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The Best Five Books on Religion and Science: UD Readers Speak

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A couple of weeks ago, over on Biologos, Dr. Ted Davis, a fine historian of science (and one of the few TEs who does not misrepresent the ID position) ran an interesting column.  He invited all readers of Biologos to submit their “top five” books in the area of “science and religion,” i.e., the five books about the relation between science and religion which had most helped Biologos readers to come to terms with the subject.  He asked the readers to indicate very briefly the contents of their top five books and why they found those books significant.

Ted’s column set me to wondering whether or not some of the differences between ID and TE people spring from what they read.  More generally, it set me to wondering what books on science and religion UD posters (whether pro-ID or anti-ID or neutral) do in fact read.

I think an exchange of influential titles might be beneficial for all UD posters, whatever their stand on ID.  It also might help onlookers understand the kind of intellectual stimulants that animate the ID supporters here.  So I’m inviting people here to submit their own “top five” list of books in the area of “science and religion.”

Why “science and religion” rather than “evolution and religion”?  I think “science and religion” casts a wider net, allowing people to mention books which, though not directly about evolution, are about things that can seriously affect our ideas on evolution (e.g., methodology of science, philosophy of science, cosmology).

Here are the guidelines:

1.  They should be books you’ve actually read, not just skimmed, read bits of, or heard about.

2.  The books don’t have to be in essay form (as most ID, TE and Darwinian books are), but can be fiction or drama or autobiography or something else.

3.  They don’t have to be books that you agree with, or that you ever agreed with, as long as you found them very significant in shaping your thoughts and getting you to the level of understanding you are at today.  (For example, if you reject the conclusions of Dawkins’s The Blind Watchmaker, but found that it gave you a very clear picture of what Darwinian evolution was about, and therefore helped you to think out the relationship between Darwinian evolution and your religious beliefs, you might include it on your list.)

4.  The books don’t have to be directly about “science and religion” — they might be overtly only about science alone, or religion alone, or philosophy alone, or something else — as long as their contents are relevant to, and have seriously influenced, your thinking about science and religion.

5.  They don’t have to be books that are favorable to religion.

6.  “Religion” doesn’t have to mean Christianity in particular, but could refer to any religious tradition, or to views of the world which have religious aspects (such as Marxism, Freudianism, existentialism, and so on).

7.  You should give the author and name of the book, and a very brief statement (no more than 50 words) of what the book is about, and the main things it taught you or got you thinking about.

8.  Don’t reply to anyone else’s “top five” book list with critical comments.  The idea is not to stage a battle over which books are good or bad, but to provide ourselves with a compilation of influential and potentially valuable readings.

9.  Regular columnists here, as well as commenters, are encouraged to submit their lists, if they so desire.

I think this could be a useful exercise.  Fire when ready!

Thomas, of course you are correct. Please delete Agents Under Fire... if you MUST... :-) tgpeeler
The problem of pain - C.S. Lewis In the Beginning Was Information - Werner Gitt The design revolution - William Dembski Doubts About Darwin: A History of Intelligent Design - Thomas Woodward The Pilgrim's Regress - C.S. Lewis mullerpr
I see there's a sudden flurry of entries here. I'll keep the thread open until Thursday July 8 at 12:00 noon. All readers of UD are invited to submit five choices, whether they are ID supporters or not. We're trying to compile the richest list of good science-religion works, not just works from an ID perspective. What we want is a list of books that are eminently worth reading for those seeking an understanding of the relationship between science and religion (whether the focus is on evolution or not). Thomas Cudworth
tgpeeler: Thanks for the interesting list, but you'll have to knock one off. Thomas Cudworth
1. The Edge of Evolution (Behe) 2. Philosophy of Science: a very short introduction (Okasha) 3. The Soul of Science (Pearcey/Thaxton) 4. Agents under fire (Menuge) 5. Creation or Evolution? (Denis Alexander) Green
The Devil's Delusion by David Berlinski God's Undertaker by John Lennox A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization by Dean Overman Agents Under Fire by Angus Menuge In the Beginning Was Information by Werner Gitt Genetic Entropy & The Mystery of the Genome by John Sanford tgpeeler
One of the best sources for me was not a book by the list compiled by Coppedge on Believing scintists. The philosophical issues were not that interesting, the people who were living examples were the best "books" on science and religion. See: http://creationsafaris.com/wgcs.htm scordova
Thomas - Why don't you make one last top-level thread, and emphasize that it is for all UD readers, regardless of their beliefs, position, emphases, and background? Then give it until tomorrow. johnnyb
To All UD Readers: The replies seem to have stopped flowing in. We've heard from about 35 people. I know we have many more readers than that, but for some reason, most of them have elected not to put in their choices. I'll give it until Monday, July 5, and then close the thread. After that, I'll summarize the results and present them for discussion. Thomas Cudworth
Bogz/Edgar: Thanks for joining us. Glad to hear from one of our previously silent readers. Your suggestions have been duly added to the master list. Thomas Cudworth
I am Edgar Rene Nartatez, i’ve followed UD for quite some time now but this is my first time to submit a comment. Here’s my list of the best 5 books on science and religion. Neil Broom, HOW BLIND IS THE WATCHMAKER? – Insightful critique of reductive materialism. Offering a better paradigm of seeing and interpreting nature, and therefore doing better science. Argues that nature has a very “personal” side, suggesting a Personal source. Dinesh DSouza, LIFE AFTER DEATH – Effectively takes on the intellectual pretensions of atheists and atheism. Charles Colson, THE GOOD LIFE – Not a science and religion book per se, but the book does discuss a lot of issues that are pertinent to the debate between science and faith. Has a chapter arguing for ID (focusing on Behe). Powerful book. William Dembski, THE DESIGN REVOLUTION – Effectively responds to questions raised about or against ID. Hugh Ross, THE FINGERPRINT OF GOD – Wonderfully shows how the best and most evidential and empirically based theory on the origin of the cosmos leads to the question of God as the most plausible contender for the source of creation. Bogz
above (and anyone else interested) - For a copy of my paper, email me at jonathan@bartlettpublishing.com johnnyb
3. Saving the Appearance by Owen Barfield.
Lewis makes mention of this book in his book The Discarded Image. Clive Hayden
My list of 5 books are: 1. Reasonable Faith by WLC. It's one of the strongest pieces of classical apologetics along with the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. 2. Worlds Apart by Owen Barfield (CS Lewis' close friend and one of the primary catalysts for Lewis' conversion to Christianity. The book is a dialogue between 8 different characters on metaphysics and science. A very enjoyable read. 3. Saving the Appearance by Owen Barfield. This is an exposition of the evolution of human consciousness and specifically the evolution of ideas in Western thought and philosophy. I cannot speak more highly of this book. The freedom of thought that Barfield masters is simply exquisite. He takes you on an intellectual journey that at all you can possibly do at the time you put the bok down is sigh... :) (The term evolution as I am using it here has nothing to do with darwinism by the way) 4. Devil's Delusion by Berlinski. It really is a good introduction to atheism and its pretentions. 5.Questions of Truth by John Polkinghorne. This too is also a very accessible to the average person. I would recommend it for people who have just began exploring the field or science and religion. Very insightful and an easy read. above
@Johnyb By the way, if you can provide them I would like to read your paper on the defense of the soul as well. above
@Johnyb #21 Do you have a copy of your senior seminary paper of the critique of murphy on the net by any chance? Or would you be willing to forward it if that's ok? I wouldn't mind reading it! above
Thank-you to those who extended a welcome (something I'm not used to where this subject is discussed, quite the opposite in fact!). A couple of comments, queries were directed at me and so I'd like to take this opportunity to respond. First of all, Edson contends that the Bible can be interpreted to support theistic evolution. He may well be right, but biblical creationists would disagree because they base their beliefs on a strict and literal interpretation of the Bible. The point I wanted to make was that, if I was a biblical creationist I probably would not be open to theistic evolution. The Qu'ran on the other hand does not necessarily rule out theistic evolution. That said, I should also point out that I rule out the possibility of theistic evolution for purely scientific reasons. I believe the evidence leads us to conclude that life did not make itself and certainly did not evolve as a result of natural selection acting upon random mutations. Furthermore, I believe biblical creationists are on to something. Their timescale may not be quite right but then I believe that the uniformitarian evolutionist timescale is way out. The true age of Earth is not known but if we ever discovered it, I believe it would be closer to the biblical creationist timescale than it is to the uniformitarian evolutionist timescale. Secondly, feebish asks for some examples of scientific content in the Qu'ran. Two that immediately spring to mind are: 1. It describes an expanding universe 2. Its descriptions of the human embryo as resembling "chewed flesh" and a "leech-like clot" More examples are discussed in an online taster of Maurice Bucaille's book. This can be found at: http://www.sultan.org/articles/QScience.html Chris Doyle
Zach Bailey @63
On page 24, the Dalai Lama writes: …in Buddhism scriptural authority cannot outweigh an understanding based on reason and experience. In fact, Buddha himself, in a famous statement, undermines the scriptural authority of his own words when he exhorts his followers not to accept the validity of his teachings simply on the basis of reverence to him. Just as a seasoned goldsmith would test the purity of his gold through a meticulous process of examination, the Buddha advises that people should test the truth of what he has said through reasoned examination and personal experiment.
It was nothing specifically (like that quote) that made me put the book down. In general, there are alot of those sorts of propostitions and exhortations in pantheistic philosphy. I do not mean to be offensive to any pantheists out there, I just find it rather boring. The reason being that all they are really advocating (though they do not seem to perceive it) is a robust and disciplined Christian worldview. Lock
My guess is that the five most influential books on this subject (outside of the Bible) would be Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura, Descartes’ Meditations, Newtons’ Principia, and Darwin’s Origin of the Species.
That's a good list. I've actually gone through The Origin of Species and noted every instance Darwin mentioned something religious, and, if I remember right, there were about 72 overtly religious statements. Clive Hayden
It's hard to narrow it down to just five books, but here goes: 1. The Bible. It's not a science textbook but when it touches on science, it's accurate. 2. Darwin's Black Box, by Michael Behe. Probably my introductory book to the ID-evolution debate. He makes a good point when he states that Paley's 'watchmaker' analogy was never disproven. It was disregarded when evolution came into vogue, but it was never disproven. And probably never will be disproven, either. 3. Shattering the Myths of Darwinism, by Richard Milton. The author is an agnostic, but he shows clearly how Darwinism has gone from a scientific theory to an ideology. He even gets hate mail from Richard Dawkins! 4. Nature's Destiny, by Michael Denton. An eloquent and elegant book detailing the anthropic principle and its argument for design. The second chapter on water ("The Vital Fluid") is eye-opening. 5. Darwin's Proof: The Triumph of Religion over Science, by Cornelius Hunter. The author gives arguments regarding ID and evolution from both sides and shows the philosophical weaknesses of the Darwinian paradigm. Barb
allanius: It's not the books that have been influential on the world at large that we're asking about, but the books that have been most influential on *you*. Of all the books that you've read bearing on the subject "science and religion" (emphasis on the AND), which five have made the strongest impression on you? Thomas Cudworth
"and those that exist must be approached cautiously (Kepler’s argument, such as it was, can’t be applied intelligibly to the universe as we now know it)" This seems to be a stumbling block for a lot of people, and I'm not sure why. I think that people think that if an idea is based on religion, for it to be validly based on religion, it must continue to hold for all time. I don't agree. I think the interesting thing comes when relgion helps you move forward, even when you aren't totally correct. For instance, moving from the conception of planets following pre-ordained paths to the conception of planets moving because of interactions between the planets meant moving to a very tenuous conception of the solar system. Well, what keeps it going then? For Newton, it was God, who adjusted it when things went wrong. I no of no one, Christian or otherwise, who would side with Newton on this point. Nonetheless, I think it is an important fact that Newton's *ability* to leave some of the details to God was perhaps indispensible for his ability to conceive of his ideas. Likewise, for many atheists/agnostics, the idea of a beginning was unconceivable. But for LeMaitre, the beginning was not unconceivable. Whether or not LeMaitre is right in the end is not so relevant as the fact that his belief in God helped to move things forward. And I'm sure there are cases where it moves things backwards, too. But I don't think that's a reason to not make use of it. Many things have the ability to harm and help depending on how they are used. johnnyb
Ted - A good critique. I was, indeed, unduly harsh. Polkinghorne and Schroeder have actually been somewhat inspiring/helpful to me at times, too. The problem, though, to better describe where I'm coming from, is that there is little in the way, from many of these authors, of doing anything real with religion. To get some background, I have just graduated from seminary with a Master of Theology. The most dreadful thing that I saw, over and over again, was that the idea was that science talked *to* religion, and religion just had to take it. The only other approach was to redefine the realms of science and religion such that they had no overlap (but of course this doesn't really work with Christianity as it is practiced or science as it is practiced). No one, in the entire faculty or in the books I read, had any concept that religion could aid science as a practical matter. A few of them had shown how religion had aided science in the past, but none of which showed how that might be relevant today. There are a number of theories in the past with strong theological content - the Big Bang, for instance - researched by a Catholic Priest that *surprise* showed evidence for a beginning along the line of Thomas Aquinas. Several works may acknowledge this on one hand, but then find no practical application of theology to modern problems in science. Clouser's "The Myth of Religious Neutrality" was one of the few works to take this seriously. Hunter's "Darwin's God" does this to some extent, but Hunter, as most authors, fails to provide a prescriptive path (though I still haven't finished Science's Blind Spot - perhaps he covers it there). My senior paper for seminary was a combined defense of the soul plus some suggestions for how the functions of the soul could be integrated into a rigorous scientific framework in cognitive science. Unfortunately, there exists no good work on religion and science that I am aware of (save Clouser) which provides *guidance* to the scientist based on religion. My interest in finding a good historical work, especially on Carver, but some of the others you suggest might be helpful, is because if there isn't a good guide available, at least some principles might be inferred from history. johnnyb
My guess is that the five most influential books on this subject (outside of the Bible) would be Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura, Descartes’ Meditations, Newtons’ Principia, and Darwin’s Origin of the Species. allanius
johnnyb (#62) is disappointed with some of the best authors (IMO), and I won't try to persuade him to take a different view. If he doesn't find someone like Polkinghorne both imaginative and helpful, rather absolutely dreadful rubbish, then we clearly have very different criteria for identifying the best books about science and religion. I want to say something about this part of his post, however: "What I want out of a science-and-religion book is to find one which will use religion to *guide* science, rather than the other way around. For instance, if Schroeder were to have written his “Science of God” book 40 years ago, he would have had to have written a very different book. Why? Because a project that shows after-the-fact how science and religion match up will have to change each time the science changes. What I would like to read, and would love to hear a suggestion, would be a book on how scientists like George Washington Carver used their faith in their scientific work." The concern here seems clearly stated; I hope I haven't misunderstood him. Johnny seems to want some good historical studies (I say this b/c of his reference to Carver as an example) of how religious faith has influenced scientific work, per se. Actually there's a fair amount of literature on this general topic; numerous examples are found in the book by John Brooke on my list. Geoffrey Cantor's biography of Michael Faraday would be another good example. I did an article on Boyle that might fall into this category, as well, depending on how one looks at it. There are lots of ways to look at it. I can't think right now of many situations in which (for example) a specific religious idea (such as a passage in the Bible or a belief about God's character) led more or less directly to a specific scientific hypothesis or discovery--though Matthew Maury might be an example (I'd want to study it more carefully before rendering a verdict), and Kepler's acceptance of the Copernican theory (which he saw as revealing the Triune God in the structure of the cosmos) would be another. If that's what you want, johnny, you'll probably remain pretty frustrated, for there aren't many examples like this--and those that exist must be approached cautiously (Kepler's argument, such as it was, can't be applied intelligibly to the universe as we now know it). If however you are asking for literature about how religious beliefs & practices underlie key aspects of modern science and its history, that's another story. For example, there are theological roots to the modern attitude that nature is a contingent order, which must be studied through a method of rational empiricism. Or, a religious belief (namely, that God has created a unified world) can motivate a scientist to look for connections between diverse phenomena (such as electricity, magnetism, and light) that others would not seek. Generally, I would say that one can find connections between religious beliefs and certain foundational questions, such as: Is a science of nature possible? If so, why? (Polkinghorne has written effectively about that one.) Why should science be done? (Boyle and Polkinghorne have written effectively about that one.) How should science be done? (Boyle again) What sorts of theories are acceptable? (Perhaps this is where ID has something to say?) Do these kinds of things count as using one's faith in doing science? Even if someone else doesn't need to have the same faith in order to come out in the same place? (Some modern scientists lack religious faith, but they accept the contingent nature of nature for other reasons.) Ted Davis
Thomas - To support the UD site, you might set it up as an Amazon AStore. You can check out mine here. johnnyb
Allen MacNeill, scordova, gpuccio, Rude, jerry, allanius, Nakashima, and all the other regulars: We'd love to add your top-five lists to the growing pile. When it's done, I hope to get the whole thing up on the web somehow, as a recommended readings list that many people, whether ID supporters or not, might find useful. Thomas Cudworth
Isaiah 1:18 "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. Acts 17:11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. tragic mishap
I started to read ‘The Universe in a Single Atom’ by the Dalai Lama a few years back, but I put it down almost as fast I as picked it up. I can’t even remember why… so perhaps I should not have mentioned it.
On page 24, the Dalai Lama writes:
...in Buddhism scriptural authority cannot outweigh an understanding based on reason and experience. In fact, Buddha himself, in a famous statement, undermines the scriptural authority of his own words when he exhorts his followers not to accept the validity of his teachings simply on the basis of reverence to him. Just as a seasoned goldsmith would test the purity of his gold through a meticulous process of examination, the Buddha advises that people should test the truth of what he has said through reasoned examination and personal experiment.
Zach Bailey
Steve and Thomas - For myself, the reason why I didn't include much in the way of straight science-and-theology books is that most of them are, as far as I'm concerned, rubbish. There are a few gems in the dust, such as "The Myth of Religious Neutrality," but most of the books are absolutely dreadful. Most of the books try to do one of the following things, all of which, I think, are unimaginative and unhelpful: 1) Show (or assume) that science is true, and then try to interpret religion from that basis, from one of the following perspectives: 1a) everything is physics, but that's okay because that's not incompatible with God (i.e. Murphy) 1b) all matter is spiritual, so we can keep the continuity of the cosmos without sacrificing our spiritual nature (i.e. Swimme and Berry) 1c) there is a spiritual dimension, but it is always on the outskirts, such that it will not impact science in any rigorous way (i.e. Polkinghorne) 2) Try to show that the findings of today's science are consistent with a pre-revealed worldview (i.e. Schroeder) What I want out of a science-and-religion book is to find one which will use religion to *guide* science, rather than the other way around. For instance, if Schroeder were to have written his "Science of God" book 40 years ago, he would have had to have written a very different book. Why? Because a project that shows after-the-fact how science and religion match up will have to change each time the science changes. What I would like to read, and would love to hear a suggestion, would be a book on how scientists like George Washington Carver used their faith in their scientific work. *That* would be a science-and-religion book worth reading. johnnyb
I started to read 'The Universe in a Single Atom' by the Dalai Lama a few years back, but I put it down almost as fast I as picked it up. I can't even remember why... so perhaps I should not have mentioned it. Lock
Perhaps TEs spend more time reading up on reconciling science and religion because they have a harder time doing it without help. Perhaps ID people don't feel the need to study the subject because to us the solution is immediately obvious. tragic mishap
Thomas Cudworth, I've read a few books that talk about science and religion from an 'eastern viewpoint', but they were ones of low quality. Usually getting as far as claiming that quantum physics is weird, and eastern religions tend to view the world as illusory in one way or another, therefore hinduism and buddhism predicted quantum physics. I'm sure there's better out there. nullasalus
Steve Fuller @50. Choosing only five books is a wrenching exercise for those who have read hundreds or even thousands of books. Submit yourself to that same discipline and you will find that you have left out countless authors that you consider to be absolutely essential. So much so, that you will spend the rest of the day second guessing yourself. Go ahead and try your luck. StephenB
Thomas Cudworth, you are right. I did fudge the experiment a little. I graciously accept the fraternal discipline. Thanks for a second chance. I will use it to make a couple of changes. Here we go: G.K. Chesterton--Orthodoxy C.S. Lewis--Abolition of man Fulton J. Sheen--God and Intelligence Benjamin Wiker, Jonahan Witt--A Meaningful World Michael Behe--The Edge of Evolution. StephenB
1. Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture (1954) which I read in about 1958 and which strengthened my intuition that the earth was old. 2. Perspectives on an Evolving Creation Keith B. Miller 3. Belief in God in an Age of Science by John Polkinghorne From another thread Thomas you are correct that I hold an Evolutionary Creation position in that I accept common descent and small scale evolution via neo Darwinian mechanisms but most importantly that all of this universe is God's creation and as such open to God's intervention/governance. AFAIK not that different than Behe accepts. However, I am doubtful/uncertain that neo Darwinian mechanisms are capable of complex evolutionary changes. Other than fine tuning I have not found any ID style arguments convincing and I have read Behe, Dembski, Hunter, O'Leary and Johnston, often in more than one book. Dave W gingoro
With the kind permission of readers here, I'd like to submit my own list of five. I didn't do so at the beginning, in part because I didn't want to influence anyone's spontaneous understanding of the subject "science and religion"; however, now that a large number of people have posted without inhibition, I don't think it will do any harm to give my personal suggestions. Like everyone else, I find the task of selecting five favorites very difficult, since one book may be “the best” from one angle, whereas another book may be “the best” from another, and when you add up all those “bests”, you come up with dozens or hundreds of titles. Nonetheless, for our purposes, I think I can indicate five books which capture a range of ideas about religion and science which I have found essential to my understanding of the relation between the two: 1. Plato, Timaeus Classic ancient discussion of design. Not light reading. After initial reading and reflection, make use of commentaries (e.g., Taylor, Cornford). 2. Lucretius, De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) Classic ancient argument for “chance.” TEs who write blithely about how “randomness” is perfectly compatible with a providential God need to read this. 3. Michael Denton, Nature’s Destiny A modern case for a science-based natural theology (though apparently more Deistic than theistic), incorporating fine-tuning and complexity arguments into an evolutionary scheme. 4. Lynn White, jr., Medieval Religion and Technology Collection of essays, the overall drift being that the impulse towards a scientific and technological civilization predates Bacon etc. and was evident in the Christian Middle Ages. 5. Theodore Roszak, Where the Wasteland Ends Root-and-branch critique of modern scientific civilization, with a 60s/70s-ish angry “counterculture” tone, and therefore rhetorically dated, but nonetheless shrewd and insightful, especially on aspects of the Bible, Protestantism, Bacon and Descartes. Contains an interesting appeal to reactionary Christian poet William Blake. Note that my list, like that of everyone else so far, is Western-centric. Has anyone read any significant books on science and Eastern religion? Thomas Cudworth
1. Coffin, H. G., Brown R. H. ed. 1983. Origin by design YEC perspective, mainly treating geological evidence supporting recent creation/flood model. Very thorough and in-depth exposition that thought me that "alternative" views are, at least, scientifically plausible. 2. Denton, Michael. ed. 1985. Evolution: A theory in crisis No introduction to this book is necessary. With some other books greatly influenced my understanding of evolution. 3. Johnson, Phillip E., ed. 1993. Darwin on trial An eye opener, exposing evolutionary idolatry otherwise called "the fact of evolution". For me personally, it explained the all important philosophical foundation of evolutionary thinking. 4. Stove, David. 1995. Darwinian fairytales. As one reviewer said: "A deadly serious and hilariously funny, enemy of intellectual cant and the higher pretensions, he wrote to kill." This, not to be missed book, is a deserved treatment of evolutionary pseudoscience. 5. Yockey, Hubert P. 2005. Information theory, evolution, and the origin of life Although fairly technical, this book is so Intelligent Design friendly, that author deemed necessary to include at the end, chapter "Does evolution need an intelligent designer?" to which he answers in the negative. Nevertheless, this "prequel" to Mayer's Signature in the cell, offers few final nails for Neo-Darwinian coffin. inunison
Nullasalus, Thomas Cudworth, You’re right about Kuhn, of course. However, I was also thinking about the tendency for people on both sides of the ID debate to misread Kuhn as a ‘relativist’ in the sense of allowing anything to pass as science, just as long as you’ve got a ‘paradigm’ (understood in the minimalist sense of an overarching theory you feel strongly about). On the basis of that misreading, anti-ID people often think that pro-ID people are endorsing Kuhn. I run across this line of argument a lot, and it does nothing but muddy the waters. This relates to a general point about debates in the philosophy of science: It is often difficult to tell whether philosophical claims about science are meant as descriptions of how science actually works (in which case many of them would just seem to be false) or prescriptions for how science should work. Kuhn seriously added to the confusion because he never explicitly criticised scientific practice (which is usually a giveaway that you’re being prescriptive). But in any case, I hope to provide a list of five later today. Steve Fuller
Dr. Fuller: Glad to hear from you. A few points: 1. I don't think the ID people who admire the writing of Kuhn are agreeing that science *should* work in the way that Kuhn describes; I think they are saying that science *does* work in the way that Kuhn describes. And in Kuhn's description they see the crucial elements (recalcitrance to new evidence, general intellectual defensiveness, professional exclusiveness, etc.) that are so evident in the behavior of the upholders of the Darwinian paradigm. They therefore see Kuhn as someone who can explain the power that ID is "up against" -- who can show why Darwinian thinking, though riddled with theoretical problems and suffering from huge deficits in empirical evidence, continues to resist the challenge of ID, and succeeds in marginalizing it. 2. I, too, am a bit surprised to see how many people are interpreting "books on science and religion" to mean "books advocating intelligent design" or "books attacking Darwinism". I expected *some* books by ID proponents to show up, because ID can of course be used to establish a modern form of natural theology, and therefore is relevant to "science and religion" in a broad sense. I expected *some* books by Dawkins etc. to show up, as such books generally promote, subtly or overtly, the warfare thesis that science has disproved religion. But I also expected to see more books which explicitly connect science and religion (e.g., works like Polkinghorne's, or Hooykaas's, or Jaki's, or Rodney Stark's, or, for that matter, your own). Over on the Biologos site, the lists (though not very many, as few have participated in the exercise there) for the most part comprise books whose titles indicate an explicit concern with the question how science and religion should be related or harmonized. It is thus interesting, from a sociological point of view at least, that TE and ID proponents instinctively interpret "science and religion" in such different ways. 3. I echo nullasalus's request for an official list from yourself. I'm inclined to put you down for Funkenstein, Leibniz and Kant (with your permission of course), but I'd be glad to see you offer a fresh list of five. Thomas Cudworth
Steve Fuller, However, Kuhn is probably the philosopher of science who most explicitly justifies the idea that science should adopt a ‘winner-takes-all’ approach to its own history. In other words, there is room for only ONE paradigm in a science at any given time, and that paradigm is entitled to claim all of the science’s previous history as its own. Speaking as someone who put Kuhn on his list, I'd only say that what most impressed me about Kuhn is that he rejected the idea of science as this singular juggernaut that does nothing but expand while adding to its ever-growing pile of knowledge. Instead, science is shown as relying on various assumptions, cultural influences, and is prone to some radical rethinking of what used to be foundational concepts and interpretations to advance. What Kuhn may *prescribe* is of less interest (to me, at least) - that's not why I found him interesting. The same would go for (though I didn't add him to the list) Feyerabend. I'm not as interested in how he thinks modern science should operate as I am in his descriptions of how it does operate, how it has operated, and why. That said, I hope you add a list of your own! nullasalus
I find the proposed lists so far a bit curious, in that relatively few of the books deal with the science-religion relationship head-on – though Dembski’s ‘The End of Christianity’ is one that obviously does. For example, I’m surprised that natural theology is not more strongly represented – not even old Paley makes anyone’s list! Here I would put in a special plug for Leibniz’s Theodicy, as well as the severe criticism it receives from Kant in Critique of Pure Reason. ID is ultimately about whether one can find God through science, which is the bone of contention between Leibniz and Kant. The best historical book that captures this aspect of the science-religion relationship is Amos Funkenstein’s great synthetic work, Theology and the Scientific Imagination (Princeton, 1986). Funkenstein focuses mainly on the medieval roots of the Scientific Revolution, especially how attributes of the personal God of the Abrahamic faiths gradually became the impersonal properties of the physical universe. In short, modern science emerges as a by-product of the systematic search for God in nature, something that first Muslims and then Christians came to realize as a legitimate enterprise, despite the doctrinal landmines it exposed one to. The aspects of this quest that could not be decisively handled by mathematics and experiment provided the basis for the problems of modern philosophy. As someone who has spent a lot of time studying Kuhn, I am always bemused whenever ID supporters cite his work in a positive vein. Maybe it’s simply due to Kuhn’s fondness for religious imagery (e.g. paradigm change as ‘conversion experience’). However, Kuhn is probably the philosopher of science who most explicitly justifies the idea that science should adopt a ‘winner-takes-all’ approach to its own history. In other words, there is room for only ONE paradigm in a science at any given time, and that paradigm is entitled to claim all of the science’s previous history as its own. Rhetorically speaking, this means that an enormous burden of proof is shifted to any scientific newcomers, since they’re basically forced to come up with an alternative science from scratch or (Kuhn’s own preferred view) wait for the dominant paradigm to self-destruct from the weight of its own self-generated problems. Most Darwinist understandings of biology fit Kuhn’s picture, which has been very effective in marginalizing ID as a scientific outlier. No other philosophy of science is so clearly dedicated to the epistemological significance of a ‘scientific establishment’. Even the positivists and the Popperians mainly defend a ‘scientific method’, understood as something detached from any substantive body of thought or discipline, which is why you would never see them endorse anything as question-begging as ‘methodological naturalism’. Steve Fuller
StephenB: You'll have to tell me which work you want to delete for the Wiker book. In fact, you already have *six* books on your list, so you'll have to knock off two. :-) Thomas Cudworth
Thomas asked me to narrow my list to 5, and I was stuck between "Darwin's God" and "Darwin on Trial." I sided with "Darwin's God" because of the attempt among Darwinists to label ID theorists as the ones who mix religion with science. Dr. Hunter has given us a clear indication that this is not the case. Darwin's thinking was nothing if not religious. The new atheists in particular tend to avoid this fact, because they too are blinded by how much theological considerations enter their own assumptions about reality. Chris Doyle, Welcome. Having lived in an Islamic country (Saudi Arabia), I'm looking forward to some fruitful discussions. In fact, it was my exposure to the overtly religious culture of this country, which stimulated my interest at a young age, in all things religious. I have a copy of "The Mythmaker," and have not as yet got around to reading it. You have just sparked my interest. Ted Davis mentioned NT Wright in his list. As one of the Christian experts on the life of Paul, I'm sure that he would have some excellent insight that might counterbalance what Maccoby proposes. But such a discussion will have to be left to another thread. :) CannuckianYankee
Fickle reader that I am, I have just finished reading "A meaningful world" by Benjamin Wiker and Jonathan Witt and have decided that it must be in my top five. StephenB
The Blind Watchmaker/Darwin's Black Box : put them head to head and I think the correct conclusion is extremely obvious. Miracles by C.S. Lewis : Probably the most important (important in the sense of mattering from the standpoint of eternity) philosophical work of the 20th Century. Nature's Destiny by Denton : Even if you hand the Darwinists variation and selection, they still haven't explained jack squat. Also some deeply profound and even poetic thinking here, covering an absolutely foundational topic that almost everyone else has missed. God's Undertaker? by Lennox : Eloquent, absolutely thorough demolition of atheist scientism, accomplished in a great economy of pages. The Devil's Delusion by Berlinski : The appropriate blend of erudition and gentle mockery against scientistic arrogance. What I had always hoped for in this debate (since the 1996 publishing of Darwin's Black Box) was an honest answer from the Darwinists to specific (chapter and verse) arguments in these and other similar books. Alas, such was not to be. Instead they seem content to thoroughly misrepresent their opponents, all the while shrieking "Creationist!!" and calling it a win. In other words, they've forfeited. Matteo
My top five. 1) Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds” by Charles Mackay 2) “Algeny A new World a New World” A Provocative Critique of Darwinism, The Age of Genetic Engineering, And Our Relationship To Nature” Jeremy Rifkin. 3) “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” Kuhn. 4) “Darwin on Trial” Johnson 5 “The Mystery of Lifes Origin" My top five includes two books that have not been mentioned. The first one” Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds” by Charles Mackay On the surface this book may seem to be a strange choice. However this book demonstrates how experts and societies can adopt the most extraordinary delusions that leaves one wondering about how people can be so deceived.. This book directed me to start looking for popular delusions in our current time and Darwinian evolution was a prime suspect. My second book “Algeny A new World a New World” A Provocative Critique of Darwinism, The Age of Genetic Engineering, And Our Relationship To Nature” Jeremy Rifkin. This book by a secular writer introduced me to how worldviews drive science . It also introduce me to Kuhns work. Rifkins chapter titled “The Darwinian Sunset” really opened my eyes to the stranglehold Darwinism has on free thought and its importance to the underpinnings of the industrial revolution. My third book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” Kuhn has been commented already by others. My fourth book “Darwin on Trial” . Opened my eyes to the hidden metaphysical assumptions employed by Darwinists and really explains why Darwinism can be such a popular delusion. Johnson does a terrific job in demonstrating that Darwinism is metaphysics masquerading as science My fifth book“The Mystery of Lifes Origin" IMO will go down as the book that launched the ID movement. Vivid vividbleau
TC says:
I thought about adding Miracles from Lewis, but I decided only one book per author for my list Please add four more to your list, even if those four are already covered. I’m interested in the frequencies as much as the titles.
Ok, in no particular order... 1. The Bible (specifically the Gospel of John chapter 1 and Romans 1) 2. Miracles / C.S. Lewis 3. Darwin's black Box / Behe 4. Signature in the Cell / Meyer 3. Orthodoxy / Chesterton Lock
Lock @26:
I am suprised no one mentioned this one: Miracles – C.S. Lewis
That was actually my second choice for C.S. Lewis. tragic mishap
equinoxe: Dawkins and Dennett counted as two, so you already had five. Do you want to dump one of the New Atheists and add one of the others? If so, specify the drop and add. Thomas Cudworth
And Theology in the Context of Science by Polkinghorne. Eat the meat; spit out the bones. That's six - I'll stop now, honest! equinoxe
I'll have my 5th now. It hasn't massively impacted my view of the world, but: - 1. My impression is that it is little known, and if so, I think it deserves a wider audience. 2. It is actually about science and religion - reformed Christianity - heavily committed to neither ID nor TE. Really a history of ideas, but written by scientists. 3. It addresses Thomas's request for general science/religion literature. Morris and Petcher, Science and Grace. That's me done. Thanks for ideas everyone. And greetings, Chris Doyle. equinoxe
Ted: Thanks for this information. I'll use your second list for the statistics. Thomas Cudworth
Granville: Glad to hear from you. I'll put you down for two Behes. But you only used up two of your five. And while Behe's books certainly have theological relevance (to the question of natural theology, for example), and therefore are legitimate for our purposes, I'm interested in hearing about more than ID books here; I'm trying to get a feel for what we all read in the religion/science area more generally. I'm trying to get a sense of what people read when they're not reading books directly about evolution, Darwinism, design, etc. Are there any theological, historical, or spiritual favorite works of yours, which maybe don't touch directly on evolution, but deal with how a religious person might regard nature, or the differences between religious and scientific knowledge, or how one should read passages about nature in the Bible, or how one should think about miracles, or how Eastern and Western religions stack up in relation to modern physics, etc.? Thomas Cudworth
1. Thomas Kuhn, Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Taught us about the role of presuppositions in scientific research. 2. Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Taught us about methodology and how to distinguish operational science from non-operational "science." Also, loved his critique of analytic philosophy. 3. Morris & Whitcomb, The Genesis Flood. Provided an introduction to the idea that the geological column is an ecological column rather than an evolutionary column; and discussed many other relevant issues. 4. Donovan Courville, The Exodus Problem & its Ramifications. Discussed the need for revision in archaeology; identified the MB1 people as the Israelites of the Exodus & Conquest. 5. Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box. Taught us how the concept of non-reducible complexity is an overwhelming problem for Darwinism. Vern Crisler
And, here's the second: Books that have influenced my current scholarship: 1. John Brooke, Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives (1991) 2. David Lindberg and Ronald Numbers, God & Nature (1986) 3. Robert Boyle, Robert Boyle: A Free Enquiry into the Vulgarly Received Notion of Nature (1686) 4. John Polkinghorne, Belief in God in an Age of Science (1998) 5. N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (2006) Brooke, Lindberg, and Numbers are longtime friends, and their work skillfully debunks the “warfare” view. My own scholarship has the same goal. I hope to help create a new history of Christianity and science that is more accurate and ipso facto much friendlier to religion. In 1981 I attended the conference that put together God & Nature, and several of the participants encouraged me to pursue a dissertation on science & religion. Much of my subsequent work has focused on Boyle. I edited a student edition of this work, a profound treatise on God & nature. No one has influenced my own views of Christianity & science more than Polkinghorne; I could have chosen several of his books. Wright’s superb defense of the bodily resurrection of Jesus is central to my spiritual and intellectual life: my views of both God & nature are shaped by my conviction that it actually happened. Ted Davis
Since Mr Cudworth begins by referencing my lists on BioLogos--there are actually two of them--but he doesn't link them, I thought I would copy them here. Here's the first: Books of formative influence on my decision to study science and religion, and on my early views: 1. Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture (1954) 2. Ian Barbour, Issues in Science and Religion (1966) 3. Richard Bube, The Human Quest (1971) 4. James R. Moore, The Post-Darwinian Controversies (1979) 5. Reijer Hooykaas, Religion and the Rise of Modern Science (1972) I encountered Ramm (an evangelical theologian trained in philosophy of science) and Bube (a Stanford physicist who taught science & Christianity for a quarter century) through the American Scientific Affiliation; without them or the ASA, I would not be doing religion & science today. Without Barbour, whom I also encountered through the ASA, there would be no academic field of religion & science in which to work. I read Moore’s book in graduate school. It convinced me that evolution could be consistent with orthodox theism and showed me how to debunk the “warfare” view of the history of religion & science: both of these influences were crucial for my career. Hooykaas, more than any other book, led to my dissertation about the influence of voluntarist theology on early modern natural philosophy. Ted Davis
I won't try to work this into my top 5, but Philip Johnson's "Darwin on Trial" was probably the first book I read that opened my eyes specifically to the scientific weaknesses of evolution. lars
1. Darwin On Trial by Phillip Johnson because it opened my eyes to how the philosophical bias of materialism is driving science severely astray. I think I highlighted about half the book 8) . 2. Edge Of Evolution by Michael Behe because it totally shattered any chance for non-teleological evolution from a purely empirical basis. 3. Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome by John Sanford because it outlines the true overriding principle governing all biological adaptations, Namely that all beneficial adaptations will always be found to come at a cost of the original "optimal" information that was encoded in a parent species, (though that is not the main emphasis of his book). 4. The End Of Christianity by William Dembski because it establishes a coherent, well reasoned, Theodicy from which a Christian can defend his faith from the old earth perspective, namely death preceding the fall of man. 5. The Holy Bible by Almighty God because???,, well because "The Word Is Alive", and I mean that literally for the Bible speaks clearly into my life at important times of my life like no other book I've ever seen do before. Inanimate objects just ain't suppose to do that!!! Casting Crowns - The Word is Alive (Lyrics on video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3ucyoy7sbk bornagain77
Behe's two books would certainly top the list for me. I remember in 1997 discovering "Darwin's Black Box" and thinking, FINALLY, the biologists are starting to get it too. I think history will point to "Darwin's Black Box," as the beginning of the "resurgence" of intelligent design. When Behe was on the Texas A&M campus a few years ago, I pointed to one of the science buildings, where the names of great scientists were inscribed (Darwin, Newton, Galileo,...?) and said, some day your name will be up there. He made a joke about this, of course, but I was quite serious! Granville Sewell
Does God Believe In Atheists – John Blanchard A layman’s (though quite thorough) approach to the historical and philosophical world of the past and its roots into the modern. I especially enjoyed its overview of many foundational issues. There is a lot of counter arguing of present theories and it is able to smoothly express points that are valid and worthy of deeper study. A solid piece of work. Not By Chance – Lee Spetner About 12 years back I read this book. It was great. It looked at the probability of mutations being advantageously selected and shows via mathematical modelling that it just doesn’t ... well, ‘add up’! This book takes on a fair degree of Dawkins ‘The Blind Watchmaker’. It does an admirable job and displays Dawkins’ shortcomings. The Greatest Hoax on Earth – Jonathan Sarfati Sarfati brings together all the objections of Dawkins from his latest diatribe ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ and soundly beats him down. What I like is the way the tactics used by the Darwinian brigade are exposed. A little insight into their style of argument provides the casual reader with a much better appreciation of how many aspects are presented by the Darwinian faithful. It’s current and thoughtfully written. Evolution: A Theory In Crisis – Michael Denton As others also have noted, this book is an essential read. For me it was the first book that soundly used purely scientific arguments to examine the issues. It was a way to steadily look at the arguments in the light of scientific research practices: evolutionary theory continued to come up short. Handy Dandy Evolution Refuter – Robert E. Kofahl OK. OK. This is about ‘significance’ and for me this was my first reading – as a kid a looooong time ago – of an issue that I never knew existed. The title trivialises the entire field that we contend needs proper study, but this book was significant in actually allowing me to see there was an issue that my then-teachers would not allow to be discussed. Sound familiar? As one of the Chapter headings asks: “Can Mutations and Natural Selection Create New Species Having New Complex Organs?” Hmmm? AussieID
OK, Abolition of Man Darwin's Black Box The Blind Watchmaker Signature in the Cell Darwin's God CannuckianYankee
Lock, I thought about adding Miracles from Lewis, but I decided only one book per author for my list. Clive Hayden
Cannuckian Yankee: I understand the difficulty, but please knock it down to 5; otherwise I can't include any of the 14 you've mentioned in my summary, and I think at least 5 of them should be included. We've already gained the educational benefit of your summary of all 14, so just pick your best 5 by sheer instinct. Thomas Cudworth
Lock @ 26: Please add four more to your list, even if those four are already covered. I'm interested in the frequencies as much as the titles. Thomas Cudworth
I am suprised no one mentioned this one: Miracles - C.S. Lewis The others I would have listed were already covered. But I have some new books to read looking at these lists. Great Idea TC! Lock
Hi, Chris Doyle. I am not actually very familiar with the Koran, nor on what it says about science. Could you share with us some examples? Thank you. feebish
Sorry, I can't name just 5. CannuckianYankee
Francis Schaeffer's first 3 books ("The God Who is There," "He is There and He is not Silent," and "Escape From Reason") I first started reading Schaeffer some 30 years ago when I first became a Christian. C.S. Lewis - "The Abolition of Man" - an excellent treatise into secular thinking and assumptions. Much like Chesterton. Richard Dawkins - "The Blind Watchmaker" - a really good summation of and argument for Darwinian thought. Michael Behe - "Darwin's Black Box" - The improbable Darwinian development of functional complexity. An answer to Dawkins. Cornelius Hunter - "Darwin's God" - I have to give one to Cornelius. I have enjoyed his posts, and this one is an excellent primer to understand where he's coming from. Hugh Ross - "The Creator and the Cosmos" I was into Ross before I came across ID. Stephen Hawking - "A Brief History of Time." Hawking has always impressed me. Although recently he's become a lot more vocal about his atheism. William Dembski - "Intelligent Design" From what I understand this is more of a layman's treatment of his more scholarly "The Design Inference." Stephen Meyer - "Signature in the Cell" - What can I say? It's the most thorough ID book yet written. Phillip Johnson -"Darwin on Trial" - Good insights from a lawyer's POV. G.K. Chesterton - "Orthodoxy" - Chesterton's wit is what attracted me to this one. Excellent insight into secular thinking. I plan on reading more of his works. I also have an excellent text on Christian Philosophy by W.L. Craig and J.P. Moreland called "Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview." Although I haven't read the entire book, it's more of a reference. CannuckianYankee
Welcome, Chris Doyle! ...the notion that God’s creation may have been brought about through evolution (...) is entirely consistent with the Qu’ran too (as opposed to Genesis for example). In truth, the Bible as a whole is not incompatible with the hole of nature in shaping life. In fact, sometimes, God's actions are not distinct from the operation of nature. For example, the natural processes of stirring up the waves, providing food for the animals and blooming the flowers are clearly suggested in the Bible to be maintained by the constant work of God. (Jeremiah 31:35, Mathews 6:26, 30). Why couldn't the beautiful mechanism of evolution, respected it's factual limits, be also modeled by the hands of God? Genesis says that God created heaven and earth, but... was it established this way in a sudden way? No. We know how planets are slowly formed. Similarly, Genesis' declaration that God created animals according to their species does not imply that it was not gradual. I don't really see the Bible as opposing evolution. Best regards for everybody, and sorry for my bad English :-) Edson
1) Nancey Murphy's Whatever Happened to the Soul (or the subsequent volume, Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?). These are volumes I greatly disagreed with, but they helped me formulate my own ideas, on the subject. In fact, my senior seminary paper was a critique of this and Murphy's other work. This helped me understand that the theological implications of ID theory go way beyond origins. If you are a materialist, Murphy's soul-less (literally!) physicalism is about as far as you can get. 2) Witham's By Design: Science and the Search for God. This was my real introduction to ID and related ideas, and really helped me start thinking on the subject. 3) Todd Wood's Understanding the Pattern of Life. This was my first real exposure to how to be non-Darwinian without being anti-Darwinian. Todd showed how to make progress in your own research program without having to spend each moment dogging your opponent's. In addition, its a great perspective altogether. I actually just ordered my second copy because my first copy has been completely worn out. 4) Caporale's The Implicit Genome. Caporale has been instrumental in helping me rethink the way we look at mutations and adaptation (that it might not be random). However, I should also give a shout out to Chris Ashcraft for first pointing me in this direction. 5) I'm going to cheat on this one, and point to a paper. Plantinga's Advice to Christian Philosophers. Here's a great quote from it:
the Christian philosopher has a perfect right to the point of view and prephilosophical assumptions he brings to philosophic work; the fact that these are not widely shared outside the Christian or theistic community is interesting but fundamentally irrelevant... [The Christian philosopher] has a right to take the existence of God for granted and go on from there in his philosophical work - just as other philosophers take for granted the existence of the past, say, or of other persons, or the basic claims of contemporary physics
G. K. Chesterton--Orthodoxy C. S. Lewis--The Abolition of Man Fulton. J. Sheen--The Philosophy of Religion Josh McDowell--Evidence That Demands a Verdict. William Dembski--The Design Inference Michael Behe--The Edge of Evolution StephenB
Another good one for me was Denton's Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, which put me on to the games evolutionists play with comparative genomics. There are lies, damn lies and statistics. tragic mishap
lars @ 11:
A reductionist x-ray view of a man, while ugly, does not show that life is ugly, but that death is ugly.
If I remember correctly Lewis' argument here was more along the line that a man's innards are ugly only because they are the innards, and not meant to be aesthetically pleasing. Lewis came just short of arguing that in the different context of knowledge of their function they might turn out to be beautiful after all, which is exactly how I came to view it after reading Darwin's Black Box. Also if I could put a #6 up there it would probably be Kuhn's book that has been mentioned. tragic mishap
Chris Doyle, a warm welcome to you! gpuccio
1. Quantum Enigma by Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner On the list more because it encapsulates what I learned about quantum physics, both in terms of the theory/experiments themselves (The layman side - Twin slit experiment, Delayed choice quantum eraser, the various 'interpretations', etc) as well as the history (What view of the world preceded it, how scientists reacted to the theories and discoveries, etc.) For me, this is what finally broke my then total intellectual submissiveness to scientific consensus, to believing scientists are (to paraphrase Vox Day) reason-golems powered by the spirit of the scientific method, etc. What's more important here isn't QP itself, but the history of how it developed, and the social/philosophical aspects to it. 2. The Last Superstition by Ed Feser A great book that gives a brief survey of the developments in philosophical thought in the west over the course of millenia, showing that many things we reflectively think were 'disproven' never were, what is often passed off as 'science' is really thinly masked philosophy, and how misunderstood certain classic philosophical/religious views are and were. Particularly striking was Ed's claims that many modern naturalists are actually making non-naturalist arguments that presuppose a broadly Aristotilean worldview ('computationalists', etc.) 3. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Insightful thought about science, the scientific process, the interplay of science with culture and cultures, etc. Learning about Kuhn's approach to science came after reading up on the history and science mentioned in 1, and probably helped cement my views about the limits and particular frailties of science. 4. CS Lewis' Fiction (Including his Space Trilogy) Not a specific book, but mentioned for an overriding them. Important to me for this reason: Lewis, if I understand him, considered his Space Trilogy and the Narnia books not to be metaphorical, but to be a kind of telling of God's interaction with other worlds. Being able to think in this way provided a very interesting perspective for me on questions of design, science, nature, etc. 5. Nature's Destiny, by Michael Denton Denton comes at the question of design and science from a unique angle, and exposes an Achilles' heel of science that I think few wish to speak of: It is ridiculously easy to see and argue for design and purpose not just in biology (and even evolution) but in practically every aspect of science and natural history, and done so in a way that is both powerful and persuasive. nullasalus
Oops, I haven't read all of Orthodoxy. So scratch 5a for me. lars
For #5 I'd have to choose between 5a) GK Chesterton's Orthodoxy: "The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything but his reason", meaning all but his narrow empiricism, or logical positivism, as I understand it. and 5b) Behe's Edge of Evolution. I was solidly impressed by how deeply and openly Behe has been searching the empirical data to see what evolution can actually do. "Come, let us reason together," he offers the evo side. Putting the debate in terms of an "edge" was inspired... no one can deny that there is a limit to evolution, without looking like a diehard fanboi. The question then becomes an investigation into where the limit lies. Very appealing for anyone who is interested in the truth. Apparently pretty threatening to most Darwinists though, judging by their response. lars
So many good books listed here that I would be hard pressed to argue with, but I would like to mention a couple: The Genesis Flood, Henry Morris and John Whitcomb (I know, very YEC, but sure helped clarify things for me) A Meaningful World, Jonathan Witt and Benjamin Wiker Jack Golightly
1. King James Bible. 2. G. K. Chesterton---Orthodoxy 3. C. S. Lewis---The Abolition of Man 4. William Dembski---The End of Christianity 5. David Berlinski---The Devils Delusion Clive Hayden
CS Lewis keeps coming up... All of the following are instructive in responding to those who claim support for materialism from science and reason. 1) Pilgrim's Regress - particularly the early chapter, In Darkest Zeitgeistheim, where Freudian fallacies are exposed by Reason. Wish fulfillment cuts both ways. A reductionist x-ray view of a man, while ugly, does not show that life is ugly, but that death is ugly. 2) The Last Battle - I've probably said here more than once that the final scene with the dwarfs in the stable is a perfect description of materialists, who refuse to acknowledge anything outside their four walls. 3) That Hideous Strength - Excellent insights into the variety of (mutually contradictory) deceits and antitheistic pretensions that animate academic institutions and the people that run them. Who can forget Frost and Withers? 4) Voyage of the Dawn Treader - "In our world," said Eustace, "a star is a huge ball of flaming gas." "Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of." This opened my eyes to materialist reductionism, which can be so smoothly mixed into the kool-aid we drink that we no longer notice it. It's a seductive idea: once I become privy to knowledge about what a thing is made of, I know what it really is. NOT. lars
Creator And The Cosmos - (Hugh Ross) This was my first introduction to and the beginning of an educational journey of wonder and better understanding of the issues surrounding the origin of life and the universe, and in particular, how the Bible described it long before modern science. It demonstrated that there is no inherent enmity between science and faith, nor is there any rational ambivalence between the two. The book was my first demonstration that science and faith are both intellectually viable, no less and no more than the other....almost as if they are meant to be understood in light of the other. Origins Of Life: Biblical & Evolutionary Models Face Off (Fazale Rana & Hugh Ross) I found this to be a fair and honest book, unencumbered by bias since it presented the positions of competing explanations fairly and honestly. It also made predictions from each competing explanation. Beyond The Cosmos - (Hugh Ross) This is one of my all time favorites, since it invites investigation into issues of the extradimensionality of God and reality, rational resolutions to difficult to resolve doctrinal dualities within the Biblical narrative from a scientific perspective and provides a reasonable, rational explanation from a extradimensional perspectice of things like the extradimensionality ande miracles of Jesus, how God exists independent of linear time and other fascinating issues. Reasonable Faith - (William Lane Craig) This book gives the lay reader a refreshing, concise and compelling perspective of how faith in God is supported by logic and reason. It outlines some rational, reasonable arguments greatly supporting the hypothesis that God not just exists, but can be known personally. Answering The New Atheism: Dismantling Dawkin's Case Against God (Benjamin Wiker, Scott Hahn). Dawkin's had it coming, and Wiker and Hahn delivered. This book was a bombshell that Dawkin's never saw coming. A must read. I think that within the scope of the science/faith duality therein rests a human element that is expressed through a person's position on the issues, positions which can greatly affect cultures one way or another. I found the following extremely illuminating in this regard. Nancy Pearcey's essay in the book "Uncommon Dissent" (ed: William Dembski) was nothing short of spectacular. Also, the book "Moral Darwinism: How We Became Hedonists" a must read. It illustrates ha istory of our response to moral frailty, and shows that it did not have its origin in materialist origins, but in a philosophical battle of will between Epicurean hedonism and Christianity. Bantay
1. The Bible 2. C.S. Lewis - It is difficult for me to choose a specific book here but if I had to it would probably be Christian Reflections which is a book of essays published long after his death. Lewis gave me a way of thinking about my faith objectively and rationally without giving it up, and this book has several essays on how a Christian can relate to the culture in which he finds himself, including science. Not enough can be said about his influence in my thinking, especially in my teenage and even earlier years. Lewis defines for me the intellectual Christian. 3. Darwin's Black Box by Michael Behe - Though The Edge is the more important scientific argument, Behe's first book was my first contact with ID and inspired me to study biochemistry and ID in the first place. Before I read this book in high school, I had no idea how incredibly biology was at the molecular level. After reading this book in high school, I began thinking about biology in a completely different way. 4. William Dembski - Again not sure which book to pick but Dembski's thinking always rang true to me in the same way C.S. Lewis' does. To me, specified complexity is intelligent design theory. Dembski also is very good at clear thinking in the midst of the muddle. He does not use and always defeats poor argumentation. 5. Nature, Design, and Science by Del Ratzsch - He outlined a convincing, rational and comprehensive argument against methodological naturalism as a rule science must follow or cease to be science. I have never seen a better one. tragic mishap
Today (let's face it---these lists change as we grow older!) my Top 5 Influential Books are: 1. The Bible Say what you will. It will always occupy the top spot for me. 2. Blaise Pascal's Pensees One of the figures of history I would most like to meet. I was absolutely taken aback by both the man himself, and what he wrote. 3. Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker + Dennett's Darwin's Dangerous Idea [2 for 1 special] Although I consider the Blind Watchmaker thesis disproven, I enjoyed the book because it described some neat features of evolutionary dynamics (which I don't dispute). In some sense this book paved the way for my willingness to consider ID, because it set forth the problem of creativity from a computational perspective and then failed to solve it - sort of an unintended reductio ad absurdum. Similarly for DD's Darwin's Dangerous Idea. 4. John Lennox's God's Undertaker Although popular in style, it articulated formally and intensified some of the suspicions I already harboured regarding the Blind Watchmaker. [Need to go... no time for 5th! Maybe Francis Schaeffer?] equinoxe
Welcome aboard Chris Doyle. Upright BiPed
Signature in the Cell - Meyer Edge of Evolution - Behe Devil's Delusion - Berlinski Hey wait, this is looking like uoflcard's list! Okay, I'll add: Darwin's Black Box - Behe Theory in Crisis - Denton My only comment that I was not looking to read books about "science" and "religion". I was only looking to read something about finding real answers - it had been rather completely apparent that the pop trash flowing from the science media was not capable of what was being accredited to it. That lead me to Denton, then Behe, and then the others. Upright BiPed
Signature in the Cell - Meyer I lost any possibility of believing life just "bubbled up" from an ancient soup. Edge of Evolution - Behe Discovered that there had to have been a VERY smooth gradient for unintelligent evolution to scale if modern evolutionary theory is to be believable. Surprisingly, I've yet to read Black Box. Reason for God - Tim Killer I think Keller clearly comes from and ID perspective, whether he knows it or not (his definition of ID in the book would not be well endorsed by many on this site). He explicitly states that he believes God used evolution in some way by guiding it...that's not Darwinian, therefore that's ID. But I didn't lose sleep over it because it doesn't pretend to be a science book. Excellent book, especially the chapter titled "Why Would a Good God Send People to Hell?" Devil's Delusion - David Berlinski Shines light on the fact that evolutionary science, for many, is religiously-driven. The Bible Discovering the truth in its words more and more with each passing year. It is not a science textbook. These works, among others, have led me to the conclusion that ID is the least-religious viewpoint in the origins debate. neo-Darwinism is arguably as religiously-driven as Young Earth Creationism. Just like YEC, it is held together not on science but on requirements of world view. Scientists like Dawkins and PZ Meyer REQUIRE it to be true in order to continue to believe what their lives are founded on, just like YEC's who believe that the Bible is only true if the Earth is 6,000 years old. Theistic evolution, in the contemporary sense, seems like a concession to the belief that evidence for Darwinian evolution is "undeniable". uoflcard
I really enjoyed "The Hidden Face of God: by Gerald Schroeder. http://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Face-God-Science-Ultimate/dp/0743203259/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277486038&sr=8-2 He had some odd ideas, but I found them fascinating. I don't believe or disbelieve them, but I enjoy wondering if they are true. I also enjoyed the Reason for God by Timothy Keller. It is more theology than religion/science, but it does address the issue of "does evolution contradict Christianity." I think he has a TE perspective. http://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Face-God-Science-Ultimate/dp/0743203259/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277486038&sr=8-2 Collin
My name is Chris Doyle and though I've been aware of this blog for quite some time, I have only recently taken to reading it more closely and this is my first contribution. I am a non-biblical creationist meaning I am an anti-evolutionist, anti-atheist, pro-ID believer (but not a Christian). So, without further ado my five books are as follows: 1. The Holy Qu'ran (translation by Yusuf Ali) 2. The Facts of Life: Shattering the Myths of Darwinism by Richard Milton 3. The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity by Hyam Maccoby 4. The Bible, The Qu'ran and Science by Maurice Bucaille 5. Darwin's Black Box by Michael Behe These are roughly the first five books I read which shaped many of my thoughts towards religion and science. One of the strong appeals of the Qu'ran to me was the fact that it made many references to scientific knowledge that we have only discovered in recent times (ie. over a thousand years after it was written). From an evolutionary perspective, the notion that God's creation may have been brought about through evolution (a non-random and guided form of evolution, the kind that evolutionists reproduce in computer programmes or, to a much lesser extent, in bacteria) is entirely consistent with the Qu'ran too (as opposed to Genesis for example). Milton's book does exactly what the title says. It lays down fact after fact, in layman terms, which demonstrate that Darwinism is indeed a myth. It also confirmed something that I had only previously suspected: that true science is against evolution, not for it. Maccoby's book led me to conclude that the writings of Paul and his followers are not divinely inspired. Though I have enormous respect for the Bible, it is almost all for the Old Testament where I believe divinely inspired content can still be gleaned despite the many attempts at editing. Bucaille's book again demonstrated that scripture contains scientific knowledge. It also left me with the impression that the Qu'ran compares more favourably to the Bible in that respect. Finally, Behe's excellent book opened up a whole new world of scientific discoveries that atheistic evolutionists cannot even begin to contemplate in their worldview. Furthermore, it confirmed that some of the Creator's most mind boggling astonishing handiwork is contained in our very own bodies, every single cell in our bodies in fact. The Edge of Evolution added further depth to this knowledge and I've still not recovered from Stephen Meyer's "Signature in the Cell" which has blown me away! The more I learn, the more I believe that science and religion together form the surest path to God. Chris Doyle
These books deeply influenced me as a student, in my late teens and early 20s, in the sense that they provided fruitful analytical perspectives previously unknown to me: T.S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), which should be read in conjunction with Ludwik Fleck, Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact (1935). Science is an inescapably human, fallible, creative enterprise. Learn to love science as something we do, generating knowledge, but don't be intimidated by it. Neal Gillespie, Charles Darwin and the Problem of Creation (1979) The Darwinian Revolution at its deepest level was a philosophical revolution about the rules of scientific inference. Design, although possible, was off the table. Francis Crick, Life Itself (1981) Crick gives his argument for directed panspermia. ID theory, of a sort, from one of the 20th century's most hard-headed atheists. Crick at his insightful best. Thomas Frazzetta, Complex Adaptations in Evolving Populations (1975) At the height of the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis (late 1960s to early 1970s), an evolutionary biologist works up the nerve to say that -- despite textbook bluster-- the problem of the macroevolution of adaptive complexity is unsolved. This book helped me to see the dissent- (and therefore inquiry-) suppressing role of textbook orthodoxy in biology. Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley, Roger Olsen, The Mystery of Life's Origin (1984) The locus classicus of the ID worldview. I snuck in Fleck because I love the book so much -- my copy is dogeared -- so that makes 6 books, not 5. Sue me! ;-) Paul Nelson
Two of the best books I've read on the subject are Science & Religion: a historical introduction, edited by Gary Ferngren and The Beginnings of Western Science by David Lindberg. Both books offer nuanced views of the relationship between science and religion, correcting both the simplistic warfare metaphor of Draper and White and the perhaps overly enthusiastic revisionist history of Merton or Hooykaas. jlid

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