Item description for The Beginning of All Things: Science and Religion by Hans Kung & John Bowden...
Overview A significant, original contribution to the field of science and religion. In an age when faith and science seem constantly to clash, can theologians and scientists come to a meeting of minds? Yes, maintains the intrepid Hans Kung, as he brilliantly argues here that religion and science are not mutually exclusive but complementary. Exhibiting little patience for scientists who do not see beyond the limits of their discipline or for believers who try to tell experts how things must have been, Kung challenges readers to think more deeply about the beginnings in order to facilitate a new beginning in dialogue and understanding.
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Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1" Width: 6" Height: 9" Weight: 1.1 lbs.
Release Date Jul 1, 2007
Publisher WM. B. EERDMANS PUBLISHING CO.
ISBN 0802807631 ISBN13 9780802807632
Availability 0 units.
More About Hans Kung & John Bowden
Hans Küng, (born March 19, 1928, Sursee, Switz.), Swiss Roman Catholic theologian whose controversial liberal views led to his censorship by the Vatican in 1979.
Küng studied at Gregorian University in Rome and obtained a doctorate in theology from the Catholic Institute at the Sorbonne in 1957. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1954, and he taught at the University of Münster in West Germany (1959–60) and at the University of Tübingen (1960–96), where he also directed the Institute for Ecumenical Research from 1963. In 1962 he was named by Pope John XXIII a peritus (theological consultant) for the second Vatican Council.
Küng’s prolific writings questioned the formulation of such traditional church doctrine as papal infallibility, the divinity of Christ, and teachings about the Virgin Mary. In 1979 a Vatican censure that banned his teaching as a Catholic theologian provoked international controversy, and in 1980 a settlement was reached at Tübingen that allowed him to teach under secular rather than Catholic auspices. His more recent research has focused on interreligious cooperation and the creation of a global ethic. His publications include Rechtfertigung: Die Lehre Karl Barths und eine Katholische Besinnung (1957; Justification: The Doctrine of Karl Barth and a Catholic Reflection), Konzil und Wiedervereinigung (1960; The Council, Reform, and Reunion), Die Kirche (1967; The Church), Unfehlbar? (1970; Infallible?), Christ sein (1974; On Being a Christian), Existiert Gott? (1978; Does God Exist?), and Ewiges Leben? (1982; Eternal Life?).
Hans Kung has an academic affiliation as follows - Global Ethics Foundation.
Hans Kung has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about The Beginning of All Things: Science and Religion?
Good, but... Jun 9, 2008
This was the first Hans Kung book that I have read, and I must say, I am rather impressed with his level of scholarship, clarity of thought, and vast scope of learning. His treatment of the interaction of science and theology was not bad, though I must confess that I did not think he was quite as good at it as Polkinghorne. However, I found that I was very dissapointed with many of the conclusions that Kung reached. In the majority of issues he discusses, he ends up reconsiling science and Christianity by having Christianity give up any claims it has in any area that science touches. Now, I am not advocating a literal six-day creation, or suggesting that we believe that the earth is flat, but I do think he has gone a bit far in denying that miracles happen. Whenever he perceives that Christianity and science can even potentially come into conflict, he always decides that (what he understands to be) science wins.
For example, Scripture claims that Jesus performed miracles. Science tells us (according to Kung) that miracles cannot happen. What should we conclude? Well, according to Kung, we should conclude that the miracles did not happen. You would think that this would effectively undermine Christianity, but Kung tries to defend this position by making the absurd claim that the miracle stories in both the Old and New Testaments were not meant by the authors to be taken literally. It may be that Kung does not take them literally, but it is absolutely absurd to claim that the persons who wrote them, and the persons who originally recieved them, did not think they were to be taken literally. I found his section on miracles (pg. 151ff.) to be absolutely appalling, not because of his denial of miracles (though I do disagree with that), but because he actually tried to claim that this denial was in line with the thinking of the ancient people's who wrote and received the Scriptures. He could at least be honest and face up to the fact that his understanding of the historicity of Scripture is not the same as that of the authors of Scripture.
Further, in his effort to avoid conflict, he banishes Christianity to the sphere of personal preference. He explicitly says that "no religion can dispute with others their way to salvation. Rather it is important in recognition of human freedom, especially the real freedom of faith, for each to respect its own path of faith" (p. 197). Christian teaching is no longer objectively true, but is instead a subjective understanding of the "other," which can neither come into conflict with science and history nor even competing (and logically incompatible) religions. I think his approach to the topic is well summed up in his conclusions about the resurrection, which is central to Christianity. He says that "I do not believe in the later legendary elaborations of the New Testament message of the resurrection but in its original core: that this Jesus of Nazareth did not die into nothingness, but into God" (p. 205).
In short, Kung has a lot of good things to say about the compatibility of science and theism in general. He does a very good job of showing that science has not been, nor can ever be, the cause of the death of God. However, his sections of the relationship of science and Christianity are relatively useless for someone who holds to orthodox Christianity, as he promotes harmony by demolishing the claims of Christianity so that they cannot oppose what he understands to be science. I am emphaticly NOT saying that we should use Scripture as a science textbook, but I think denying both miracles and the historicity of the gospels amounts to denying the truthfulness of anything resembling historical Christianity.
It may seem that I have had little good to say about a book I gave four stars. Let me emphasize that a good portion of this book is actually quite helpful. Those parts have already been written about in the previous reviews here. I simply wished to focus on the parts which previous reviewers have not. This is not a terrible book, as long as you understand what understanding of Christianity Kung is bringing to the table with him. If you disagree (as I do) with his liberal Christianity, then parts of it (the parts which I have mentioned) will be relatively useless and probably aggrivating to you, but there is still a significant amount of good, well thought out work to be had in it.
Overall grade: B.
A Scientifically Literate Theologian Mar 10, 2008
In this book Kung uses his broad familiarity with modern science to consider how recent findings and theories relate to the question of faith in God. He is particularly good in the area of physics, where he provides a wealth of excerpts from the writings of some of the great physicists of the 20th century as they consider fundamental questions raised by their discoveries. He clearly points out the difference between scientific and religious thinking, not hesitating to reproach religious as well as scientific thinkers for not recognizing the validity of the other's methods and points of view. Along the way he never hesitates to reproach Church authorities for the methods they have used and unfortunately continue to use in their attempts to maintain orthodoxy. As a Catholic scientist I find his tone somewhat harsh in this regard, but I support his steadfast refusal to accept their disciplinary procedures in his uphill attempts at making the faith comprehensible to modern men and women. He is definitely ahead of the curve and this makes for controversy. It is important to point out that in spite of his left-of-center theological opinions he remains a priest in good standing and is held in respect by his former colleague and friend from Tübingen, the current pope, Benedict XVI. In fact in the fall of 2005 he had a friendly dinner and extended conversation with the pope, on which occasion he presented him with a copy of this book and received the pope's appreciation for his efforts in promoting dialog between science and religion.
Some of the questions covered in the book are: what is the nature of reality; what came before the big bang; what does religion mean by creation; is there a role for empirical science in the question of God; how did life originate; how did humans come to be; what is the relationship between the brain and consciousness; and many other flash points in the contemporary exchanges between science and religion. He concludes his book with a magnificent description of the end of life as not dying into nothingness, as many in modern science would have it, but rather as dying into the ultimate reality we call God. To quote him: "dying is a farewell inward, an entry and homecoming into the ground and origin of the world...dying into the light." A beautiful book!
Kung's Summation Jan 26, 2008
Hans Kung has been a formidable intellect in theology for many years having written over 50 books. His writing is characterized by breadth of learning. His book Infallible? An Enquiry (1978) led to loss of his license to teach theology in Roman Catholic schools but did not discourage him from pushing the theological envelope. For those who regard it as important, Kung's views were never found to be heretical. Now retired from his professorship at Tubingen University, Kung turns his attention in this volume to the question whether science and religion can coexist. His answer is that they do more than coexist; they are complimentary. Kung defines complementarity as a state "between science and religion in which the distinctive spheres are preserved, all illegitimate transitions are avoided and all absolutizations are rejected, but in which in mutual questioning and enrichment people attempt to do justice to reality in all its dimensions."
Kung immediately engages the skeptic's question whether he argues for an unenlightened biblical belief in a being that created the world in six days. Kung replies: "Certainly not! I want to take the Bible seriously, but that doesn't mean I want to take it literally."
Kung begins with an engaging and clear tour through cosmology. He leaves nothing out from Copernicus to Newton, Einstein, Big Bang theory, Heisenberg's indeterminacy and Godel's incompleteness. Kung's point is, not surprisingly, that science cannot account for everything. Kung draws us back to the fundamental questions about the origin of the first structures in the universe. Science may be able to explain the fine tuning of the first structures but the question remains: where did the minimal structure that already existed at the Big Bang come from? Why isn't there nothing? Kung offers God as a reasonable hypothesis that can provide intellectual answers to the questions of the beginning.
In succeeding chapters Kung takes up the debate between creationism and evolution, life in the universe and the development of human beings. He includes discussion of the brain and the mind, the limits of brain research and the beginning of human ethics. Having started with the beginning of all things, his epilogue deals with the end of all things - hypotheses of the end of the universe and apocalyptic visions of the end.
Kung does not set out new theories of science or religion and does not insist on one or the other as the final arbiter of reality (his term). Discussion today, like so much else, tends to polarize between those who view God as irrelevant versus the creationists and the left-behinders. Kung proposes to raise the level of discussion by invoking serious scientists and philosophers. The Beginning of All Things is a good starting point for clear and dispassionate descriptions of the interplay between serious science and serious philosophy/theology about the most intriguing and still unsolved mysteries of the universe and humanity.
Terrific as Usual Jan 19, 2008
First, my bias - Hans Kung is a genius. I have read the majority of his works and find them all to be great. I have often said that I am still a Catholic because him. For those of you not in the know, Hans is a Catholic and a theologian, but cannot call himself a Catholic Theologian. If this last sentence makes sense to you, than this book is for you.
I read this directly after reading Dinesh D'Sousza What's So Great about Christianity. While many of their point are similar Kung has a much deeper understanding of the subtleties. It is not an easy a read as D'Sousza (I think this is probably due to the fact that is a translation), but it gives you a deeper understanding of the concepts. His argument that is it bizarre that scientist see no problem in the duality of light (wave/particle), yet squawk of the notion of the duality of Christ is sheer genius.
major theologian on science controversy Dec 27, 2007
Kung is one of the clearest theologians thinkers writing today. There are a glut of books out there promising to weigh in on some pressing issue that concerns the science/ religion controversy. I personally believe that it is a bogus issue largely fed by the publishing industry. That said, I think Kung's book is one of the few on the subject worth reading. I have read Dawkins and Hitchens and am generally sympathetic with their views. But Kung points out that while science (and history) may have much to say about human beings and perhaps what drives religious movements, it has absolutely nothing to say about God. Kung reminds us of the often forgotten distinction between religious experience and religious organizations. This book lays out the fundamental issue more clearly than any I have encountered.