From Library Journal
Glynn (Inst. for Communitarian Policy Studies, George Washington Univ.; Closing Pandora's Box, LJ 5/15/92) considers the recent trend away from the atheism that tends to characterize most scientists (as revealed by surveys) to what he calls a post-secularist perspective, an openness to the role of the divine. In clear, crisp prose, he examines the work of physicists who again see purpose in the design of the universe (the anthropic principle), the role of religion in the work of some contemporary psychologists (most notably M. Scott Peck), the relation between religious faith and bodily health, and out-of-body or near-death experiences (Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and Raymond Moody), and the disastrous effects of value-free sociology. Writing from a Christian perspective, Glynn provides an excellent summary of the current status of the relationship between religion and science that will appeal to a variety of readers. Recommended for all collections. [For more on the relation between religion and science, see Connie Barlow's Green Space, Green Time, reviewed on p. 110, and Marcelo Gleiser's The Dancing Universe, reviewed on p. 111.?Ed.]?Augustine J. Curley, O.S.B., Newark Abbey, N.J.-?Augustine J. Curley, O.S.B., Newark Abbey, N.J.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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From Kirkus Reviews
An unconvincing attempt to prove the existence of God in a postmodern culture. It's always refreshing when intellectuals admit their mistakes, and to hear this Harvard-educated philosopher gracefully concede that his atheism was ``so dead wrong'' is nearly enough to melt a reader's heart. But only nearly, because the journey that brought him to faith is almost impossible to translate as ``evidence'' to prove God's existence to others. Glynn's own watershed moments were based in science and psychology, and he examines recent developments in these fields that he sees as unmistakable proof of a higher being. Contemporary physics, for example, has moved toward a ``triumph of mechanism over teleology'' and shows that the chance of life's appearance in our universe is so slight that if any one of the many factors involved had been a tad different, we wouldn't be here arguing the point today. Fair enough, but it is still a long jump from this apparent randomness to Glynn's conclusion--that life evolved in this manner to make way for God's ultimate creation, humankind. The second part of this book is even more problematic; Glynn employs psychological findings and near-death experiences as evidence for God. He rightly criticizes Freudian psychology for its hostility to religion and then goes on to argue that religious people are more likely to report happier, less traumatic lives than the nonreligious. That may be so, but how does this functionalist exploration of religious faith prove the existence of God? And finally, his insufficiently skeptical chapter on near-death experiences damages the credibility of the whole book. Although there are some intriguing arguments here, Glynn's is an entirely one-sided approach, and the connections between the ``evidence'' and his conclusion require too far a leap of faith. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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