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It is a shame that Stanley Jaki is so unknown to so many Christian scholars. He is a Templeton Prize winner, Distinguished Professor of Physics, and Benedictine priest. His research and insights into the development of science are extremely important for Christians to understand. Unfortunately, he is not the easiest author to read, and this has resulted in an astounding lack of influence.
This book is considered by many to be his magnum opus, as he slowly traces the development of science through history, beginning with the ancients and moving through Christendom and into the modern age. All the while he shows how worldviews affect the growth or hindrance of science. He highlights the fact that Greek science failed to really launch because of the pantheistic worldview held by its creators (he applies this to Eastern science as well). He takes us through Bacon, Newton, Copernicus, Galileo, etc. His conclusion: science would not have advanced beyond infancy if not for the Christian worldview held by those who pushed it past that infancy. His theory is very well supported by much research, and he provides many, many citations from primary sources.
Like I said, it is not the easiest of reads. However, it is a very important book to read, and vital to a proper understanding of the origins of science, as well as for developing a proper philosophy of science. You may want to check out Nancy Piercey's The Soul of Science as an introduction to these issues before you delve into this book if you are not experienced in this topic. John Polkinghorne's works are helpful as well.
Overall grade: A+
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This is an old book, circa 1978. The book is the written form of the Gifford Lectures of 1974-1976. On the overleaf I've inscribed 1/09 the date of my first reading. There may be people who can grasp all of this book on initial reading. They would be rare birds. 25% of the book is in footnotes (I wonder what the people did at the lectures)? The subject reminds of Saul, better known for his interrupted trip to Damascus. Saul came up with a new world view(and a new Name)after being blinded, or, made to know that he failed to see properly. I lean to the former view because the account we have says that something fell off of his eyes. Jaki is a mind surgeon and what his book does is to enable the removal of bad ideas by showing them to be bad both in conception and in their fruits. He accomplishes his task by the respectful examination of the genius of individual scientists. His field is the history of science and his effort is to make it intelligible to college graduates, at least (although knowing that I have to re read the book I think some sort of refund might be due me from college days). In doing so, he proves that science as we know it, came, as did the universities,from Ex Corde Eccelesia and from no other culture or civilization. He also mentions that science proceeded incrementally-a position challenged by the purveyors of the Englightenment who wish to sell their own soap. Further reading of the works of Pierre Duhem are called for to lift this particular skirt and view Englightenment nastiness. As Buber once remarked, "Each unchaining is answered by a new chaining".Read more ›
I am surprised this book has not generated more controversy because it attacks some dearly held beliefs of "modern" folks. Basically what this guy says is that science has been stillborn in many cultures and that the Christian world view (or it's wreckage) has been the only culture that will tolerate more than a century or two of scientific progress It will be interesting to see what happens as western culture abandons it's Christian worldview. Will the west join the long parade of failures, like the ones Jaki catalogs in numbing detail or will the west `evolve' into an atheistic, materialistic paradise like the one portrayed in "Star Trek"?
Don't try to read more than two paragraphs at a time or your head will explode. Stanley Jaki is mandatory for folks interested in history, philosophy, religion, or just being obnoxiously well read and well thought out. If you've read this book, you're ready to go on to other subjects and other languages. You're done with English. Highly recommended.
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