Item description for Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach by Vern S. Poythress...
Overview By delving into the intricate and immutable laws of nature, as well as opposing beliefs, the author presents a Christian response to science that urges the world to pay tribute to the God who created nature and cares for it. Original.
Many people think science is antagonistic to Christian belief. Science, it is said, shows that the universe is billions of years old, while the Bible says it is only thousands of years old. And some claim that science shows supernatural miracles are impossible. These and other points of contention cause some Christians to view science as a threat to their beliefs.
Redeeming Science attempts to kindle our appreciation for science as it ought to be-science that could serve as a path for praising God and serving fellow human beings. Through examining the wonderfully complex and immutable laws of nature, author Vern Poythress explains, we ought to recognize the wisdom, care, and beauty of God. A Christian worldview restores a true response to science, where we praise the God who created nature and cares for it.
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Studio: Crossway Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.1" Width: 5.84" Height: 0.98" Weight: 1.12 lbs.
Release Date Oct 13, 2006
Publisher GOOD NEWS PUBLISHING #65
ISBN 1581347316 ISBN13 9781581347319
Availability 0 units.
More About Vern S. Poythress
Vern S. Poythress (PhD, Harvard University; ThD, University of Stellenbosch) is professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he has taught for nearly four decades. In addition to earning six academic degrees, he is the author of numerous books and articles on biblical interpretation, language, and science.
Reviews - What do customers think about Redeeming Science?
A good Biblical philosophy of science Aug 14, 2008
Some would say that science and theology are antagonistic to each other, especially since the 19th century's movements of higher criticism in theology and naturalism in science. To some degree, this reflects a larger issue in Western Civilization, that of a loss of unifying purposes that has been lost. Some would prefer to ignore any relation between science and theology, saying they take up such completely different spheres, you cannot even speak of them at the same time, one belongs in the classroom and laboratory, the other belongs in the sanctuary. Dr. Vern Poythress has taken what can be called a more traditional approach to understanding the role of science as a way to understand God, take care of creation and help man, almost hearkening back to the scientific revolution of the late 17th century.
Poythress has math degrees from Cal. Tech and Harvard, and college teaching experience; and for the last 25 years he has been a New Testament professor at Westminster Seminary, so he brings a unique perspective in how he understands scientific thought and theology, at a high level. His goal in Redeeming Science is two fold. He wants the reader to understand scientific philosophy and inquiry as a good thing, that as a Christian he wants the reader to embrace science as a way to adventure, govern and take care of a creation that God is actively cultivating. He also wants to call for a higher, unifying element in how we understand knowledge and inquiry, that individuals would see all true knowledge as God's knowledge.
Poythress begins his book with a clear worldview statement, that all scientists, whether proclaimed atheists or traditional Christians, believe in God, because he says you have to operate with certain assumptions in how the universe works and how you perceive it to work, that flow out worldview consistent with how God describes himself in the pages of the Bible. So he says there is no such thing as neutrality, no position that allows the observer of nature to stand apart and make statements.
Due to its large importance, especially since the rise of scientific naturalism in the 19th century, Poythress spends several chapters discussing different theories for understanding creation, and with a sound attempt at a hermeneutical analysis of Genesis 1 and 2. Poythress takes an analogical view of understanding creation. He does a fine job of pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of various understandings of how we understand creation, but is most of all concerned with not making the Bible say things it does not say, nor making our understanding of creation inconsistent with what we know about God.
Where the book is its strongest, is Poythress' explanation of why science should have the influence of the redeeming effect of Christ. He takes a traditional understanding of the effects of sin, and points to how that distortion makes knowledge murky and hard to comprehend. Poythress makes the case that Christ came to fulfill the creation mandate - to restore the natural world, the cultural mandate - to redeem human relations and how people understand the world and he calls Christ the "final scientist", that is the goal of science is to understand creation with wisdom and dominion, and since Christ has achieved final rule over wisdom and over creation, he is the final archetype of what true science should pursue, on principle and philosophy especially.
Poythress is a fair writer about his subject, and towards other views other than his own. He has written, in about 350 pages, a good overview of a philosophy of science, based on Biblical theology, that he argues should drive everyone's understanding, manipulation and exploration of the world around them. Some of the subjects that he attempts to overview, such as theological approaches to physics and chemistry are probably a bit too scientifically complex for the general reader, years removed from their secondary science classes. Yet, anyone with a solid foundation in science and a desire to understand an overarching Christian theological framework, based on first principles, should find Redeeming Science a welcome addition. He is not adding to an inter or intra religious and scientific debate per se, but is simply describing, exegeting and developing conclusions based on applied theology. What he most wants the informed reader to take away is that God's calls people to explore and rule over his creation, largely for the sense of discovering how big and great God is as a part of the divinely given privilege.
Wow. Feb 25, 2008
I'm 2/3 through this book, and it is wonderful. Poythress makes so many great points. I just keep saying "Amen!" It is extremely heartening to have a book out there written by someone who not only loves both science and the Bible, but who also trusts both and understands both. BTW, I am not Reformed, and I have a PhD in Physics. I wish I could get every Christian and every scientist (Christian or not) to read this book.
Refreshing humility in a polarised debate Oct 17, 2007
This is the first time I have read Vern Poythress and he is delightful. His style is measured and I have enjoyed the humility with which he approaches this sometimes volatile topic. He stresses that we are sinful humans with our own predjudice and bias and we need to recognise that before we start. Then he stresses his view of the inerrancy of scripture from the one true God who has revealed himself to mankind. In introducing science Poythress appeals to the reader to recognise that the pursuit of science assumes an underlying belief in order and systematic development, which the Christian recognises as the creative hand of God. Where science and the bible appear to contradict one another he asks us to ask ourselves: a. is the scientific evidence credible? b. have we created the contradiction by mis-interpreting the scientific evidence? c. have we created the contradiction by mis-interpreting the bible?
I notice some reviewers object to this, preferring their own dogmatic views (I'm being volatile ;-) ), but this sounds like a pretty sensible approach to me. Vern Poythress believes the bible to be the true Word of God, but he suggests that we must read it within its own literary context....poems were never meant to textbooks.
There are extensive footnotes to the text which will point the interested reader off to deeper discussions of various issues. It is a pleasure to read a well thought out conservative evangelical theologian who can engage deeply with modern science.
Sola Scriptura Jan 17, 2007
Dr. Poythress needs to justify his trust in science and it's dogma of billions of years of age in the earth and universe. Philosophically, the question he attempts to answer is a category mistake and he should know better. He needs to explain exactly how the scientist 'knows' when he's got the right answer of age? How does one calibrate instruments and methods that profess to measure billions of years? Must one find a rock with the 'true' date it was made stamped on it? Philosopher of science Karl Popper was correct when he said that finite man can never know when he actually has got the final truth of anything. Popper also said that science was but a series of conjectures followed by refutations and that science is never final. Dr. Poythress should consider a question of Bertram Russell's. If creation of the world, universe, everything in it and man complete with his memory took place just 30 seconds ago; how would man know the difference? Man would not know the difference. The only way man can truly know the age of the earth is by revelation from a transcendant source.
A valuable contribution to the Reformed tradition Dec 29, 2006
I am very pleased with this book. The first thing to know is that while Dr. Poythress is a seminary professor, he also holds a PhD in mathematics from Harvard University in addition to his PhD in New Testament. He has a sophisticated grasp of the ideas behind science and mathematics, as well as theology. Being a scientist myself, I sometimes get nervous when non-scientists draw philosophical or theological conclusions from things they don't understand, for instance Heisenberg's uncertainty relation, but we do not have this problem with Dr. Poythress. Nevertheless, he has aimed this book at laymen, and I believe that the majority of the material should be easily accessible to most readers.
The book seeks to develop a self-consciously Biblical view of science. In the opening chapters he discusses the divine attributes of scientific law, such as omnipresence and immutability, and the questions of the Bible and authority in their relation to the scientific enterprise. It is in these opening chapters that he develops the Van Tillian epistemological framework for understanding science, and shows the radical contrast between this and atheistic worldviews. He shows that all scientists must operate under the assumptions of a Biblical worldview, (rational order to the universe, reliability of physical law, etc.) even though the worldviews they profess to believe may not be able to justify such assumptions.
Chapters four through ten tackle the issues surrounding the interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis. Here I think Poythress has done a masterful job of attempting to maintain the absolute authority of the Bible as divine revelation, while helping us, who read the Bible with a modern scientific mindset, to really get to the bottom of what God's Word is and is not asserting. This subtlety is what seems to have eluded a previous reviewer.
Chapters eleven through thirteen deal with some of the more specifically theological issues, the role of man (such as image of God and cultural mandate), the role of Christ (perfectly fulfilling cultural mandate), and the role of God's Word (scientific law as God's Word ruling the physical universe).
Chapters fourteen through seventeen consider some of the more epistemological and philosophical questions involved in science, such as the nature of truth, reality, scientific knowledge, and ordinary experience. Here, as throughout the book, the idea of the unity between different aspects of reality as well as the different ways we can look at reality in terms of the being of God is especially helpful. I also appreciated his discussion of miracles, in terms of primary and secondary causes, and in terms of the rationality of both miracles and physical laws as equally reflecting God's sovereign rule of the universe.
Chapters eighteen and nineteen deal with the questions of life, evolution, and intelligent design, and I think give a very nice overview of some of the issues that are involved in these discussions, as well as the ideological problems that will almost always completely overwhelm the actual scientific evidence. The final four chapters conclude appropriately with some specific examples of seeing the beauty and majesty of our God revealed in the physical and mathematical reality that we encounter.
As you can see, Dr. Poythress covers an ambitious amount of ground in this book. As you may imagine, in a 350 page book, several of the discussions are somewhat limited in terms of their depth, but there are certainly plenty of references for further study if you have the interest. Incidentally, the extensive bibliography at the end is alone worth the price of the book. It is unlikely that anyone will agree with all of Dr. Poythress' conclusions; I did not, but he certainly is making a serious attempt to deal with the issues, and the obvious humility and tentativeness he exhibits on matters that may admit more than one interpretation is an attitude that I wish was more characteristic of people who claim to stand in the Reformed tradition.
Perhaps in a later edition we may hope for a chapter on quantum mechanics, which in my opinion must surely reveal some interesting things about God that were perhaps not so obvious in the years, following Newton, of seemingly total physical determinism. Additionally, I would have liked to have seen a chapter outlining how the historical rise of science was squarely grounded in the specifically Biblical worldview of the reformation, as well as the contemporary near-infinite ideological chasm existing between the (unbelieving) practitioners of physical science (the only truth is scientific truth) and the other academic disciplines (there is no truth) as a result of the abandonment of a Christian consensus. But you can't do everything at once. The book is an enjoyable and edifying read, and with so much breadth of subject matter, there's never a dull moment. Dr. Poythress has given us a valuable contribution to developing a specifically reformed view of faith and science, and I certainly hope that his book will receive the attention and the consideration that it deserves.