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Science and Religion: An Introduction 1st Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0631208426
ISBN-10: 0631208429
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

McGrath's argument in this book is schematic. He begins with three turning points in the history of science: the Copernican and Galilean controversies, the mechanistic universe of Newton and the upset caused by Darwin's theory of evolution. According to McGrath, these landmarks shaped the question of whether religion is an "ally" or an "enemy" of science. It is his contention that both responses have had considerable impact on religion over the last two centuries, in the form of liberalism, modernism, neo-orthodoxy and evangelicalism. These four strands of Christian theology have developed both confrontational and nonconfrontational models of the relationship between religion and science. McGrath outlines the impact of philosophers of science, such as Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn, on religion as well as the impact of the philosophy of religion on scientific questions. He also explores the use of models and analogies in science and religion and devotes two chapters to an examination of issues and case studies. Most helpful are his short summaries of the positions of key thinkers in this dialogue: Ian Barbour, Arthur Peacocke, John Polkinghorne and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, among others. McGrath's book provides a useful starting point for those entering the study of science and religion.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"McGrath's book provides a useful starting point for those entering the study of science and religion." Publishers Weekly

"A first rate introduction to the field, partly aimed at students on the burgeoning number of science and religion courses."Network</>

"McGrath discusses clearly and methodically the various issues related to the field...Overall, the book is fair and objective in its assessments." Choice


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (December 10, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631208429
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631208426
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,465,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. A. Covington on September 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
Most books on science and religion are either anti-religion (wanting to throw out historic Christianity) or anti-science (wanting to throw out the evidence for evolution, the age of the earth and the universe, etc.).
This one is neither, and that's what makes it a good book. McGrath has a virtue that is somewhat uncommon among conservative religious writers, and that is his profound respect for people and opinions with which he disagrees. Thus, he gives a fair presentation of ideas other than his own.
I'm amused that another reviewer thought McGrath was too critical of fundamentalists. Other critics think McGrath *is* a fundamentalist!
But to clear the air a little, McGrath uses the word "fundamentalist" to describe, not merely conservative doctrines, but a particular sociology that involves eagerness to be separate from everyone with whom one disagrees even slightly. McGrath is conservative but not, in that sense, fundamentalist.
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Format: Paperback
Alister Mcgrath has the remarkable gift of taking complex ideas and putting them on the lower shelf for the novice to handle. Like his Studies in Doctrine, McGrath has done the same here in framing the debate between faith and scientific reasoning with accessible prose. This is particularly recommended for those who sense the conflict between science and religion within the popular culture but who know that the God of the Bible is the same as the God of Creation. Thankfully, McGrath presents the issues for the non-specialist with breadth and fairness. As a trained molecular biologist and historical theologian, McGrath is perfectly suited to present this material.

For the Christian, the central issue is the question of whether or not empirical, scientific data can ever justify a move away from a long-held, literal interpretation of the text. Copernicus and Galileo, far from suggesting that humanity was somehow no longer the center of God's attention in the universe, were instead showing that a more figurative or allegorical interpretation was required concerning geocentric biblical texts. Is God really telling us literally that the "sun rises" or is this simply divine accomodation to the limitations of authors in the biblical period who were not familiar with the insights of modern science?

McGrath's historical survey is the best part of the book. He covers every major issue including Newton's mechanistic universe, Descartes' mathematical idealism, Darwin's quest for biological uniformitarianism, and Michael Polyani's postmodern understanding of personal commitment in scientific endeavor. McGrath convincingly shows that philosophy is just as important to science as it is to theology.
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Format: Paperback
Alister McGrath has written an excellent book providing background information for anyone seeking to understand the relationship between science and religion. The book is valuable because McGrath provides historical background to the issue as well as discussing some issues topically. He then provides "case studies" as well as brief discussion of particular authors who are important in this field such as Barbour, de Chardin and Panenberg.
I do have some small criticisms. First, McGrath's discussion of Fundamentalism seems somewhat unfair and focuses on the worst parts of the movement. Second, some of the bigrpahical studies are a little too short (probably inevitable in a survey work). Third, McGrath only mentions the work of Stanley Jaki once. I think Jaki deserved a separate section, along with other prominent writers on the subject.
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Format: Paperback
I had to use this book for a class this semester & while the book's information was excellent in helping me through the course, I was incredibly irritated by the book's occasionally poor editing & production. As such, this review will be in two parts.

First, the book's content. It's great. McGrath does an excellent job of giving the basics of science, religion & how the two interact or collide with each other. I liked that he was very thorough, but my only problem was that at times he just seemed a little overly wordy & I really wanted him to just get to the point. While I don't expect textbooks to be leisurely reads, I do expect them to be somewhat to the point.

Secondly, the editing & production. These were ultimately the book's worst features- enough so that I felt I had to point them out in a review. There were quite a few spelling errors throughout the book & you can tell that the book was obviously copied & re-copied in order to make this book. The text for the book was "blobby" at points from where it didn't print clearly. When you do have the rare photo/graphic insert, it has the appearance of something that was printed in color but then merely copied in black & white, where it didn't copy cleanly. When you take into consideration how much textbooks cost, it should be expected that people would check over these things & correct them- in the grand scheme of things it wouldn't take that overly long & you'd only have to do it once... Just because something goes from a hardback to a softback doesn't mean that it doesn't require some form of editing!

I would give the book 4 stars if not for the extremely poor editing. That detracted a star from the total because in the end, I found myself getting distracted by all of it.
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