On a Book Review about Yes

Because the interchange between science and religion is a hobby of mine, I’ve read my share of books and articles on the topic – so I recognize many of the leading names in the field. Dr. Denis Lamoureux is one of those authors, but I haven’t lamoureuxbookcoverread any of his work. That’s why I placed Evolution: Scripture and Nature Say Yes! on my reading list while snowbirding in warmer weather this past January.

Dr. Lamoureux is a Professor of Science and Religion at St. Joseph’s College in the University of Alberta. Interesting that some colleges have at least a designation of science and religion as a study.

In this book, Dr. Lamoureux incorporates the concept of the existence of two books: The Book of Word (Scripture) and the Book of Works (Nature). This thought has been around for many years as people as Galileo and Francis Bacon used it – but it remains timely today. Lamoureux encourage readers to listen to both books. I was already aware of this concept, so for me, this book reinforces the point.

Dr. Lamoureux also weaves his personal story into the text – his moments of wrestling with science and faith. His journey from Christianity to Atheism to 7-day Creationist to theistic evolutionist is interesting in itself. Because of his experiences, he knows the trials and tribulations people face while understanding the source of their angst. Yet, in this text, I felt him encouraging others.

Because of his involvement with the opposing ends of this topic’s spectrum, Lamoureux knows that the opposing ends force people to make a choice. Therefore, he includes the important concept of dichotomous decisions throughout the text; as well as the effects of forced choices as causing some to lose their faith or not follow a personal dream of a science career – especially in biology.

Along his personal journey, Dr. Lamoureux incorporates words from Richard Dawkins (an evolutionary biologist and staunch atheist), Michael Behe (a biochemist and important Intelligent Design Theory advocate), Charles Darwin, and Scripture. It’s through those interactions that Lamoureux helps readers understand the issues and rationale behind different viewpoints.

Dr. Lamoureux’s passions are apparent in the text. His passion about the interchange. His passion about science. His passion as a Christian – and through these passions he shines a light on the path for those who want to know how to harmonize religion and science without compromising personal faith.

As a university professor, Dr. Lamoureux’s students are at many positions on the continuum of religion and science – especially regarding evolution. Not only does he weave some his encounters along the way, he dedicates an entire chapter (the last one) to various discussions with students. This was priceless for me.

Readers should be aware that Dr. Lamoureux’s view of intelligent design is different than Behe’s Intelligent Design Theory. Although I understand and agree with his point, the natural similarity of the wordings bothered me for some reason. On the other hand, I am over that minor discomfort.

Evolution: Scripture and Nature Say Yes! is an excellent book for those who struggle with a literal Genesis and evolution. It’s also an excellent read for those who do not struggle because it provides reasons they may not know. Lamoureux’s words are rooted in an unwavering belief in the two books that successfully intertwine science and religion.

Two sidebars
Somewhere in the book I noticed that Dr. Lamoureux did a TEDx Talk, so I watched. I recommend this 14-minute lecture because it is a mini-version of this book. Besides, Dr. Lamoureux is also a good speaker. His lecture is below.

After reading the book and watching the lecture, I emailed Dr. Lamoureux. Not only did I appreciate that he took the time to respond, but we also engaged in dialogue, He also gave me additional resources. All of which I am grateful.

On Origins: A Book Review

I became aware of this book on the Biologos blog and website. Although I had not encountered either author from my numerous readings, I decided to give it a chance.

OriginsBookOrigins: A Christian Perspective on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design by Deborah Haarsma and Loren Haarsma is a good introduction into the science-religion interface for a study group. The authors provide questions to stimulate thinking and discussion, while also providing point-counterpoint in the form of ranging and diverse perspectives about various topics – which will promote more thinking and discussion.

A website tailored to the topic and this book provides a collection of over forty articles for elaboration. Each chapter end with a good set of questions for “Reflection and Discussion” while listing additional resources.

Three things haunted me in this book. First, I was leery of the inclusion of Intelligent Design in the title. My apprehension caused me to be cautious from the start. Second, an early statement of humans evolving from apes ruffled my feathers, but the authors addressed it later. Third, the survival of the fittest reference continues to bother me because I believe it to be inaccurate.

The authors targeted this text to help Christians navigate the seemingly “dangerous waters” of origins. As I have stated on this blog, the “danger” is due to a lack of or poor quality of education regarding evolution by schools and the avoidance of the topic by numerous Christian denominations.

Nonetheless, the text follows a logical sequence as it examines God, science, Genesis, the universe, evolution, Intelligent Design, origin issues, and Adam and Eve. Although each of these topics can be book of their own, Origins sets the stage for future readers to seek additional information.

In the end, this is a good resource for anyone early in their study of the interface between science and religion. I say early because it provides good introductory information serving as the foundation diving deeper into the subject and it stimulates thinking.

FYI

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.

On When Science Meets Religion: The Book

Of all the books and articles that I’ve read the past few years about the science and theology interchange, this book by Ian Barbour, When Science Meets Religion: Enemies, Strangers, or Partners? is one that I wish I would have read it relatively early in my journey.

Dr. Barbour, a professor emeritus of Science, Society, and Technology at Carlton College, is a well-known author and authority in the field. Early in this book, Barbour establishes four models/views for examining the complex relationship between science and theology: conflict, independence, dialogue, and integration. However, readers will also find variations of the models – thus more models.

In the majority of the book, Barbour reinforces the four models by examining important issues in light of each model. Chapters/issues are the following:

  • Astronomy and Creation
  • The Implications of Quantum Physics (yes, for you John)
  • Evolution and Continuing Creation
  • Genetics, Neuroscience, and Human Nature
  • God and Nature

I can say that this book is very readable, however, some foundation knowledge on both the broad topic and the individual topics is helpful. Otherwise, it may be a difficult read. For instance, I admit having very limit knowledge about quantum physics. Throughout the journey, Barbour cites numerous examples to support the model he is explaining within the given topic.

The science and religion interchange as a topic is complex, therefore writing a book on the topic would not be easy. However, for anyone interested in the topic, this is a good one encounter early in your process. By the way, check your local library or the library-share organization that it may be a member because that is where I found it.

On a Lost World

In my continuing quest to study the interface between science and theology, my need to learn more about the interpretation of the Book of Genesis led me to another series of books. Thanks to the booklist at Biologos, I started with The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, by Dr. John Walton, Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College (the school from which Billy Graham graduated).

The paperback book is short (192 pages includes notes and an index), and organized into 18 propositions – the individual themes that organizes the content. The book is easy to read and understand, thus a good read for anyone generally interested in the topic or those struggling with the science-theology conflict centering around Genesis , including pastors, science teachers, and laypeople. It serves to stimulate thinking while serving as a starting point for further study of Genesis regarding origins.

On several occasions, Dr. Walton openly challenges the meaning of “taking the Bible literally” when it comes to determining the meaning of ancient literature as Genesis. He challenges studying the text through the eyes of the modern age, including today’s knowledge of science, thus emphasizes that in order to gain a literal understanding, one must do the following:

  • Read the text in the context of the times
  • Translate words based on their use, grammar, syntax, and understanding of the times the author wrote the text
  • Determine the author’s intent and what the audience would be understand
  • Identify any significant events of the time for context

One of the key to Walton’s discussion is around the Hebrew word bara. Meaning create, Walton continually provides two meanings: to create something new (a material look), and to create order (a functional perspective). Walton also examines Hebrew words meaning day, earth, Sabbath, humanity, and a few others, and intertwines his propositions into an interesting collection.

Instead of providing specific details about Dr. Walton’s conclusions, I will simply recommend The Lost World of Genesis One for study and discussion as his perspective is interesting and engaging. Meanwhile, for me, it is on to Inspiration and Incarnation by Peter Enns.

Text’s background at Biologos

Book at Amazon

On the Reason for God: A book reivew

For the past two years I’ve been reading my share about the relationship between science and theology. Knowing that I needed to broaden the scope of my reading, I sought the reading list at BioLogos for guidance. Seeing The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Rev. Tim Keller available at the local library, the choice was easy.

Using his experience with skeptics and those who have wondered away from Christianity during his pastoral time in Manhattan, Rev. Keller realizes both the growth in skepticism and the danger of today’s polarizing aspects of religion.

To me, Rev. Keller’s intended audience includes believers, skeptics, and those struggling with their faith. The book’s first half focuses on reason for doubt, with the second half on reasons for believing. Whereas the book may make headway with some skeptics, I imagine many skeptics dismissing Keller’s efforts as they seek more than the intent this book provides.

On the other hand, Rev. Keller’s intertwines his experiences with the words of C.S. Lewis and Jonathan Edwards to strengthen the faith and spiritual understanding of believers and those struggling. He strengthen my believe in the resurrection as the power behind the life that we hope for lies ahead, while reaffirming my belief that Christianity does not bind my life with a straightjacket.

A Reason for God also strengthened my interface between science and theology by not forcing a choice, but by realizing how science and theology work together in life today. Even though the book does not center on this area, Rev. Keller writes the following:

If we believe God exists, then our view of the universe gives us a basis for believing that cognitive faculties work, since God could make us able to form true beliefs and knowledge. If we believe in God, then the Big Bang is not mysterious, nor the fine tuning of the universe, nor the regularities of nature. All the things that we see make perfect sense.

Yes, Rev. Keller’s A Reason for God was a worthwhile read for  me and will be for many other – but we may differ on what it provides to us.