On The Faith of Scientists

One day, I happened to go into a Half-Priced Books location to kill some time. Later, I walked out with an interesting book for $8 that sells for $25 on Amazon.

Written by Nancy Frankenberry, Professor of Religion at Dartmouth University, The Faith of Scientists is an anthology of twenty-one scientists through the ages. From early scientists as Galileo, Kepler, and Newton to later scientists as Darwin and Einstein, and eventually to modern-day scientists as Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall, and Stephen Hawking, this book offered a peak into the personal views about the interchange between science and religion.

With each scientist isolated into their own chapter, Dr. Frankenberry consistently follows a pattern introducing the scientist in her own words over 3-5 pages followed by selected writing from the scientist.

From Pascal’s Catholicism to Ursula Goodenough’s religious naturalism to the atheism of Richard Dawkins, this book broadened my understanding of the spectrum of thoughts regarding the interchange between science and theology – especially because we live in a society where various factions pit science and faith against one another.

The Faith of Scientists is not a theology book for as the majority of the text is the words from scientists. Nor is it a book about all scientists and all perspectives. Nor is it a book with answers because a consistent vision about the interchange between science and theology does not exist.

However, The Faith of Scientists is a book that stimulates thinking, even though readers will disagree with someone. For me, it helped me understand the range of thought with atheists and agnostics – which I find to be an important aspect of my personal journey. Interestingly, reading this helped broaden my understanding, and at times, appreciation for some views with different views than mine, which allows me to find some common ground with others.

The anthology begins with Galileo and an inauguration of the apparent conflict with his empirically established views regarding the solar system, and the dogma of the Church. From a historical view, it is interesting to watch the shifting patterns of questions and concerns that the writers grapple with.

I suggest reading Nancy Frankenberry’s anthology of writings by 21 notable scientists from the 16th century to the present, as it is both surprising and illuminating. The selections center on faith, their views about God and the place religion holds–or does not hold–in their lives in light of their commitment to science.

The Faith of Scientists is a good read – an enjoyable read – and one that can increase understanding and stimulate discussions. Also, it can be easily read in segments from time to time.