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Oracles of Science: Celebrity Scientists versus God and Religion 1st Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195310726
ISBN-10: 0195310721
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Editorial Reviews


"The authors make a good case for how the misuse of science to advance philosophical and quasi-religious or antireligious ideas fails to reckon with the limitations of science...The book is highly recommended." --Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation

"Six great science luminaries antagonistic to religious belief, among the most distinguished and best known scientists of our times, are subjected to scrutiny. The portrayal of their ideas is accurate and insightful, as well as fair. The criticisms are, by and large, gentle, but pointed. Will you be convinced? Read on. You'll be glad you did. You'll learn much and be prepared to make your own determination." --Francisco J. Ayala, University Professor at the University of California, Irvine, recipient of the 2001 National Medal of Science, and author of Darwin and Intelligent Design

"One of our modern values is freedom of thought in philosophy, theology, and science as well, despite the perennial turf wars between all three. This concise biographical study, both sympathetic and critical, shows how six celebrity scientists have muddled these boundaries, using their eminence and literary skill to debunk traditional religion. Though this is a story of science "oracles" trespassing on theology's turf, it also cautions believers against a similar abuse of science." --Larry Witham, journalist and author of Where Darwin Meets the Bible

"Few writers have poured more fuel on the recent science-religion controversies than such religion-bashers as Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, and Stephen Weinberg. In six perky profiles two Christian scholars critically, but fairly, examine the anti-religious claims of these and other scientific "oracles," finding them no more "scientific" than the mutterings of creationists."" --Ronald L. Numbers, author of The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design

About the Author

Karl Giberson is Professor of Physics at Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, MA. For years he served as editor in chief of both Science & Theology News and Science & Spirit. Widely published in science and religion, Oracles of Science is his third book in this area.
Mariano Artigas is Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. He holds Ph.D.'s both in physics and in philosophy, and is a Roman Catholic priest. Oracles of Science is his fourteenth book on the relationship between science, philosophy, and religion.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195310721
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195310726
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.1 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,076,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Wesley L. Janssen VINE VOICE on September 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Authors Giberson and Artigas are both physicists; both are professors, writers, and philosophers. Artigas is a Roman Catholic priest as well. In this volume they examine the popular and extra-scientific, philosophical assertions of six scientists of prominence at the close of the twentieth century: Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, Steven Weinberg, and E.O. Wilson. At the time the book was published (2002), two of these "celebrity scientists" (Sagan and Gould) had rather recently passed away. But the six share some obvious commonality, in that (a) they have been genuine celebrities to an extent that few scientists are, and (b) that they have each been keen on imparting their ideas about religion and theology to a public that sometimes construes these assertions as being somehow `scientific.' The book immediately elicited my interest, because I've read all of these scientists (as compared to the rest, more of Hawking and less of Weinberg).

What these men have [often famously] had to say about religion and theism, and how logically consistent and scientifically relevant their religion-oriented, or theism-oriented, assertions are, is what interests the authors in this volume. The six cannot be painted with one brush, and they are not (Dawkins is famously an impassioned popularizer of atheism who fashions himself "a devil's chaplain," Wilson is a deist; Weinberg's views are close to Dawkins', Gould's views not too distant from Wilson's, with Sagan and Hawking ideologically located between those views). Each is treated with respect and each is given an ample hearing, that is, through his writings and/or interviews, each states his individual views at some length.

Each installment here stands alone, so to speak, and there is surprisingly little overlap.
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Format: Hardcover
`Oracles of Science' is a good book. No doubt Giberson and Artigas are knowledgeable scientists and they argue their case with care and subtlety. There are however a few reservations to be made.
Firstly, I find the major idea of the book unconvincing. In criticizing the popular books by Dawkins, Gould, Hawking, Sagan, Weinberg and Wilson, they assert that scientists should not be allowed to `trespass' into other areas than their science proper. There is a lot of talk about unwarranted conclusions, improper speculations and the well-known `naturalistic fallacy'. But these are popular science books and why on earth should the authors be prohibited to philosophize and speculate about god knows what (pun intended)? That, in my opinion, is precisely what makes these books so interesting - and successful. The authors are not abusing science, they are just putting forward their personal opinions. If that were not the case the books would make for boring reading indeed.
Which leads to the second reservation. It seems to me that whenever there is critique of religion and faith, believers easily get their feelings hurt. Giberson and Artigas talk of hostility to God, vicious attacks on religion and so forth as if it were a deadly sin. They portray some of the authors as being either simpletons or `evolution evangelists' and `secular priests'. `Weinberg is simply pontificating from his platform of prestige, without seriously engaging these difficult issues' p. 184. Do I sense a little professional jealousy here?
Thirdly, I'd like to say something about the quotation on p. 14. where Richard Dawkins is charging that people who don't believe in evolution are `stupid, wicked or insane'. They had to dig deep to find that, but it's all there on the Internet.
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Format: Hardcover
Giberson and Artigas critique adeptly and with searching scholarship the metaphysical and theological views of six science popularizers. Each of these celebrities has rankled religious and spiritual sensibilities. Some, like Dawkins, owe as much to their animus toward the idea of God and religion as they do to scientific contributions for their notoriety and book sales. Others, like Gould, have pursued pure Darwinism with an idea of contingency to flirt with what seems like nihilism and arrive at a profound, though theoretical, misanthropy.
As one reviewer points out, these celebrities have the right to "tresspass" or promote their own interpretations on anything. I would go so far as to say that they even have the right to conflate their opinions as science and make them appear, as Christian de Duve puts it, "incontrovertibly enforced by the findings of biology" (or physics, or astronomy, or chemistry, etc....) Italics, mine. There is no law that I know of that prevents them from doing this, and I would not propose there should be. That is why this book, Oracles of Science, is so valuable.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
1. Great book.

The book is clear, well written, and deep enough. It is what I was expecting to be when I bought it. It gives a general perspective about the topics and it is a good starting point for further reading.

2. The formatting is quite poor.

It is just a scanned version of the book, will all the hyphens that should exist in the print- ed version but not in the elec- tronic version. The references to footnotes are not active, you cannot click on them to see the reference. I dislike the justified paragraphs because it creates wide spaces between the words, and there are some typos.
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