On Oracles of Science

Oracle – A person giving wise or authoritative opinions (Merriam-Webster)

Many would consider scientists Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, Steven Weinberg, and Edward O. Wilson are oracles. After all, they are respected voices in their field and many look upon as eloquent public intellectuals.

Besides being accomplished scientists, each is a successful writer. The group has achieved countless awards, including a Nobel Prize and two Pulitzer Prizes. Each of them have shaped the public’s perception of science and its relationship with other fields. Yes, these six people are oracles of science.

OraclesKarl Giberson and Mariano Artigas wrote Oracles of Science: Celebrity Scientists versus God and Religion to examine each of these luminaries and their views regarding the interchange between science and religion. The group’s belief system ranges from atheist to agnostic to humanist. Some respect religion while others are openly antagonistic. Meanwhile, the authors (both physicists) are Christians – with Artigas also being a Roman Catholic priest.

Each oracle has his own chapter, thus readers can engage the oracles in any order. Not only does each chapter focus on the oracle’s own words, the authors respectfully engage with the oracle with their own ideas and reactions.

Whereas the opening chapter sets the stage for what is to come, the final chapter examines similarities and differences while offering conclusions.

Regardless of one’s religious preference – Protestant or Catholic; evangelical or fundamentalist; evolutionist or creationist; religious, atheist, agnostic, deist, humanist, materialist, or naturalist – this is a good book for those who enjoy thinking.

Because of the nature of the topic, the stature of each oracle, and the counterpoints by the authors, I can guarantee that readers will disagree something. The question is can one agree or disagree with the same integrity and respect that the authors demonstrate? After all, that is one thing missing in many conversations about this topic.

35 thoughts on “On Oracles of Science

  1. Did you find, Frank, that you understood the issues or the arguments any better after reading the book than you did before? And if so, in what ways were you enlightened?


    • Shimon,
      Excellent questions.

      One reason I read the book was that I sought to widen my understanding of the range of views on the topic. None of the six are religious, but they hold a range of views.

      Because they are 6 of the big names in science, they support the common (but incorrect) view that scientists aren’t religious … but their thoughts range from hostile to respectful.

      The book also helped valid my thoughts because at times, they would cause me to wince … question … but then the author would counter with what I was thinking.


    • Spiced,
      “Thought provoking” is a good description … and yes, I enjoyed this book. Among other things, it helps widen me perspective of the range of thoughts that exist on the topic.


  2. I’ve heard about this book before somewhere, looks like an interesting read. Of course, there is a BIG difference between respecting another person’s right to hold different beliefs to yours – which you should always try to do – and respecting a belief that is contrary to your own – which you cannot do and remain true to your own. You’d be surprised just how many people can’t figure that one out.


  3. Thanks for continuing to provide discussion and sources on what people are saying about the relationship of science to the question of the existence of God. There’s a lot of noise out there these days implying that thinking people are wasting their time thinking about the subject. I disagree, and depend on thinking folks like you to help me stay up on the subject. When questioned on the existence of God, writer Gertrude Stein is quoted as saying, “There ain’t no answer. There ain’t gonna be any answer. There never has been an answer. That’s the answer.”
    That answer isn’t good enough for me – KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!


  4. I think it’s always a good thing to know what others think on important topics such as these, but I find that I still stick with my own beliefs. We’re all entitled to our own opinions, especially when it comes to religion.


    • Sylvia,
      I tend to think that most people know very little about this topic (the interchange between science and religion), thus think their is a narrow range of choices – however, choices is a longer continuum … then add the continuum within religions! Although none of the oracles are religious, it is interesting to see their differences. Although they have not caused me to change or challenge my religious views, they have helped me understand a broad spectrum on this topic.


    • Val,
      Not interviews, but writings and possibly transcripts from interviews. A must read? I don’t believe so, but it is an good read because it is interesting to note the similarities and differences between the oracles and the counterpoints made by the authors. BTW – My next post will deal with recommendations for starters.


  5. Pingback: Reflections of Childhood Aspirations | Jessica Bales

  6. Thanks Frank. Another good book suggestion. Now if I can only find the time to read. (If I’d lay off the novels for a while, maybe I could read something enlightening. . .)


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