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Science and Religion: From Conflict to Conversation [Paperback]

By John Haught (Author)
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Item description for Science and Religion: From Conflict to Conversation by John Haught...

A theologian reflects on the issues that still divide scientists and religious believers.

Publishers Description
A theologian reflects on the issues that still divide scientists an religious believers.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Paulist Press
Pages   225
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.98" Width: 5.93" Height: 0.63"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 1995
Publisher   Paulist Press
Edition  New  
ISBN  0809136066  
ISBN13  9780809136063  

Availability  0 units.

More About John Haught

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! John F. Haught is a Senior Fellow of Science and Religion at the Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University, and Professor of Theology Emeritus, Georgetown University. He is the author of a number of books including God and the New Atheism: A Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens, published by Westminster John Knox Press.

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
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Reviews - What do customers think about Science and Religion: From Conflict to Conversation?

Science & Religion - Haught  Jan 25, 2008
This is an excellent book for anyone struggling to come to terms with the complexity of the subject matter giving the student an in depth appraisal in the most readable manner. Highly recommended.
Excellent Introduction to the Science and Religion Debate  Nov 12, 2007
The title of this book aptly describes what has been happening more and more in the relationship between science and religion since the publication of Ian Barbour's Issues in Science and Religion in 1966. Fortunately, as John Polkinghorne has pointed out in his work, Belief in God in an Age of Science: "Only in the media, and in popular and polemical scientific writing, does there persist the myth of the light of pure scientific truth confronting the darkness of obscurantist religious error." I find this an excellent introduction for non-experts (such as myself or college students) to the central issues in science and religion today.
The author has been teaching a course in science and religion at Georgetown University for more than 25 years. This is perhaps why reading the book feels like participating in a debate in a university classroom. The fact that each chapter has as its title a crucial question contributes to this experience. For example, "Is Religion Opposed to Science?" is the title of chapter one. Then the question is analyzed under each of the four basic approaches that have been tried to relate science and religion: 1) conflict, 2) contrast, 3) contact, and 4) confirmation. Even though professor Haught clearly favors the contact and confirmation approaches, he does an excellent job in explaining with authenticity the other perspectives. This feature of the work will definitely induce discussion and debate in a classroom setting.
An excellent classroom tool  Dec 18, 1999
There are two kinds of textbooks for a course on science and religion. One is the book that tells you everything you need to know. Ian Barbour and Holmes Rolston III have produced marvelous examples. The other is the book that invites the reader deep into the issues at stake, with just enough information to make those issues clear. This second kind of book usually needs supplementary sources of information. Haught's book is of this kind, and is outstanding of the type. I know because I use it in my own classes. By presenting each issue from four different viewpoints, the book allows a reader to identify her or his own position, in relation to possible alternatives. The reader has to sort through the pros and cons given by proponents of the four positions. So the student is propelled to a critical evaluation of alternataives. Haught provides many samples of ideas from contemporary thinkers, both religious and decidedly unreligious. The samples open the way to using more material from these primary sources, all in the context of the arguments and reasonings presented in the book. It is an excellent educational tool. END
A modern, sensitive treatment from multiple perspectives  Jun 22, 1998
I have read quite a few books in the general area of science and religion, including many of the currently popular general interest books written by professional scientists, who often touch on the topic of religion. Haught is not a professional scientist, although he is very familiar with modern science. He is however well schooled in modern philosophy and theology. Haught's recently published "Science and Religion" is an eloquent treatment of the tensions at the interface of these two disciplines. It is arguably the best book that I have read on this subject.

The book addresses the following nine questions, with one chapter devoted to each:

1. Is religion opposed to science? 2. Does science rule out a personal God? 3. Does evolution rule out God's existence? 4. Is life reducible to chemistry? 5. Was the universe created? 6. Do we belong here? 7. Why is there complexity in nature? 8. Does the universe have a purpose? 9. Is religion responsible for the ecological crisis?

This book structures its discussion of these nine questions as a "debate" between four distinct schools of thought, which Haught terms conflict, contrast, contact and confirmation. Scientific and philosophic concepts introduced in ensuing discussion are explained clearly, so that the book is accessible to nonspecialists.

The "conflict" school of thought holds that modern science is irreconcilably opposed to religion. Skeptical scientists of this persuasion, including the likes of Dennett, Hawking and Weinberg, argue that modern science has indeed hit the final nail into the coffin of theistic religion. The Copernican revolution removed humans from the center of existence to an obscure speck in an unimaginably large and hostile universe. Newton showed that the universe is governed by natural law, not by continual supernatural intervention. Darwin demonstrated that living organisms on earth arose through a natural process over many millions of years. Quantum mechanics revealed the laws gov! erning the world of subatomic particles. Einstein removed any vestige of absolute space and time. Big bang cosmology removed any lingering need for a Creator. Thus it is no longer intellectually possible to accept modern science and still believe in God.

Ironically, this "conflict" point of view is shared by many religious fundamentalists. In a defense of their faith, some are determined to overturn conventional scientific theories, replacing this body of knowledge with an alternative version that they call "creation science".

The "contrast" school argues that most, if not all, of the tension between modern science and religion is unnecessary, stemming from a persistent failure over the past few centuries to recognize the separate domains of science and religion. Those advocating this view cede to science the outward description of the physical world, including the processes by which it came to be, but reserve for religion questions such as the nature of God and the meaning of existence. Along this line, the Catholic Church was completely out of order when it persecuted Galileo over Copernican cosmology -- the Church was invading the domain of science. But scientists are equally out of line when they invade the realm of religion (several modern examples are cited in the book). Indeed, many skeptical scientists betray their own unfounded belief systems in such writings. These belief systems include scientism (the belief that all knowledge comes only through the scientific method), materialism (the belief that all reality, including life and mind, is completely explainable in terms of its constituent material) and reductionism (the belief that the best approach to truth is through analysis at the lowest level). Thus the conflict between science and religion is really a conflict between scientism/materialism/reductionism and religion.

The author then describes the "contact" school of thought, with which he is obviously sympathetic. While those of this pe! rsuasion acknowledge the need for a respectful division between science and religion, they argue that a completely clean division is not really possible. Further, a total separation prevents science and religion from mutually nourishing each other in their quest for truth. Advocates of this view cite certain remarkable developments of twentieth century science, including the apparent requirement for an observer in quantum mechanics, the fact that the fundamental constants and laws of physics appear to be exquisitely tuned for our existence, and the findings of the emerging field of chaos, which indicate that the neatly mechanistic universe of Newtonian mechanics must give way to a universe that is fundamentally unpredictable and continuously creative of beauty and order. Developments such as these simply cannot be ignored when considering our place in the universe. They not only point to a divine Creator and a rational Lawgiver, but also to a universe that, in the spirit of the prophetic tradition, has the promise of eternal progression and creativity.

Finally, the author mentions what he calls the "confirmation" school, which notes that the whole notion of a universe that is rational and discoverable is deeply rooted in Judeo-Christian thought. The Book of Job, for example, teaches us to trust in the rationality of the universe even in the face of seemingly incomprehensible tribulation and suffering. In this light, all scientists implicitly work from an underlying faith that the universe is ultimately simple, elegant, rational and comprehensible. Without this faith, which is entirely comparable to faith in God, there would be no point in performing experiments or trying to craft rational theories to explain the findings. In this light, the Judeo-Christian tradition, as it emerged from the Middle Ages, actually set the stage for modern science.

One important question is whether or not harmonious approaches such as those discussed in this book can gain acceptance, either by scientific o! r religious people. Haught observes that the outlook is not encouraging. Skeptical scientists seem unwilling to cede any domain of truth to religion. Typical is Tipler's claim that either religion must eventually be reduced to a branch of physics, or else it must be dismissed as a subject of no content. On the other hand, few deeply religious persons seem willing to even accept the theory of evolution, for example, much less weave this or any other theory of modern science into their personal religious fabric. But there remains some hope that if each side displays sincere flexibility on these questions, a meaningful dialogue can be established.

In summary, this book is highly recommended for college students and others who struggle with these questions.


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