Item description for The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series) by Nancy Pearcey & Charles Thaxton...
Overview This work surveys the development of science so that Christians may gain an understanding of its historical progression in light of their faith. The authors look at this field of study in its formative stages--when Christianity was the backdrop to virtually all scientific discussion--and explore the key controversies that changed the face of science.
"I consider The Soul of Science to be a most significant book which, in our scientific age, should be required reading for all thinking Christians and all practicing scientists. The authors demonstrate how the flowering of modern science depended upon the Judeo-Christian worldview of the existence of a real physical contingent universe, created and held in being by an omnipotent personal God, with man having the capabilities of rationality and creativity, and thus being capable of investigating it. Pearcey and Thaxton make excellent use of analogies to elucidate difficult concepts, and the clarity of their explanations for the nonspecialist, for example, of Einstein's relativity theories or of the informational content of DNA and its consequences for theories of prebiotic evolution, are quite exceptional, alone making the volume worth purchasing." --Dr. David Shotton, Lecturer in Cell Biology, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford
"Pearcey and Thaxton show that the alliance between atheism and science is a temporary aberration and that, far from being inimical to science, Christian theism has played and will continue to play an important role in the growth of scientific understanding. This brilliant book deserves wide readership." --Phillip E. Johnson, University of California, Berkeley
"This book would be an excellent text for courses on science and religion, and it should be read by all Christians interested in the relationship between science and their theological commitments." --J.P. Moreland, Professor of Philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University
Citations And Professional Reviews The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series) by Nancy Pearcey & Charles Thaxton has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Library Journal - 07/01/1994 page 99
Booklist - 07/01/1994 page 1899
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Studio: Crossway Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.51" Width: 5.53" Height: 0.85" Weight: 0.85 lbs.
Release Date Aug 16, 1994
Publisher Crossway Books/Good News
Series Turning Point Christian Worldvie
ISBN 0891077669 ISBN13 9780891077664
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More About Nancy Pearcey & Charles Thaxton
Nancy R. Pearcey (PhD, Philadelphia Biblical University) is the editor at large of the Pearcey Report as well as scholar in residence and professor at Houston Baptist University. She is also a fellow at the Discovery Institute. She was previously the Francis A. Schaeffer Scholar at the World Journalism Institute and has also served as professor of worldview studies at Philadelphia Biblical University.
CHARLES THAXTON has a PhD in chemistry and has done postdoctoral work in the history of science at Harvard University.
Marvin Olasky (PhD, University of Michigan) is the editor in chief of World magazine, holder of the distinguished chair in journalism and public policy at Patrick Henry College, and senior fellow of the Acton Institute. He was previously a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, a Boston Globe reporter, and a Du Pont Company speechwriter. He is the author of twenty books and more than 3,500 articles. He and his wife, Susan, have four sons.
Nancy Pearcey has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series)?
What a joke Jul 12, 2007
I am not convinced. Karl Popper did more with the lint in his pocket for science then Christianity ever did. Yes this is a horrible review, but I am done waisting my time with this book.
The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series) Nov 5, 2006
THIS BOOK BRINGS TOGETHER MANY CENTURIES OF CHRISTIAN THOUGHT TO SHOW THAT THE BIBLE DOES SPEAK TO EVERY AREA OF LIFE AND THOUGHT IN THE UPPER STORY OF SPIRITUAL TRUTH AS WELL AS THE LOWER STORY OF LIFE APPLICATION.
How the Christian Faith Gave Birth to Modern Science Jun 21, 2006
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)
The best Christian introduction to philosophy of science Dec 25, 2005
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).
The Philosophies Behind the Science Apr 5, 2005
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.
So, I read this book as a non-scientist and want to share a few thoughts on its value to non-scientists like me. For a good review from a technical standpoint you'll have to look elsewhere. The book has lots of interesting information about biology, mathematics, quantum mechanics and DNA, to which the most intelligent response I can give is "wow . . . hey, . . . that's um . . . interesting, . . . that's really groovy man." In other words, it all sounds pretty neat but I don't understand much of what I read.
What I did understand though, and what makes this book valuable to a scientific ignoramus like me is that all science has an underlying philosophy. Science is supposed to be one field of study where you just deal with bare facts, where the facts speak for themselves, where empiricism rules the day. Yet, the project of science itself depends on certain philosophical underpinnings.
The project of science begins with a presupposition that the world around us is real and understandable. This is not something native to all societies and Pearcey and Thaxton point out what many historians agree on - that Christianity is the native soil out of which the scientific enterprise grew. The Christian worldview says that there is a God, a God of order, who created a world of order. Thus the earliest scientists sought to understand the world that God created, to think His thoughts after Him. Science was a means of knowing God and giving praise to Him.
Thus, the notion that there is some kind of hostility between science and Christianity is false. The hostility that arose between science and Christianity arose as scientists abandoned Christian presuppositions for atheistic presuppositions.
However, it is not as if there is a "Christian philosophy of science" and an "atheist philosophy of science." Pearcey and Thaxton demonstrate that, historically, there have been three dominant philosophies of science. All three have morphed at times, but the basic philosophies are Aristotelian, Neo-Platonic and Mechanistic.
Aristotle pictured the world as a vast organism. He believed that all forms of motion or change are accomplished because of an objects built in purpose or goal. Aristotle described things using metaphors of living organisms, not machines. Aristotelianism was rationalistic, viewing God as a rational mind whose thoughts are known by logical analysis. The development of living organisms was driven by some kind of internal pattern that assured they fulfilled their goal or purpose.
The Neo-Platonists were similar to Aristotelians in that they believed the world was a living organism. However, they differed in that how they explained this: "In explaining natural processes, it appealed not to rational Forms but to the creative power of spiritual forces. These forces were often regarded as divine, or at least as avenues of divine activity in the world.
The mechanistic worldview rejected Aristotelianism and Neo-Platonism in that it didn't see the world as a living organism, rather as a machine with God as the chief engineer.
Pearcey and Thaxton point out that there are many nuances within these basic worldviews and the worldviews are applied somewhat differently in different disciplines. Further, these are rough groupings and some scientists would be hard to categorize. But, for Pearcey and Thaxton, these worldviews are portrayed as the grid through which almost all scientific disciplines are pursued. They also point out that, historically, each of these worldviews have been used in service to both Christianity and non-Christianity. Hence, the obvious implication is that there are certain faith commitments that form an even deeper sub-strata beneath the philosophies themselves.
I say that I didn't understand most of the more technical stuff in the book, but there were some nuggets that got through my thick skull. There is a fascinating chapter on the fall of mathematics from its pinnacle as the ultimate source of empirical certainty. And the chapter on DNA is wonderful. The complexity and volume of information contained in DNA gives wonderful testimony to the existence of a creator and to the notion that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
But the bottom line value of the book is that it will help us look beyond the facts in discussions about Christianity and Science. Very often, Christian apologists seek to go head to head with non-Christian scientists in regards to evidences. The Christian piles up a stack of evidence that he says proves the existence of God or the Christian worldview, and the non-Christian piles up a similar stack of evidence against him. They both attack the others stacks of evidences and defend their own. The outcome sometimes looks like an office where both stacks of paper have been blown around the room resulting in chaos.
We need to look beyond the "bare facts" (there is no such thing as a "bare" fact) to the philosophical foundations behind them. In that regard, the Christian worldview provides a remarkable foundation for science.
"The Soul of Science" affirms the words of Max Planck who says "Over the entrance to the gates of the temple of science are written the words: 'Ye must have faith.'"