as books in the field of philosophy of religion. In this book, which is simultaneously published by Edinburgh University, he exposes and evaluates the major theistic proofs, and tackles the issue of their relationship to the theistic faith.
Davis' book begins with a few basic notions of logic and philosophy. It seems to be intended for those without any prior knowledge of philosophy. In the following chapters, however, he fails to introduce all philosophical terms, which may produce some difficulty for the reader. Davis alternates chapters dealing with specific proofs with chapters devoted to a metadiscussion about the proofs. This is possibly done to be more entertaining instead of boring the reader with long discussions on the same topic. For reasons of clarity, I would have preferred a more orderly fitting of the chapters. In this review, I will not follow his order.
Davis first tackles Anselm's ontological argument and devotes a chapter-disproportionately too long-to its defense. Even if the argument is correct, it is very difficult for me (possibly because of my scientific background) to see in it anything more than a tricky word play. I do not think that it would have much appeal to scientists as a proof for God's existence. Concerning the cosmological argument, he briefly defends Aquinas' versions and his own hierarchical version. He mentions Richard Taylor's defense of the principle of sufficient reason, but unfortunately omits Norman Geisler's vital defense of the principle of existential causation, which is strongly defended in Geisler's book, Philosophy of Religion.
The third argument Davis defends is the teleological argument and he does it quite well. Concerning the argument from religious experience, he argues that it constitutes a proof that naturalism is false, but that it cannot vindicate one religious view more than another. He does not seem to know about Keith Yandell's book, The Epistemology of Religious Experience, where Yandell convincingly argues that numinous experiences (of the same kind as those in the Bible) provide valid evidence and that enlightenment (Eastern) experiences do not. The moral and Kalaam arguments are too briefly treated. Davis made a mistake here by giving a counterexample that is actually irrelevant to the first argument about the impossibility of actual infinities.
Davis criticizes the nonrealist view of religion and deals with Plantinga's critique of classical foundationalism. He objects that such a critique leads to relativism. He could have shown that Plantinga himself uses classical foundationalism for making his critique, and therefore begs the question. Neither did he point out that classical foundationalism is not self-referentially incoherent, as Plantinga thinks, because unlike the Verification Principle, classical foundationalism allows for self-evident beliefs and can therefore refer to itself as self-evident. I miss James Sennett's Modality, Probability, and Rationality: A Critical Examination of Alvin Plantinga's Philosophy in Davis' bibliography. Davis ends by defending Pascal's wager and James' argument in cases where one cannot make a rational choice between one's religion and atheism.
The book ends with a discussion on the importance of God's existence and a general evaluation of the proofs and their role. I can recommend this book to those who want to read a good, well-documented introduction to theistic proofs before reading more specific works, such as J. P. Moreland's seminal book, Scaling the Secular City, or those by Norman Geisler, William Craig, and Richard Swinburne. This book might be of interest to those who are already versed in the subject and want to read a comprehensive view and meditation about it.
Reviewed by Bruno D. Granger, Patent Examiner, European Patent Office, The Hague, The Netherlands.
ISAAC NEWTON: The Last Sorcerer by Michael White. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1997. 402 pages. Hardcover; $27.00.
Most of us have heard about Newton, the genius, who worked out the laws of motion, the inverse square law of gravity and the calculus. But of Newton, the human being, we know much less. This situation is not accidental. Newton was quite a private individual, and he was obsessed with his image. For a good many years, his biographers chiefly portrayed the image Newton created.
White is a British science writer and biographer. He has collaborated with John Gribben on biographies of Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein and has served as a science editor. Using papers from Newton's library, some of which did not come to light until this century, White endeavors to round out our picture of Newton.
As did many of his contemporaries, Newton dabbled in alchemy. White aims to answer the question of what relationhsip existed between Newton's alchemy and his science. He gives us a picture of the curious mix of tensions and contrasts that played in Newton's life. Though Newton was fiercely competitive and supremely confident in his abilities as a scientist, he frequently responded to criticism by suppressing publication of his results for years. This tendency nearly led to Liebniz being credited with developing the calculus. His Arianism led him to avoid for years taking the holy orders required by his professorship. Eventually, when his longtime reluctance to subscribe to Anglican theology threatened to attract unfavorable attention, he prevailed on an influential friend to obtain an exemption for him. Yet when King James II tried to infiltrate Catholics into the universities, ordering them not to require the Protestant oaths normally administered, Newton defended the oaths, reasoning that they were required by law. Despite his frequently stormy relationships with colleagues and his tendency to be a loner, he could be an able administrator, as he demonstrated during his tenure as Warden of the Mint, and as president of the struggling Royal Society.
White deals in some detail with Newton's long running rivalry with Robert Hooke, which may have been intensified by the contrast between the two men's lifestyles. White relates that "Hooke loved the coffee house, the gossip of his friends over a bottle of port, and the attentions of at least one mistress at a time...Newton lived a life of austerity and isolation within the walls of Trinity College..." Certainly their very different investigative styles contributed to their rivalry. Hooke was an experimentalist who flitted from one project to another, nevertheless showing considerable genius and ingenuity in his work. Newton tended to stick at a subject for years, until he had derived all the learning he believed was possible from it.
White believes Newton's interest in alchemy had a significant effect on his scientific work. In an age when the concept of force between two bodies not in contact was thought to be occult, alchemy may have provided the philosophical support Newton needed to investigate gravity.
While White's views on the influence of alchemy in Newton's science are quite reasonable, he may be stretching when he speculates on a possible homosexual relationship between Newton and the Swiss mathematician, Fatio De Duillier. His primary evidence is the warmth of Newton's letters to Fatio. Yet he remarks elsewhere on the extreme cordiality common in the correspondence of Newton and his colleagues-even when they were enemies. Perhaps too much is being read into letters which may only be examples of the extravagant politeness of seventeenth century correspondence.
While writing about Newton, White gives us a fascinating look at academic life in the era of Charles II, Oliver Cromwell, William of Orange, James II, Liebniz, Halley and Huygens. The book should be of great interest to anyone desiring to understand Newton and his times. In addition to being informative, the book makes pleasurable reading.
Reviewed by William E. Hamilton, Jr. General Motors Research and Development Center, Warren, MI 48090.
WILLIAM HARVEY AND THE USE OF PURPOSE IN THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION: Cosmos by Chance or Universe by Design? by Emerson Thomas McMullen. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1998. 252 pages, index. Paperback.
McMullen is historian of science, technology, and medicine at Georgia Southern University. He has taught at the Air Force Institute of Technology, Indiana University, and the University of Oklahoma. This book reads very much like materials from his academic lectures. Basically, it is a summary of history and philosophy of science with a main theme on the use of purpose as a driving force in scientific discoveries. That is, in their study of nature, many scientists would often ask the question of not only how things work, but also why they were created that way. William Harvey's discovery of blood circulation is used to illustrate the main theme in this book.
The book starts with a brief history of England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, setting the background to Harvey's life and time. A short biography of him follows. Then, his work on blood circulation is discussed at length, with an emphasis on his purpose-based method of probing the function of the heart and circulatory system. The author cites numerous examples of other scientists who also used purpose or value judgment in making their discoveries or formulating their theories. These scientists, like Harvey, believed that God created nature with specific purposes and efficient purposes ("God does nothing in vain." ). Thus, the use of purpose in science would favor a universe by design over a cosmos by chance. The author notes that this practice was dominant during the Scientific Revolution but seems to be waning nowadays. I wonder how many members of the American Scientific Affiliation use purpose and value judgment in their scientific work today?
About one third of the book consists of a collection of notes and references, glossary, bibliography, and index. There is a total of 486 notes in such a small volume, an average of 2.7 notes per text page. Most of these notes could be incorporated into the main text to make it convenient to read. The bibliography is also quite extensive. Its 433 references are divided into primary and secondary sources, obviously for the benefit of serious readers of history and philosophy of science, including McMullen's students.
Reviewed by James Wing, 15107 Interlachen Drive, Unit 1014, Silver Spring, MD 20906-5635.
SCIENCE AND THEOLOGY: The New Consonance by Ted Peters, ed. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1998. 247 pages, index. Hardcover; $45.00.
Peters is professor of systematic theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He is the editor of Dialog, a journal of theology, and the author of several books on the interaction between theology and natural science. He also directs the Templeton Foundation University Lectures associated with the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Five of the essays included in this book were previously published in Dialog, while three others were adapted from recent CTNS-Templeton Foundation University lectures.
The first chapter of the book, written by Peters, identifies eight different ways in which science and religion are currently thought to be related. Peters and the other contributors to this book align themselves with a "hypothetical consonance" approach. The term Aconsonance" indicates that these writers are seeking areas of correspondence between what can be said scientifically about the natural world and what theologians understand to be God's creation. By including the term "hypothetical," the consonance approach encourages both scientists and theologians to be willing to subject their own assertions to further investigation and possible confirmation or disconfirmation. Peters is also an advocate of an "ethical overlap" approach which asserts that our present ecological crisis "poses a spiritual issue, namely, the crying need of world civilization for an ethical vision." This ethical vision focuses upon the attainment of "a just and sustainable society that lives in harmony with its environment and is at peace with itself." Three of the chapters provide examples of this ethical overlap approach. They include Nancey Murphy's essay on cosmology and ethics, Francisco Ayala's chapter on evolution and ethics, and Audrey Chapman's contribution entitled "The Greening of Science, Theology, and Ethics."
The remainder of the book is divided into two large collections of essays. The first group, which consists of five chapters, includes essays which are centered upon the intersection between "Physics and Faith." Four of the five contributors to this section are individuals with extensive backgrounds in physics. In chapter two, Charles Townes argues against a "two-language" approach to science and religion by suggesting many ways in which these two disciplines are quite similar, despite the great differences assigned to them by our culture. In the next chapter, John Polkinghorne provides a condensed autobiography which summarizes his pilgrimage from professor of mathematical physics to Anglican priest. In chapter four, Paul Davies addresses the question, "Is the Universe Absurd?" which he believes can only be answered through the ongoing process of scientific investigation. In the chapter which follows, Robert John Russell raises the question, "Does the God who acts really act in nature?" He answers this question by providing a new understanding of the doctrine of providence, a concept he calls "noninterventionist objective special divine action."
The second collection of essays, which consists of chapters seven through fifteen, is brought together under the heading, "Evolution, Ethics, and Eschatology." Four of these essays center upon the relationship between the process of biological evolution and the appearance of the human soul. The authors of these four essays include Wolfhart Pannenberg, Pope John Paul II, George Coyne, and Anne Clifford. In chapter twelve, Philip Hefner explains the concept of human beings as "created co-creators" who actively participate in God's ongoing creative activity. In the chapter which follows, Arthur Peacocke argues against reductionism and replaces it with a holistic hierarchy of the sciences. In the final chapter of the book, John Haught brings evolutionary theory into conversation with Christian eschatology. He argues against an attitude of "cosmic pessimism" by presenting an understanding of God as both "kenotic love" and the "power of the future."
In the introduction, Peters uses a stimulus-response analogy to describe the present pattern of interaction between science and theology. He states that most of the authors included in this book take science to be the stimulus and theology the response. While this is certainly the case in the essays written by scientists, those authored by theologians tend to seek consonance between the two disciplines by placing theology in the leadership role. Unfortunately, most of the essays by theologians include little interaction with biblical texts. Reading this book gives one the impression that scientific discoveries and theories are the driving forces behind the present search for consonance. Peters clearly states in his introduction that "science alone is not enough. Revelation from God casts nature in a new light and leads us toward a more adequate understanding of its reality." Yet the overall tone of the book seems to be that while science alone is not enough, any bridge that is built between the two disciplines must originate from the science side of the divide.
Those who are already familiar with contemporary issues in science and theology will not find much that is new in these essays. However, this book serves as a wonderful introduction to the consonance approach and to many of the scholars who are its present proponents. The topics discussed in these essays are quite varied and the notes at the end of each essay provide many opportunities for further reading. All of the authors are excellent writers who know how to cover a lot of intellectual ground within the space of a few pages. In spite of the fact that there is little interaction with biblical theology, this book is recommended to anyone who has an interest in and a commitment to the hypothetical consonance approach to science and theology.
Reviewed by J. David Holland, Biology Instructor, Springfield College in Illinois, Springfield, IL 62702.
MOLECULES AT AN EXHIBITION: Portraits of Intriguing Materials in Everyday Life by John Emsley. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1998. xiv + 250 pages, index. Hardcover; $37.00 (Canadian).
This book about chemistry for a general, nonspecialist audience is organized as a series of accounts of nearly one hundred chemical species. Emsley, a university science writer in residence and a winner of several prizes for science communication, has had a long career as a lecturer and researcher. Much factual information is presented in a readable, entertaining way, but links to religious faith are outside the book's scope, which is entirely secular. No chemical formulas, equations, or diagrams are included; however, a bibliography of forty-six books and articles is provided for anyone who wants to learn more.
Like a visitor to an art exhibition moving from one gallery to the next, the reader finds "portraits" of different chemicals grouped into eight "galleries," which are the chapters. The first three galleries exhibit some substances important in our bodies: inorganic and organic compounds, metallic ions, and drugs or pharmaceuticals. The reader learns many facts about nutrition and what foodstuffs provide essential elements. Several concerns about danger from chemicals in our food are shown to be groundless. Lack of one essential nutrient at an early stage of an unborn baby's development can cause serious disability, but Christians may be troubled by Emsley's suggestion that if tests show this to be likely, then the pregnancy could be terminated.
Two galleries are devoted to substances useful mostly around the home: small molecules and polymers. The reader discovers that the stonework of historic cathedrals can be protected against deterioration by spraying it with perfluoropolyethers. Zirconium and titanium are called "elements from heaven," with zirconium being identified as a constituent of the biblical jacinth (Rev. 9:17; 21:20). Two more galleries discuss substances important in the environment, such as atmospheric gases, and compounds used for transportation in diverse ways. The final gallery, "elements from hell," reports on various poisons, toxic heavy metals, and radioactive elements.
The book has a positive, upbeat attitude toward the portrayed chemicalsCunlike the more common negative reception often received. The world appears as an enlightened community in which these chemicals are extracted, processed, used, and disposed of, wisely and in environmentally benign ways, so that their benefits can be fully enjoyed with few unpleasant consequences. True, mistakes were made in the past, but with modern knowledge bad effects can be avoided. Unfortunately, this attitude ignores the sinfulness of human nature and the limitations of humankind's knowledge.
Scientists looking for a nice gift for a nonscientific friend or relative could well consider this book. It is a fascinating store of trivia, historical lore, and interesting facts useful for brightening up a sermon or lecture. The eclectic choice of topics makes the book unsuitable as a reference; it is not a systematic treatment of classes of chemical compounds. All the information appears to be highly accurate, although some of the abbreviations for units of measurement are unconventional or obsolete, such as mcg (microgram) or cc. This book will tell you much that you did not know, pleasantly and enjoyably.
Reviewed by Charles E. Chaffey, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 3E5.
GEOGRAPHY AND WORLDVIEW: A Christian Reconnaissance by Henk Aay and Sander Griffioen, eds. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, Copublished with the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship, 1998. 177 pages. Hardcover; $40.00. Paperback; $l9.50.
Aay, geography and environmental studies professor at Calvin College, and Griffioen, social philosophy professor at the Free University, Amsterdam, organized an international "Reconnaissance" meeting, including fourteen geographers and one philosopher, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, August 1996, to "map" geography for prospective Christian scholarship. Consequently, these eight essays present views from within the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Canada, and the United States-but with a decidedly Dutch and neo-Calvinist (or Reformed?) accent.
Appropriately, concern is with approach rather than data. Physical geography seldom intrudes beyond its environmental periphery, with human aspects occupying the core. Here past and present trends disclose undercurrents of "Worldview," innocently or boldly diverging from any thought of "the Christian mind." Several essays, marking the waning influence of "positivism," note Marxism's ethical appeal, and focus particularly on "postmodernism" with its repudiation of "God's eye views." Relevant literature discloses an un-postmodernistic unease in matters of morals, logic, and recourse to "better" evidence, matters suggesting some division between epistemological principles and practice.
Too often, however, this Reconnaissance uses an in-house "jargon" likely to baffle all but the initiated, and half-conceal the real depth of thought presented for the diligent. Given the absence of a needed glossary, readers would be well advised to keep dictionary, Bible, and Bible Atlas handy-the "rival" map-divisions of Joshua and Ezekiel exchange captions-and must remain alert to subtle philosophical distinctions. With these provisos, the rewards are rich.
As in most symposia, inputs vary from paper to paper, and the introduction seeks to differentiate those working "implicitly" from within a field to those working "normatively" from without. The first four articles qualify as "implicit" in approach, and the last four as "normative," though the individuality of authors may seem more salient.
David N. Livingstone's paper, written with characteristic verve on geography and natural theology, is followed by David Ley's involved (but very probing) analysis of postmodern epistemologies. Countering widespread "relativism," he proposes instead a "relationalism" which varies with situation but avoids intellectual closure, remaining open to the Truth claims inherent in Christ. Iain Wallace takes a sobering look at socio-economic globalization, noting challenges evident in feminism, social divisiveness, environmental concerns, and the surfacing of hitherto submerged cultures. A balanced response to "an enlarged sense of God's purposes" is advocated for global and local geography. Janel M. Curry-Roper also stresses the embedding of covenantal relationships within place, as she surveys tensions between the reductions of positivistic law and regional diversity as shaped by nature and humanity in interaction.
Opening the "normative" essays with "God's Own Countries?" Gerda Hoekveld-Meijer challenges "establishment" stereotypes in her intriguing reinterpretation of biblical history. "Models" and historical "cycles" manifest degeneration or regeneration as justice is denied or embarrassed. Neither human rights nor environment evoke awe, but rather fire "dominion over pagan Nature-gods, with Nature" part of the biblical juridical system envisaged as contemporaries, Joshua and Ezekiel express judgment and grace in territorial divisions, with borders and negative "externalities" to match. Likewise the Kingdom of God shifts conceptually between Paul and subsequently-written Gospels. Gerard A. Hoekveld further explores "externalities" and "just" borders in his essay on Christian citizenship, where a "thin" but all-embracing morality "thickens" into regional citizenship.
Aay's paper on Netherlands' Christian Schools is carefully researched, shrewd in evaluating past trends and prospects, but sobered by failure to link expansion (despite favoring educational foundations) to essential philosophical depth. In conclusion, Griffioen rounds out the discourse by reflecting on the nature of perspectives and worldviews, underlining distinctions between those that reflect and those that positively shape research. Noting barriers and opportunities for Christian scholarship in a postmodernistic era, he expresses tentative hope.
One may also hope that unfamiliar phrases will not deter any from pursuing these thought-provoking ideas which have implications ranging well beyond the bounds of any single discipline.
Reviewed by Gordon Lewthwaite, Professor Emeritus of Geography, California State University, Northridge, CA 91330.
THE REASONABLENESS OF CHRISTIANITY by John Locke. Edited by George W. Ewing. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 1998. 228 pages, indexes. Paperback; $12.95.
The Puritan physician John Locke (1632-1704) is one of the greatest philosophers and possibly the one who most influenced American civilization. Locke's life and the context in which he wrote this book are presented in Ewing's introductionChowever, without serious philosophical considerations. Ewing still mentions Locke's willingness to defend Christianity against the intellectual attacks lead by the deists, and how much opposition Locke's The Reasonableness of Christianity received, in particular from the revivalist clergyman Jonathan Edwards, who accused him of atheism. Since Locke's book had no divisions or chapters, Ewing has numbered the paragraphs and compiled an outline.
Locke first deals with the need for salvation and the content of the Gospel preached by the apostles and Jesus. He then proceeds to a very lengthy analysis of the Gospels. (As someone said: "Locke has no mercy on the patience of his readers." ) Locke defends the Christian truth with the miracles and the resurrection of Jesus, his indirect declarations of Messiahship and his fulfillment of messianic prophecies. I was surprised to learn so much from Locke's sharp analysis of the Gospels, for example, why Jesus did not reveal his identity directly during most of his ministry. Locke then answers some general objections (about the salvation of the unevangelized, etc.). In the last part of the book, Locke points at some insufficiencies in the general divine revelation in nature (although Locke believed in the truth of such a revelation) and argues for the necessity of special revelation.
Locke's arguments may have been convincing in his time. But Locke wrote before the attacks of Hume against miracles or before the attacks of the liberal theologians based on the historical-critical method. Locke's argumentation would be incomplete for modern readers. Modern apologetic books are more helpful. However, those interested in an analysis of Jesus' ministry may benefit from Locke's book, provided they are motivated enough to endure his lengthy style. Those interested in Locke's philosophy may benefit more from the book, The Reasonableness of Christianity With a Discourse on Miracles and Part of a Third Letter Concerning Toleration by I. T. Ramsey, ed., (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1958). Ramsey has brilliantly introduced and outlined the book, has abridged the text, and also introduced and edited some of Locke's arguments about miracles.
Reviewed by Bruno D. Granger, Patent Examiner, European Patent Office, The Hague, The Netherlands.
THE SACRED BALANCE: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature by David Suzuki with Amanda McConnell. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1998. 272 pages, notes, index. Hardcover; $25.95.
Suzuki is an internationally acclaimed geneticist and host of the popular television show, The Nature of Things. He is the author of more than twenty books, including An Introduction to Genetic Analysis, the most widely used genetics text in the world. He has been a professor at the University of British Columbia since 1963 and is recognized as a leader in the field of sustainable ecology. He has been involved in protecting the environment and the rights of aboriginal peoples in many countries around the world.
The book begins with an indictment of the overconsumption and consumerism that permeates western culture. Suzuki argues that as a result of our devotion to consumerism, the movement into cities, and the loss of an appropriate worldview, our connection to the rest of the living planet has been severed. The challenge which modern society faces today involves the creation of a new worldview that will enable us to rediscover our connections with the natural world. Suzuki suggests that this new worldview can be generated by combining the descriptive knowledge of modern science with the ancient wisdom of native peoples.
In chapters two through six, Suzuki introduces a number of basic ecological concepts by weaving them together in the form of a story. The belief of the ancient Greek philosophers that the physical universe is divisible into just four elements-air, water, earth (soil), and fire (energy)-serves as the story's foundation. After presenting their origins and biological importance, Suzuki discusses some contemporary environmental problems associated with each "element." In chapter six, he adds a fifth fundamental element essential for the maintenance of a healthy planet: the element of biodiversity. Suzuki discusses three important aspects of biodiversity (genetic diversity, species diversity, and human cultural diversity) before ending the chapter with a brief analysis of the present worldwide extinction crisis.
After spending five chapters dealing with physical needs, Suzuki moves on in chapters seven and eight to discuss our social and spiritual needs. In chapter seven entitled "The Law of Love," two different categories of social needs are presented. One category focuses on the need all humans have: the need for positive relationships with other people. The second category centers on the concept of biophilia, the emotional affiliation that human beings have for other forms of life. According to Suzuki, both types of social needs must be met in order to live rich, fulfilling lives. In chapter eight, the need for spiritual connections with the natural world is stressed. Suzuki believes that theologians and ecologists can find much common ground as they explore the need to recognize the sacred in the here-and-now, rather than in the hereafter. The last chapter of the book entitled " New Millennium" provides answers to the question, "What can we do?" After a number of practical suggestions are discussed, the book concludes with several examples of individuals who have enhanced the momentum of the modern day environmental movement.
Just as in many of his other books, Suzuki writes in a manner accessible for readers with limited backgrounds in science. When technical terms are introduced, they are clearly explained. The book contains a variety of figures that help to illustrate foundational ecological concepts. Tables are also included to support statements made in the text itself. Quotes from a variety of sources are scattered throughout the book. While these quotes are interesting and appropriate, they tend to disrupt the flow of the text when placed between paragraphs. The notes, which are presented at the end of the book, can be located by page number and a wide variety of source material is cited.
While readers of this journal will appreciate the book's ecological emphasis and may even agree with many of the proposed solutions to present day environmental problems, they will be disappointed by the author's concept of spirituality. Several Old Testament passages are quoted in the book, but so are a number of texts from other sacred writings. Although Suzuki uses the term "creation" throughout the book, there is little mention of the Creator. The term "Earth" is capitalized wherever it is used and the concept of "Gaia" emerges in several chapters. Matter appears to be sacred only in a pantheistic sense, and living by the "Spirit" simply involves making ethical choices based on sound ecological principles. Suzuki also makes it very clear that this "sacred" matter, which is to be treated with respect, is the product of an evolutionary process based upon chance. He speaks of "propitious" levels of oxygen and the "propitious" molecules of water vapor and carbon dioxide in the primeval atmosphere. Suzuki includes the following statement: "What a lucky chance it was that this particular planet coalesced at the right distance from our star" (p 116). On page 114, while discussing the process of evolution, he writes of the "extraordinary ability of living things to seize a chance and build on it." Statements like these cannot be reconciled with the biblical understanding of a creation process that was initiated and guided by an omnipotent and omniscient Creator. Christians who have an interest in environmental ethics may be impressed by Suzuki's understanding of ecology, but they will likely be depressed by his understanding of theology.
Reviewed by J. David Holland, Biology Instructor, Springfield College in Illinois, Springfield, IL 62702.
THE WAY: An Ecological World-view by Edward Goldsmith. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press, 1998. 438 pages. Paperback; $16.95.
The book cover states that Goldsmith is the founding editor of The Ecologist, coeditor of The Case Against the Global Economy, author of fifteen books and international campaigner on environmental issues for over thirty years. My impression from reading this book is that he is a genuine Luddite. He is anti-progress and development, antiscience and technology, and, I believe, he would be delighted if modern civilization were destroyed, bringing a return to a simple subsistence type of lifestyle of the earliest human civilization. For example, Goldsmith writes:
Ecologically, the temporary settlements of nomads are the most desirable, because, among other things, they have the smallest impact on their environment. It is not surprising that the sites once occupied by most of the great cities of antiquity are now deserts. The impact of our modern industrial cities on their environment is, of course, very much greater and correspondingly more destructive.
While being decidedly opposed to modern science and technology, Goldsmith is a Darwinian evolutionist. For him, evolution is the Gaian Process; Gaia is central to his world-view and the Way is evolution. Since evolution can be equated with the Way, serving as it does to maintain the critical order and hence the stability of the ecosphere, progress or anti-evolution can be equated with the anti-Way, serving to disrupt the critical order of the ecosphere and to reduce its stability. Goldsmith, however, rejects the general notion that evolution is purposeless or undirected. He asks: "How can the absurd notion of the randomness of life processes have been raised to the elevated status of the central concept of modern biology?" He suggests that the concept of randomness was essential to rationalize the reductionist nature of modern science and that randomness was postulated as an argument against unacceptable supernatural principles.
While Goldsmith believes that the evidence for the purposiveness of life processes at every level of organization within the hierarchy of the ecosphere is so great that its denial seems inconceivable, his concept of purposiveness has to do with Gaia, not a belief in any kind of designer or creator. In fact, he is quite opposed to the "revealed religions of today," like Christianity, Islam, or Judaism which "have desanctified society and the natural world, leaving them open to exploitation and destruction." Goldsmith essentially blames Christianity for making science and technology possible because it severed man emotionally from nature. As religion becomes increasingly "other-worldly" and society disintegrates, humans are severed from the Gaian hierarchy and cease to fulfill their "true social, ecological and cosmic role," moving, in effect, along the anti-Way.
Goldsmith has written this book like a collection of short essays, 66 chapters of usually 2B4 pages in length, each of which explains or elaborates on the title. Examples of chapter titles are: "Ecology is holistic," "Ecology is teleological," "Ecology is faith," "Gaia is alive," "Gaia is the source of all benefits," "Gaian life processes are purposive," "The vernacular economy is localized and hence largely self-sufficient," "Progress is antievolutionary and is the anti-Way," and "The great reinterpretation requires a conversion to the world-view of ecology."
Why read this book? Goldsmith has clearly stated what he believes to be the underlying principles of an ecological world-view. In his opinion, the critical order of the cosmos must be preserved by following the Way and that two fundamental principles are necessary: (1) "the living world or ecosphere is the basic source of all benefits and all wealth," and (2) "the overriding goal of the behavior pattern of an ecological society must be to preserve the critical order of the natural world." This book represents the culmination of decades of work and Goldsmith's inspiration has been from "the world-view of vernacular societies, in particular from the chthonic world-view of the earliest period," when people knew how to live in harmony with the natural order.
At times I found this book to be almost painful reading. Goldsmith's understanding of modern science appears to be very limited and, at times, incorrect. I would say the same about his understanding, rather lack of understanding, of biblical Christian faith. Most of his extensive references and bibliography are old, pre-1980. Finally, I found it frustrating to read a whole book about "The Way" written by an author who does not know the One who said, "I am the way" (John 14:6).
Reviewed by Bernard J. Piersma, Professor of Chemistry, Houghton College, Houghton, NY 14744.
WHAT ARE THEY SAYING ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS? by Pamela Smith. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1997. 91 pages. Paperback.
Sister Pamela Smith is the Director of Lay Ministry Programs and assistant professor of systematic theology at SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, Michigan. This book is the twenty-second in a series with the common title beginning "What Are They Saying About..." In the spirit of the title, the book is a summary of the positions advanced by seven different environmentally-concerned groups, quoting extensively from representative authors, with twenty-one pages of notes and an eight-page bibliography.
Deep Ecology. Biocentric, radically egalitarian, and sometimes polemic. Humans can no longer consider themselves members of a species which makes them ends-in-themselves. Deep Ecology is "stridently non-anthropocentric." Advances an eight-point platform emphasizing the equal intrinsic value of all beings, the decrease in human population, and "life quality" rather than "standard of living." Nonhuman beings and habitats have "rights." A reaction must be developed against the "consumerist, materialist, mechanistic, technocratic mindsets" characterizing much of modern life and culture.
Ecofeminist. Sees the "desacralization" of the natural world as one of the main causes in the Western industrial nations' abuses of the environment. The blame for current problems can be laid on a patriarchal, dualistic, hierarchical system of thought, and to the corresponding technocratic, consumerist social order. Proposes a metaphor for the world as "God's body." Extends the doctrine of incarnation beyond Jesus the Christ to a cosmic Christ, to the universe of beings that "incarnate" God in their own ways. Other ecofeminists advance the description of the Earth as Gaia, a living, energetic, creative system named after the Earth goddess of the Greeks.
Animal rights. "Specieism," like racism, sexism, and other prejudices needs to be overcome. Animals have "intrinsic value" and "inherent worth" Clives that have meaning apart from human connections. Practices to be forbidden include the use of animals for scientific research and cosmetic testing, as well as any actions that "partake of cruelty, infliction of nontherapeutic pain, the creation of artificial living conditions, and deprivations for the mere sake of scientific curiosity." In addition, attention must be paid to ecological claims made by flora, land forms, and systems.
Naturalist. Holistic, ecocentric environmental philosophers and ethicists committed to "ecosystemic interdependence, reverence for all creation, the perception of the interactive mix of intrinsic and instrumental values in nonhuman beings, an active probiodiversity stance, a broad extension of `moral considerability,' a commitment to sustainable living, a concern for Earth-restoration, a pursuit of the `natural,' and an esteem for the `wild.'"
Liberationist. The ruin of ecosytems is linked with oligarchic, demagogic oppression-the enforcement of power over the poor, landless, and voiceless. Concern is expressed for how enforced poverty and the subjugation of peoples are connected with an assault on the natural environment.
Interreligious and Ecumenical. The "sustainability" of the Earth is a moral imperative. The "Declaration Toward a Global Ethic," from the Parliament of the World's Religions in 1993, is "spiritual in tone but decidedly not theocentric." This view might more properly be described as "biocentric," emphasizing the intrinsic value of all living things. Judaism can be understood as environmentally friendly, but ambivalent. The Christian tradition has been criticized for being both ambiguous and ambivalent with regard to the natural world. A helpful view for many Christian groups might be called "concentric," coordinating theocentrism, anthropocentrism, and ecocentrism. "Many of the world's religions seem to be concluding that the good life must be nonviolent, nonexploitive, nonabusive, biota-reverent, life-restorative, and ecosystemic." The author does not refer to evangelical Christian authors such as C. B. DeWitt and others, who have written effectively on a Christian view of the environment as defined in the New Testament.
Catholic Magisterial. A growing trend toward environmental pronouncement and prescriptions. Much of what has been said may be considered by other groups mentioned above as "hopelessly insensitive and irretrievably shallow" ecologically. However, a consideration of his pronouncements indicate that Pope John Paul II "advocates an ethic of environmental responsibility, reverence, and restraint." Recent trends in thinking indicate a movement to "develop and detail a theology of creation, an anthropology which understands the human in relation to the `web of life,' and a visional ethic which is more profoundly aware of animals and ecosystems than earlier Catholic moral thinking has been."
The book concludes with a brief "Conclusions" chapter, reflecting the author's reaction to these various perspectives. She notes the "virtual unanimity about the worthiness of the pursuit and promotion of environmental `sustainability'," and "an obligation on the part of present humans to hand on to future generations of humans and other living beings a world capable of sustaining life and providing for some degree of flourishing." But she also points out that it is difficult to find many specific prescriptions which would meet with general acceptance, and that "there is considerable disagreement...about whether or not any hierarchy of value of preferential treatment should be allowed on the basis of species, place on the food chain, sentence, or capacity for reason." Major stumbling blocks for agreement are issues of population growth and its limitation, or "deliberate choices for lower income, a lower standard of living, and less environmental impact."
Although "no approach to environmental ethics seems altogether capable of negotiating these complexities," the author expresses her hope for "the expansion and further describing of a visional environmental ethic and an exploration of solid and salutary environmental virtues."
Reviewed by Richard H. Bube, Emeritus Professor of Materials Science and Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305.
VICTORIAN SCIENCE IN CONTEXT by Bernard Lightman, ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. 489 pages, index. Paperback; $22.50.
Victorian Science in Context is a collection of twenty essays grouped into three sections. Part 1 focuses on "Defining Knowledge" Cthe Victorian equivalent of differentiating between science and pseudoscience. Part 2, "Ordering Nature," analyzes stereotypes, particularly race and gender, in the audiences that followed science. Essays in Part 3, "Practicing Science," expose the subtleties involved in performing science in less than ideal conditions, with instruments whose reproducibility sometimes made scientists skeptical about the uniformity of creation (p. 409).
One beauty resulting from a collection of essays is a range of styles, some of which are sure to resonate with the reader. Essays cover issues of race, feminism, economics, satire, science writing, and science fiction-to name but a few. Generally the essays are framed in a technical style, being written largely by scholars in history and philosophy, although most are readable by a nonspecialist.
Part 3 is probably of most interest to scientists, and represents something of a series of case studies that demonstrate how a particular aspect of science developed in the Victorian period. For example, chapter 15 is a case study of the development of cable telegraphy, and describes how Britain exploited this technology to maintain trading partners and colonies all over the world. The need for rapid contact led to a close relationship between the British government and a cadre of scientists and business people who developed transoceanic communication. The result was a British-dominated cable industry that allowed Britain "up-to-the minute news of foreign markets, oiling the operation of the global trading system that sustained Britain's wealth and power..." (p 320). Bruce Hunt builds a case for an industry that grew by solving scientific problems that in turn influenced the growth of a new area of science. "Why did electrical theory follow such different paths in Britain and on the Continent?...To state the point baldly and a bit too simply, the British did field theory because they had submarine cables, and the Germans did not because they had none" (p. 326).
This collection of essays was written largely for people in the humanities field but also will appeal to scientists interested in the Victorian period. These articles personalize science with vignettes of the practitioners and detailed descriptions of workplace and instrumental limitationsCeven to the effect of vibrations from street traffic. Global issues of politics, gender, and funding further serve to place "Victorian science in context."
Reviewed by Fraser F. Fleming, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA 15282.
THE RETURN OF CREDIBILITY: Scientific Discoveries Support Belief in the Bible's Creation Account by Joe T. Ator. New York: Vantage Press, Inc., 1998. 102 pages, index. Paperback; $9.95.
This book is another entry in the growing list of works that analyze recent scientific discoveries in the framework of the first chapter of Genesis. Ator, a retired engineer who spent most of his career managing aerospace projects, has taught astronomy at the university level and is a member of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
This book has three major sections: a description of the creation account in the Bible (chap. 1), a survey of the changing views of scientists over time (chap. 2 and 3), and a summary of evidence for a created universe (chap. 4-7). Although the book has no bibliography, endnotes are provided for each chapter. The material is thoroughly cited, but few of the references are from primary or peer-reviewed sources. The author writes in an informal, non-technical style.
Ator's thesis is that "scientists have discovered clear evidence that the universe...is the result of a creation event" (p 99). The subtitle of the book suggests a similarity to the books of Hugh Ross. However, where Ross attempts to show how the statements in Gen. 1 are scientifically accurate, Ator contends that the passage is primarily religious and relatively silent on scientific matters. Thus, there is nothing after Gen. 1:1 for science to affirm or contradict. The quotations used to support this interpretation are all from 1973 or later. This section would benefit from more of a historical perspective that recognizes alternative viewpoints.
The survey of the views of scientists over time includes the usual suspects, beginning with Aristotle and ending with Darwin. Very little space is devoted to Darwinism, in part because the author believes it was merely an inevitable extension of Lyell's uniformitarianism. Some ASA members might be surprised to learn that "modern day scientists have concluded not only that a primeval soup couldn't have existed, but even if it did, such a self-formation of life forms...s impossible in terms of probability" (p. 40, emphasis in original). Ator makes this statement matter-of-factly, without any supporting evidence. A reader with little scientific background will not be equipped to engage a materialistic evolutionist in discussion or treat a theistic evolutionist with grace and respect.
Ator expends about as much energy dealing with Young-Earth Creationism (YEC) as he does with Darwinism. He says that people who want Young-Earth Creationism taught in schools imply a dishonest God because they hold to an appearance-of-age explanation (p. 84). This argument ignores the fact that not every Young-Earther relies on the appearance-of-age theory. Ator would strengthen his case by including a more detailed account of biblical evidence for long creation days. Except for his addressing the definition of yom, Ator offers his readers little reason to believe that he has not read into Genesis the meaning his science demands.
Ator's descriptions of how the universe is measured and what evidence supports the hot Big Bang theory are very good. His discussion of the measurement of distances to stars should prove particularly effective for novices. He does not assume too much background knowledge in his readers, but he does not write down to them, either. The closest he comes to a mathematical equation is a description of the relationship between distance and gravitational force between two objects. A reader with little background in science might find Ator's approach more appealing and less intimidating than that of Ross.
The author succeeds in his goal of making a scientific case for a creation event that would satisfy most people (the Stephen Hawkings of the world notwithstanding). However, the typical ASA member will not find anything of significance in this book that has not already been written elsewhere. On the other hand, the ASA is probably not the author's target audience (the book has no preface or introduction in which Ator could identify the readers he seeks). Given the minimal treatment of Darwinism and YEC as well as the lack of a gospel presentation, the book cannot serve as an evangelistic piece. The book should be encouraging to Christians who have little scientific background and who are unlikely to enter science.
Reviewed by George D. Bennett, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Millikin University, Decatur, IL 62522.
EVOLUTION'S HAND: Searching for the Creator in Contemporary Science by John Cafferky. Toronto: East End Publishers, 1997. 200 pages, index. Paperback.
Cafferky holds degrees from Trinity College in Dublin and currently teaches mathematics in Toronto. However, prior to that, he spent eight years as Chief Geologist at the Agnico Eagle Mines, Joutel site, in northwestern Quebec. His team worked on Archaean rocks over two billion years old that were unusual due to their pristine condition. These rocks did not suffer from the typical deformations seen in other deposits. This discovery played an important role in determining that the rock's metal sulfide deposits were contemporaneous with the rocks themselves. Because of the rarity of the Joutel site deposits, the author hosted over a thousand visiting geologists during his eight years at the site, and the consequences of the syngenetic origin of the metal sulfide deposits ultimately inspired this book. Cafferky realized that the Archaean waters of the earth must have been saturated with metals and other minerals posing serious problems for the conventional Darwinistic origin of life scenario. To Cafferky, it seemed highly unlikely that the sequestering of pure chemicals required for the origin of life could occur in what appears to be the highly contaminated Archaean environment of earth. Cafferky concluded that the current mainstream ideas for the origin of life had been "sanitized to form an allegiance with Darwinian thinking that finally reduces to its own form of blind faith." This book is the result of Cafferky's own personal search and discovery of the theological implications that modern-day science has uncovered regarding the evolutionary processes at work in both the physical and biological realms.
Evolution's Hand contains an introduction, conclusion, and six chapters. The first chapter provides a cursory treatment of the creation and evolution of the physical universe pointing out that the Big Bang and "cosmic coincidences" (as Cafferky terms it) lead inescapably to the conclusion that the evolution of the physical universe is purposeful and has an underlying "Intelligence" behind it. The remaining five chapters argue that this same purposeful evolution is seen in the biological realm on earth. In spite of being written for the lay person, Evolution's Hand contains no charts or illustrations, nor does it have a bibliography. The endnotes at the conclusion of each chapter are not extensive, and point only to general scientific texts and popular scientific works. The fact that the author has chosen not to cite original scientific research papers or review articles makes it very difficult for the more ambitious reader to pursue the author's points in more scientific detail.
While Cafferky's ultimate purpose in writing Evolution's Hand is to address the question, "Does God exist?" the central theme is the assertion that biological evolution is the tool that the Creator has chosen to bring about earth's diversity of life with the ultimate goal being the creation of Homo sapiens and the production of human intelligence. To support this position, the author seeks to demonstrate from the evidence found in the living world and fossil record that biological evolution is not characterized by contingency, but is a nonrandom directed process. Cafferky focuses much attention on: (1) the idea that organisms are perfectly adapted to their environment as evidenced from both the living world and the absence of evolutionary failure in the fossil record; (2) the high frequency of convergence seen in nature indicating that similar solutions have been used to solve related problems of survival throughout the history of life on earth; (3) the idea that many evolutionary changes do not seem to have immediately imparted the organism with an improved capability to survive, but were anticipating the needs of future organisms; and (4) the hierarchical nature of life that is universally characterized by non-overlapping groups. All of this indicates an underlying "Intelligence" in the living realm. To cement this position, Cafferky seeks to demonstrate the improbability of life originating spontaneously as a result of naturally occurring events. The author strives to point out the problems with the reductionist Darwinian scenario for the origin of life. He also identifies what he believes are several examples in which the Darwinian scenario contradicts established tenets of biology, such as the Principle of Biogenesis (Life begets Life). Toward this end, the author also addresses the creative symbolic language of the genetic code and the transduction of information between the genes and proteins, both of which are independent chemical systems.
Much of Evolution's Hand is a restatement of the classic nontheistic and creationist arguments designed to refute Darwinian evolution. However, Cafferky's experience working with Archaean deposits does add valuable perspective into the conditions of the early earth and the extent of contamination of the Archaean waters, and the problems this poses for a reductionist origin of life scenario. Cafferky also uses a somewhat unusual, but effective, approach to segue from the evidence pointing to an "Intelligent Designer" operating in the physical universe to an "Intelligence" directing the evolutionary processes in the living world through a discussion of the unlikely development of human intelligence solely by natural processes. The author links evolution in the physical and biological realms by developing the position that the intelligence that we use to perceive the physical universe (and the "Intelligence" responsible for it) has the appearance of being deliberately brought into being through the process of biological evolution, and therefore, must be directed by an Intelligent Designer.
Cafferky's discussion on the evolution of human intelligence, in which he takes the stance that hominid evolution has preceded according to a pre-planned sequence, is engaging. According to Cafferky, the excessive brain capacity of apes and extinct hominids has never been fully utilized, and as such, does not represent a selective advantage, but actually has detracted from these organisms' ability to survive. Maintenance of large brain capacity is an energy intensive proposition and is of no value to the organism if not used to its full capability, which has been the case for nonhuman hominids. Excess brain capacity appears to be a pre-adaptation that anticipated the emergence of human intelligence and could not fully develop until the de-animalization (loss of the acuity of the sense of smell, the loss of brute strength, loss of a tail, loss of fur, etc.) of humans took place. As Cafferky points out, de-animalization of humans results in decreased capacity to meet environmental, predatory, and competitive challenges and cannot be explained from the traditional Darwinistic standpoint. These changes appear to have been orchestrated to force the development of human intelligence. A requisite pre-adaptation for this is the existence of a large brain with excess capacity.
As a whole, Evolution's Hand presents a strong case for an "Intelligence" underlying life on earth and does an effective job at presenting a serious challenge to reductionist Darwinian theory. Towards this end, Cafferky has done an admirable job at moving toward answering the question of God's existence. However, Cafferky does not weave a convincing argument for the necessity of evolution operating in either the physical universe or the biological realm to produce changes culminating in human intelligence. Evolution by natural processes does occur in nature. However, demonstrating that a change in nature has occurred solely based on the laws of physics and chemistry requires a physicochemical mechanism capable of producing the observed changes under the conditions at hand and time available. Rather than showing this to be the case for biological evolution, the author defaults to the theistic evolutionary position by regarding evolution as a fundamental characteristic of life. Cafferky does not consider nor present evidence to refute the proposition that the Creator may operate by divine fiat or direct intervention in the course of the natural history of the earth. Based on what Cafferky has presented in this work, one could as easily arrive at the progressive creationist view. In fact, one could argue that the evidence Cafferky offers up to refute Darwinism and support biological evolution directed by a Creator actually provides more support for progressive creation than theistic evolution.
This book is targeted largely to a popular audience with a modest scientific background. Overall, I found Evolution's Hand easy to read and often enjoyable. I recommend it to my nonscientist friends, who would like an accessible exposure to the theistic evolutionary position or who might be interested in exploring the relationship between the Christian faith and modern-day science. For ASA members, Evolution's Hand is not a "must read" work. However, it may be of interest, since it represents the testimony of a fellow scientist who rediscovered the legitimacy of the God of his childhood in the facts and record of nature.
Reviewed by Fazale (Fuz) R. Rana, 9769 Placid Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45241.
A CASE AGAINST ACCIDENT AND SELF-ORGANIZATION by Dean L. Overman. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1997. 245 pages. Hardcover; $24.95.
From your seat in the jury you look out at the prisoners: Accident and Self-Organization, accused of fraudulently taking credit for forming life from nonliving matter, and for forming a universe compatible with life. The attorney for the prosecution rises to present the case against them. He is Dean L. Overman, senior partner in the Washington office of a large international law firm, with numerous publications on banking, commercial, corporate, tax, and securities law. His arguments are stated in this book.
The introductory Parts I and II review errors in logical and mathematical reasoning, the sort of mistakes undergraduates are taught to avoid. Sadly, the research literature too is seen as prone to these faults. Circular reasoning is also condemned, but with examples that some will view instead as illegitimate attempts to relate incompletely proved concepts.
Parts III and IV argue that life could not have arisen from nonliving matter. The experiments of Urey and Miller, in which simulated natural processes yielded some amino acids, are dismissed because they were no accident but were done intelligently, nevertheless attaining a level of complexity nowhere close to that in life. Evolutionists, however, still see these experiments as strong support for a natural origin of life, since they contradicted the prior idea that amino acids could only be synthesized by a carefully crafted sequence of chemical manipulations. Next, the author reports five probabilistic calculations for the impossibility of an enzyme, protein, or bacterium forming randomly. Scientists agree that these did not assemble themselves spontaneously, and claim that natural selection directed their evolution. The author criticizes this idea by ridiculing a somewhat exaggerated analogy in a popular science book, but he does not discuss modern work on selection of identified units of gradually increasing complexity in successive stages of the origin of life. In a concluding argument, the generation of the information content in living things is stated to be inconsistent with the second law of thermodynamics. Perhaps the focus should be not on the isolated organism, but on its adaptation to its environment, so that the question becomes "How was the match generated between the information contents of organism and environment?"
Part V (with five diagrams), on the formation of a universe compossible with life, opens with an account of cosmology beginning with the Big Bang, continuing on to "Grand unified extra dimensional theories." However, in this clear and readable description, speculative ideas are not distinguished from well-established theories. With this as background, the author cites eleven examples of precision of values in particle astrophysics such that life would be impossible if these values differed even slightly. Because a universe with these features cannot be an accident, design by an intelligent Creator is indicated. Part V concludes with a brief and rather negative discussion of anthropic principles.
A 2 page discussion of ethical implications follows, making the point that if the origin of the universe was accidental, then there can be no basis to distinguish right from wrong. Finally, a summary and conclusions recapitulate all the arguments made throughout the book, highlighting each in one sentence in bold print. Overman's closing words are: "If life transcends the laws of physics and chemistry, then a rational conclusion is that a Person, not chance and the laws of physics and chemistry, caused and is causing life."
The writing is very clear, with a hierarchic organization of numbered sections and subsections. However, a reader should be aware that natural processes (a friendlier name than accident) and self-organization have many able defenders of their claim to be responsible for the origin of life; indeed, this is the only side of the case that mainstream science normally presents. Although Overman writes for the intelligent layperson, making this fine presentation of the argument for Design accessible to a wide audience, he will not convince those who keep supernatural causes separate from science.
Reviewed by Charles E. Chaffey, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 3E5.
CONCEPTUAL ISSUES IN MODERN HUMAN ORIGINS RESEARCH by G. A. Clark and C. M. Willermet, eds. New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 1997. 508 pages. Paperback; $44.95.
It is somewhat ironic that the most vigorously debated issues surrounding the study of human origins are not those concerned with our earliest beginningsCwhere the comparative scarcity of evidence would serve to fuel such debateCbut center instead on a comparatively recent chapter in human prehistory for which we appear to possess a relative abundance of evidence. Specifically, those issues concerning the origin of modern humans (Homo sapiens) have fueled what is currently the "hottest" debate in the study of human evolution. While there appears to be a growing consensus among scientists that the emergence of anatomically modern Homo sapiens marks an evolutionary development that probably occurred between 100-200 thousand years ago, there is little consensus regarding the wheres, hows, or precise whens of that event. The controversy surrounding the origin of modern humans reflects the contrasting interpretive positions of the two dominant camps in this field: the replacement camp and the regional continuity camp. Between these two explanatory models lies an apparently unbridgeable gulf.
Those adhering to the replacement paradigm maintain that H. sapiens evolved in Africa-and only in Africa-between 100-200 thousand years ago, and from this point of origin migrated throughout Europe, and Asia, "replacing" local hominid populations in the process. In contrast, the continuity model assumes multiple origins of Homo sapiens from existing populations in Africa, Europe and Asia. Clark and Willermet contend that these positions reflect radically different assumptions about the human past and the nature of "modernity." They also reflect significant differences of opinion regarding how the evidence pertaining to modern human origins should be interpreted, and therein "lies the rub," so to speak. Contributing to the entrenchment of opinion on both sides are the personal and professional biases, as well as the influences of "regional research traditions" on data selection and analysis. Conceptual Issues in Modern Human Origins Research serves as a multidisciplinary and multinational forum for those engaged in this debate to outline their positions and defend their arguments. A variety of disciplinary perspectives are included: paleoanthropology, archeology, molecular biology, genetics, linguistics, and philosophy. The twenty-nine essays which comprise the collection reflect the interpretive stances of researchers from Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, and the United States. It is this diversity of participants and paradigms that constitutes the major strength of the book.
Given the relative abundance and diversity of evidence that those involved in modern human origins research have at their disposal, it would seem that some sort of resolution to this debate would be imminent. That such a consensus has not emerged is an obvious and perhaps rather mundane point. Why it has not, and why it probably will not, constitute the really compelling questions here, and it is to these concerns that Conceptual Issues in Modern Human Origins Research is directed. The reader will gain a clearer understanding of the range of scientific opinion on this subject, as well as a keener appreciation for the fact that the scientific process can never be completely disentangled from its cultural context.
As would be expected in so eclectic a collection, writing styles and article accessibility vary considerably. Many of the essays will be accessible to the curious but non-specialist reader. Others of a more esoteric nature will have a more limited appeal. I would recommend Conceptual Issues In Modern Human Origins Research as a timely and comprehensive reference for students and teachers of upper-level/graduate courses in human evolution and for those with an epistemological interest in "how we know what we think we know" about our origins.
Reviewed by Janice Drodge, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University College of Cape Breton, Sydney, NS, Canada B1P 6L2.
ETHICS IN MEDICINE by Milton D. Heifetz. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1996. 264 pages. Paperback.
Heifetz is the former chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at The Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. As such, he comes to the field of bioethics from the perspective of a practicing physician. He also comes to this topic from a studiedly non-religious position. Although he occasionally notes we can learn much from religious traditions and that our lives would "be colder, more detached, and less humane" without them, he still feels he must approach medical ethics free of religious dogma. "The persistent attempt to invoke religious concepts in the ethical dilemmas of our secular society...has added to the confusion."
From this standpoint, he seeks to derive his concept of ethics. Dismissing religion or reason as his framework, he finds what he describes as the most basic of universal attributesCthat of harm avoidance. He detects this in subhuman animals, unaffected by culture, and believes this is the best starting point. From there he develops four basic factors: harm avoidance (non-maleficence), autonomy, common good, and beneficence, and he argues that they should be applied to medical ethics in that order of hierarchy. Since he has derived his moral factors from "biological reality," he thinks this concept of medical ethics should be applicable to all people, bypassing cultural traditions.
The author then deals with eight topics using these derived factors. In four of these areas ("The Doctor-Patient Relationship," "The Right of Self-Determination," "Suicide," and "Abortion" ), he argues that the overriding factor is autonomy. He discusses and obviously supports the patient's increased involvement in decisions that affect health. He also discusses the patient's right to reject therapy. Here the experience of the compassionate physician surfaces. At times a patient will reject therapy that may be lifesaving for a poor reason (such as avoiding minor, transient pain). In such cases, he thinks the physician must strongly push the patient, even with sedation, into the right choice (i.e., beneficence sometimes trumps autonomy). He deals with the problem of the incompetent patient and the need, at times, for "substituted judgment." In the area of physician-assisted suicide, Heifetz thinks there should be no laws concerning this, but that doctors should use their best judgment. They should encourage, relieve pain, and provide support but at times may decide the best course is to assist with the suicide. In the area of abortion, he sees six arguments against it, all of which he disputes, and thirteen in favor of it, none of which he disputes. Clearly, in his view, autonomy and privacy win out over "religious self-righteousness."
In chapters entitled "The Tragic Newborn," "Euthanasia," "Human Experimentation," and "...Medical Triage...," he describes the necessity of balancing the four factors, realizing that sometimes personal rights conflict with societal rights. He avoids hard and fast rules, opting for open-minded discussions between patients, relatives and doctors and at times for involvement of hospital ethics committees and national organizations of neonatologists and pediatricians.
The book has an extensive bibliography and an index, and Heifetz uses six appendices to discuss mastery, privacy and the foundation of human rights, to give an example of a Durable Power of Attorney, and to record governmental guidelines on fetal research and human experimentation.
Those interested in a Christian approach to medical ethics will not find it in this book because of the author's stated approach. In such a case, I'd recommend Gilbert Meilaender's book, Bioethics, reviewed in this journal (September 1997: 207). He comes to this topic with a distinctly Christian vision.
Reviewed by Edward M. Blight, Jr., Professor of Surgery (Urology), Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, CA 92354.
PHILOSOPHICAL PERSPECTIVES ON BIOETHICS by L. W. Sumner and Joseph Boyle, eds. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996. 299 pages. Paperback; $19.95.
The essays in this volume were presented at a 1993-1994 seminar series on "Philosophical Perspectives on Bioethics," jointly sponsored by the Centre for Bioethics and the Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. It consists of an Introduction and thirteen papers by fifteen different authors. Most of the authors are professors of philosophy at universities in Canada or the United States. It is a totally secular work directed toward the definition of public policy without any actual connection between ethical policy and perspectives related to Christian faith. The next-to-last page of the book has a representative phrase, "Public policy should not be based on specific religious beliefs that many do not share."
In rounding out a total picture on these issues for the professional philosopher, this book certainly plays a significant role, but its strong concern with theoretical issues and the limited specific treatments of actual bioethical issues make its reading a somewhat abstract intellectual exercise. This characteristic is fully recognized by the editors of the book, who state from the beginning that the purpose of the book is not to "advance public discussion of one or another substantive bioethical issue...[but] to raise questions about the nature of bioethics itself as a normative discipline. The questions pertained to "proper methods for bioethical thinking" (seven papers), "distinctively feminist perspectives on the present state of bioethics" (four papers), and "the political and institutional contexts of bioethical thinking," especially with regard to how bodies formed to propose public policy on bioethical issues should proceed (two papers). Five of the authors are women, with chapter titles such as, "Good Bioethics Must Be Feminist Bioethics," and "Theory versus Practice in Ethics: A Feminist Perspective on Justice in Health Care."
The book is heavily oriented toward academic theorizing about bioethical theorizing, rather than proposing in any detail the appropriate approaches to specific bioethical issues of public concern today. Specific issues discussed to some extent include the conduct of clinical trials, euthanasia, justice in health care, the care of children, cosmetic surgery, and reproductive technologies.
Reviewed by Richard H. Bube, Emeritus Professor of Materials Science and Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305.
FREUD VS. GOD: How Psychiatry Lost its Soul and Christianity Lost its Mind by Dan Blazer. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998. 233 pages, notes, index. Hardcover; $22.99.
Blazer, an academic psychiatrist specializing in geriatric psychiatry and depression in late life, makes an argument from personal experience that "both psychiatry and Christianity have abandoned discussion of critical issues most relevant to emotional suffering" (p. 97). The title of his book, Freud vs. God, is a metaphor for the tension between psychoanalytic theory and Christian theology that was inevitable due to Freud's anti-religious stance. Today, neuropsychiatry has largely displaced depth psychology and little tension exists. Blazer's thesis is that this relief is not due to resolution of important issues but is based on the willingness of both psychiatry and Christianity to "accept uncritically, to a large extent, the biological reductionism of psychopharmacology" (p. 97).
In a refreshingly personal manner, Blazer describes his walk as both Christian and psychiatrist. Blazer's roots are in fundamentalist, evangelical Christianity and he remembers thoughtful grandparents who were an inspiration to him as a thinking Christian. Blazer recalls his discovery of Freud who, although anti-Christian, appealed to his perception of the nature of man. Blazer, M.D., Ph.D., who once doubted whether he should pursue psychiatry as a Christian, is today Dean of Medical Education and J. P. Gibbons Professor of Psychiatry at the Duke University School of Medicine; and is an elder at Brooks Avenue Church of Christ, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Freud vs. God begins with "Stories and Questions" of three clients who approached Blazer because he was a Christian psychiatrist. In each case some measure of successful treatment for specific psychiatric disorders was accomplished via medication, and yet nagging questions remained in Blazer's mind.
In "Conversation and Debate," Blazer describes the initiation of the conversation between Christianity and psychiatry by Freud and later psychoanalysts. In this and future chapters, Blazer surveys a wide range of authors and works, placing each in its historical context, and provides a valuable resource for further reading in the bibliography and notes. Blazer documents the rise of clinical pastoral education and the theologian's concern regarding "whether the psychological goal of mental health was equivalent to the spiritual goal of growth and salvation" and the spiritual reality that "true self-realization required self-denial" (p. 83).
In "Psychiatry Loses its Soul," Blazer relates how psychiatry has shifted away from "concerns about wholeness, meaning, and the transcendent" (p. 137) during the emergence of psychopharmacology and neuropsychiatry. Today "designer drugs" can be used not to treat psychiatric disorders but to alter personality and mood. Although operational psychiatry investigates the relevance of measurable religious behavior such as Bible reading and church attendance, a reductionistic psychobiology of religion is assumed over against the possibility that properties of mind cannot be reduced to the underlying neural mechanisms. The specialization and medicalization of psychiatry makes it easier to label and medicate emotional suffering than to explore it in depth. Blazer is comfortable with "common-sense psychiatry" such as cognitive therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy, but uncomfortable practicing in the context of "the American belief in individualism, self-sufficiency, pragmatism and realism" (p. 135).
In "Christianity Loses its Mind," Blazer reiterates Mark Noll's thesis of a lack of rigorous scholarship among evangelicals (especially in the sciences), rooted in the fundamentalist reaction against biblical criticism, the social gospel, and evolutionary theory. ASA members will find particularly interesting Blazer's comments regarding the similarities and differences between the evangelical counseling movement and the creation science movement, both reactions against secular scholarship. As Blazer describes the popularization, professionalization, and politicalization of Christian counseling, he points out the lack of commitment to community evident in Evangelicalism. An emphasis on the resurrected as opposed to the crucified Christ presumes the goal of a "revitalized rather than suffering self" and neglects the necessity of pain. "Evangelical Christian counseling does not so much derive from biblical theology as use biblical inerrancy to validate its predominantly cognitive, rational, self-sufficient, positivistic message" (p. 149).
In the next chapter, Blazer touches upon the new age movement, writers such as M. Scott Peck and Thomas Moore, and self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, all of which to some extent "Fill the Vacuum" of the care of the soul. Blazer himself appears inclined toward narrative theology, the belief that the "story of the individual" and the "narrative of the community in which the individual resides" can bring "meaning to otherwise meaningless suffering" (p. 203). For example, during Blazer's initial attraction to psychiatry "learning to tell one's life story seemed central to healing, and hearing that story seemed central to doctoring" (p. 92). While throughout Freud vs. God, Blazer points out faults shared by both psychiatry and Christianity, in "The Care of Souls and Minds" he lists shared assumptions as a means of promoting dialogue. Blazer closes with a personal account of a helping relationship with Richard, a man presenting late life depression, and Richard's son, Tom, a computer systems administrator who suffers from schizophrenia. Like the three stories at the outset of the book, this final narrative leaves its own unanswered questions. However, in this case, Blazer, Richard, and Tom are able to transcend the doctor-patient relationship.
According to Blazer, psychiatric illness is "at once brain dysfunction, psychological conflict, and spiritual crisis" (p. 12) and the neglect of the whole person in the community is a failing of both Christian counseling and psychiatry. Anti-intellectualism "pervades both psychiatry and Christianity" (p. 97) and as Christians we must choose between critical thinking about emotional suffering and a "comfortable spirit of accommodation" (p. 94), between Christianity and psychiatry.
Reviewed by Gregory D. Smith, IRTA Fellow, Mathematical Research Branch, NIDDK, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20814.
MIND GAMES: Exposing Today's Psychics, Frauds, and False Spiritual Phenomena by Andre Kole and Jerry MacGregor. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1998. 309 pages. Paperback.
This book is rather unusual in that its two authors are both magicians and Christians. Kole's magic shows have appeared before millions of people in seventy-six countries of the world. He is also a consultant to several famous magicians, advising them on innovating magic presentations. MacGregor, a senior editor at Harvest House Publishers, is known by his series of popular lectures, also entitled Mind Games, that purportedly demonstrate the trickery used by many psychics. Both authors are now engaged in investigating claims of supernatural powers, superhuman mystics, psychic frauds in the church, and other mind games.
At first, this book reads like merely an exposure of deceptions in magic tricks and mysterious illusions. Indeed, in the early chapters of the book, the authors explain what mind games are, why people believe in them, and how some of them are performed to deceive the audience or followers. These chapters will draw those readers who are interested in how magic tricks work. However, as both authors are Christians, the latter part of the book warns us against heresies, false prophecies, and sordid manipulation of people's minds by Satan in mind games, and provides guidelines that are based on biblical teachings for resisting them. This artful approach in writing the book is sensible because many readers, even Christian readers, may not want to read a book that starts right off with sermons on false spiritual phenomena and deceptions in the name of God.
The mind games here include magic tricks, false prophesies, psychic healing, extrasensory perception, psychokinetics, precognition, premonition, seances, unidentified flying object sighting, extraterrestrial alien visitation, fire walking, hypnotism, New Age religion, astrology, shamanism, divination, and theosophy. The authors cite numerous references to specific examples of these mind games. The bibliography is extensive. In many of the examples, the authors explain in detail how the performers played tricks to the unsuspecting audience or believers. In all cases, the authors point out that these mind games are just tricks, hoaxes, misguided visions, frauds, fantasies, fallacies, fabrications, deceptions, or demonic work of the devil.
It is interesting to note, especially for members of the American Scientific Affiliation, that the authors think that Christians and scientists are easily fooled by mind games. They point out that some Christians either are misled to believe or do want to believe that humans can perform miracles with supernatural power from God. (The truth according to mainline Christianity is: only God can do miracles; he performs miracles directly, never through a human being; and he performs miracles at his own discretion, not in any scheduled exhibition.) Scientists can be deceived because they are conditioned to think logically. The performer of a mind game knows exactly how and what logical thinkers conceive, and so can easily outwit them. This book also offers steps to check frauds in mind games. Thus, this book, besides being enjoyable to read, is a useful guide for Christians and scientists alike on safeguarding against being taken in by mind games.
Kole and MacGregor also caution us on the exaggerated claims of alternative medicines which include faith healing, biorhythms, applied kinesiology, chiropractic, homeopathy, acupuncture, and hand waving healing. I believe that some of these alternative medicines, such as chiropractic and acupuncture, are strictly not mind games. However, excessive claims of any medical treatment are truly false advertisements.
On the issue of extraterrestrial intelligent life, the authors state that there are theological problems with the existence of intelligent beings on other planets. Their belief is in contrast to that of David Wilkinson, a Methodist chaplain. In his book, Alone in the Universe? The X-Files, Aliens, and God, Wilkinson wrote that extraterrestrial life, if and when found, should enhance and enrich our Christian faith in God. See my review of that book in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, Vol. 50 (March 1998): 61. I will let the readers choose sides on this issue.
Reviewed by James Wing, 15107 Interlachen Drive, Unit 1014, Silver Spring, MD 20906-5635.
THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF EARLY CHRISTIANITY: A History by William Frend. London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1997. 412 pages.
This book is a history and discussion of archeological research into the earliest years of Christianity. From the auspicious beginning of the first archeologist locating "the cross," Frend takes the reader on a fascinating survey of the history of Christianity in North Africa. He shows that large areas of Algeria (Numidia) and neighboring countries had extensive churches, cathedrals, cemeteries, and other Christian structures. When the Christian era was superseded by the Islamic, a tremendous change took place in the ecology of the former Christian regions. I was aware of this but not the reason until I read this book. With the Muslims came nomads whose animals overgrazed the territory where the sedentary Christians had planted olive trees and grew grains. Villages decayed and people left through environmental degradation rather than warfare. Degraded steppe and desert now predominate.
Accounts of discoveries in the catacombs of Rome are spellbinding. Discoveries in the Middle East are also included. Frend was involved in many of the excavations in the Mahgreb and Nubia and so is able to provide first person accounts. He discusses more than capitals, tesserae, pillars, plinths, and papyri. He discusses the people involved in archaeology. For example, Napoleon was keenly interested in archeology. When his forces came to Egypt at the end of the eighteenth century, professional archaeologists accompanied them. This trend continued with the expansion of the French Empire. Recent attention to the delay of the publication of the Dead Sea scrolls is more understandable after reading Frend's account of problems in international archaeological cooperation. Extensive footnotes and references accompany each chapter. The index is especially complete. Those interested in archaeology, the early church, and history will find this volume useful.
Reviewed by Lytton John Musselman, Department of Biological Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529.
ALIEN OBSESSION: What Lies Behind Abduction, Sightings, and the Attraction to the Paranormal by Ron Rhodes. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1998. 252 pages, bibliography. Paperback.
Ron Rhodes is a popular Bible teacher on the radio and has authored books such as The Complete Book of Bible Answers, Angels Among Us, and What Your Child Needs to Know About God. He holds a doctorate from Dallas Theological Seminary and is president of Reasoning From the Scriptures Ministries. Thus, he is well qualified to address the popular phenomenon of UFOs and alien abductions from a biblical perspective. The book begins with several chapters about the "wild popularity of UFOs" and proceeds to analyze evidence from UFO researchers, government reports, and anecdotal stories. The author then shows the strong connection between UFOs, the New Age movement, and the occult. He closes by examining how the "doomsday shivers" increase as we approach the turn of the millennium. Four appendices examine such issues as "Who is Satan?" , "Who are demons?" , "The Christian's Defense Against Fallen Angels," and "If you're not a Christian."
Rhodes does a good job of showing that most UFOs are actually "identifiable" in that they can be explained by other phenomena (e.g., secret government tests with balloons at Roswell, New Mexico). Those that remain truly "unidentified" and every abduction incident can be explained by examining the connection between UFOs, New Age, and the occult. Close examination of the messages given by alleged aliens to abductees reveals similar themes with New Age spirituality and occultism. Among these messages are: (1) Replace exclusivistic Christianity with a religious universalism; (2) Never affirm the Bible as God's word; (3) Never mention sin and the need for redemption; (4) Offer blasphemous interpretations of the incarnation of Christ such as Mary being impregnated with alien sperm; and (5) Consistently contradict Scripture (e.g., a counterfeit rapture and false utopia).
Rhodes points out that people who have abduction experiences are typically people involved in the occult. Whitley Strieber, who wrote Communion, admitted his occultic involvement and disillusionment with his Catholic faith prior to his abduction experience. Furthermore, the abduction experiences frequently resemble those of occultic shaman initiates who report being torn apart or probed by demons with long needles. The ghostly appearance of some UFOs and aliens suggests a parallel with the spiritual nature of demons. Rhodes concludes that those truly "unidentifiable" UFOs are actually demonic manifestations passing messages to subvert the good news about the kingdom of God in the world.
The book sets forth its points very simply and clearly for a general audience. I would recommend this book for a popular audience but not for those who are looking for more depth about this topic. It is also clearly written for a Christian audience even though it contains an appendix for unbelievers. Rhodes states that Awith so many Christians undiscerningly buying into the UFO craze hook, line, and sinker apologetic answers on the UFO phenomena are much needed today. That is why I wrote this book." The book assumes the reader is sympathetic to a biblical worldview.
I would not recommend it for unbelieving friends because in some cases, he does not demonstrate a point, he only raises a question. For instance, at the end of a chapter discussing the New Age and UFOs, Rhodes quotes Christian UFO researcher William Alnor:
Could it be that the similar end-times scenarios being spewed in the form of messages from the space brothers are deliberate attempts to fool humankind about Bible prophecy in the very era of Christ's return? Could the benevolent space brothers that the New Agers talk about actually be some of the `angels of light' deliberately sent by Satan to deceive mankind whom the apostle Paul warned the early Christian church about (2 Corin. 11:14)?
Such questions are similar to those used by UFO enthusiasts to support conspiracy theories about government cover-ups. To reach an audience which may not be Christian, it would be better to point out the similarities and allow the reader to make his own conclusions.
Youth groups or college student fellowships may find the book useful to counteract the culture's fascination with aliens and to examine this phenomenon from a biblical worldview.
Reviewed by David Condron, Aerospace Engineer, 11678 Melcombe Ct., Woodbridge, VA 22192.
THE FAITH FACTOR: Proof of the Healing Power of Prayer by Dale A. Matthews with Connie Clark. New York: Penguin Group, 1998. 322 pages, index, footnotes. Hardcover; $24.95.
The question is simple, "May a person expect that religious involvement will contribute to health, well-being and long life?" Answers to this question have traditionally been anecdotalCstories many of us have grown up withCand sometimes stories, which have been proven misleading, false, or even fraudulent.
It was with a skeptic's eye, therefore, that I selected this volume at the Durango public library in May 1998. I was hoping to find something of value, but I was expecting, at best, a few pious anecdotes. I was surprised. This is an important book. Although written in a popular style, copious footnotes point the way to a great many scholarly studies aimed at bringing scientific rigor into the faith process.
Matthews does not try to "prove God," nor does he make any claim that such can be done. He does assert, however, that something he calls the "faith factor" can, and does, play a key part in matters of health, living well, and long life. As I read through the book, I became more and more impressed with it, so much so that half-way through I ordered a copy for my own library, with the intent of teaching a Sunday School class based on it.
Does God heal illnesses? Matthews insists that this is a matter of faith and is not a question science can answer. But, he says, "The question before us, rather, is this: Does belief in God aid in healing?" (p. 64). This is a scientific question, and from the evidence presented in this book, the answer appears to be, "Yes."
The evidence (so far) does not support a claim that one denomination, or even "Christianity" generally, is superior to other faith communities. The data does appear to show that one's devotional and participative intensity affects the faith factor's value, and, hence, one's well-being, more than anything else. Are all faiths the same then? Matthews is quick to answer this question: "I believe that the choice of a particular faith tradition is a matter of utmost consequence, and should be based on one's perception of what constitutes truth, not what will give better health" (p. 284).
Besides the footnotes, many resources, such as books, web sites, organizations, etc, are listed. On page 81, Matthews summarizes his thesis as follows: (1) There is evidence for a broad spectrum (not just a few stories) of healing experiences; (2) There are observations that there is a wide range (not just a specific action or two) of spiritual healing practices which accompany these healings; (3) It appears obvious that the type and degree of healing through spiritual means is not within our control. God remains sovereign; (4) Yet, some factors appear to lie within the realm of scientific investigation.
This book is recommended to my fellow ASA members, friends, and family with enthusiasm. It ought to spark a number of scientific research projects to extend and refine the claims.
Reviewed by John W. Burgeson, 6731 County Road 203, Durango, CO 81301.
THE ANIMAL CREATION: Its Claims on Our Humanity Stated and Enforced by John Styles. London: Edwin Mellen Press, 1997. 226 + xiv pages, index. Hardcover; $89.95.
This reprint of an 1839 edition-the original publisher is not given-is part of the current publisher's Animal Rights Library Series, including four contemporary volumes and six historical ones. The historical list goes back as far as 1776, and as far forward as 1903. The 1997 edition of The Animal Creation has a fourteen-page introduction by Gary Comstock, a professor of philosophy from Iowa State. Comstock rightly says that the strength of the book is Styles' emphasis on cruelties to animals. He also briefly analyzes the theological and philosophical underpinnings of the work. Comstock closes with some criticisms. Styles is repetitive, his quotes are often too long (the forty-two pages of notes by Styles are mostly long quotes), and he does not carefully attribute his sources. Some of his scientific views are seriously out of date. He condescends to other cultures. I agree on all points, but, of course, most of these faults are because the book was written at a different time, and to a different audience.
Why should an individual, or a library, spend $90 on this book? (I would not argue that they should, unless they have a serious and definite interest in the religious aspect of the history of the animal rights movement in Great Britain.) For two reasons. First, Styles was probably representative of many people of his time and place. The book has some historical importance. Styles argues that being kind to animals is the Christian thing to do, and many others believed this, too. (Not everyone, now or then, agreed with Styles, of course.) Secondly, it is impossible to read the book without asking repeatedly, "Did people really do these horrible, cruel, and senseless things? Are they still doing them?" If you have never understood what is meant by vivisection, you will understand it after reading this book. The vivisection that Styles describes is what the term suggestsCcutting on an animal that is not only alive, but conscious, and for no clear purpose except to demonstrate what a live conscious animal does when you cut it open. Unfortunately, the same term is still used for an operation on an anesthetized animal, for clearly defined and achievable scientific purposes, by persons sensitive to animal pain. The reason it is used thus is to evoke an emotional reaction, I suppose. Well, Styles was also doing so. He still can evoke one.
Reviewed by Martin LaBar, Professor of Science, Southern Wesleyan University, Central, SC 29630.
ON GOD AND DOGS: A Christian Theology of Compassion for Animals by Stephen H. Webb. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. 222 + xii pages, index. Hardcover; $29.95.
Your eyes did not deceive you. You read the title and subtitle correctly. You also read the publisher's name correctly. Is the book really about the theology of dogs? Well, yes and no. As far as I know, it is the only book about this subject. However, it is also about animals more generally, and especially about the theological reasons for being a vegetarian. The first page of the first chapter sets the tone for this strategy:
I will argue that the Bible does display surprising sympathies for animals, that, in fact, the biblical tradition includes a hidden history of vegetarianism. Nevertheless, any animal-friendly interpretation of the Bible must read it against the grain of traditional interpretations, so that the first strategy must be willing to challenge and transform traditional understandings of Christian faith (p. 17).
Webb, therefore, assumes that an "animal-friendly" view of the Bible must interpret it in favor of vegetarianism, and he wants to transform traditional understanding.
It seems to me that any Christian argument for vegetarianism must contend with at least these Scriptures: Noah and his descendants were given the animals to eat after the flood (Gen. 9:2-3); The Passover and other religious celebrations included consumption of meat; Jesus' last Passover included meat (Ex. 12:3-10; Luke 22:7-13); Although certain meats were forbidden, many were allowed (Lev. 11); Jesus gave the disciples fish to eat after his resurrection (John 21:13); When Peter had his vision, he was not repulsed by eating meat, but by eating meat that was unclean by Jewish dietary standards (Acts 10:13-15); The church conference allowed meat to be eaten, so long as it had not been strangled or offered to idols, and so long as it had been bled (Acts 15:20); It is not intrinsically wrong to eat meat offered to idols (1 Corin. 8); No food is intrinsically wrong to eat (1 Tim. 3:3-5).
These Scriptures do not require Christians to eat meat, nor do they prohibit Christians from refusing to eat meat, but they seem to make an almost completely airtight case that Christians should be allowed to eat meat. Webb deals with less than half of these Scriptures. He is an advocate. That is, he is willing to accept almost any argument, however far-fetched, on the side of the case he is trying to make. This reviewer was not convinced.
Leaving aside vegetarianism, what did Webb accomplish? He discusses relationships with animals as examples of covenants and of grace. He examines the early church fathers' thoughts about animals. He examines the meaning of the language used to describe meat and meat eating. He considers the theology of sacrifice and the language describing it. He occasionally writes well, and insightfully, as in:
Two images come to mind. In one, God is like a dog, waiting at the door, but instead of guarding the threshold, God always lets everyone in, eagerly welcoming those who want to enter into God's abode and become part of God's family. Likewise, God treats us like one who has adopted a dog-extending kinship lines in unexpected and extravagant directions, quick to comfort and care, and never counting the cost (p. 127).Surely it goes without saying that dogs can be merely the repositories of our surplus feelings, all that is alienated during the workday, all the emotions that could be channeled into social change or into bettering human relationships. But good dog relationships...do more than this; they offer us more than we could ever find within, take us further than we knew we could go, and make us more than ourselves...dogs are like a gift, a grace undeserved,...that is actualized only as we give it away, and in giving we see something that we could not see before. In this way, dogs are part of the anti-economy of giving, generosity, and grace (pp. 103-4).
The book, however, could have been better organized. Webb usually comes at his material more than once, rather than developing it thoroughly. The index is sparseConly four pages long. It did not include vegetarianism, for example. There are sufficient notes and bibliography.
This unique, worthwhile, and occasionally infuriating book is written for theologians and philosophers, but accessible to ASA members. The author is a professor of religion and philosophy at Wabash College.
Reviewed by Martin LaBar, Professor of Science, Southern Wesleyan University, Central, SC 29630.
UNHOLY ALLIANCE: Religion and Atrocity in Our Time by Marc H. Ellis. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997. 194 pages. Paperback; $18.00.
In this thought-provoking book, Ellis offers a powerful and often disturbing examination of how it is possible for us to conceive of God in the face of the multitude of historical and contemporary atrocities that have been perpetrated with the tacit or express approval of religious authorities. Drawing on events as seemingly diverse as Pizarro's exploits in Peru in the early sixteenth century and the massacre of twenty-nine Palestinian Muslims at prayer during Ramadan by Baruch Goldstein in 1994, Ellis explores, rather than constructs, a theodicy that takes the Holocaust as its primary point of departure. The author is trying to determine whether Jewish and Christian responses to barbarism are substantive and efficacious, or whether they serve to perpetuate a cycle of violence and inhumanity. As part of his response, Ellis argues that to bring an end to atrocity is also to bring an end to traditional Christianity and Judaism.
To support his argument, Ellis examines the ideas of a group of what he refers to as progressive Christian and Jewish theologians, such as, Richard Rubinstein, Gustavo Gutierrez, Elie Wiesel, and Joan Casañas. While representing diverse perspectives, from feminism to liberation theology, all of these individuals share a conviction that issues of social injustice must be faced squarely by religious leaders and adherents, rather than being swept under the carpet or treated as anomalies. For their part, in light of recent events in Israel and elsewhere, Jews must address more directly their role as perpetrators of violence, within the context of their history as its victims. Christianity, on the other hand, must take into account the fact that the majority of Christians in the world today, those of Africa, Asia, and Latin America were "evangelized at gunpoint." Christians and Jews alike must come to recognize their complicity in the perpetuation of ethnic, racial, and "religious" violence. A new world order that exists without vengeance, repression, and war is one in which Christianity and Judaism take on a new form.
After Auschwitz, Emil Fackenheim posited a 614th commandment for Judaism, arguing that: "The authentic Jew of today is forbidden to hand Hitler yet another, posthumous victory." In other words, out of anguish, the Jews must be vigilant and mobilize against future atrocity. Ellis interprets this as an effort to reconstruct Judaism in a way that reflects the historical experience of the Jewish people and moves beyond the traditional and firmly set canon of 613 commandments established in the Babylonian Talmud. For his part, Ellis advocates the creation of a 615th commandment of hope and healing based on an effort to establish a "future beyond atrocity" that must start with a sharing of Jerusalem, both literally and symbolically.
Readers of this journal are all too aware of the symbiotic relationship that exists between religion and science, in spite of the much-publicized opposition between these two that is supposedly characteristic of the modern world. Ellis makes us aware of how, in this modern world, Christianity and Judaism are perhaps more closely linked than they have ever been, each needing to rely on the other for its continued existence to be meaningful. I highly recommend this book to those who might have become complacent about their faith, or who want to understand on what basis it might be possible for some people, scientists among them, to call into question the truth and universality of the Christian message.
Reviewed by Robert A. Campbell, University College of Cape Breton, Sydney, NS, Canada B1P 6L2.
GOD-TALK IN AMERICA by Phyllis A. Tickle. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997. 258 pages, no index. Hardcover; $24.95.
As contributing editor in religion to Publishers Weekly and editor-at-large for its Religion Bookline, Phyllis Tickle is well-situated to sketch out the likeness of America's religious face, at least as it is discernible in the publication market. The image that appears, thoughCeven under the brush of her able and hopeful penCmay be more disturbing than encouraging, more our own dim reflection than the face of God.
God-Talk in America consists of twelve manageable chapters interspersed with four quite delightful "interludes" Cautobiographical stories which are to be taken together as a "developing narrative for which the other chapters stand as argued proofs" (xii). Following these first 175 pages are the extensive "Notes" (more than eighty pages) which offer not only bibliographical references for but also further reflections on much of the material discussed in the chapters. So while the book is quite readable in parts (the chapters, the interludes, the notes), its case is more cohesive if read integratively, i.e., if the chapters and interludes are read through in order, and the notes are referenced as they arise.
The principal thesis of the book is that "god-talk" is not only alive, but is thriving in America. No argument here. No longer the domain merely of the Academy or the Institution, "god-talk" is taking place on the street corners, in the restaurants, in the homes, on the computers of the American people. Contributing to this proliferation of populist theologizing, as well as affecting its direction and content, are such modern phenomena, she notes, as "cumulative literacy," a "pervasive nostalgia," and the "democratization of theology."
By "cumulative literacy" Tickle means both the foundation and the consequences of the information explosionCthe "acceleration, diffusion, and obligation" (p. 13) of information that accompanies the proliferation of data and its availability through a myriad of media. By a "pervasive nostalgia" she means this quasi-religious yearning for the stability of once-upon-a-time and for spiritual connection that is, she thinks, the principal emotion coloring god-talk in America (p. 81). And by the "democratization of theology" she means both the development of a theological lingua francaCa hybrid, common language necessary for interfaith theological discourse to occurCand the eventual intellectual pluralization of religion as a result.
But surely it is a question whether the availability of data and fact, however readily accessible and expertly annotated (p. 121), really is literacy. Certainly this profusion of information is impacting the "big questions" at the popular level, but this phenomenon does not necessarily mean that the public-at-large has entered the discussion with understanding and insight. It may simply mean that truth is drowning in a sea of trivia.
Arguably, "nostalgia" is a prominent player on the current religious field. It seems that Tickle is correct in assessing much of that as a desire to return to "the small-town ethos of less-rural, less-agricultural but not-yet-urban America" (p. 95)Cto the time of community fellowship, unlocked doors, and Judeo-Christian consensus. She also sees the trouble with that sort of simplified and romanticized thinking. And she seems to hear the larger cry within this "pervasive nostalgia" for a unity embracing the diversity. It is just here, though, that she misses what and how great the need is. It is not Woman (as she spends considerable space trying to show), nor Home, nor even Religion that will meet the longing of this hour, but God and the truth concerning God. Tickle's language of "nostalgia," though she does not see it, is really Augustine's doctrine of "longing," arising from the imago Dei in which we all are created. So, contra Tickle, it is not pluralism (which, by definition, fragments) but the civil and charitable discussion and establishment of truth that is the answer to our misdirected nostalgia.
Finally, Tickle's remarks on the "democratization of theology" are both penetrating and troubling. That such a process is underway is undeniable. That it has the most stupendous implications for doing theology (or for "god-talk" ) in our culture is inescapable. But that the American "god-talk" can be joined only by those who have accommodated themselves to a homogenized/standardized/ vulgarized theology is questionable. It is all very postmodern, but not by any means inherently necessary to disallow normative claims to truth, and raze the distinctions of the various traditions in favor of some as yet undefined foundational commonality.
Tickle's goal is admittedly descriptive-a word portrayal of the "dance" that is life and religion in America. From this point of view, God-Talk in America is essential reading for every pastor facing both congregations and communities deeply and unavoidably involved in the "god-talk" of our culture. Read with discretion and discernment, it is an informative guide to the language, the issues, the methods, and even the postmodern understanding of "preferential" theology in America. But as a prescriptive response to the current religious situation, the book is both overly optimistic about the nature of the changes occurring and far too theologically naive to do much to deepen contemporary religious superficiality.
Reviewed by B. Spencer Haygood, Pastor, Kosmosdale Baptist Church, Louisville, KY 40272.
SEVEN MYTHS ABOUT CHRISTIANITY by Dale & Sandy Larsen. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998. 156 pages. Paperback.
The authors are freelance writers in Duluth, Minnesota. They have written over thirty books and Bible study guides. This book is the result of conversations with Christian students who attend a private college and who were confused by anti-Christian statements coming from their professors and fellow students. The book examines seven accusations that are commonly leveled against Christianity, is end noted, and has a brief list of further resources.
Chapter one addresses the topic of Christians "forcing their morality on others." Examples include issues such as abortion, the teaching of creationism (as a balance to scientific naturalism) in public schools and Christians crusading against perceived moral declension in the media and the culture in general. What is unfortunately missing in this chapter is a treatment of the "natural law" argument, which has the advantage of being "religiously neutral." This theory has antecedents in Aristotle as well as Thomas Aquinas and John Locke. It was used by Clarence Thomas in his battle to be confirmed a justice to the U.S. Supreme Court. A good example of this approach can be found in Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law by J. Budziszewski (IVPress, 1997) and in a forthcoming work, Legislating Morality: Is It Wise? Is It Legal? Is It Possible? by Norman Geisler & Frank Turek (Bethany Publishing House).
Chapter two discusses the question: "Does Christianity suppress women?" A brief history of the place of women in the church is given, including the fact that the prevailing cultures at the time the Bible was written were patriarchal and this shaped the message concerning male vs. female relationships. It would have been helpful if the authors had contrasted the two prevailing views on this issue: the traditional hierarchical view and the newer egalitarianism. The former holds that men and women are equal in worth but have different roles and functions. The newer viewCegalitarianismCbelieves in mutual submission between husbands and wives and that women as well as men exercise all of the prophetic and priestly functions in the church. I consider the best treatment of this subject (which unfortunately is not mentioned in the book under review) to be Stephen B. Clark's Man and Woman in Christ, (Servant Press).
Chapter three deals with the "ecological crisis" and Christianity. Although I claim no special expertise in this area, my sense is that much of criticism leveled against Christianity on this issue comes from a religious viewpoint which is informed by pantheism and "new age" formulation. The end result of this approach is described by Paul: "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator..." (Rom. 1:25).
Chapter four addresses an issue which has a special interest for readers of this journal: "Are Christians Anti-scientific?" A number of different topics are mentioned including the possibility of life on Mars, creation vs. evolution and the Galileo incident. Unfortunately, the subjects are addressed in a cursory fashion and an opportunity to present a rational alternative to secular naturalism is lost. Discussion (and perhaps a chart?) of the differences between naturalistic evolution, naturalistic creation and the three views found within Christian orthodoxy-namely theistic evolution and old and young earth creationism-would have been helpful.
Chapter five deals with the criticism that "Christians have done terrible things in the name of Christ." This is perhaps the best chapter in the book. The authors treat most of the historical situations that the critics of Christianity usually bring up. These include the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Salem witch trials. While attempts have been made to moderate the culpability of those involved in these events, no modern Christian should fail to see the inappropriateness of these actions and the blot they have caused on the name of Christ. However, "there is another side to the condemnation of terrible things done in the name of Christianity" (p. 101). Communism (informed by Marxism) and Nazism (built on the formulations of Friedrich Nietzsche and raw paganism) were responsible for millions of deaths during their reigns of terror. Indeed, "religious researchers believe there have been more Christian martyrs in the twentieth century than in any other" (p. 105).
Chapter six addresses the charge that Christian missionaries destroy native cultures. The authors examine the motivation and goals of the early missionaries. There is good material here concerning what needs to be addressed as unbiblical in particular cultures and what is spiritually "indifferent" and should be left alone.
The last myth addressed is the notion that Christians are arrogant because they believe in absolute truth. This topic has been addressed by a number of evangelical scholars including a forthcoming work by fellow ASA member Paul Copan entitled True For You But Not For Me (Bethany).
Despite the aforementioned limitations, this book can be a useful tool. It will be helpful for "breaking the ice" and leading to further discussion of the subjects reflected in its title.
Reviewed by Ralph E. MacKenzie, Adjunct Professor of Church History, Biola University and Trinity University West, 5051 Park Rim Dr., San Diego, CA 92117.