We're closing in on the 150th anniversary of Darwin's Origin of Species
, but clearly not closing in on any resolution of the debates that the book stirred up between science and religion. In this slim volume, physicist and theologian Ian Barbour summarizes his own decades-long accumulation of knowledge in these two arenas. Writing with clarity and a scientist's eye for organization, Barbour takes on the scientific and theological significance of the big questions: the big bang, quantum physics, Darwin and Genesis, human nature (the question of determinism), and the relationship between a free God and a law-bound universe. In each chapter, Barbour recognizes four possible ways of responding to the dilemmas posed by these topics: conflict
, represented by Biblical literalists and atheists, both of whom agree that a person cannot believe in both God and evolution; independence
, which asserts that "science and religion are strangers who can coexist as long as they keep a safe distance from each other"; dialogue
, which invites a conversation between the two fields; and integration
, which moves beyond dialogue to explore ways in which the two fields can inform each other. Barbour notes that his own sympathies lie with dialogue and integration.
Barbour won the 1999 Templeton Prize for his role in advancing the study of science and religion. "No contemporary has made a more original, deep, and lasting contribution toward the needed integration of scientific and religious knowledge and values," John Cobb has written of Barbour. This book is perhaps the best entry point into Barbour's work. --Doug Thorpe
From Publishers Weekly
This concise introduction to science-and-religion issues provides impressively well-balanced coverage of an increasingly complex family of topics in a single, accessible volume. As one of the better-known authors in the field, even prior to winning the 1999 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, Barbour has shown an almost unique ability to coax a "field" out of an unruly bunch of theologians, philosophers and scientists whose arguments often resist summary and synthesis. But this is exactly Barbour's goal as he guides readers through a four-fold typology of the science/religion relationshipDConflict, Independence, Dialogue and IntegrationDthat will be familiar to readers of his Religion in an Age of Science. Barbour's own sympathies are markedly on the side of dialogue and integration, but he makes an unusually successful effort to represent other perspectives in a fair light. Although the book's overall focus is on questions of method, it also manages to introduce readers to most of the topics of current science/religion dialogues. These include four areas based in the religious implications of specific sciences (cosmology, quantum theory, biological evolution and the sciences of "human nature") as well as the more general question of the relationship between God and nature. Barbour navigates with confidence through what has become a very wide literature, balancing coverage of essential "classical" sources (from Augustine to Kuhn) with the background necessary for reading more recent contributions to the field. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.