Item description for Two Great Truths: A New Synthesis of Scientific Naturalism and Christian Faith by David Ray Griffin & Howard J. Van Till...
Overview Furthering his contribution to the science and religion debate, David Ray Griffin draws upon the cosmology of A. N. Whitehead and proposes a radical synthesis between two worldviews sometimes thought wholly incompatible. He argues that the traditions designated by the names "scientific naturalism" and "Christian faith" both embody a great truth--a truth of universal validity and importance--but that both of these truths have been distorted, fueling the conflict between the visions of the scientific and Christian communities. Griffin contends, however, that there is no inherent conflict between science, or even the kind of naturalism that it properly presupposes, and the Christian faith, understood in terms of the primary doctrines of the Christian good news.
Furthering his contribution to the science and religion debate, David Ray Griffin draws upon the cosmology of Alfred North Whitehead and proposes a radical synthesis between two worldviews sometimes thought wholly incompatible. He argues that the traditions designated by the names "scientific naturalism" and "Christian faith" both embody a great truth--a truth of universal validity and importance--but that both of these truths have been distorted, fueling the conflict between the visions of the scientific and Christian communities. Griffin contends, however, that there is no inherent conflict between science, or even the kind of naturalism that it properly presupposes, and the Christian faith, understood in terms of the primary doctrines of the Christian good news.
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Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.48" Width: 5.54" Height: 0.51" Weight: 0.46 lbs.
Release Date Jul 1, 2004
Publisher Westminster John Knox Press
ISBN 0664227732 ISBN13 9780664227739
Availability 81 units. Availability accurate as of Sep 22, 2017 01:15.
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More About David Ray Griffin & Howard J. Van Till
David Ray Griffin is Professor of Philosophy of Religion at the School of Theology at Claremont. He is also Executive Director of the Center for Process Studies and founding president of the Center for a Postmodern World in Santa Barbara.
Reviews - What do customers think about Two Great Truths: A New Synthesis of Scientific Naturalism and Christian Faith?
Truths about truths Aug 24, 2007
This book tries to reconcile what the author calls Scientific Naturalism and Christian Faith. It includes interesting developments on theology and cosmology, with a critical overview of the idea of "creation out of nothing". Griffin shows how this idea has damaging implications regarding the perfect goodness of God and the free-will of man. In his analysis of Christian doctrines, Griffin makes a distinction between primary doctrines constituting a great truth, and subsequent secondary and tertiary doctrines which distract our attention from them and even end up contradicting them. Some of those later doctrines which turn out to be false are the result of distortions accumulated with the passing of time. Another source of misinterpretations comes from the confusion of languages. A mythological narrative for instance may express a deep truth, which will become false if taken literally. It needs first to be translated into our common or scientific language in order to be properly understood. The problem then, is that such a translation will result in a loss of meaning, and a narrower scope of interpretation. Truths may also be different because they answer different questions. They can be different, but not necessarily conflicting at a fundamental level. All this is interesting but not really new. So the real contribution of this book seems to be found at the more general level of considerations about the concept of truth itself. In my view, things would have been easier if the author had not used the word faith, especially in his title, when he actually means creed or conviction. It seems appropriate when speaking about truth, to use words in their true meaning. Even, as is the case here, if their true meaning is not their more usual one. Griffin spends some time implicitly trying to make up for that mistake. He wants to convince us that people are right when they have faith in Jesus-Christ, but are wrong when they believe everything that is commonly referred to as Christian doctrine. Indeed, originally Christian faith refers to the fact that someone trusts the person of Jesus-Christ and believes in him. Christian creed or doctrine on the other hand, refers to the fact that someone is convinced that all of Christianity's teachings over the centuries are actually true. And from what we have just seen, it seems wise to try and sort out the various levels of truth within the various layers of Christian doctrine. Modern liberal theology, by doing away with the method of authority in order to decide what is true and what is not, invites us to take our own responsibility, and to reason on the basis of experience. That, in the author's view, is a good thing, but inasmuch as physicists deal only with the way things affect other things and not with what they are fundamentally, their experience remains limited. They do not go beyond the extrinsic reality of things, they ignore their intrinsic reality. Therefore their reasoning is based on an impoverished notion of experience and puts limitations on the quality of truths they discover. The conclusion could perhaps be that the more truth there is in each of these truths, the easier it should be to reconcile them.
Two Truths for All People of Faith Feb 22, 2005
Given that today real harm that can be done by the traditional teachings of many faith communities it is refreshing to find a book that allows thoughtful and compassionate people to affirm both what they know about the world and the possibility of that world being an environment of peace and caring for everyone. In a small book, Two Great Truths, David Ray Griffin, shares the richness of a lifetime spent in contemplating and writing about how we understand God. And most importantly he offers an affirming vision of both reality (science) and the Christian faith.
Dr. Griffin's work is based on a view of the world that sees all things as interconnected and interrelated in the way in which quantum physics' sub-atomic basis of reality operates. Everything participates in an ongoing process of creativity. God is "what makes things make themselves". There is therefor no need to see God as supernatural. Griffin argues that this idea was a distortion in the early church when God was seen as creating out of nothing and as determining everything that happened in the world. He says that it is good news that we do literally, live and move and have our being in God and that we are free to make our own response to life.
However that means that the responsibility for the kind of world in which we live is ours. God provides the best possibilities for any given situation. It is our choice whether what happens is for good or for evil. God's aim for the world is goodness, beauty, harmony and peace. We are never out of the presence of God because the creating Spirit of the Universe animates all of life.
For 2000 years the church has operated with an inadequate image of God as a sovereign ruler whereas the God about whom Jesus of Nazareth taught was a God who used persuasion not coercion. Griffin asks us to take seriously what we know about the world through science; the truth of which he points out has also been distorted. Science does not need to be materialistic or embrace mechanical causation. He asks us to give up the idea of supernaturalism and see this world and the universe as the only reality there is. His ideas are applicable to any of the world's religions.
Every Christian especially should read chapter 2. It asks us to look at the implications of some traditional doctrines. Many people in the church today know that Christianity must change. Griffin offers a very positive possibility for that change and that because of such a change, history could be changed too. Griffin can also in the light of his understanding of reality affirm a continuing existence after death. For anyone who has or is near to giving up on any faith system today this book could be life changing.
Dr. Helen Goggin Professor Emeritus Toronto School of Theology
An Important Book on an Important Subject Dec 25, 2004
David Griffin is one of the most advanced thinkers alive today. His work in harmonizing science and religion is unsurpassed, even in a field where many great books have already been written. The present book provides a good summary of his analysis of the distorted truths of science, but this subject is treated more thoroughly in Griffin's previous book: "Religion and Scientific Naturalism, Overcoming the Conflicts (SUNY 2000)."
This "Two Great Truths" book, however, is most significant in its treatment of Christianity. Our postmodern civilization is still fully engaged in the political and cultural struggle to free itself from the fetters of Christianity's premodern legacy; but the farther we move away from our past, the more we will be able to recognize the aspects of Jesus' teachings that transcend the Christian religion. Just as teenagers come to recognize the wisdom of their parents when they become adults, Western civilization will inevitably come to see anew the sublime spiritual truths of Jesus' gospel. That is, when we finally move far enough away from the worn out shell of premodern Christianity, we will be better able to discern those aspects of Jesus' teaching that will continue to produce cultural and spiritual evolution well into the future. This book thus begins the important process of pruning away the dead aspects of Christian doctrine (the premodern myths that have been transcended) from the living truths of Jesus' teaching that remain spiritually potent today.
However, although Griffin identifies many objectionable aspects of Christianity that have become appended to the original teachings of Jesus, he fails to discuss the most problematic Christian dogma -- the so-called "atonement doctrine," which says that God required the sacrifice of an innocent in order to appease his wrath. The atonement doctrine was originally conceived by Paul as a way of making Jesus' religion more appealing to his fellow Jews. And while Paul was successful at building the early Christian church, his legacy has left many problematic distortions that must now be jettisoned. This idea that God required Jesus' death as a ransom to pay for his affection flies in the face of everything Jesus taught about his loving Father in Heaven. But even though Griffin fails to identify the atonement doctrine as an aspect of Christian truth that got distorted, he does a good job of describing many other problematic aspects of Christian dogma, while simultaneously identifying the core teachings of Jesus. The rediscovery of the enduring truths of Jesus teaching is a process that will undoubtedly engage our civilization throughout the 21st century. But this book is an excellent start to this process and I thus highly recommend it.