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Modern Physics and Ancient Faith Paperback – February 28, 2003
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Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“In this well-reasoned and accessible book, Stephen Barr argues against the idea that modern science has discredited belief in God. Barr, an accomplished theoretical particle physicist currently at the University of Delaware and a lay Roman Catholic, adroitly marshals recent developments in the natural and computer sciences to show that science, far from clearly discrediting religious belief, can in many instances reasonably be construed to support it. The book is well documented, and the exposition is masterful, making it a valuable asset for those theists wanting to learn more about the ways in which the sciences can contribute to the materialist-theist debate.” —Journal of Religion
"Stephen Barr does heroic service with his book Modern Physics and Ancient Faith as a revolutionary insurgent within the intellectual hegemony of modern scientific materialism." —Crisis Magazine
“It is a happy day indeed when one finds a work by a scientist that is so clear, based upon serious reflection, and demonstrates a broad knowledge of philosophy and religion as well as science. Modern Physics and Ancient Faith is such a work. Barr . . . has a wonderful way of explaining difficult theories in modern physics. Equally impressive is his ability to reflect upon the philosophical and theological implications of these theories and explain them to us in ordinary English.” —Theology Today
“[A] well-written and logically argued presentation on the relationship between religion and science . . . Barr makes both modern physics and theology understandable to the general reader. This is a worthy successor to P.C.W. Davies’s God and the New Physics . . . Highly recommended.” —Library Journal
“[A] lucid and engaging survey of modern physics and its relation to religious belief. . . . Barr has produ“[ced a stunning tour de force . . . [a] scientific and philosophical breakthrough.” —National Review
“Stephen Barr’s book … energizes the reader, since its philosophical positions are well argued, its writing is clear and accessible, and its religious affirmations are provocative for believers and nonbelievers alike.” —Christian Century
“. . . Modern Physics and Ancient Faith ranks among the most scientifically, theologically, and philosophically rigorous studies of the relation between science and theology to appear in recent years. That it is also written in a clear and highly accessible style makes it even more worthy of widespread notice, discussion, and debate. . . . Barr has written an accessible, insightful, and fair overview of how the discoveries of physics and mathematics during the last century could be thought to confirm the expectations of the religious believer—as well as a careful analysis and critique of materialism. For those looking for an overview that will help them to think at a deep level about these issues, I cannot think of anything better than Modern Physics and Ancient Faith.” — First Things
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Top Customer Reviews
The first chapter is introductory. The author, Stephen M. Barr, describes himself as "someone who adheres to traditional religion and who has worked in some of the subfields of modern physics that are relevant to the materialism/religion debate." Barr sees clearly that "the conflict is not between religion and science, it is between religion and materialism....a philosophical opinion that is closely connected with science. But it is not science." His purpose is to show how "new discoveries made in the last century in various fields have changed our picture of the world in fundamental ways. As a result, the balance has shifted in the debate between scientific materialism and religion.... [20th century] discoveries coming from the study of the material world itself, have given fresh reasons to disbelieve that matter is the only ultimate reality." Barr is honest about the stakes involved: "None of this is a matter of proofs.... What the debate is about, as I shall explain later, is not proof but credibility." And indeed, such simple honesty is characteristic.
In the second chapter Barr begins by restating, then demolishing, the anti-religious mythology. His paraphrase of the anti-religious mythos sounds like it was cold-pressed straight from the pronouncements of Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking, and other spokesmen of materialism. This chapter alone is worth half the price of the hardcover. He makes his points so clearly that it is a wonder we could all be duped by "scientific" materialism for so long.Read more ›
'A considerable amount of public debate and media print has been devoted to the "war between science and religion." In his....book, ....Barr demonstrates that what is really at war with religion is not science itself, but a philosophy called scientific materialism. [This book] argues that the great discoveries of modern physics are more compatible with the central teachings of Christianity and Judaism about God, the cosmos, and the human soul than with the atheistic viewpoint of scientific materialism.'
That is the book promised and that is the book you get.
The arguments presented are, of course, in favor of one side of the debate and contrary to the opposite side. They are, also, consistently honest and fair. They are certainly not exhaustive, but then, this is pretty sparsely typed 300-page book.
Barr never pretends to be absolutely disproving all variants of scientific materialism. Instead, he picks a number of often voiced and frequently heard materialist prejudices (specifically anti-theist or anti-Biblical or anti-Christian prejudices) of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, presents them in their most basic terms, then presents scientific theories and discoveries that appear to confute them. Occasionally he points out as "irony", little points at which the data seems to uphold some separate detail of the Christian theist world-view.
Another reviewer refers disparagingly to "axes to grind.Read more ›
Second, the author is an atomic physicist who has thought deeply about these issues and for our benefit has organized and explained these ideas in a very sympathetic yet comprehensive way that deserves the widest possible audience. The writing is clear, interesting and of the highest possible caliber. I only wish more scientists wrote this well, not just their works for the laymen but for professional consumption as well, it would make the role of a student far more pleasurable.
So what is the book about? What are the big issues that this author wants us to remember and to use in our intellectual life?
First is the issue of materialism as a faith. This is chapter 1 and continues to be an explicit organizing principle throughout the book.
"The fact of the matter is that there is a bitter intellectual battle going on, and it is about real issues. However, the conflict is not betwen religion and science, it is between religion and materialism. Materialism is a philosophical opinion that is closely connected with science. It grew up alongside of science, and many people have a hard time distingusihing it from science. But it is not science. It is merely a philosophical opinion. And not all scientists share it by any means. In fact, there seem to be more scientists who are religious than who are materialists." pg 1
This is what i term the "like speaks to like issue". Materialism is the idea that all is matter in motion, sufficent to explain all phenomena in the universe. As he aptly points out this is philosophic opinion, or metaphysics.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fantastic book written by someone who knows both fields from the inside and the outside. Everything is explained very clearly. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Dr. Gerard Verschuuren
Very well written.
Helped me grasp the scientific arguments with much ease.
Must read for every Christian in apologetics.
The physics part is not for the faint of mind. I learned more about physics than theology, but it was an excellent book.Published 7 months ago by R.B.WILLIAMS, O.P.
good book. fast shipment . I had read this as a library book and wanted my own copyPublished 10 months ago by Michele Weingsut
I think Stephen Barr suffers from cognitive dissonance because many of his fellow scientists are atheists and agnostics. Read morePublished 11 months ago by David Roemer
Stephen M. Barr connects the dots and why faith and science can co-exist and support each otherPublished 16 months ago by Bettina01