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The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy Paperback – August 16, 1994

4.3 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The authors, both science writers, argue that science in the West has progressed because of, rather that in spite of, Christian faith, since belief in an ordered universe, governed by God-given laws, was essential for its advance. The authors show a good grasp of both science and theology, something rare these days, although, as the authors show, not quite so rare among the earlier scientists. This is a well-presented and much-needed contribution to the discussion about the so-called conflict between religion and science, although it is perplexing that Stanley Jaki's The Savior of Science (Regnery Gateway, 1988), which already made the same point, and at a more sophisticated level, is not mentioned. For lay readers and specialists alike.
Augustine J. Curley, Newark Abbey, N.J.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Pearcey and Thaxton deliver what they call a more accurate portrayal of the progress of science by . . . recognizing the influence of Christianity on science. Refuting the popular impression that great discoveries were made despite or in refutation of Christian beliefs, rather than within the framework of religious and philosophical ideas, the authors show the influence of the medieval church upon scientific advancement, and demonstrate that Newton, Descartes, and others were working to prove or expand upon their religious principles. Moving from history to contemporary scientific thinking as it relates to or contests religious thinking, their story is interesting, but not as free of polemics as they assert. Denise Perry Donavin
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway Books (August 16, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891077669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891077664
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I bought this book because I was looking for material that discusses the supposed link between Christianity and the development of modern science. In my class on western thought and culture my professor said that Christianity was the foundation for the modern scientific method. I was extremely skeptical about this claim, and I started searching for literature on the subject that I could really trust. I was pleasantly surprised when I found this very well-documented and readable book. This is easily the best treatment of the topic I have ever found. And yes, it did convince me that Christianity really is the mother of science.
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Format: Paperback
Most of the books I read, I read because I delight in them and think I'll enjoy them. There are other books I read merely because I think they will contain some information that will be useful to me in life or in ministry. Then there are some books which are flat out difficult for me to read. Yet I read them to stretch myself and broaden my horizons.

Such is the book The Soul of Science by Nancy Pearcey and Charles Thaxton. It's not the book is any way deficient, as can be seen by the endorsements of the book. Phillip E. Johnson says this is a "brilliant book that deserves a wide readership." J. P. Moreland says it would be an excellent text for courses on science and religion. James W. Sire says that "this book should destroy for all time the persistent myth that Science and Christianity have always been at war with each other."

Truly, this is a great book, but it was difficult for me to read, being a non-scientist. And when I say that I am a non-scientist I am giving myself far too much praise and credit as a scientific scholar. I have always done poorly in science. I somehow survived all of the biology classes I had to take in High School and College and nearly bombed out in chemistry. The fact that I passed a required chemistry class in college, I attribute to either the generosity of the professor or that he was in a drunken stupor when he was handing out grades. I went to college hoping to be an engineer but abandoned all hope of such a career when I took my first physics class. The only time in my life I can ever remember having a complete mental block in a subject was when I took that physics class - I just couldn't get it. Two weeks into the semester I dropped the class and changed my major.
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Format: Paperback
A metanarrative has become ingrained in our culture which states that science is the means by which we threw off our religious superstitions and entered a brave new world of reason and progress. Does this metanarrative itself need to be overthrown? In this work Discovery fellows Nancy Pearcey and Charles Thaxton explain how Christian theism has played a vital role in the historical development of science. Moreover, the next scientific revolution may bring science back to a point where it will reconsider the possibility that life was designed.

First, Pearcey and Thaxton shed light on the fact that the "Dark ages" were not quite so dark. While the medieval scholars lacked much of our accumulated knowledge, medieval scientists like Jordanus de Nemore anticipated the work of subsequent scientists through his work on statics. When the scientific revolution swung into full force, early scientists like Newton were devoutly religious and motivated by religion. As one historian they quote put it, "God had designed the universe, and it was to be expected that all phenomena of nature would follow one master plan. One mind designing a universe would almost surely have employed one set of basic principles to govern related phenomena." (pg. 129) Even today, they find that "the DNA code originated from a cause similar in relevant aspects to human intelligence." (pg. 244)

The authors begin by observing that "the idea of a war between science and religion is a relatively recent invention--one carefully nurtured by those who hope the victor will be science." (pg. 19) After reviewing all of the contributions which theists, the church, and Christianized societies have made to science, they conclude, "The Christian religion, hand in hand with various philosophical outlooks, has motivated, sanctioned, and shaped large portions of the Western scientific heritage." (pg. 248)
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Format: Paperback
In this book, Pearcey and Thaxton lay bare the foundation and motivation for science: philosophy. They reveal how science is pushed along by philosophy, and how philosophical views lead to scientific theories (see esp. the chapter on interpretations of quantum mechanics). Before reading this book I had not realized just how strong the influence of philosophy was upon science, but this book opened my eyes. They also do an excellent job of showing the relationship between science and theology, though if this you are looking for anything beyone a basic introduction to this subject, better books are available (try John Polkinghorne and Stanley Jaki, though be warned that they are not easy reads).
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Format: Paperback
This is a pretty good, fairly balanced discussion of the role of Christianity in science. The authors discuss the influence of philosophical ideas on science, and vice-versa, from the ancient Greeks to modern DNA research. Their approach is primarily historical, in that they discuss scientific theories in the context of the people who developed them, rather than striking out on their own into research, or even discussing much that remains scientifically controversial until the final chapter. The history they are giving will be new to many, especially skeptics who have been trained to think that science escaped from Christianity like Odesseus from the cave of the Cyclops. This book should be in every church library or pastor's study precisely because that argument is so popular among modern skeptics.
Some of the ideas Thaxton and Pearcey introduce in this book were new to me -- the idea that there is some problem about mathematics "working," for example -- and I am still mulling them over. I suspect they may at times be obscuring the difference between "What is true?" and "What can be proven to be true from first principles?" just a little bit.
I also had some problems with the last chapter. Their discussion of information theory and the formation of the first cell was too long-winded and short on details. They also relegated what appeared a strong counter-argument -- that primitive RNA may have been able to make use of evolution even before the cell was formed -- to part of a footnote, and then failed to answer it. Perhaps that's what you get when historians pronounce on topics that scientists are still picking over.
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