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Horses: The Story of the Horse Family in the Modern World and through Sixty Million Years of History
Horses: The Story of the Horse Family in the Modern World and through Sixty Million Years of History
by George Gaylord Simpson
Edition: Paperback
10 used & new from $4.25

5.0 out of 5 stars THE FAMED PALEONTOLOGIST LOOKS AT HORSES, AND THEIR EVOLUTION, August 2, 2015
George Gaylord Simpson (1902-1984) was one of the most influential American paleontologists of the twentieth century. His major works include Tempo and Mode in Evolution, The Major Features of Evolution, This View of Life: The World of an Evolutionist, The Meaning of Evolution, etc.

He wrote in the Introduction to this 1951 book, “This is a book about horses as animals… the center of interest is to be the animal and not its use… An important reason why horses are so fascinating … is that they are such representative animals. From horses we may learn not only about the horse itself but also about animals in general, indeed about ourselves and about life as a whole, its history and characteristics. The aim of this book is not only to present the members of the horse family, but also to present an introduction to the study of animals and of life, with horses providing concrete and excellent examples...” (Pg. xxxii) He adds, “The story of the horse family provides one of the best means for studying the how and why of evolution.” (Pg. xxxiv)

[NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 324-page Doubleday paperback edition.]

He points out, “This early work [by T.H. Huxley and Vladimir Kovalevsky] carried the story almost as far as was possible in Europe. The fact is, as we now know, that the central lines of horse evolution did not occur on that continent. Huxley and Kovalevsky were perfectly right in listing these genera as successive stages of evolution among the relatives of the horses, but the three earlier forms were not directly ancestral to Equus and belong on three different offshoots from the direct ancestry. The first was a side branch that evolved in the Old World and the other two had migrated successively from the distant region where direct descent to Equus was occurring. This sort of thing happened frequently in the course of evolution and is responsible for series of structural stages which lack the actual ancestral-descendant transitional links. The transition can only be filled in by preservation and discovery of fossils in the region where the main evolutionary line was developing.” (Pg. 117)

He observes, “After Miohippus the history of the horse became considerably more complicated. It is no longer a matter of following what appears to be a single great lineage as in the American HyracotheriumOrohippusEpihippusMesohippusMiohippus sequence. Now the horses tend once more to split up into various different groups which evolved separately and in somewhat different ways… It is sad that this introduces possible confusion into the story, but there is not much point in criticizing nature for something that happened millions of years ago. It would also be foolish to try to ignore the complications, which did occur and which are a very important part of the record. Most accounts of horse evolution have simplified the situation to the point of deliberately falsifying it. Let us here face the facts of the record and try to follow them as clearly as possible but without misleading omissions.” (Pg. 166-168)

He notes, “The extinction of horses over the whole of North and South America, where they had roamed in vast herds during the Pleistocene, is one of the most mysterious episodes of animal history. There is no doubt about the fact, but the reason for it is doubtful to say the least. There has been no lack of speculation and a dozen possible explanations have been suggested, but all of these lack evidence and none is really satisfactory… This seems at present one of the situations in which we must be humble and honest and admit that we do not know the answer… The general cause of extinction … must have been the occurrence of changes to which the animal populations could not adapt themselves. But what precisely were those changes? And why could not the horses … adapt to them, while many other groups of animals could?” (Pg. 198, 200)

He states, “The most convincing feature of the horse family as evidence of evolution is that throughout most of their history the variations demonstrated in collections of successive ages overlap: the ancestral and descendant populations intergrade completely in this way. There is still one gap where overlap is not quite complete… and there are some other points where more material is needed on the level of relatively unimportant details in regard to species, but the sequence is now so well represented that it leaves no doubt whatsoever about the main fact in the mind of anyone who studies it extensively. The history of the horse family is still one of the clearest and most convincing for showing that organisms really have evolved, for demonstrating that, so to speak, an onion can turn into a lily” (Pg. 224)

He says, “Increase in the relative size of the teeth, change in type of pattern, complication of pattern, and increase in crown height all occurred in horses and were the main changes in their teeth. They did not all occur in the same way or at the same time in different lines if descent, or at a constant rate at any one line… It should also be emphasized that, although these adaptive features explain the main changes in the teeth, they do not explain all the fluctuations and changes in details. Minor differences in pattern characteristic of closely allied genera and species seem in some cases to have no particular adaptive value and to have arisen at random. These irregularities in horse evolution have commonly been overlooked or undervalued, and the bearing of the evidence on the principles of evolution has therefore sometimes been misunderstood.” (Pg. 243-244)

He summarizes, “The evolution of the horse family was definitely not orthogenetic… There was, for instance, no constant and over-all increase in size. Most recent horses are larger than most ancient horses, but when the history is examined in detail it shows that there have been long periods when no increase in size occurred and also several branches of horse evolution in which the animals became markedly smaller, not larger. The feet did not steadily change from four toes to three and then to one… toe reduction… from three to one was not a continuation of a previous trend… but was a change in evolutionary direction, a new development that occurred at just one time and in only one group of horses. And so it goes for all the changes that have occurred in the history of the family; not one of them shows the constant, guided change in a single direction that is demanded by the theory of orthogenesis [i.e., evolution proceeds in a unilinear fashion]. In reality, the horse family goes far to disprove that theory, and when other supposed examples of orthogenesis are examined with similar care they, too, are found to be opposed to the reality of orthogenesis in any strict sense.” (Pg. 270-271)

Although nearly 65 years old, this book still contains much illuminating information about the evolutionary directions of horses.


Horses: The story of the horse family in the modern world and through sixty million years of history (The Natural history library)
Horses: The story of the horse family in the modern world and through sixty million years of history (The Natural history library)
by G. G. Simpson
Edition: Paperback
5 used & new from $5.92

5.0 out of 5 stars THE FAMED PALEONTOLOGIST LOOKS AT HORSES, AND THEIR EVOLUTION, August 2, 2015
George Gaylord Simpson (1902-1984) was one of the most influential American paleontologists of the twentieth century. His major works include Tempo and Mode in Evolution, The Major Features of Evolution, This View of Life: The World of an Evolutionist, The Meaning of Evolution, etc.

He wrote in the Introduction to this 1951 book, “This is a book about horses as animals… the center of interest is to be the animal and not its use… An important reason why horses are so fascinating … is that they are such representative animals. From horses we may learn not only about the horse itself but also about animals in general, indeed about ourselves and about life as a whole, its history and characteristics. The aim of this book is not only to present the members of the horse family, but also to present an introduction to the study of animals and of life, with horses providing concrete and excellent examples...” (Pg. xxxii) He adds, “The story of the horse family provides one of the best means for studying the how and why of evolution.” (Pg. xxxiv)

[NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 324-page Doubleday paperback edition.]

He points out, “This early work [by T.H. Huxley and Vladimir Kovalevsky] carried the story almost as far as was possible in Europe. The fact is, as we now know, that the central lines of horse evolution did not occur on that continent. Huxley and Kovalevsky were perfectly right in listing these genera as successive stages of evolution among the relatives of the horses, but the three earlier forms were not directly ancestral to Equus and belong on three different offshoots from the direct ancestry. The first was a side branch that evolved in the Old World and the other two had migrated successively from the distant region where direct descent to Equus was occurring. This sort of thing happened frequently in the course of evolution and is responsible for series of structural stages which lack the actual ancestral-descendant transitional links. The transition can only be filled in by preservation and discovery of fossils in the region where the main evolutionary line was developing.” (Pg. 117)

He observes, “After Miohippus the history of the horse became considerably more complicated. It is no longer a matter of following what appears to be a single great lineage as in the American HyracotheriumOrohippusEpihippusMesohippusMiohippus sequence. Now the horses tend once more to split up into various different groups which evolved separately and in somewhat different ways… It is sad that this introduces possible confusion into the story, but there is not much point in criticizing nature for something that happened millions of years ago. It would also be foolish to try to ignore the complications, which did occur and which are a very important part of the record. Most accounts of horse evolution have simplified the situation to the point of deliberately falsifying it. Let us here face the facts of the record and try to follow them as clearly as possible but without misleading omissions.” (Pg. 166-168)

He notes, “The extinction of horses over the whole of North and South America, where they had roamed in vast herds during the Pleistocene, is one of the most mysterious episodes of animal history. There is no doubt about the fact, but the reason for it is doubtful to say the least. There has been no lack of speculation and a dozen possible explanations have been suggested, but all of these lack evidence and none is really satisfactory… This seems at present one of the situations in which we must be humble and honest and admit that we do not know the answer… The general cause of extinction … must have been the occurrence of changes to which the animal populations could not adapt themselves. But what precisely were those changes? And why could not the horses … adapt to them, while many other groups of animals could?” (Pg. 198, 200)

He states, “The most convincing feature of the horse family as evidence of evolution is that throughout most of their history the variations demonstrated in collections of successive ages overlap: the ancestral and descendant populations intergrade completely in this way. There is still one gap where overlap is not quite complete… and there are some other points where more material is needed on the level of relatively unimportant details in regard to species, but the sequence is now so well represented that it leaves no doubt whatsoever about the main fact in the mind of anyone who studies it extensively. The history of the horse family is still one of the clearest and most convincing for showing that organisms really have evolved, for demonstrating that, so to speak, an onion can turn into a lily” (Pg. 224)

He says, “Increase in the relative size of the teeth, change in type of pattern, complication of pattern, and increase in crown height all occurred in horses and were the main changes in their teeth. They did not all occur in the same way or at the same time in different lines if descent, or at a constant rate at any one line… It should also be emphasized that, although these adaptive features explain the main changes in the teeth, they do not explain all the fluctuations and changes in details. Minor differences in pattern characteristic of closely allied genera and species seem in some cases to have no particular adaptive value and to have arisen at random. These irregularities in horse evolution have commonly been overlooked or undervalued, and the bearing of the evidence on the principles of evolution has therefore sometimes been misunderstood.” (Pg. 243-244)

He summarizes, “The evolution of the horse family was definitely not orthogenetic… There was, for instance, no constant and over-all increase in size. Most recent horses are larger than most ancient horses, but when the history is examined in detail it shows that there have been long periods when no increase in size occurred and also several branches of horse evolution in which the animals became markedly smaller, not larger. The feet did not steadily change from four toes to three and then to one… toe reduction… from three to one was not a continuation of a previous trend… but was a change in evolutionary direction, a new development that occurred at just one time and in only one group of horses. And so it goes for all the changes that have occurred in the history of the family; not one of them shows the constant, guided change in a single direction that is demanded by the theory of orthogenesis [i.e., evolution proceeds in a unilinear fashion]. In reality, the horse family goes far to disprove that theory, and when other supposed examples of orthogenesis are examined with similar care they, too, are found to be opposed to the reality of orthogenesis in any strict sense.” (Pg. 270-271)

Although nearly 65 years old, this book still contains much illuminating information about the evolutionary directions of horses.


Horses (The Natural History Library)
Horses (The Natural History Library)
by George Gaylord Simpson
Edition: Paperback
2 used & new from $5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars THE FAMED PALEONTOLOGIST LOOKS AT HORSES, AND THEIR EVOLUTION, August 2, 2015
George Gaylord Simpson (1902-1984) was one of the most influential American paleontologists of the twentieth century. His major works include Tempo and Mode in Evolution, The Major Features of Evolution, This View of Life: The World of an Evolutionist, The Meaning of Evolution, etc.

He wrote in the Introduction to this 1951 book, “This is a book about horses as animals… the center of interest is to be the animal and not its use… An important reason why horses are so fascinating … is that they are such representative animals. From horses we may learn not only about the horse itself but also about animals in general, indeed about ourselves and about life as a whole, its history and characteristics. The aim of this book is not only to present the members of the horse family, but also to present an introduction to the study of animals and of life, with horses providing concrete and excellent examples...” (Pg. xxxii) He adds, “The story of the horse family provides one of the best means for studying the how and why of evolution.” (Pg. xxxiv)

[NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 324-page Doubleday paperback edition.]

He points out, “This early work [by T.H. Huxley and Vladimir Kovalevsky] carried the story almost as far as was possible in Europe. The fact is, as we now know, that the central lines of horse evolution did not occur on that continent. Huxley and Kovalevsky were perfectly right in listing these genera as successive stages of evolution among the relatives of the horses, but the three earlier forms were not directly ancestral to Equus and belong on three different offshoots from the direct ancestry. The first was a side branch that evolved in the Old World and the other two had migrated successively from the distant region where direct descent to Equus was occurring. This sort of thing happened frequently in the course of evolution and is responsible for series of structural stages which lack the actual ancestral-descendant transitional links. The transition can only be filled in by preservation and discovery of fossils in the region where the main evolutionary line was developing.” (Pg. 117)

He observes, “After Miohippus the history of the horse became considerably more complicated. It is no longer a matter of following what appears to be a single great lineage as in the American HyracotheriumOrohippusEpihippusMesohippusMiohippus sequence. Now the horses tend once more to split up into various different groups which evolved separately and in somewhat different ways… It is sad that this introduces possible confusion into the story, but there is not much point in criticizing nature for something that happened millions of years ago. It would also be foolish to try to ignore the complications, which did occur and which are a very important part of the record. Most accounts of horse evolution have simplified the situation to the point of deliberately falsifying it. Let us here face the facts of the record and try to follow them as clearly as possible but without misleading omissions.” (Pg. 166-168)

He notes, “The extinction of horses over the whole of North and South America, where they had roamed in vast herds during the Pleistocene, is one of the most mysterious episodes of animal history. There is no doubt about the fact, but the reason for it is doubtful to say the least. There has been no lack of speculation and a dozen possible explanations have been suggested, but all of these lack evidence and none is really satisfactory… This seems at present one of the situations in which we must be humble and honest and admit that we do not know the answer… The general cause of extinction … must have been the occurrence of changes to which the animal populations could not adapt themselves. But what precisely were those changes? And why could not the horses … adapt to them, while many other groups of animals could?” (Pg. 198, 200)

He states, “The most convincing feature of the horse family as evidence of evolution is that throughout most of their history the variations demonstrated in collections of successive ages overlap: the ancestral and descendant populations intergrade completely in this way. There is still one gap where overlap is not quite complete… and there are some other points where more material is needed on the level of relatively unimportant details in regard to species, but the sequence is now so well represented that it leaves no doubt whatsoever about the main fact in the mind of anyone who studies it extensively. The history of the horse family is still one of the clearest and most convincing for showing that organisms really have evolved, for demonstrating that, so to speak, an onion can turn into a lily” (Pg. 224)

He says, “Increase in the relative size of the teeth, change in type of pattern, complication of pattern, and increase in crown height all occurred in horses and were the main changes in their teeth. They did not all occur in the same way or at the same time in different lines if descent, or at a constant rate at any one line… It should also be emphasized that, although these adaptive features explain the main changes in the teeth, they do not explain all the fluctuations and changes in details. Minor differences in pattern characteristic of closely allied genera and species seem in some cases to have no particular adaptive value and to have arisen at random. These irregularities in horse evolution have commonly been overlooked or undervalued, and the bearing of the evidence on the principles of evolution has therefore sometimes been misunderstood.” (Pg. 243-244)

He summarizes, “The evolution of the horse family was definitely not orthogenetic… There was, for instance, no constant and over-all increase in size. Most recent horses are larger than most ancient horses, but when the history is examined in detail it shows that there have been long periods when no increase in size occurred and also several branches of horse evolution in which the animals became markedly smaller, not larger. The feet did not steadily change from four toes to three and then to one… toe reduction… from three to one was not a continuation of a previous trend… but was a change in evolutionary direction, a new development that occurred at just one time and in only one group of horses. And so it goes for all the changes that have occurred in the history of the family; not one of them shows the constant, guided change in a single direction that is demanded by the theory of orthogenesis [i.e., evolution proceeds in a unilinear fashion]. In reality, the horse family goes far to disprove that theory, and when other supposed examples of orthogenesis are examined with similar care they, too, are found to be opposed to the reality of orthogenesis in any strict sense.” (Pg. 270-271)

Although nearly 65 years old, this book still contains much illuminating information about the evolutionary directions of horses.


Paths From Science Towards God: The End of all Our Exploring by Peacocke, Arthur (2001) Paperback
Paths From Science Towards God: The End of all Our Exploring by Peacocke, Arthur (2001) Paperback
by Arthur Peacocke
Edition: Paperback
8 used & new from $20.90

5.0 out of 5 stars A PRIEST AND BIOCHEMIST PROVIDES AN “OVERVIEW AND JUDGEMENT” OF SCIENCE AND THEOLOGY, August 2, 2015
Arthur Robert Peacocke (1924 – 2006) was an Anglican priest, theologian, and biochemist. He wrote many other books, such as Theology for a Scientific Age: Being and Becoming-Natural, Divine and Human, Paths From Science Towards God: The End of all Our Exploring, Creation and the World of Science: The Re-Shaping of Belief, All That Is: A Naturalistic Faith for the Twenty-First Century, Evolution: The Disguised Friend of Faith?, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to this 2001 book, “For myself---nearly thirty years after taking the plunge from a full-time scientific career into the turbulent stream of science-and-religion---this seems an appropriate point at which to survey where we are in our explorations from the world of science towards God. There are particular issues about which I have written in the past that I need to revisit… and I would like to fine-tune what I have written elsewhere… I also want to offer the general reader a broad perspective on where lines of investigation proved to be dead ends and where I think other lines promise to be more fruitful. So I hope the book will prove to be a useful overview and judgement on the field of science-and-theology by one who has been much involved in its explosive and dynamic growth over the last thirty years.” (Pg. xiv-xv)

He continues, “The broad aim of this book is to expound how science has opened up fresh vistas on God for human perception and life. All religious thinking, and notably Christian theology, is challenged by these new vistas, which afford a unique opportunity to weld together the human search for meaning through religion and the human quest for intelligibility through science… The modes of inquiry that characterize the theological enterprise have an unfavorable academic reputation compared with those of science… It therefore behooves theology to attempt to satisfy the proper demand for reasonableness by inferring the best explanation of the variety of data available. In this book I make a preliminary examination of the implications of this for theology.” (Pg. xvi-xvii)

He explains in the first chapter, “The impact of science is primarily a challenge to theology, which is concerned with the articulation and justification of religious assertions about God and about God’s relation to nature and humanity. This will be the centre of our concerns here. Not that the application of science, especially at present the biological sciences, does not raise profound ethical issues and have implications for the practice, norms and injunctions of religious communities---but that will not be the focus of this work.” (Pg. 15)

He notes, “The bridge model for science-and-theology must go, and be replaced by that of a joint exploration by IBE [“Inference to the Best Explanation”] into a common reality, some aspects of which will prove, in the end, to be ultimate---and pointer to the divine. Let us now look at how theology is actually practiced… What do we find? A variety of theological procedures that do not meet the above criteria: 1. Reliance on an authoritative book. ‘The Bible says.’ Even those not given to biblical literalism and fundamentalism still have a habit of treating the contents of the Bible… as a kind of oracle, as if quotations from past authorities could settle questions in our times… 2. Reliance on an authoritative community: ‘The Church says.’ … Here the religious community listens and talks only to itself… 3. Reliance on a priori truth: In some forms of philosophical theology, the internal ‘truths’ held by the Christian community are regarded almost as basic a priori truths arrived at by pure ratiocination… Clearly, such a theology would find it very difficult to come to terms with the world whose realities are discovered by the sciences.” (Pg. 30-32)

He suggests, “We should aim... To be explicit when our language is metaphorical, and not be afraid to be agnostic when the evidence does not warrant positive assertions… Not to be selective of our science, choosing the parts favourable to our theologies… Not to claim for theology credibility based on its long history---it has to meet today’s challenge… To recognize that much religious language is functional in society rather than referential, as it should be in theology.” (Pg. 34-35)

He asserts, “The best explanation to be inferred from the very existence of the world and of the fundamental laws of physics which it instantiates is that the whole process, with all its emerging entities, is grounded in some other reality which is the source of its actual existence. Such a reality… must be self-existent, the only reality with the source of its being in itself, the Ground of Being… That such an Ultimate Reality is and was and always will be is, I am urging, the best explanation of the very existence of all-that-is… But what this Other, this Ultimate Reality, is is bound to be inexpressible and of a nature that, by definition, can be referred to only by metaphor, model, analogy and extrapolation.” (Pg. 39-40)

He asks, “But WHY should the world possess this embedded rationality amenable to the most comprehensive analysis of which the human mind is capable … the Ultimate Reality, must possess something akin to, but far surpassing, human rationality---must be supremely and unsurpassedly rational.” (Pg. 41) He adds, “this Ultimate Reality…must be … a diversity-in-unity, a Being of unfathomable richness… omniscient; omnipotent; omnipresent and eternal; and at least personal or supra-personal. In English the name of this existent is ‘God’…” (Pg. 43)

He admits, “God has to be conceived of as relating to the continuously unfolding panorama of events and entities at all levels and so to have changing relations with them… In this regard, God is not immutable or timeless. However… God can be regarded as unchanging in purpose and disposition towards creation… this tradition has looked forward to a state in cosmic history in which time as we know it will cease and in which God’s purposes for the created order and for humanity will be consummated… What this consummation … might consist in has been the subject of much speculation… I prefer to be judiciously agnostic about its nature and to rely entirely on the character of God… for the source of Christian hope rests only on the steadfastness and faithfulness of the God who is revealed as Love.” (Pg. 47-48)

He endorses Panentheism, which “is the belief that the Being of God includes and penetrates all-that-is, so that every part of it exists in God and… God’s Being is more than it and is not exhausted by it… The problem of God’s interaction with the world, if not the intractable problem of evil, is illuminated by such a panentheistic understanding of God’s relation to the world… God is the immanent creator creating in and through the processes of the natural order.” (Pg. 57-58) Much later, he adds, “the panentheistic model allows one to combine a strengthened emphasis on the immanence of God in the world with God’s ultimate transcendence over it… it is also more consistent with those reflections on the implications of scientific perspectives…” (Pg. 141)

He argues, “God is omniscient, with only a probabilistic knowledge of the outcomes of some events. Clearly this postulate depends on the belief that God also does not know the future… God can only do what is consistent with God’s nature as Love. The will of created human beings is free so that, in particular, God has let Godself not have coercive power over human actions… God is omnipotent, but self-limited by God’s nature as love.” (Pg. 59)

He asks, “hundreds of millions (if not billions) of species have come and gone… is it permissible to regard these myriads of species other than Homo sapiens … as simply byproducts in a process aimed at producing human beings? Or do they have value to God as Creator in and for themselves?... surely we now have to escape from our anthropocentric myopia and affirm that God as Creator takes what we can only call delight in the rich variety and individuality of other organisms for their own sake… We have here the basis for an eco-theology that grounds the value of all living creatures in their distinctive value to God for their own sake and not just as stages en route to humanity and as resources for human exploitation.” (Pg. 72-73)

He says, “the believer in God as Creator has to view biological evolution through natural selection, and other operating processes, as simply the means whereby God has been, and is, creating. God does not make things, but makes things who make themselves. Their existence is inherently transformative.” (Pg. 75) Later, he adds, “there is no need to postulate any special action---any non-natural agent pushing, or pulling, or luring by, say, some divine manipulation of mutations at the quantum level---to ensure that persons emerge in the universe, and in particular on Earth. Not to coin a phrase, ‘I have no need of that hypothesis.’” (Pg. 83)

He addresses the problem of evil: “there are inherent constraints on how even an omnipotent Creator… could bring about the existence of a law-like creation that is to be a cosmos and not a chaos… the ubiquity of pain, predation, suffering and death… entails, for any concept of God to be morally acceptable and coherent … that God suffers in, with and under the creative processes of the world with their costly unfolding in time… God purposes to bring about a greater good thereby, namely, the kingdom of free-willing, loving persons in communion with God and with each other.” (Pg. 85-86)

He contends, “the postulate of the kind of God here depicted… is still only the best explanation. One cannot deny the existence of other possible, competing explanations… However, I do argue that the proposed inferences about God, if taken together, are cumulative in their effect and make a more convincing case than any of the rival explanations---especially that of atheism… which asserts… that the world just happens to be rational and to display the emergence in and from matter of persons who possess values and creativity.” (Pg. 130-131)

He proposes, “to be truly evangelical and catholic in its impact and function, the church of the new millennium will need a theology that… will have to be more genuinely open, radical and liberal. For such a Christian theology to have any viability, it may well have to be stripped down to newly conceived basic essentials. Only then will Christian theology … command respect as a PUBLIC truth.” (Pg. 133) He adds, “Jesus represents the consummation of the evolutionary creative process that God has been effecting in and through the world of matter.” (Pg. 148)

He also acknowledges, “I prefer to be non-assertive about the nature of any differentiation within the divine Being and Becoming, willing to accept that it is threefold but not to speculate about the relationship of the three to each other. The triple nature of Christian experience certainly points to a threefoldness in the modes of Being and Becoming of God, but I prefer to remain reticent about any more positive, ontological affirmations concerning the, by definition, ineffable and inaccessible Godhead.” (Pg. 167-168)

Theologically conservative Christians may be dismayed by a number of Peacocke’s positions; but more theologically “progressive” persons may find a great deal to ponder and appreciate in his books.


Paths from Science Towards God: The End of All Our Exploring by Peacocke, Arthur [Oneworld, 2001] (Paperback) [Paperback]
Paths from Science Towards God: The End of All Our Exploring by Peacocke, Arthur [Oneworld, 2001] (Paperback) [Paperback]
by Peacocke
Edition: Paperback
10 used & new from $26.58

5.0 out of 5 stars A PRIEST AND BIOCHEMIST PROVIDES AN “OVERVIEW AND JUDGEMENT” OF SCIENCE AND THEOLOGY, August 2, 2015
Arthur Robert Peacocke (1924 – 2006) was an Anglican priest, theologian, and biochemist. He wrote many other books, such as Theology for a Scientific Age: Being and Becoming-Natural, Divine and Human, Paths From Science Towards God: The End of all Our Exploring, Creation and the World of Science: The Re-Shaping of Belief, All That Is: A Naturalistic Faith for the Twenty-First Century, Evolution: The Disguised Friend of Faith?, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to this 2001 book, “For myself---nearly thirty years after taking the plunge from a full-time scientific career into the turbulent stream of science-and-religion---this seems an appropriate point at which to survey where we are in our explorations from the world of science towards God. There are particular issues about which I have written in the past that I need to revisit… and I would like to fine-tune what I have written elsewhere… I also want to offer the general reader a broad perspective on where lines of investigation proved to be dead ends and where I think other lines promise to be more fruitful. So I hope the book will prove to be a useful overview and judgement on the field of science-and-theology by one who has been much involved in its explosive and dynamic growth over the last thirty years.” (Pg. xiv-xv)

He continues, “The broad aim of this book is to expound how science has opened up fresh vistas on God for human perception and life. All religious thinking, and notably Christian theology, is challenged by these new vistas, which afford a unique opportunity to weld together the human search for meaning through religion and the human quest for intelligibility through science… The modes of inquiry that characterize the theological enterprise have an unfavorable academic reputation compared with those of science… It therefore behooves theology to attempt to satisfy the proper demand for reasonableness by inferring the best explanation of the variety of data available. In this book I make a preliminary examination of the implications of this for theology.” (Pg. xvi-xvii)

He explains in the first chapter, “The impact of science is primarily a challenge to theology, which is concerned with the articulation and justification of religious assertions about God and about God’s relation to nature and humanity. This will be the centre of our concerns here. Not that the application of science, especially at present the biological sciences, does not raise profound ethical issues and have implications for the practice, norms and injunctions of religious communities---but that will not be the focus of this work.” (Pg. 15)

He notes, “The bridge model for science-and-theology must go, and be replaced by that of a joint exploration by IBE [“Inference to the Best Explanation”] into a common reality, some aspects of which will prove, in the end, to be ultimate---and pointer to the divine. Let us now look at how theology is actually practiced… What do we find? A variety of theological procedures that do not meet the above criteria: 1. Reliance on an authoritative book. ‘The Bible says.’ Even those not given to biblical literalism and fundamentalism still have a habit of treating the contents of the Bible… as a kind of oracle, as if quotations from past authorities could settle questions in our times… 2. Reliance on an authoritative community: ‘The Church says.’ … Here the religious community listens and talks only to itself… 3. Reliance on a priori truth: In some forms of philosophical theology, the internal ‘truths’ held by the Christian community are regarded almost as basic a priori truths arrived at by pure ratiocination… Clearly, such a theology would find it very difficult to come to terms with the world whose realities are discovered by the sciences.” (Pg. 30-32)

He suggests, “We should aim... To be explicit when our language is metaphorical, and not be afraid to be agnostic when the evidence does not warrant positive assertions… Not to be selective of our science, choosing the parts favourable to our theologies… Not to claim for theology credibility based on its long history---it has to meet today’s challenge… To recognize that much religious language is functional in society rather than referential, as it should be in theology.” (Pg. 34-35)

He asserts, “The best explanation to be inferred from the very existence of the world and of the fundamental laws of physics which it instantiates is that the whole process, with all its emerging entities, is grounded in some other reality which is the source of its actual existence. Such a reality… must be self-existent, the only reality with the source of its being in itself, the Ground of Being… That such an Ultimate Reality is and was and always will be is, I am urging, the best explanation of the very existence of all-that-is… But what this Other, this Ultimate Reality, is is bound to be inexpressible and of a nature that, by definition, can be referred to only by metaphor, model, analogy and extrapolation.” (Pg. 39-40)

He asks, “But WHY should the world possess this embedded rationality amenable to the most comprehensive analysis of which the human mind is capable … the Ultimate Reality, must possess something akin to, but far surpassing, human rationality---must be supremely and unsurpassedly rational.” (Pg. 41) He adds, “this Ultimate Reality…must be … a diversity-in-unity, a Being of unfathomable richness… omniscient; omnipotent; omnipresent and eternal; and at least personal or supra-personal. In English the name of this existent is ‘God’…” (Pg. 43)

He admits, “God has to be conceived of as relating to the continuously unfolding panorama of events and entities at all levels and so to have changing relations with them… In this regard, God is not immutable or timeless. However… God can be regarded as unchanging in purpose and disposition towards creation… this tradition has looked forward to a state in cosmic history in which time as we know it will cease and in which God’s purposes for the created order and for humanity will be consummated… What this consummation … might consist in has been the subject of much speculation… I prefer to be judiciously agnostic about its nature and to rely entirely on the character of God… for the source of Christian hope rests only on the steadfastness and faithfulness of the God who is revealed as Love.” (Pg. 47-48)

He endorses Panentheism, which “is the belief that the Being of God includes and penetrates all-that-is, so that every part of it exists in God and… God’s Being is more than it and is not exhausted by it… The problem of God’s interaction with the world, if not the intractable problem of evil, is illuminated by such a panentheistic understanding of God’s relation to the world… God is the immanent creator creating in and through the processes of the natural order.” (Pg. 57-58) Much later, he adds, “the panentheistic model allows one to combine a strengthened emphasis on the immanence of God in the world with God’s ultimate transcendence over it… it is also more consistent with those reflections on the implications of scientific perspectives…” (Pg. 141)

He argues, “God is omniscient, with only a probabilistic knowledge of the outcomes of some events. Clearly this postulate depends on the belief that God also does not know the future… God can only do what is consistent with God’s nature as Love. The will of created human beings is free so that, in particular, God has let Godself not have coercive power over human actions… God is omnipotent, but self-limited by God’s nature as love.” (Pg. 59)

He asks, “hundreds of millions (if not billions) of species have come and gone… is it permissible to regard these myriads of species other than Homo sapiens … as simply byproducts in a process aimed at producing human beings? Or do they have value to God as Creator in and for themselves?... surely we now have to escape from our anthropocentric myopia and affirm that God as Creator takes what we can only call delight in the rich variety and individuality of other organisms for their own sake… We have here the basis for an eco-theology that grounds the value of all living creatures in their distinctive value to God for their own sake and not just as stages en route to humanity and as resources for human exploitation.” (Pg. 72-73)

He says, “the believer in God as Creator has to view biological evolution through natural selection, and other operating processes, as simply the means whereby God has been, and is, creating. God does not make things, but makes things who make themselves. Their existence is inherently transformative.” (Pg. 75) Later, he adds, “there is no need to postulate any special action---any non-natural agent pushing, or pulling, or luring by, say, some divine manipulation of mutations at the quantum level---to ensure that persons emerge in the universe, and in particular on Earth. Not to coin a phrase, ‘I have no need of that hypothesis.’” (Pg. 83)

He addresses the problem of evil: “there are inherent constraints on how even an omnipotent Creator… could bring about the existence of a law-like creation that is to be a cosmos and not a chaos… the ubiquity of pain, predation, suffering and death… entails, for any concept of God to be morally acceptable and coherent … that God suffers in, with and under the creative processes of the world with their costly unfolding in time… God purposes to bring about a greater good thereby, namely, the kingdom of free-willing, loving persons in communion with God and with each other.” (Pg. 85-86)

He contends, “the postulate of the kind of God here depicted… is still only the best explanation. One cannot deny the existence of other possible, competing explanations… However, I do argue that the proposed inferences about God, if taken together, are cumulative in their effect and make a more convincing case than any of the rival explanations---especially that of atheism… which asserts… that the world just happens to be rational and to display the emergence in and from matter of persons who possess values and creativity.” (Pg. 130-131)

He proposes, “to be truly evangelical and catholic in its impact and function, the church of the new millennium will need a theology that… will have to be more genuinely open, radical and liberal. For such a Christian theology to have any viability, it may well have to be stripped down to newly conceived basic essentials. Only then will Christian theology … command respect as a PUBLIC truth.” (Pg. 133) He adds, “Jesus represents the consummation of the evolutionary creative process that God has been effecting in and through the world of matter.” (Pg. 148)

He also acknowledges, “I prefer to be non-assertive about the nature of any differentiation within the divine Being and Becoming, willing to accept that it is threefold but not to speculate about the relationship of the three to each other. The triple nature of Christian experience certainly points to a threefoldness in the modes of Being and Becoming of God, but I prefer to remain reticent about any more positive, ontological affirmations concerning the, by definition, ineffable and inaccessible Godhead.” (Pg. 167-168)

Theologically conservative Christians may be dismayed by a number of Peacocke’s positions; but more theologically “progressive” persons may find a great deal to ponder and appreciate in his books.


Paths from Science Towards God: The End of All Our Exploring (Paperback) - Common
Paths from Science Towards God: The End of All Our Exploring (Paperback) - Common
by Arthur R. Peacocke
Edition: Paperback
12 used & new from $13.39

5.0 out of 5 stars A PRIEST AND BIOCHEMIST PROVIDES AN “OVERVIEW AND JUDGEMENT” OF SCIENCE AND THEOLOGY, August 2, 2015
Arthur Robert Peacocke (1924–2006) was an Anglican priest, theologian, and biochemist. He wrote many other books, such as Theology for a Scientific Age: Being and Becoming-Natural, Divine and Human, Paths From Science Towards God: The End of all Our Exploring, Creation and the World of Science: The Re-Shaping of Belief, All That Is: A Naturalistic Faith for the Twenty-First Century, Evolution: The Disguised Friend of Faith?, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to this 2001 book, “For myself---nearly thirty years after taking the plunge from a full-time scientific career into the turbulent stream of science-and-religion---this seems an appropriate point at which to survey where we are in our explorations from the world of science towards God. There are particular issues about which I have written in the past that I need to revisit… and I would like to fine-tune what I have written elsewhere… I also want to offer the general reader a broad perspective on where lines of investigation proved to be dead ends and where I think other lines promise to be more fruitful. So I hope the book will prove to be a useful overview and judgement on the field of science-and-theology by one who has been much involved in its explosive and dynamic growth over the last thirty years.” (Pg. xiv-xv)

He continues, “The broad aim of this book is to expound how science has opened up fresh vistas on God for human perception and life. All religious thinking, and notably Christian theology, is challenged by these new vistas, which afford a unique opportunity to weld together the human search for meaning through religion and the human quest for intelligibility through science… The modes of inquiry that characterize the theological enterprise have an unfavorable academic reputation compared with those of science… It therefore behooves theology to attempt to satisfy the proper demand for reasonableness by inferring the best explanation of the variety of data available. In this book I make a preliminary examination of the implications of this for theology.” (Pg. xvi-xvii)

He explains in the first chapter, “The impact of science is primarily a challenge to theology, which is concerned with the articulation and justification of religious assertions about God and about God’s relation to nature and humanity. This will be the centre of our concerns here. Not that the application of science, especially at present the biological sciences, does not raise profound ethical issues and have implications for the practice, norms and injunctions of religious communities---but that will not be the focus of this work.” (Pg. 15)

He notes, “The bridge model for science-and-theology must go, and be replaced by that of a joint exploration by IBE [“Inference to the Best Explanation”] into a common reality, some aspects of which will prove, in the end, to be ultimate---and pointer to the divine. Let us now look at how theology is actually practiced… What do we find? A variety of theological procedures that do not meet the above criteria: 1. Reliance on an authoritative book. ‘The Bible says.’ Even those not given to biblical literalism and fundamentalism still have a habit of treating the contents of the Bible… as a kind of oracle, as if quotations from past authorities could settle questions in our times… 2. Reliance on an authoritative community: ‘The Church says.’ … Here the religious community listens and talks only to itself… 3. Reliance on a priori truth: In some forms of philosophical theology, the internal ‘truths’ held by the Christian community are regarded almost as basic a priori truths arrived at by pure ratiocination… Clearly, such a theology would find it very difficult to come to terms with the world whose realities are discovered by the sciences.” (Pg. 30-32)

He suggests, “We should aim... To be explicit when our language is metaphorical, and not be afraid to be agnostic when the evidence does not warrant positive assertions… Not to be selective of our science, choosing the parts favourable to our theologies… Not to claim for theology credibility based on its long history---it has to meet today’s challenge… To recognize that much religious language is functional in society rather than referential, as it should be in theology.” (Pg. 34-35)

He asserts, “The best explanation to be inferred from the very existence of the world and of the fundamental laws of physics which it instantiates is that the whole process, with all its emerging entities, is grounded in some other reality which is the source of its actual existence. Such a reality… must be self-existent, the only reality with the source of its being in itself, the Ground of Being… That such an Ultimate Reality is and was and always will be is, I am urging, the best explanation of the very existence of all-that-is… But what this Other, this Ultimate Reality, is is bound to be inexpressible and of a nature that, by definition, can be referred to only by metaphor, model, analogy and extrapolation.” (Pg. 39-40)

He asks, “But WHY should the world possess this embedded rationality amenable to the most comprehensive analysis of which the human mind is capable … the Ultimate Reality, must possess something akin to, but far surpassing, human rationality---must be supremely and unsurpassedly rational.” (Pg. 41) He adds, “this Ultimate Reality…must be … a diversity-in-unity, a Being of unfathomable richness… omniscient; omnipotent; omnipresent and eternal; and at least personal or supra-personal. In English the name of this existent is ‘God’…” (Pg. 43)

He admits, “God has to be conceived of as relating to the continuously unfolding panorama of events and entities at all levels and so to have changing relations with them… In this regard, God is not immutable or timeless. However… God can be regarded as unchanging in purpose and disposition towards creation… this tradition has looked forward to a state in cosmic history in which time as we know it will cease and in which God’s purposes for the created order and for humanity will be consummated… What this consummation … might consist in has been the subject of much speculation… I prefer to be judiciously agnostic about its nature and to rely entirely on the character of God… for the source of Christian hope rests only on the steadfastness and faithfulness of the God who is revealed as Love.” (Pg. 47-48)

He endorses Panentheism, which “is the belief that the Being of God includes and penetrates all-that-is, so that every part of it exists in God and… God’s Being is more than it and is not exhausted by it… The problem of God’s interaction with the world, if not the intractable problem of evil, is illuminated by such a panentheistic understanding of God’s relation to the world… God is the immanent creator creating in and through the processes of the natural order.” (Pg. 57-58) Much later, he adds, “the panentheistic model allows one to combine a strengthened emphasis on the immanence of God in the world with God’s ultimate transcendence over it… it is also more consistent with those reflections on the implications of scientific perspectives…” (Pg. 141)

He argues, “God is omniscient, with only a probabilistic knowledge of the outcomes of some events. Clearly this postulate depends on the belief that God also does not know the future… God can only do what is consistent with God’s nature as Love. The will of created human beings is free so that, in particular, God has let Godself not have coercive power over human actions… God is omnipotent, but self-limited by God’s nature as love.” (Pg. 59)

He asks, “hundreds of millions (if not billions) of species have come and gone… is it permissible to regard these myriads of species other than Homo sapiens … as simply byproducts in a process aimed at producing human beings? Or do they have value to God as Creator in and for themselves?... surely we now have to escape from our anthropocentric myopia and affirm that God as Creator takes what we can only call delight in the rich variety and individuality of other organisms for their own sake… We have here the basis for an eco-theology that grounds the value of all living creatures in their distinctive value to God for their own sake and not just as stages en route to humanity and as resources for human exploitation.” (Pg. 72-73)

He says, “the believer in God as Creator has to view biological evolution through natural selection, and other operating processes, as simply the means whereby God has been, and is, creating. God does not make things, but makes things who make themselves. Their existence is inherently transformative.” (Pg. 75) Later, he adds, “there is no need to postulate any special action---any non-natural agent pushing, or pulling, or luring by, say, some divine manipulation of mutations at the quantum level---to ensure that persons emerge in the universe, and in particular on Earth. Not to coin a phrase, ‘I have no need of that hypothesis.’” (Pg. 83)

He addresses the problem of evil: “there are inherent constraints on how even an omnipotent Creator… could bring about the existence of a law-like creation that is to be a cosmos and not a chaos… the ubiquity of pain, predation, suffering and death… entails, for any concept of God to be morally acceptable and coherent … that God suffers in, with and under the creative processes of the world with their costly unfolding in time… God purposes to bring about a greater good thereby, namely, the kingdom of free-willing, loving persons in communion with God and with each other.” (Pg. 85-86)

He contends, “the postulate of the kind of God here depicted… is still only the best explanation. One cannot deny the existence of other possible, competing explanations… However, I do argue that the proposed inferences about God, if taken together, are cumulative in their effect and make a more convincing case than any of the rival explanations---especially that of atheism… which asserts… that the world just happens to be rational and to display the emergence in and from matter of persons who possess values and creativity.” (Pg. 130-131)

He proposes, “to be truly evangelical and catholic in its impact and function, the church of the new millennium will need a theology that… will have to be more genuinely open, radical and liberal. For such a Christian theology to have any viability, it may well have to be stripped down to newly conceived basic essentials. Only then will Christian theology … command respect as a PUBLIC truth.” (Pg. 133) He adds, “Jesus represents the consummation of the evolutionary creative process that God has been effecting in and through the world of matter.” (Pg. 148)

He also acknowledges, “I prefer to be non-assertive about the nature of any differentiation within the divine Being and Becoming, willing to accept that it is threefold but not to speculate about the relationship of the three to each other. The triple nature of Christian experience certainly points to a threefoldness in the modes of Being and Becoming of God, but I prefer to remain reticent about any more positive, ontological affirmations concerning the, by definition, ineffable and inaccessible Godhead.” (Pg. 167-168)

Theologically conservative Christians may be dismayed by a number of Peacocke’s positions; but more theologically “progressive” persons may find a great deal to ponder and appreciate in his books.


By Arthur Peacocke Paths From Science Towards God: The End of all Our Exploring (First)
By Arthur Peacocke Paths From Science Towards God: The End of all Our Exploring (First)
by Arthur R. Peacocke
Edition: Paperback
8 used & new from $26.58

5.0 out of 5 stars There are particular issues about which I have written in the past that I need to revisit… and I would like to fine-tune what I, August 2, 2015
Arthur Robert Peacocke (1924–2006) was an Anglican priest, theologian, and biochemist. He wrote many other books, such as Theology for a Scientific Age: Being and Becoming-Natural, Divine and Human, Paths From Science Towards God: The End of all Our Exploring, Creation and the World of Science: The Re-Shaping of Belief, All That Is: A Naturalistic Faith for the Twenty-First Century, Evolution: The Disguised Friend of Faith?, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to this 2001 book, “For myself---nearly thirty years after taking the plunge from a full-time scientific career into the turbulent stream of science-and-religion---this seems an appropriate point at which to survey where we are in our explorations from the world of science towards God. There are particular issues about which I have written in the past that I need to revisit… and I would like to fine-tune what I have written elsewhere… I also want to offer the general reader a broad perspective on where lines of investigation proved to be dead ends and where I think other lines promise to be more fruitful. So I hope the book will prove to be a useful overview and judgement on the field of science-and-theology by one who has been much involved in its explosive and dynamic growth over the last thirty years.” (Pg. xiv-xv)

He continues, “The broad aim of this book is to expound how science has opened up fresh vistas on God for human perception and life. All religious thinking, and notably Christian theology, is challenged by these new vistas, which afford a unique opportunity to weld together the human search for meaning through religion and the human quest for intelligibility through science… The modes of inquiry that characterize the theological enterprise have an unfavorable academic reputation compared with those of science… It therefore behooves theology to attempt to satisfy the proper demand for reasonableness by inferring the best explanation of the variety of data available. In this book I make a preliminary examination of the implications of this for theology.” (Pg. xvi-xvii)

He explains in the first chapter, “The impact of science is primarily a challenge to theology, which is concerned with the articulation and justification of religious assertions about God and about God’s relation to nature and humanity. This will be the centre of our concerns here. Not that the application of science, especially at present the biological sciences, does not raise profound ethical issues and have implications for the practice, norms and injunctions of religious communities---but that will not be the focus of this work.” (Pg. 15)

He notes, “The bridge model for science-and-theology must go, and be replaced by that of a joint exploration by IBE [“Inference to the Best Explanation”] into a common reality, some aspects of which will prove, in the end, to be ultimate---and pointer to the divine. Let us now look at how theology is actually practiced… What do we find? A variety of theological procedures that do not meet the above criteria: 1. Reliance on an authoritative book. ‘The Bible says.’ Even those not given to biblical literalism and fundamentalism still have a habit of treating the contents of the Bible… as a kind of oracle, as if quotations from past authorities could settle questions in our times… 2. Reliance on an authoritative community: ‘The Church says.’ … Here the religious community listens and talks only to itself… 3. Reliance on a priori truth: In some forms of philosophical theology, the internal ‘truths’ held by the Christian community are regarded almost as basic a priori truths arrived at by pure ratiocination… Clearly, such a theology would find it very difficult to come to terms with the world whose realities are discovered by the sciences.” (Pg. 30-32)

He suggests, “We should aim... To be explicit when our language is metaphorical, and not be afraid to be agnostic when the evidence does not warrant positive assertions… Not to be selective of our science, choosing the parts favourable to our theologies… Not to claim for theology credibility based on its long history---it has to meet today’s challenge… To recognize that much religious language is functional in society rather than referential, as it should be in theology.” (Pg. 34-35)

He asserts, “The best explanation to be inferred from the very existence of the world and of the fundamental laws of physics which it instantiates is that the whole process, with all its emerging entities, is grounded in some other reality which is the source of its actual existence. Such a reality… must be self-existent, the only reality with the source of its being in itself, the Ground of Being… That such an Ultimate Reality is and was and always will be is, I am urging, the best explanation of the very existence of all-that-is… But what this Other, this Ultimate Reality, is is bound to be inexpressible and of a nature that, by definition, can be referred to only by metaphor, model, analogy and extrapolation.” (Pg. 39-40)

He asks, “But WHY should the world possess this embedded rationality amenable to the most comprehensive analysis of which the human mind is capable … the Ultimate Reality, must possess something akin to, but far surpassing, human rationality---must be supremely and unsurpassedly rational.” (Pg. 41) He adds, “this Ultimate Reality…must be … a diversity-in-unity, a Being of unfathomable richness… omniscient; omnipotent; omnipresent and eternal; and at least personal or supra-personal. In English the name of this existent is ‘God’…” (Pg. 43)

He admits, “God has to be conceived of as relating to the continuously unfolding panorama of events and entities at all levels and so to have changing relations with them… In this regard, God is not immutable or timeless. However… God can be regarded as unchanging in purpose and disposition towards creation… this tradition has looked forward to a state in cosmic history in which time as we know it will cease and in which God’s purposes for the created order and for humanity will be consummated… What this consummation … might consist in has been the subject of much speculation… I prefer to be judiciously agnostic about its nature and to rely entirely on the character of God… for the source of Christian hope rests only on the steadfastness and faithfulness of the God who is revealed as Love.” (Pg. 47-48)

He endorses Panentheism, which “is the belief that the Being of God includes and penetrates all-that-is, so that every part of it exists in God and… God’s Being is more than it and is not exhausted by it… The problem of God’s interaction with the world, if not the intractable problem of evil, is illuminated by such a panentheistic understanding of God’s relation to the world… God is the immanent creator creating in and through the processes of the natural order.” (Pg. 57-58) Much later, he adds, “the panentheistic model allows one to combine a strengthened emphasis on the immanence of God in the world with God’s ultimate transcendence over it… it is also more consistent with those reflections on the implications of scientific perspectives…” (Pg. 141)

He argues, “God is omniscient, with only a probabilistic knowledge of the outcomes of some events. Clearly this postulate depends on the belief that God also does not know the future… God can only do what is consistent with God’s nature as Love. The will of created human beings is free so that, in particular, God has let Godself not have coercive power over human actions… God is omnipotent, but self-limited by God’s nature as love.” (Pg. 59)

He asks, “hundreds of millions (if not billions) of species have come and gone… is it permissible to regard these myriads of species other than Homo sapiens … as simply byproducts in a process aimed at producing human beings? Or do they have value to God as Creator in and for themselves?... surely we now have to escape from our anthropocentric myopia and affirm that God as Creator takes what we can only call delight in the rich variety and individuality of other organisms for their own sake… We have here the basis for an eco-theology that grounds the value of all living creatures in their distinctive value to God for their own sake and not just as stages en route to humanity and as resources for human exploitation.” (Pg. 72-73)

He says, “the believer in God as Creator has to view biological evolution through natural selection, and other operating processes, as simply the means whereby God has been, and is, creating. God does not make things, but makes things who make themselves. Their existence is inherently transformative.” (Pg. 75) Later, he adds, “there is no need to postulate any special action---any non-natural agent pushing, or pulling, or luring by, say, some divine manipulation of mutations at the quantum level---to ensure that persons emerge in the universe, and in particular on Earth. Not to coin a phrase, ‘I have no need of that hypothesis.’” (Pg. 83)

He addresses the problem of evil: “there are inherent constraints on how even an omnipotent Creator… could bring about the existence of a law-like creation that is to be a cosmos and not a chaos… the ubiquity of pain, predation, suffering and death… entails, for any concept of God to be morally acceptable and coherent … that God suffers in, with and under the creative processes of the world with their costly unfolding in time… God purposes to bring about a greater good thereby, namely, the kingdom of free-willing, loving persons in communion with God and with each other.” (Pg. 85-86)

He contends, “the postulate of the kind of God here depicted… is still only the best explanation. One cannot deny the existence of other possible, competing explanations… However, I do argue that the proposed inferences about God, if taken together, are cumulative in their effect and make a more convincing case than any of the rival explanations---especially that of atheism… which asserts… that the world just happens to be rational and to display the emergence in and from matter of persons who possess values and creativity.” (Pg. 130-131)

He proposes, “to be truly evangelical and catholic in its impact and function, the church of the new millennium will need a theology that… will have to be more genuinely open, radical and liberal. For such a Christian theology to have any viability, it may well have to be stripped down to newly conceived basic essentials. Only then will Christian theology … command respect as a PUBLIC truth.” (Pg. 133) He adds, “Jesus represents the consummation of the evolutionary creative process that God has been effecting in and through the world of matter.” (Pg. 148)

He also acknowledges, “I prefer to be non-assertive about the nature of any differentiation within the divine Being and Becoming, willing to accept that it is threefold but not to speculate about the relationship of the three to each other. The triple nature of Christian experience certainly points to a threefoldness in the modes of Being and Becoming of God, but I prefer to remain reticent about any more positive, ontological affirmations concerning the, by definition, ineffable and inaccessible Godhead.” (Pg. 167-168)

Theologically conservative Christians may be dismayed by a number of Peacocke’s positions; but more theologically “progressive” persons may find a great deal to ponder and appreciate in his books.


Paths From Science Towards God: The End of all Our Exploring
Paths From Science Towards God: The End of all Our Exploring
by Arthur Peacocke
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.95
50 used & new from $1.98

5.0 out of 5 stars A PRIEST AND BIOCHEMIST PROVIDES AN “OVERVIEW AND JUDGEMENT” OF SCIENCE AND THEOLOGY, August 2, 2015
Arthur Robert Peacocke (1924-2006) was an Anglican priest, theologian, and biochemist. He wrote many other books, such as Theology for a Scientific Age: Being and Becoming-Natural, Divine and Human, Paths From Science Towards God: The End of all Our Exploring, Creation and the World of Science: The Re-Shaping of Belief, All That Is: A Naturalistic Faith for the Twenty-First Century, Evolution: The Disguised Friend of Faith?, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to this 2001 book, “For myself---nearly thirty years after taking the plunge from a full-time scientific career into the turbulent stream of science-and-religion---this seems an appropriate point at which to survey where we are in our explorations from the world of science towards God. There are particular issues about which I have written in the past that I need to revisit… and I would like to fine-tune what I have written elsewhere… I also want to offer the general reader a broad perspective on where lines of investigation proved to be dead ends and where I think other lines promise to be more fruitful. So I hope the book will prove to be a useful overview and judgement on the field of science-and-theology by one who has been much involved in its explosive and dynamic growth over the last thirty years.” (Pg. xiv-xv)

He continues, “The broad aim of this book is to expound how science has opened up fresh vistas on God for human perception and life. All religious thinking, and notably Christian theology, is challenged by these new vistas, which afford a unique opportunity to weld together the human search for meaning through religion and the human quest for intelligibility through science… The modes of inquiry that characterize the theological enterprise have an unfavorable academic reputation compared with those of science… It therefore behooves theology to attempt to satisfy the proper demand for reasonableness by inferring the best explanation of the variety of data available. In this book I make a preliminary examination of the implications of this for theology.” (Pg. xvi-xvii)

He explains in the first chapter, “The impact of science is primarily a challenge to theology, which is concerned with the articulation and justification of religious assertions about God and about God’s relation to nature and humanity. This will be the centre of our concerns here. Not that the application of science, especially at present the biological sciences, does not raise profound ethical issues and have implications for the practice, norms and injunctions of religious communities---but that will not be the focus of this work.” (Pg. 15)

He notes, “The bridge model for science-and-theology must go, and be replaced by that of a joint exploration by IBE [“Inference to the Best Explanation”] into a common reality, some aspects of which will prove, in the end, to be ultimate---and pointer to the divine. Let us now look at how theology is actually practiced… What do we find? A variety of theological procedures that do not meet the above criteria: 1. Reliance on an authoritative book. ‘The Bible says.’ Even those not given to biblical literalism and fundamentalism still have a habit of treating the contents of the Bible… as a kind of oracle, as if quotations from past authorities could settle questions in our times… 2. Reliance on an authoritative community: ‘The Church says.’ … Here the religious community listens and talks only to itself… 3. Reliance on a priori truth: In some forms of philosophical theology, the internal ‘truths’ held by the Christian community are regarded almost as basic a priori truths arrived at by pure ratiocination… Clearly, such a theology would find it very difficult to come to terms with the world whose realities are discovered by the sciences.” (Pg. 30-32)

He suggests, “We should aim... To be explicit when our language is metaphorical, and not be afraid to be agnostic when the evidence does not warrant positive assertions… Not to be selective of our science, choosing the parts favourable to our theologies… Not to claim for theology credibility based on its long history---it has to meet today’s challenge… To recognize that much religious language is functional in society rather than referential, as it should be in theology.” (Pg. 34-35)

He asserts, “The best explanation to be inferred from the very existence of the world and of the fundamental laws of physics which it instantiates is that the whole process, with all its emerging entities, is grounded in some other reality which is the source of its actual existence. Such a reality… must be self-existent, the only reality with the source of its being in itself, the Ground of Being… That such an Ultimate Reality is and was and always will be is, I am urging, the best explanation of the very existence of all-that-is… But what this Other, this Ultimate Reality, is is bound to be inexpressible and of a nature that, by definition, can be referred to only by metaphor, model, analogy and extrapolation.” (Pg. 39-40)

He asks, “But WHY should the world possess this embedded rationality amenable to the most comprehensive analysis of which the human mind is capable … the Ultimate Reality, must possess something akin to, but far surpassing, human rationality---must be supremely and unsurpassedly rational.” (Pg. 41) He adds, “this Ultimate Reality…must be … a diversity-in-unity, a Being of unfathomable richness… omniscient; omnipotent; omnipresent and eternal; and at least personal or supra-personal. In English the name of this existent is ‘God’…” (Pg. 43)

He admits, “God has to be conceived of as relating to the continuously unfolding panorama of events and entities at all levels and so to have changing relations with them… In this regard, God is not immutable or timeless. However… God can be regarded as unchanging in purpose and disposition towards creation… this tradition has looked forward to a state in cosmic history in which time as we know it will cease and in which God’s purposes for the created order and for humanity will be consummated… What this consummation … might consist in has been the subject of much speculation… I prefer to be judiciously agnostic about its nature and to rely entirely on the character of God… for the source of Christian hope rests only on the steadfastness and faithfulness of the God who is revealed as Love.” (Pg. 47-48)

He endorses Panentheism, which “is the belief that the Being of God includes and penetrates all-that-is, so that every part of it exists in God and… God’s Being is more than it and is not exhausted by it… The problem of God’s interaction with the world, if not the intractable problem of evil, is illuminated by such a panentheistic understanding of God’s relation to the world… God is the immanent creator creating in and through the processes of the natural order.” (Pg. 57-58) Much later, he adds, “the panentheistic model allows one to combine a strengthened emphasis on the immanence of God in the world with God’s ultimate transcendence over it… it is also more consistent with those reflections on the implications of scientific perspectives…” (Pg. 141)

He argues, “God is omniscient, with only a probabilistic knowledge of the outcomes of some events. Clearly this postulate depends on the belief that God also does not know the future… God can only do what is consistent with God’s nature as Love. The will of created human beings is free so that, in particular, God has let Godself not have coercive power over human actions… God is omnipotent, but self-limited by God’s nature as love.” (Pg. 59)

He asks, “hundreds of millions (if not billions) of species have come and gone… is it permissible to regard these myriads of species other than Homo sapiens … as simply byproducts in a process aimed at producing human beings? Or do they have value to God as Creator in and for themselves?... surely we now have to escape from our anthropocentric myopia and affirm that God as Creator takes what we can only call delight in the rich variety and individuality of other organisms for their own sake… We have here the basis for an eco-theology that grounds the value of all living creatures in their distinctive value to God for their own sake and not just as stages en route to humanity and as resources for human exploitation.” (Pg. 72-73)

He says, “the believer in God as Creator has to view biological evolution through natural selection, and other operating processes, as simply the means whereby God has been, and is, creating. God does not make things, but makes things who make themselves. Their existence is inherently transformative.” (Pg. 75) Later, he adds, “there is no need to postulate any special action---any non-natural agent pushing, or pulling, or luring by, say, some divine manipulation of mutations at the quantum level---to ensure that persons emerge in the universe, and in particular on Earth. Not to coin a phrase, ‘I have no need of that hypothesis.’” (Pg. 83)

He addresses the problem of evil: “there are inherent constraints on how even an omnipotent Creator… could bring about the existence of a law-like creation that is to be a cosmos and not a chaos… the ubiquity of pain, predation, suffering and death… entails, for any concept of God to be morally acceptable and coherent … that God suffers in, with and under the creative processes of the world with their costly unfolding in time… God purposes to bring about a greater good thereby, namely, the kingdom of free-willing, loving persons in communion with God and with each other.” (Pg. 85-86)

He contends, “the postulate of the kind of God here depicted… is still only the best explanation. One cannot deny the existence of other possible, competing explanations… However, I do argue that the proposed inferences about God, if taken together, are cumulative in their effect and make a more convincing case than any of the rival explanations---especially that of atheism… which asserts… that the world just happens to be rational and to display the emergence in and from matter of persons who possess values and creativity.” (Pg. 130-131)

He proposes, “to be truly evangelical and catholic in its impact and function, the church of the new millennium will need a theology that… will have to be more genuinely open, radical and liberal. For such a Christian theology to have any viability, it may well have to be stripped down to newly conceived basic essentials. Only then will Christian theology … command respect as a PUBLIC truth.” (Pg. 133) He adds, “Jesus represents the consummation of the evolutionary creative process that God has been effecting in and through the world of matter.” (Pg. 148)

He also acknowledges, “I prefer to be non-assertive about the nature of any differentiation within the divine Being and Becoming, willing to accept that it is threefold but not to speculate about the relationship of the three to each other. The triple nature of Christian experience certainly points to a threefoldness in the modes of Being and Becoming of God, but I prefer to remain reticent about any more positive, ontological affirmations concerning the, by definition, ineffable and inaccessible Godhead.” (Pg. 167-168)

Theologically conservative Christians may be dismayed by a number of Peacocke’s positions; but more theologically “progressive” persons may find a great deal to ponder and appreciate in his books.


When Science Meets Religion: Enemies, Strangers, or Partners? by Barbour, Ian G. (2000) Paperback
When Science Meets Religion: Enemies, Strangers, or Partners? by Barbour, Ian G. (2000) Paperback
by Ian G. Barbour
Edition: Paperback
6 used & new from $26.99

5.0 out of 5 stars THE PHYSICIST/THEOLOGIAN PROVIDES AN ACCESSIBLE “INTRODUCTION” TO RELIGION/SCIENCE ISSUES, July 31, 2015
Ian Graeme Barbour (1923- 2013) was an American scholar specializing on the relationship between science and religion, who taught at Carleton College beginning from 1955 until his retirement in 1986. He was awarded the 1999 Templeton Prize. He has written many books, such as Religion in an Age of Science (Gifford Lectures 1989-1991, Vol 1), Religion and Science (Gifford Lectures Series), Ethics in an Age of Technology: Gifford Lectures, Volume Two, Issues in Science and Religion, Myths, Models and Paradigms, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to this 2000 book, “In the twentieth century the interaction of science and religion has taken many forms. New discoveries in science have challenged many classical religious ideas. In response, some people have defended traditional doctrines, others have abandoned the tradition, and still others have reformulated long-held concepts in the light of science. As we enter the new millennium, there is evidence of renewed interest in these issues among scientists, theologians, the media, and the public. Six of the most widely debated questions are taken up in successive chapters of this book. (Pg. xi) Later, he adds, “The present volume is intended as an introduction to the field, briefer and more accessible than my earlier writings… The purpose of the book will be fulfilled if it encourages the reader’s own reflection and further explanation of some of the issues and authors discussed on these pages.” (Pg. 6)

He outlines “a fourfold typology as an aid to sorting out the great variety of ways in which people have related science and religion… 1. Conflict. Biblical literalists… [and] Atheistic scientists …agree in asserting that a person cannot believe in both God and evolution… 2. Independence… According to this view, there should be no conflict because science and religion refer to differing domains of life or aspects of reality… 3. Dialogue… Both scientists and theologians are engaged as dialogue partners in critical reflection… while respecting the integrity of each other’s fields. 4. Integration… those who seek a closer integration of the two disciplines… It will be evident that my own sympathies lie with Dialogue and Integration (especially a theology of nature and a cautious use of process philosophy).” (Pg. 2-4)

He says of Carl Sagan’s book Cosmos, “Nature (which he capitalizes in the book) replaces God as the object of reverence… He is a new kind of high priest, not only revealing the mysteries to us but telling us how we should live. We can be grateful for Sagan’s educational skills… and deep concern for world peace and environmental preservation. But perhaps we should question his unlimited confidence in the scientific method, on which he says we should rely to bring in an age of peace and justice.” (Pg. 12)

He suggests, “I believe that the Independence thesis is a good starting point or first approximation. It preserves the distinctive character of each enterprise, and it is a useful strategy for responding to those who see conflict as inescapable… The two-language approach can indeed help us to acknowledge the diversity of functions of religious language… [I] advocate a critical realism that asserts that both communities make cognitive claims about realities beyond human life. We cannot remain content with science and religion as unrelated languages if they are languages about the same world. If we seek a coherent interpretation of all experience, we cannot avoid the search for a more unified worldview.” (Pg. 21-22)

He argues, “There are two possible theological responses to indeterminacy at the quantum level. The first is to say that the choice among the range of possibilities left open by quantum theory is NOT A MATTER OF CHANCE, but is made by God… The second theological response is to assert that BOTH LAW AND CHANCE ARE PART OF GOD’S DESIGN… This approach is consistent with the idea of divine purpose, though not with the idea of a precise predetermined plan.” (Pg. 73)

He observes, “Traditionally, design was equated with a detailed preexisting blueprint in the mind of God… In this framework, chance is the antithesis of design. But evolution suggests another understanding of design---an understanding that postulates a general direction but no detailed plan. A long-range strategy could be combined with short-range opportunism arising from feedback and adjustment. In this view, there is increasing order and information but no predictable final state.” (Pg. 112-113)

He notes, “Freedom does not mean that our actions are uncaused or indeterminate, but rather that they are the result of our motives, intentions, and choices and are not externally coerced. Freedom is self-determination at the level of the person. We are not passive stimulus-response mechanisms but selves who can envision novel possibilities and decide deliberately and responsibly among alternative actions… We cannot choose the cards we have been dealt, but we can to some extent choose what we do with them.” (Pg. 127)

He argues, “In the light of evolutionary history, the fall of Adam cannot be taken literally. There was no Garden of Eden, no original state of innocence, free of death and suffering, from which humanity fell. The fall can be taken as a powerful symbolic expression of HUMAN SINFULNESS, which sin is understood as self-centeredness and estrangement from God and other people---and, we might add, from the world of nature… Original sin is not an inheritance from Adam, then, but an acknowledgement that we are born into sinful social structures, such as those that perpetuate racism, oppression, and violence.” (Pg. 133-134)

He concludes, “In summary, I believe that Dialogue and Integration are more promising ways to bring scientific and religious insights together than either Conflict or Independence… I find exciting new possibilities in the use of specific ideas in recent science to conceive of God as designer and sustainer of a self-organizing process and as communicator of information. I am sympathetic with the theme of God’s self-limitation. I also admire the more systematic development of ideas of God as determiner of quantum indeterminacies and as top-down cause. Finally, I find the concepts of process philosophy particularly helpful, but I am aware that a single coherent set of philosophical categories may not do justice to the rich diversity of human experience.” (Pg. 179-180)

Barbour’s unique status (he has a Ph.D. in physics, as well as a degree in divinity) makes him one of the most interesting of contemporary commentators on science and religion. This book (as well as his other books) will be “must reading” for anyone seriously studying the relation of science and religion.


[(When Science Meets Religion)] [Author: Ian G. Barbour] published on (December, 2000)
[(When Science Meets Religion)] [Author: Ian G. Barbour] published on (December, 2000)
by Ian G. Barbour
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars THE PHYSICIST/THEOLOGIAN PROVIDES AN ACCESSIBLE “INTRODUCTION” TO RELIGION/SCIENCE ISSUES, July 31, 2015
Ian Graeme Barbour (1923- 2013) was an American scholar specializing on the relationship between science and religion, who taught at Carleton College beginning from 1955 until his retirement in 1986. He was awarded the 1999 Templeton Prize. He has written many books, such as Religion in an Age of Science (Gifford Lectures 1989-1991, Vol 1), Religion and Science (Gifford Lectures Series), Ethics in an Age of Technology: Gifford Lectures, Volume Two, Issues in Science and Religion, Myths, Models and Paradigms, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to this 2000 book, “In the twentieth century the interaction of science and religion has taken many forms. New discoveries in science have challenged many classical religious ideas. In response, some people have defended traditional doctrines, others have abandoned the tradition, and still others have reformulated long-held concepts in the light of science. As we enter the new millennium, there is evidence of renewed interest in these issues among scientists, theologians, the media, and the public. Six of the most widely debated questions are taken up in successive chapters of this book. (Pg. xi) Later, he adds, “The present volume is intended as an introduction to the field, briefer and more accessible than my earlier writings… The purpose of the book will be fulfilled if it encourages the reader’s own reflection and further explanation of some of the issues and authors discussed on these pages.” (Pg. 6)

He outlines “a fourfold typology as an aid to sorting out the great variety of ways in which people have related science and religion… 1. Conflict. Biblical literalists… [and] Atheistic scientists …agree in asserting that a person cannot believe in both God and evolution… 2. Independence… According to this view, there should be no conflict because science and religion refer to differing domains of life or aspects of reality… 3. Dialogue… Both scientists and theologians are engaged as dialogue partners in critical reflection… while respecting the integrity of each other’s fields. 4. Integration… those who seek a closer integration of the two disciplines… It will be evident that my own sympathies lie with Dialogue and Integration (especially a theology of nature and a cautious use of process philosophy).” (Pg. 2-4)

He says of Carl Sagan’s book Cosmos, “Nature (which he capitalizes in the book) replaces God as the object of reverence… He is a new kind of high priest, not only revealing the mysteries to us but telling us how we should live. We can be grateful for Sagan’s educational skills… and deep concern for world peace and environmental preservation. But perhaps we should question his unlimited confidence in the scientific method, on which he says we should rely to bring in an age of peace and justice.” (Pg. 12)

He suggests, “I believe that the Independence thesis is a good starting point or first approximation. It preserves the distinctive character of each enterprise, and it is a useful strategy for responding to those who see conflict as inescapable… The two-language approach can indeed help us to acknowledge the diversity of functions of religious language… [I] advocate a critical realism that asserts that both communities make cognitive claims about realities beyond human life. We cannot remain content with science and religion as unrelated languages if they are languages about the same world. If we seek a coherent interpretation of all experience, we cannot avoid the search for a more unified worldview.” (Pg. 21-22)

He argues, “There are two possible theological responses to indeterminacy at the quantum level. The first is to say that the choice among the range of possibilities left open by quantum theory is NOT A MATTER OF CHANCE, but is made by God… The second theological response is to assert that BOTH LAW AND CHANCE ARE PART OF GOD’S DESIGN… This approach is consistent with the idea of divine purpose, though not with the idea of a precise predetermined plan.” (Pg. 73)

He observes, “Traditionally, design was equated with a detailed preexisting blueprint in the mind of God… In this framework, chance is the antithesis of design. But evolution suggests another understanding of design---an understanding that postulates a general direction but no detailed plan. A long-range strategy could be combined with short-range opportunism arising from feedback and adjustment. In this view, there is increasing order and information but no predictable final state.” (Pg. 112-113)

He notes, “Freedom does not mean that our actions are uncaused or indeterminate, but rather that they are the result of our motives, intentions, and choices and are not externally coerced. Freedom is self-determination at the level of the person. We are not passive stimulus-response mechanisms but selves who can envision novel possibilities and decide deliberately and responsibly among alternative actions… We cannot choose the cards we have been dealt, but we can to some extent choose what we do with them.” (Pg. 127)

He argues, “In the light of evolutionary history, the fall of Adam cannot be taken literally. There was no Garden of Eden, no original state of innocence, free of death and suffering, from which humanity fell. The fall can be taken as a powerful symbolic expression of HUMAN SINFULNESS, which sin is understood as self-centeredness and estrangement from God and other people---and, we might add, from the world of nature… Original sin is not an inheritance from Adam, then, but an acknowledgement that we are born into sinful social structures, such as those that perpetuate racism, oppression, and violence.” (Pg. 133-134)

He concludes, “In summary, I believe that Dialogue and Integration are more promising ways to bring scientific and religious insights together than either Conflict or Independence… I find exciting new possibilities in the use of specific ideas in recent science to conceive of God as designer and sustainer of a self-organizing process and as communicator of information. I am sympathetic with the theme of God’s self-limitation. I also admire the more systematic development of ideas of God as determiner of quantum indeterminacies and as top-down cause. Finally, I find the concepts of process philosophy particularly helpful, but I am aware that a single coherent set of philosophical categories may not do justice to the rich diversity of human experience.” (Pg. 179-180)

Barbour’s unique status (he has a Ph.D. in physics, as well as a degree in divinity) makes him one of the most interesting of contemporary commentators on science and religion. This book (as well as his other books) will be “must reading” for anyone seriously studying the relation of science and religion.


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