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!