Book Reviews for September 1990
AND THE DIVINE IN AMERICA: Protestant Intellectuals and Organic Evolution, 1859-1900
by Jon H. Roberts. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988. 242 pages.
Jon H. Roberts, director of the American Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, divides his historical survey of the Darwinian controversy in America into two chronological segments. Part One considers the general character of initial reaction among "Protestant intellectuals" to The Origin of Species. During the period from roughly 1859-1875, concern among Protestant leadership in the U.S., says Roberts, focused on the scientific merits of the "transmutation hypothesis" with critics content to punch scientific holes in Darwin's theory in order to uphold the requisite role of God in natural history as revealed in Scripture. Drawing primarily from quarterly journals and major works by "mainline" Protestant opinion-makers, Roberts ascertains a general assurance that science itself, which made evident the handiwork of God, would render Darwin's purely physical and gradual change untenable. To the extent that organic evolution by natural selection denied design, it would soon betray itself as a misuse of science in service to the cause of philosophical naturalism by "the partisans of unbelief."
In Part Two, Roberts' assessment of the literature of the last quarter of the nineteenth century detects a shift of concern. The theological implications of Darwinian decent with modification gained greater attention as the transmutation hypothesis itself gained wider acceptance among the developing scientific community. "Literature Americans" and "religious thinkers" began to suggest various ways of either accommodating traditional theology to, or defending it against, the concept of organic evolution. The resulting "reconstruction of theology," as well as the various defensive strategies put forth, echo in today's debates over the character of the Creator's involvement in creation, evidence of that involvement, and the proper balance between scientific and biblical authority.
The author follows the revisionist theme advanced in recent years by a number of historians, arguing for the bankruptcy of the "crude metaphor of warfare" between science and religion. Like James Turner in Without God, Without Creed, Roberts suggests an ironic complicity of Protestant intellectuals in the eventual dethronement of Christian theology from its formative influence on American culture: "I am convinced that an examination of the role that Protestant apologists played in the glorification of the scientific investigation of the natural world [prior to Darwin] and the response they made when confronted by one of the major results of that investigation sheds a good deal of light on the process by which the currency of Christian theology became devalued in the intellectual life of the West" (p. xv).
In sum, Roberts' book is a detailed treatise on a "secularization" process in which American Protestant "religionists," lacking a formula and a consensus for balancing truths of scientific and biblical testimony, ended up forfeiting intellectual ascendancy to voices unconcerned with substantiating divine agency or sustaining a sacramental vision of the natural world. The division of labor that occurred between the empirical sciences, offering an "intramundane" description of natural phenomena, and theory, supplying categories of ultimate explanation, affected this shift in the locus of cultural authority. Roberts contends that empirically verifiable "description" became so "enamoring" that, by 1900, "many educated Americans...derived little emotional and intellectual stimulation or engagement from a theophanous view of nature that could be defended only on the grounds that it was an accurate rendition of reality. Many, indeed most, of these Americans did not militantly deny the validity of the theistic approach to nature; they simply disregarded that approach" (pp. 239-40).
Admittedly, this is intellectual history from the top down, and Roberts draws upon a necessarily limited number of outspoken "representatives" of the various points of view. He concedes the confines of his approach, as well as the generally amorphous and arbitrary classification of "Protestant intellectuals." And though he acknowledges the differences and disagreements among contending evolutionary theories of the time, he equates Darwinism "with its specific mechanism of natural selection to account for change" with the more general concept of organic evolution. He justifies the equivalence, while other historians are being careful to recognize the differences, by virtue of the fact that antagonists in the debates came to equate the two.
Still, Roberts' use of primary sources is extensive, and he manages to construct a coherent picture of the tangled bank of evolutionary ideas and the gradations of Protestant responses. The reader senses the vagaries inherent in the transition from a time when the "testimony of Scripture and the pronouncements of modern science" seemed more readily compatible, to a time when the language of theology lost relevance in the face of the increasing prestige and autonomy of the natural sciences. Though meant for more the scholar than the lay reader, Roberts' treatment, for which he won the Brewer Prize of the American Society of Church History, certainly provides accessible and ample evidence for his concluding lament: "If the vocabulary and categories of Christian theology have become insignificant in shaping the way that many literate Americans comprehend the natural world, this is due at least in part to the inability of Protestant theologians and clergy to offer a convincing means to escaping the cultural consequences of that affiliation [between religious and scientific truth]." It is an historical reflection pertinent to the present efforts aimed at fostering the dialogue between theological and scientific insight.
Reviewed by William A. Durbin, Jr., 308 Oakridge Road, Cary, NC 27511.
WORLD THAT PERISHED by John C. Whitcomb (revised edition). Grand Rapids: Baker
Book House, 1988. Paperback; $9.95.
Question: How did kangaroos reach Australia from Mt. Ararat after the Flood? Answer: They hopped.
This is the gist of the answer that John C. Whitcomb, Jr. provided in 1973 in the original edition of this book. Fifteen years later, in the revised edition, his answer was the same, word for word, except for an updated National Geographic reference to the (now submerged) land bridge between Indochina and Australia.
No one doubts that Australia was at one time connected to the mainland by a land bridge; no one doubts that kangaroos can hop a long distance. The problem is that the kangaroos would have had to survive many diverse climatic conditions (conditions that they are today incapable of tolerating), and find the appropriate kinds of food (in a world just devastated by the Flood) during this journey. Perhaps it is not so strange that kangaroos should be found only in Australia; the mystery is, why are or were almost all marsupial species found only in Australia and Tasmania? Why would almost all marsupials have chosen Australia as their destination after debarking from the Ark? Whitcomb seems unaware of these problems, or else wants to create the impression that these difficulties do not exist.
This example is representative of the difficulties of this book in both its editions. (It is not the only example. Question: Why did the dinosaurs become extinct? Answer: They didn't.) The Global Flood theory has many serious problems, to which Whitcomb provided almost flippantly facile responses in 1973. Despite the volume of literature that has been written about the Flood since then, Whitcomb made no substantial improvements in his arguments in 1988. Revisions indeed there have been, although almost all of the text remains word-for-word the same: some books written since 1973, such as books by Youngblood and by Dillow, are summarized and discussed at length. A new insert about Mt. St. Helens, and a (very poor) insert called "Factors in Conflict with Standardized Chronology," were included. The 1973 misprint, in which the titles for chapters 1 and 2 were switched, was corrected.
I believe that the Global Flood theory can be rationally (though not successfully) defended. The young-earth creationists are smart enough to give us old-earth creationists and theistic evolutionists a run for our money, but one will find no such intellectual stimulation in this book.
Most scientifically trained readers can spot the scientific errors in this book. But more serious are the invalid theological arguments that Whitcomb presents. Whitcomb takes the Flood account in Genesis strictly literally. Like all literalists, however, he admits that the Bible contains figurative language. In particular, he admits that the Genesis 41 reference to "the people of all the earth came to Egypt to buy grain" refers only to those nations that could come in contact with Israel, rather than the whole globe" (1988, p. 61). He insists that Genesis 1-11 refers to the history of all mankind, and therefore its universal terminology really is literally universal. The problem is that right in the middle of the Flood account, the Bible uses language that even Whitcomb would admit must not be taken literally: "The windows of heaven were opened." Whitcomb refers to this verse on p. 37 (1988 edition) without mentioning this problem.
A more serious theological problem is that Whitcomb does not recognize his interpretation as a mere interpretation. I think we would all agree that the Bible is without error in all that it affirms, but that our interpretations (including Whitcomb's, and mine) are subject to error. But Whitcomb doesn't seem to recognize his own human fallibility. He spent almost the entire fourth and final chapter telling his readers that the only reason that anyone would doubt the Global Flood theory is that they do not believe that the Bible is truly God's word. Any Christian who doubts the Global Flood theory does so because he thinks that geologists are superior to Scripture (p. 107), and have merely bowed to pressure from evolutionists (p. 97). Whitcomb says that the only reason that Davis Young accepts an old age for the earth is that "geologists have spoken" (p. 106). Much of this final chapter is criticism of the American Scientific Affiliation, which Whitcomb thinks has rejected the Bible as God's word. He refuses to admit that its members might have evidence to support their beliefs; instead, he says that members are merely permitting uniformitarian concepts of earth history to dominate their Bible interpretation (p. 64, footnote on p. 34).
Perhaps the most serious theological problem emerges when Whitcomb says that "if the Bible is beyond the reach of scientific control and is not vulnerable to the results of scientific research, its concepts become as puerile and insipid as the adventures of ancient Babylonian deities" (p. 119, both editions). I am amazed that a conservative theologian would aver that the only difference between the Bible and the Gilgamesh Epic is that the Bible is scientifically accurate! I always thought that the Bible gives us true, and the pagan writings false, information about God Himself.
I, for one, was hoping to critically examine my own beliefs by reading this book. However, anyone who was disappointed by the first edition of The World That Perished will be even more disappointed by the second.
Reviewed by Stanley Rice, The King's College, Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510.
AND AFFIRMATION: Perspectives in Mathematics and Theology by John Puddefoot.
Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1987. xxii + 209 pages. Hardcover; $20.75.
It may seem too presumptuous to put two so different domains on the same level: mathematics and theology. Do they have anything in common, except superficial similarities? A strong division between science and non-science, drawn by the philosophers of the Vienna Circle, is pretty much alive. And there they are: mathematics, the realm of precision and certainty, versus theology, a quagmire doomed to rely only on wishful thinking; the former being governed by reason, the latter by emotions. But, is it really so? Is mathematics as precise as it is thought to be, and theology so open to the "anything-goes" approach? That is the theme of a very interesting book, Logic and Affirmation, written by a professor of both mathematics and theology.
Especially since Descartes, it seems reason has been severed from emotions. Establishing truth and infallibility of knowledge has started to rely solely upon sentences of reason, because reason strives for precision and abstraction, axiomatization and proof being the means thereof. But, as Heisenberg remarked, in this process "the immediate contact with reality is lost" (p. 18), that is, the more precise and formal the system of knowledge, the less it has to do with reality.
The author fights the idea that proof merely demonstrates what is already implicitly contained in axioms. Proof is valued because of, for instance, the preservation of truth, communication, and clarification. Proof is to establish that a statement is an element of a larger context whereby both the context and the statement can be better understood. Proof is not a purely mechanical activity, otherwise it could be performed by computers. However, rather modest results in automated reasoning indicate that such a goal is at least in the remote future. Search for a proof involves emotions, intuition, "nose," the whole personality of the researcher; that is, those aspects that are not themselves subdued by formal treatment. Precision, therefore, rests upon imprecision. Thus, "mathematics is an interesting personal enterprise in which the commitment of the researcher to his hypothesis plays a large part in his success" (p. 52). The same holds for the quest for axioms; although, theoretically there are an infinite number of equivalent sets of axioms, only a handful are seriously considered. And again, intuition and "barely-understood processes of the unconscious mind" are the guides. Moreover, "the axioms or premises themselves have a history, and their hold upon us arises from our participation in that history, not vice versa" (p. 195).
The achievements of science may have been the reason for pushing feelings and emotions into the sphere of the unscientific, and retaining reason as the only legitimate engine of progress. However, there should be a full harmony between all aspects of human personality. If some human skills, such as believing or dreaming, are not practised because of their unscientific status, they may be lost and we may not know any more "what it is to be fully human" (p. 5). Therefore, reason has to be integrated and balanced with other aspects of being human. Slipping into absolutism or relativism is not the solution. The path traced by Michael Polanyi in his concepts of post-critical philosophy and personal knowledge is such a solution. Puddefoot gives an interesting discussion of these concepts, especially stressing the problem of self-centeredness and other-centeredness, where the "other-centered rationality recognises the priority of that which is other than ourselves, and leads us to the insight that it is the other which calls us into being and enables our becoming" (p. 93).
Formalism has to be dismissed both from mathematics and theology; it can be merely a means, and not the goal. Understanding is the goal, other-centered understanding, and actions that are based upon this understanding. Thus, formal systems are not to be treated as containing the truth but "as clues and pointers to the truth as signposts, guides and even rungs on a ladder of understanding" (p. 193).
Formal systems and doctrines are letters that kill, and only the Spirit makes alive. The truth, whether in mathematics or theology, cannot be encompassed by one system. G–del proved it for mathematics, and in theology it would mean that the infinite reaches of the reality of God could be enclosed in a doctrine. There may be a temptation to think that way about a doctrine, but a scriptural truth can be very helpful here: "whoever thinks he knows something really doesn't know as he ought to know." This truth can be applied to both mathematical and theological systems, and Puddefoot's book is an excellent discussion of this problem.
Reviewed by Adam Drozdek, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA 15282.
A Critical Sketch by V.N. Volosinov. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press,
1988. 187 pages. Paperback; $9.95.
These two books provide an interpretive analysis of two early figures in the discipline of psychology: Freud and Jung. Freud's contribution is assessed by a Russian, V.N. Volosinov, while Jung's life is given an historical summary by a German author, Gerhard Wehr. This review will focus primarily on Volosinov's book and only secondarily on Wehr's book.
Volosinov's critical examination of Freud was written in 1927, during a period of incredible intellectual ferment in the Soviet Union that was bounded by the October Revolution and the Stalinist purges. This book reinterprets Freud from an historical and objective perspective. Volosinov (1895-1936) grants the validity of much of what Freud observed as therapist and "scientist," but he suggests a more sociological interpretation. Even more, the work is an evaluation of psychology as it emerged in a capitalist setting. Given the current climate of glasnost, it is appropriate that Western psychologists experience what it means to have their major historical figures interpreted from Soviet soil at a particular point in time.
Of the nine chapters, the first two are devoted to an explication of the nature of ideology in psychology and the nature of the tension between subjective and objective psychological methodologies. The next four chapters are an analysis of the basic tenets of Freud's writing up to 1927. There is little new here for the scholar who is familiar with Freud. The last three chapters are a critique of Freud from an historical and objective perspective. It is these chapters which reveal how far ahead of his time Volosinov's analysis was. Such a critical analysis of psychology is still barely understood in the West.
Freud, according to Volosinov, does not emerge in a social vacuum: "Every utterance is the product of the interaction between speakers and the product of the broader context of the sole complex situation in which the utterance emerges" (p. 79). Freud's reduction of the psyche to biology occurs precisely at that point in history when there is an increase in social dislocation and disintegration, a view of the European culture strongly held by Volosinov. Similarly the emphasis on infantile sexuality is a reflection of social forces external to Freud rather than a "scientific" discovery. The biologization and sexualization of the person are ideological. To understand the psyche one must look to the historical, not the natural. In fact, an emphasis on the biological is a way of defending the status quo and retarding social change.
Volosinov critiques Freud's system for its subjectivism. Its concepts (e.g., instincts, unconscious) are difficult to locate historically and objectively. The unconscious, Volosinov suggests, is only a different kind of consciousness, one that reflects socially dissociated fragments. The unconscious is revealed through verbal interaction just as the conscious. The difference is that the so-called unconscious reflects a different ideology. Just as the theory of the therapist reflects hidden social forces, so also does the unconscious reflect the play of social forces internalized in the psyche.
The book also includes in appendixes two additional papers by Volosinov which focus on art and other attempts by Soviet theorists to incorporate Freudian thought. Volosinov's Freudianism is an important historical study and will be of interest to historians and philosophers in psychology in particular, and to those interested in the relation of society to the individual in general.
Wehr's analysis of Jung is a book of a different sort from Volosinov's. Its approach is chronological. He reviews Jung's early dreams, studies Basel, and his experiments in parapsychology. The meeting with and subsequent break with Freud is given adequate treatment. With much detail Wehr describes Jung's various journeys, his traveling and tower building, and his encounter with alchemy. With considerable clarity, Wehr explains the Jungian concepts of the collective unconscious, the archetypes, active imagination, and individuation. He indicates Jung's facility with myth and his critique of arid rationalism.
The book makes extensive use of Jung's own biography Memory, Dreams and Reflections, his collected works and letters. This is currently the only available biography of Jung which covers his life with such detail. In addition to twenty-eight historical chapters, Wehr has included three interpretive essays.
This is an appreciative review of Jung's life. Unlike Volosinov, there is little critical analysis. What is lost in careful analysis is compensated for with considerable detail. For the person interested in a complete history of the life of Jung, this is a most appropriate book. For the historian interested in having as much data as is available on Jung in one book, this is the best volume. For the scholar interested in a more in-depth historical assessment of Jung, there may be some disappointment.
Reviewed by Al Dueck, Associate Professor of Pastoral Counseling, Mennonite Brethern Biblical Seminary, Fresno, CA 93727.
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF HUMAN
FREEDOM by Malcolm R. Westcott. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1988. 227 pages, index.
Human freedom is usually taken for granted when most discussions about it are presented. There are three assumptions which usually unite such discussion and literature: first, commitment to some form of free will doctrine; second, that life goes on in the context of social organizations; the third encompasses the belief that free will is desirable and society should inhibit its expression as little as possible. The implication is that when this is done, people have the opportunity to be creative.
The author has been stimulated by many others, primarily in the British tradition. Mortimer Adler's work has also made an important contribution towards Westcott's studies. This rather comprehensive book is divided into five main parts: I. Context; II. Psychological Studies: The Nat Sci Variations; III. Metaconsiderations; IV. Psychological Studies: The Hum Sci Variations; V. Further Facets of Human Freedom.
Westcott states that he has three goals to pursue: "The first is to describe what has been learned about human freedom through psychological research. The second is to provide a conceptual and methodological critique of the large body of that research which has been conducted within the framework of a positivistic natural science experimental psychology. The third goal is to offer a contrasting human science approach to the study of human freedom and illustrate its use in empirical study."
Considering the enormity of these goals, the author presents selected information about each. Each chapter follows a similar format: the plan, issues and conceptions, review of literature, and an overview or summary. As he lists 10 full pages of references, the investigative reader could spend most of his life following up the suggested material.
It is impossible to give a comprehensive review of the author's work in a short review, but some of the flavor of his attitude becomes apparent in Chapter 9, "Loose Ends, Missed Opportunities, and Possible Futures." In this chapter he discusses some of the implications of cross-cultural effects and concepts of human freedom, privacy, and individualism. As these aspects strongly influence western cultural practices, they also influence concepts of freedom. Gibbs' concept of "optative freedom" is the capacity to be the organ to choose what to do. Such decisions are possible only in situations where there are both time and resources to allow such choices. If people spend most of their time in self-maintenance they have little time left for choosing other options. Thus, Third World concepts of free will can become very different from ours.
Political philosophies likewise affect what a person perceives as free will. Whenever there is a rigid pattern of thought that forces evaluation of all aspects of life to be explained or justified according to that pattern, concepts of free will are distorted. The author has some interesting insights into these questions as well.
Lines of argument about free will relate to several questions, namely, theological conceptions about the nature of God and man's relationship to Him; a second view related to morality, for if there is no free will there can be no judgment about behavior; the third view related to reflexivity, that determinism must itself be determined. Limitations and explorations of each of these areas are presented.
This book is one which is stimulating and helpful to anyone interested in the human condition. While it is abstruse in some ways, it is quite understandable to anyone with a background in the history of philosophy and psychology. I would suggest that it is aimed at the serious reader, as the high cost of the paperback would deter others from purchasing the book.
Reviewed by Stanley Lindquist, Professor of Psychology Emeritus, California State University, and President, Link Care Foundation, Fresno, CA 93710.
Reconnecting Science and Religion in the Nuclear Age by Scott T. Eastham. Santa
Fe, NM: Bear, 1987. xxxviii + 209 pages. Paperback; $9.95.
Nuclear weapons became an unfortunate hallmark of our times, especially after Hiroshima. The nuclear issue, probably more than anything else, drives home the fact that the earth is truly a global village. After the destruction of the entire planet became a real possibility, it became necessary to think in broader categories that involve more than a narrow backyard of a town or even a nation. "The nuclear issue is unavoidably an encounter with Death. "As such, it is a primordially religious issue" (p. 12). Therefore the nuclear issue is to be analyzed, says Eastham, primarily from the perspective of religious studies, and that is his approach in Nucleus.
The author states that our universe consists of three worlds: heaven (the world above), earth (the world below), and man (the world in between). This division into three worlds can be traced, one way or the other, in all cultures. All cultures have to determine, implicitly or explicitly, their relation to the heavenly, the earthly, and the human.
Because no realm is insured against catastrophe, the author discusses the nuclear issue in reference to the three worlds. He sees the need for "a new cosmology, a new or renewed vision of the whole" (p. 37) and also a need for "a religious anthropology, that is, a cross-cultural anthropology of mutual understanding" (p. 56). In his quest for this "integral anthropology" Eastham refers to Christianity as a good starting point because of its concern for others.
The chapter dealing with the past presents many facts, some of them truly terrifying, concerning nuclear build-up. Most of these facts, however, are taken from the excellent book Brighter Than a Thousand Suns by R. Jungk.
In the chapter discussing the present, Eastham lists many topics that should be presented in the classroom in connection with the nuclear issue, such as arms negotiations, peace academies, pacifism, and even the ancient healing arts. He then briefly outlines the area of peace studies, where the distinction is made between military peace and religious peace. The next area is war studies, which tries to answer such questions as: Why war? Why sovereignty? Who is the actual controller?
Nucleus discusses issues of extreme importance, but it leaves the reader with a feeling of disappointment. Interesting observations and proposals are drowned in an irritating verbosity and pretentious style. His remark on page 75 stating that he "so freely filled previous pages" should be moved to the last page, because the book often loses focus as the author rambles among many themes. To me, the section discussing the present state of religious studies is of some interest.
Reviewed by Adam Drozdek, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA 15282.
Science and Alien Intelligence by Edward Regis, Jr. (ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1987. 278 pages, appendix, index. Paperback; $12.95.
If you have been interested in scholarly theories concerning extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI), but have not had the opportunity to read the books, journal articles, and conference reports on the subject, this is the book for you. In Extraterrestrials editor Edward Regis, Jr., science writer and associate professor of philosophy at Howard University, brings together the reflections of notable scientists and philosophers concerned with the existence and nature of ETs. Some articles are reprints of past works and some were written specifically for this volume. All, however, are up-to-date and non-technical.
Fifteen contributors address common scientific and philosophical questions relating to ETs. What is the probability that they really exist? What are the prospects of contacting them? How would contact be made? What would be the philosophical and sociological impact of contact? Or of being convinced that we are alone? The book is comprised of six sections, each one commencing with a short introduction and summary by Regis.
Part one is an overview by Lewis White Beck. He introduces the reader to the history of the debate on the existence of ETs, the difficulties in their evolution and in communicating with them, and the possible sociological impact of confirming their existence.
In part two, Ernst Mayr argues that the evolution of intelligence on earth was so haphazard that the likelihood does not exist for ETI elsewhere in the galaxy. David Raup and Michael Ruse disagree. The former speculates that the exotic and sophisticated nature of life may give rise to non-intelligent creatures with powerful electromagnetic emissions (like the electric eel) which could be detected across interstellar distances. The latter is convinced that ETI would necessarily evolve, and that we and they would have enough common ground in areas of mathematics, logic, views of reality, and morality for intelligent communication.
The dialogue in part three focuses on the question of whether our kind of science is sufficiently universal to serve as common ground for ET communication. Nicholas Reshcher contends that different physical, chemical, biological, psychological, sociological, and epistemological factors in other civilizations will give rise to an unrecognizable form of science. Marvin Minsky, on the other hand, proposes that all intelligent beings are limited by space, time, and materials; hence, all will evolve similar methods to solve their problems. Our brand of science, therefore, can serve as a basis for communication.
Part four pits Frank Tipler against Carl Sagan and William Newman. Tipler contends that the lack of evidence for ET probes (UFOs excluded) argues strongly that we are the only technologically advanced civilization in the galaxy. Sagan and Newman counter with physical, psychological, and sociological reasons why we should not expect to see probes in spite of the existence of technologically advanced ETI.
Part five concentrates on the problems and methods of detecting and deciphering ET signals. Jill Tarter has participated in a number of investigations, and she describes what one is like. An appendix summarizing the history and nature of searches from 1959-1984 completes her essay. Cryptologist Cipher Deavours describes how modern decoding techniques would help decipher ET signals, and Hans Freudenthal ends this section with an exposition of LINCOS ("lingua cosmica"), an artificial language based on mathematical relationships which could serve as a galactic "Esperanto."
The final section examines the meaning and consequences of contact. In separate articles, philosophers Edward Regis, Jr. and Jan Narveson argue that moral norms and behavior on earth will continue pretty much along present lines whether we confirm the presence or absence of ETs. Robert Nozik concludes with a depressing short story which should dampen the enthusiasm of those who feel that contact with ETs will necessarily enhance the human condition.
The study of ETI is multidisciplinary, and Regis has done a good job in bringing together professionals of varying backgrounds to discuss the subject. The articles are balanced between proponents and opponents in number as well as in quality.
One is struck, however, by two features common to both sides. The first is the depth to which they have uncritically accepted the experiments of Stanley Miller and Manfred Eigen as proof that life of some sort has arisen in other portions of the galaxy. Given the horrendous problems with naturalistic explanations of the origin of life on earth, one can legitimately question the existence of ETI when based on these same explanations. Second, although scientists consistently warn against the dangers of a limited, anthropomorphic view of ETI, in reality their models are inescapably so. In spite of these philosophical shortcomings, Extraterrestrials will be enjoyable and helpful reading for those wishing to survey this exciting field.
Reviewed by Perry G. Phillips, Assoc. Prof., Natural Sciences, Pinebrook Junior College, Coopersburg, PA 18036.
RESPONSE TO FREUD by John M. Perry. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1988.
72 pages, index. Paperback; $8.75.
The usual response of a theologian to Freud is that of repugnance. However, in this brief review of Freud's atheistic views followed by Tillich's response, there is a different approach. Tillich uses Freudian ideas to review and illustrate further thoughts about theology as a method to explicate and clarify some of the ideas about ultimate reality.
At times one wonders if Tillich was using Freudian ideas as a screen to project his own view, translating what Freud said into terminology which was more acceptable to a Christian. For example, his discourse about Freud's idea that God was a projection of people's needs is explained by suggesting that there has to be a place to project, and this screen may be ultimate reality. Therefore, because there has to be such ultimate reality, Freud proves the opposite of what he originally intended. While this concept was left unclear, so that each reader could also project his own ideas into the discussion, at times it seems that an apologetic for Freud is being presented. The important point here is that Freud's ideas require reevaluation of what we often take for granted.
However, there is no question that Tillich is sincere in his rejection of the atheistic ideas of Freud, and takes Freud to task as well as one can from writings alone. However, he also pointed out that "it would be wrong to refuse to listen to what Freud said about psychological reality, simply because we know in advance that we will not agree with some of his philosophical conclusions." The main problem of this book is the rather brief treatment of a controversial subject.
The book is divided into five chapters. The first one reviews Freud's view of God as a projection and religious faith as an illusion. In the second through the fifth chapters, the author rather skillfully maneuvers quotes from original sources which seem to compare and react to the subject matter discussed. The author adds some interpretation and organization which allows the rather abstruse subject matter to flow reasonably well.
Chapters two to four cover Tillich's response to Freud's existentialism, scientism, and view of God and Religion. Chapter five is a summary and conclusion about the subject matter. He lists the points of agreement with Freud, of which there are 11, and follows with the points of disagreement, of which there are 13, with a brief exposition about each. This summary brings together the points previously discussed and highlights the main points of the book very well, and perhaps should be read before reading the main text.
The contribution of Freud to Christian theology is in bringing insights, especially "enabling it to better recognize the unconscious psychological factors that can motivate a man to seek a false and idolatrous security in his relationship to God." Tillich's interaction could be interpreted as a way of making Freud more palatable to the Christian, which may open the door for some to uncritically accept further Freudian concepts. This could have negative results.
Reviewed by Stanley E. Lindquist, Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, California State University; President, Link Care Foundation, Fresno, CA 93711.