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The book is co-written by Murphy, who is a professor of Christian philosophy, and Ellis, who is professor of applied mathematics. Both are members of the Anabaptist Christian tradition, and their thought, especially as it relates to pacifism and ethics, reveal this connection to Christian tradition. One of the book's virtues is that its authors clearly lay out their proposals in a very accessible manner.
The overall argument for the book is the following: the fine-tuning of the cosmological constants that has produced a life-bearing universe calls for an explanation. The authors believe that a theistic explanation offers a more coherent account of reality than a non-theistic one. The pattern of divine action in the world, however, seems to indicate that God works with nature, "never over-riding or violating the very processes that God has created" (xv). The fact the God does not violate or override the processes leads the authors to believe that divine action entails refusal to do violence to creation. They link this with kenosis, a Christian New Testament word typically translated, "self-emptying." God renounces self-interest for the sake of the other, no matter what the cost is to God, and that this divine activity ought to be emulated by humans. The authors call for a new research program to explore the possibilities of this kenosis thesis in light of science.
The ethical core of the proposal is that self-renunciation for the sake of the other is humankind's highest goal. One of the more illuminating chapters in the book addresses the power of persuasion, non-violent coercion, and violent coercion.Read more ›
I was astonished by this book's ability to analyze and typologize scientific activity within a framework of religious wisdom. It not only generates a field of relative connectivity between scientific disciplines, but places them as a whole within the spiritual and mythological activities of the human psyche. It reassures me regarding the fate of humanity that there are educated, well-trained and perceptive individuals who can see the connection between the imagination and human knowledge, and who in turn recognize human moral responsibility for an authentic embodiment of religious teaching through the renunciation of violence. Einstein is quoted as having said, "Religion without science is blind; science without religion is lame." This work has both vision and movement, both clarity and feeling. It provides a perennial balm in an age where specialization brings its own forms of nihilism, and where human violence is too often normalized with the most egregious and potentially catastrophic of consequences. It both clears the mind and calls to the soul. It seemed, to me, to awaken hope for the future of our species.
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This book is unique in its depth, scope, and humility. I have been interested in these themes for a while, and I think people of any faith will appreciate the painstaking care that has been taken to integrate knowledge/evidence from experiment, logic, and experience.
Definitely worth it, and it's surprising it isn't more popular. I think it's probably going to take a while for these ideas to seep into the broader public discourse.
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