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Science and Creation [Paperback]

by Stanley L. Jaki
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 28, 1990 081917839X 978-0819178398
Theology students, historians and students of the history of science will find an astonishing wealth of information on the scientific quest through the centuries, and most specifically, the birth of science. The author's thesis contends that in cultures where scientific progress came to a standstill, there was no belief in a law of nature. He further contends that scientific progress resumed only after the establishment of a belief in a rational, transcendent creator. Originally published in 1974 by Scottish Academic Press.

Editorial Reviews


Jaki stakes out a clear position and argues it forcefully...recommended. (Bookreviews)

Jaki stakes out a clear position and argues it forcefully...recommended. (Bookreviews)

About the Author

Stanley L. Jaki a Hungarian-born Benedictine priest, is Distinguished University Professor at Seton Hall University, South Orange, N.J.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 386 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of America (September 28, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081917839X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0819178398
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,066,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The temporal nature of the universe of matter is one of the fundamental questions examined by all societies from antiquity. For those who who have taken this issue seriously, "fundamental philosophical considerations are at play in the acceptance of the idea of a universe that goes on forever through a supreme cycle." Jaki sifts through the details of those considerations with great skill and energy spanning the range from the ancient Hindu and Babylonian cultures to modern scientific thinkers of this century.
I had the great fortune to work through this volume with the author in a graduate course at Seton Hall University in the early eighties. Your understanding of the history and philosophy of science will be greatly enriched by investing your reading effort in this remarkable book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wheels within wheels: not how science got rolling November 12, 2009
This book is a tour de force of historical narration.

Jaki devotes the first half-dozen or so chapters to explaining how the fixation upon the cosmos as a grand, endless cyclical flux (esp. as the "Great Year") in many cultures (viz., Hindu, Egyptian, Chinese, Greco-Roman, Mayan, Aztec, Incan, Babylonian, Persian) crippled the advance of science beyond more than an "astrological" or "practical" level.

People live and die by their values and societies live and die by their highest beliefs. As such, Jaki shows how the hypnosis of a perpetually recycling cosmos could either (smoetimes, both) weaken the will of researchers to look for anything "new under the sun" or (and) stupefy the mind under a welter of constantly shifting astrological phenomenalism and fatalism. The celestial wheels within wheels within the great wheel of time kept great civilizations spinning their wheels at best. Once, however, a civilization as a whole took a firm stand on the unmoving and absolute origin of all things by God, science found traction and moved ahead. Exact, experimental science got its start in the idea of "impetus," and the idea of impetus was rooted in the impetus of secondary causation imputed to nature by God ab origine (cf. Philoponus, Buridan, Oresme, et al.). Likewise was the contingency of the world as one of many possible creations, rather than as an eternal, necessary emenation of divinity, crucial to inspiring scientific exploration. Further, the goodness of matter inspired Christians to delve into it as stewards made in the image of God.

I found the most interesting chapter to be his discussion of the how the radically voluntaristic emphasis in medieval Muslim theology undermined what surely had the greatest potential for science in the Muslim world.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By ropata
"Science and Creation" is the first systematic probing into perhaps the most puzzling, but least discussed fact of cultural history: the birth of science. Cultural history abounds in parallel achievements, but it happened only once, between 1250 and 1650, that rudimentary science turned into a self-sustaining enterprise. Such a singular process can hardly be without a lesson, the grasp of which might be of crucial importance for the future of mankind.

To unfold this lesson the author, Stanley L. Jaki, Professor of the History of Physics and Astronomy, Seton Hall University, New Jersey, and an internationally known historian of science, first gives a detailed analysis of ancient Hindu, Chinese, Maya, Egyptian, Babylonian, and Greek cultures, all of which, especially the Greek, could boast a valuable start in science. Yet, in all of them science suffered a stillbirth. They all failed to muster in a sufficient measure faith in progress, confidence in the rationality of the universe, appreciation of the quantitative method, and a depersonalized view of the process of motion, all qualities which are the main features of the scientific quest.

Because the Koran overemphasized the will of the Creator, Muslim scholars fell pry to a mistrust in the validity of rational laws, and as a result science came to a standstill among the Arabs as well. Quite different was the case in the Christian, medieval West, where the biblical faith in the Creator permeated for the first time a whole culture and effectively produced the qualities described above. The ultimate results was the rise of classical physics. Today, in an age of space travel, atomic energy, and computerized production, science looms as a threatening factor.
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