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When Science and Christianity Meet Paperback – October 29, 2003
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This book steps back from those debates, abandoning, for the present, the attempt to formulate or defend generalizations of such breadth and scope. Its authors believe that every encounter had its own peculiar shape and that each must be examined uniquely before broader attempts at generalization are likely to succeed. This book, in language accessible to the general reader, investigates twelve of the most notorious, most interesting, and most instructive cases, aiming to tell each story in its historical specificity and local particularity.
Among the episodes treated in When Science and Christianity Meet are the Galileo affair, the 17th-century clockwork universe, Noah's ark and flood in the development of natural history, struggles over Darwinian evolution, debates about the origin of the human species, and the Scopes trial. Readers will be introduced to St. Augustine, Roger Bacon, Pope Urban VIII, Isaac Newton, Pierre-Simon de Laplace, Carl Linnaeus, Charles Darwin, T. H. Huxley, Sigmund Freud, and many other participants in the historical drama of science and Christianity.
*William B. Ashworth Jr.
*Thomas H. Broman
*Mott T. Greene
*Edward J. Larson
*David C. Lindberg
*David N. Livingstone
*Robert Bruce Mullin
*G. Blair Nelson
*Ronald L. Numbers
*Jon H. Roberts
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Top Customer Reviews
Within the history of science field there are several broad explanatory theses that provide a lens to examine the religion-science relationship. At one end of the spectrum there is the view of conflict wherein the two domains are seen contradictory at a fundamentally level. While at the other extreme, there is the opinion that science and religion are by definition mutually supportive. The essays in the present text, while skewed toward the latter view, are generally balanced and appropriately nuanced.
Overall, this is a nice collection of papers. As with any anthology some contributions are more helpful than others - this will in significant part depend on the reader's interests. For my money, Lindberg's discussion of the Galileo affair and Larson's overview of the Scopes trial were particularly well done. Readers interested in these specific issues may find Lindberg's free audio lecture available on-line through the Faraday Institute and Larson's award winning book "Summer of the Gods" worth a look.
I recommend this book for readers interested in the history of science and its interactions with religion. The hard cover edition is good value for money.
Many of the essays put a human face on the intricate relation of science and Christian faith. Rather than try for grand statements of conflict or coherence between the two, the short vignettes highlight specific times, places, and individuals in their human particularity. In every case, local factors and personalities reveal a much more complex and fascinating human story than later simplifications. It is particularly fascinating to see how Christian faith often motivated scientific discovery that in turn motivated faith. What we retroactively label conflicts between science and religion were as often struggles *within* the scientific community and the Christian community and within the individuals involved. "We must never forget that it is people who do the believing, the speaking, the teaching, and the battling." 
Not all of the essays are equally enjoyable. Unfortunately Ron Numbers' concluding essay seemed lackluster, perhaps for making the most general claims. But, as another reviewer already noted, the essays on the Galileo and Scopes trials are great, particularly for those who've only heard "popular" accounts or watched movies (e.g. Inherit the Wind). I also particularly enjoyed Janet Browne's article on Noah's Ark and the development of modern geology as well as G. Blair Nelson's article on "Men Before Adam!" -- i.e. the 19th Century debates over the origins of the races and the history of humanity prior to the creation of Adam and Eve.
I'd recommend this book to anyone looking for tasty bite-size chunks of history, and a more human-level view of the "entangled" relation of science and faith.
A lot of historical myth surrounds the history of science and it's relationship to religious thought. This book does an excellent job of clarifying that relationship and educating the reader about better angles from which to consider it.