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Science & Christianity: Four Views [Paperback]

By Richard F. Carlson (Editor), Wayne F. Frair (Contribution by) & Gary D. Patterson (Contribution by)
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Item description for Science & Christianity: Four Views by Richard F. Carlson, Wayne F. Frair & Gary D. Patterson...

IVP Print On Demand Title Can you be a faithful Christian and a believer in contemporary scientific theory? Six scholars address this controversial question, offering four different views on the uneasy relationship between science and faith. Their discussion of creationism, science and Christian theology, the "God hypothesis," and the partnership between science and Christianity will help you shape an informed opinion.

Publishers Description
Science and Christianity. Are they partners or opponents? Christians have long debated the relationship of science to faith. With the rise of Darwinism, however, the issue took on new significance. Darwinism appeared to undermine the authority of the Bible and the credibility of Christianity by freeing science of the need for a Creator. Rethinking the relationship between science and Christianity quickly became a priority. How does a faithful Christian respond to the pronouncements of contemporary science? Is science a help or a hindrance to belief? Are science and the Bible in conflict? At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Christians continue to wonder whether faith and science are partners or opponents. In this book six Christian scholars sort through the issues as they present four different views on the relationship of science and Christianity. These include Wayne Frair and Gary D. Patterson for "creationism," Jean Pond for "independence," Stephen C. Meyer for "qualified agreement" and Howard J. Van Till for "partnership." Each contributor responds to the other scholars, noting points of agreement and disagreement. Editor Richard F. Carlson offers an introduction to this contemporary debate as well as a postscript to help us evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each view.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Science & Christianity: Four Views by Richard F. Carlson, Wayne F. Frair & Gary D. Patterson has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • CBA Retailers - 10/01/2000 page 80

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Item Specifications...

Studio: IVP Academic
Pages   276
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.26" Width: 5.52" Height: 0.78"
Weight:   0.72 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2000
Publisher   IVP-InterVarsity Press
Edition  Print-On-Demand  
ISBN  0830822623  
ISBN13  9780830822621  

Availability  112 units.
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More About Richard F. Carlson, Wayne F. Frair & Gary D. Patterson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Richard F. Carlson is research professor of physics at the University of Redlands in Redlands, California and formerly a visiting scientist in the department of radiation sciences at Uppsala University, Sweden. He received a B.S. (University of Redlands), M.S. and Ph.D. (University of Minnesota) in physics, and an M. A. (Fuller Theological Seminary) in biblical studies and theology. His physics research interests are in experimental nuclear physics, and he has done postdoctoral research at UCLA. While teaching at the University of Redlands he has continued his nuclear research at UCLA, the University of Manitoba, University of California Davis, and currently at Uppsala University. Carlson has published more than fifty articles in physics research journals. Recently his interests have shifted to the area of science and Christian faith, and between 1995 and 2005 he taught a number of science and theology courses at the University of Redlands and Fuller Theological Seminary. His courses at Redlands and Fuller have resulted in two Templeton Foundation prizes. He is the general editor ofScience & Christianity: Four Views (InterVarsity Press, 2000), as well as the author of a number of articles appearing in nuclear physics research journals and theological journals.

Richard F. Carlson was born in 1936.

Richard F. Carlson has published or released items in the following series...
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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Science & Religion
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Reviews - What do customers think about Science & Christianity: Four Views?

Are Science and Religion Separate or Interacting Spheres?  Jun 22, 2006
Christians have long debated the relationship of science and faith. With the rise of Darwinism, however, the issue took on new significance. Darwinism appeared to undermine the authority of the Bible and the credibility of Christianity by freeing science of the need for a Creator. Rethinking the relationship between science and Christianity quickly became a priority. How does a faithful Christian respond to the pronouncements of contemporary science?

At the beginning of the 21st century, Christians continue to wonder whether faith and science are partners or opponents. In this book six scholars help us sort through the issues as they present four views on the relationship of science and Christianity. These views include creationism, independence, qualified agreement, and partnership.

Firstly, Wayne Frair and Gary D. Patterson argue that creationism bolsters faith in the Bible, while basing its claims upon actual scientific evidence. For them, science is the formal study of the observable world while theology is the study of God and his relationship to his created world. They argue that the Bible is to be interpreted as the inerrant word of God, while holding that the actual literal meaning of Genesis could still fit with an ancient age of the universe. Science is seen as supporting what is known by faith.

Next, Jean Pond argues for the "independence" viewpoint, like Stephen Jay Gould who argued, "Science and religion are not in conflict, for their teaching occupy distinctly different domains." (pg. 71) Senior Discovery Institute fellow Stephen C. Meyer responds to this view by observing that in reality, science and religion often tread upon the same ground, for "Christianity in particular does not simply address questions of morality and meaning as Gould's NOMA principle asserts, but it also makes factual claims about history, human nature and, it would seem, the origin of the natural world." (pg. 112)

Meyer then articulates his view of science and religion, called "qualified agreement." In particular, materialistic theories of origins betray a theistic understanding of the universe. As Bertrand Russell described materialistic science, "Man is the product of causes which had no provision of the end they were achieving" and that predestined him "to extinction in the vast death of the solar system." (pg. 127-128) Meyer argues that history demonstrates that many proponents of materialistic science have viewed science as antithetical to faith. According to Meyer, new scientific developments including Big Bang cosmology, fine-tuning arguments, and information in DNA support design in the universe and theistic perspectives of reality.

Finally, Howard J. Van Till argues for acceptance of evolutionary science. Van Till puts particular emphasis upon what he calls "transparently shoddy scholarship" against evolution coming from the Christian community which is an "embarrassment." (pg. 196). Van Till views opposition to evolution as either based upon (1) peer-pressure, (2) childhood impressions, (3) or careful examination of the data, which he calls a position "that appears to be rare." (pg. 200). For Van Till, the key question is, "Is the formational economy of the creation sufficiently robust (that is, gifted withal the requisite capabilities) to make possible the actualization of all the different physical / material structures and all forms of life that have existed since the beginning of time?" According to Van Till, the answer is an assumption because "For the sake of scientific theorizing we assume that the formational economy of the universe is sufficiently robust to account for the actualization in time of all the types of physical / material structures and all the forms of life that have ever existed." Van Till urges Christians to accept that assumption as true.

Stephen Meyer responds to Van Till by noting that assumptions should not cloud the minds of scientists, for design theorists "think that scientists should follow the evidence wherever it leads." Meyer contends that "questions about whether natural self-organizational capacities or acts of intelligent design better explain the natural world ought to be decided by empirical investigation rather than a priori principles," such as those proposed by Van Till. Meyer concludes that the empirical data does not support Van Till's hypothesis that life can arise via natural processes, in particular because there are no "self-organizing" forces which can explain the sequence-specific ordering of the chemical bases in DNA. Thus Meyer argues that Van Till's assumptions can be empirically tested, and they have been found to be false.

This debate will likely continue long into the future. However the respectful and fruitful dialogues found in this book will help Christians better identify the best approach to understanding the relationship between science and faith.
Dissappointing - Creationist position not represented well  Jun 1, 2004
Science & Christianity: Four Views is a well-conceived attempt to cover the spectrum of Christian thought concerning the proper interaction of theology and science as realms of knowledge. These interacting viewpoint books are a great idea but they are difficult to pull-off because at least one viewpoint usually suffers. In this book, Creationism in particular is not well represented. Since this view is a historical cornerstone in the discussion, the overall book suffers as a result.

Frair and Patterson represent the Creationist viewpoint (young and old-earth views are essentially combined in this book). Their opening position statement, as expected, emphasizes the priority of an inerrant Scripture as the authority in human knowledge though they also encourage vigorous scientific inquiry and believe the two ultimately converge into one reality. But, their interactions with other viewpoints throughout the book tend to miss the point by avoiding any contrast/conflict. This avoidance hurts the value of the book and depth of their presentation.

Pond represents what is called the Independence view, which is often ignored in these discussions. Independence asserts that theology and science are two completely different areas of knowledge with no appreciable overlap in describing reality. If there is a question about the actual physical history of earth, it is resolved solely by science. Likewise, if there is a question of human spirituality it is resolved solely in the area of religion (Christianity for Pond). Pond says she considers scripture one more facet of information, which is to be considered along with church tradition (Episcopal in her case), and human reason depending upon the subject at hand. In the case of physical earth history, she sees no role for the Bible. She does not accept the notion that the scripture is inerrant and asks for a definition of the term (FYI Feinberg provides a great one in "Inerrancy" edited by Geisler). In place of inerrancy Ponds promotes the NOMA principle popularized by Stephen Jay Gould. Pond is eloquent for her position and interacts with other viewpoints in a consistent manner that provides some color to what is generally a bland book. Aside from the color she adds to the discussion, I find her view of scripture and science (along with NOMA) to be an elaborate cop-out that gives total precedence to science at every point in the discussion carrying any significance for discovering physical reality. Pond (and NOMA) seem to overlook the turbulent nature of scientific theories throughout history while discounting the possibility that the Bible has a divine author capable of giving a general but accurate description of physical reality that science is yet to fully discover.

The Qualified Agreement viewpoint is covered by Meyer and basically says that we should accept a highly interactive view of both scripture and science on a case-by-case basis where there are no hard and fast rules as to which will take precedence beforehand. After tracing the history of earlier intelligent design efforts by Paley and others, Meyer provides an onslaught of physical evidence from various fields of science. This chapter has so many well-known examples of design that the overall method (inference to the best explanation) does not receive the attention it deserves. Meyer is consistent throughout the book making most of his arguments from contemporary scientific evidence suggesting design, rather than from scripture. Meyer footnotes his evidence well and provides a veritable who's who of intelligent design authors such as Dembski, Behe, Ross and Denton.

Van Till provides the Partnership view, which says that science and Christian theology can go hand in hand without conflict. This view emphasizes a possible harmony between the two fields of knowledge and seeks to explain it with what Van Till calls the Robust Formation Economy (RFE). He prefers RFE to theistic evolution, which is more often used as a category for his viewpoint. The RFE basically says God created the universe as an amazing evolutionary machine that is capable of unfolding in the way modern evolutionary sciences say it does with no further intervention from God. Van Till feels this view ascribes more glory to God than the interventionist views held by Creationists or Qualified Agreement camps (Independence would seem to agree more with Van Till though it has no identifiable position as to interaction). Van Till's position is open to the critique (attempted but not adequately made in this book) that he is just playing games with words. Renaming deism to RFE doesn't really help things very much. His position counters scripture in a number of areas that indicate God is actively involved in the daily workings of nature, not just the macro architect from billions of years ago. Partnership ends up being a cop-out theory like Independence, it's just dressed up with fancier words and ideas, but not strong arguments based upon theological and scientific data.

This is a mediocre book that had the potential to be excellent but did not achieve that goal. There actually aren't that many intermediate books available in the area of philosophy of science and Christianity, but this is one. If you just want one book in this area choose Three Views on Creation and Evolution by Moreland and Reynolds; it is somewhat better than this book.
Absence of true Creationist position made this dialog bland  Sep 11, 2001
There are four positions here, and I will address them in the order that they are presented in the book:

1. The Creationism position (for some reason the only position that is an "ism") was blandly proclaimed in a lengthy and mostly uninspired essay by Wayne Friar and Gary D. Patterson. Although I had never heard of them, I suspect they are part of some mutual admiration society overusing phrases in their supposedly critical response essays like "we commend", "we join", "we agree that" and "we share." They sacrificed the sharp sword of intellectual debate for the blunt instrument of patronizing accolades.
2. Jean Pond's position of Independence is ridiculous -- she plainly stated that belief in Christ "requires faith beyond reason" (p. 242) when taken in context implies that faith is not reasonable. Additionally she quotes Sagan, Dawkins and Gould with respect normally granted only to the Pope. She gives particular credence to Gould's NOMA principle (loosely put: an intellectual wall of separation between science and 'religion'.) She quotes Dawkins and Gould effectively stating that theology is the study of nothing (maybe the wall is a fence to keep God out?). Pond gently reminds the readers that they are the exception rather than the rule, but then doesn't follow through by affirming that the study of theology is the study of anything. She seems to throw up her arms in confusion because of the proliferation of denominations and the use of the Scriptures for both sides of crucial issues like homosexuality and the ordination of women.
3. I like Stephen Meyer's philosophical approach in the Qualified Agreement position -- at least he had guts to disagree with Pond and Van Till, something that Friar and Patterson were reticent to do. He exposes the Independence and Mutual Partnership's (see below) acceptance and promotion of what I call the "myth of religious/metaphysical neutrality." Additionally Meyers is strong when discussing the classical proofs of God and how those arguments can be resurrected by new discoveries, particularly in the area of information science.
4. Lastly, Van Till propounds the Mutual Partnership position where science and Christian theology are "partners in theorizing." Although his position is solidly evolutionary, I found his principle of robust formational economy (RFE) [Jean Pond found that phrase to be a mouthful -- one might say "say that three times fast."] interesting although not convincing. His desire is to take a razor blade to the idea of 'creation' by separating them into two distinct phases or arenas: the initial concept (dare I say 'design') and the actual formation or creating (read naturalistic evolution). Therefore, if I'm reading him correctly, Van Till gives all the credit to God for designing a system that is self-creating. Obviously God kicked off the process, but He's just watching it unfold perhaps like some Cosmic Couch-Potato Deity. Stephen Meyer is correct in his assessment that this is close to, if not fully developed, Deism. In advocating the RFE principle, Van Till rejects the artisan, craftsman or builder concepts. I think he does so to the detriment of the Holy Scriptures where God compares Himself to the Potter and we his creatures to the clay pot. The Potter doesn't just intellectually design His creation, but intimately molds his creation.

All of the contributors to this volume, including the editor, for the most part ignore important points in the first few chapters of Genesis. 1) God speaking the creation into existence; 2) the Fall and it's ramifications (the various curses and introduction of death); 3) the supposedly historically accurate reports of great life spans prior to the Flood; 4) the Judgment of Yahweh on sin in the Flood (and by extension the Apostle Peter's reminder of a future judgment by fire); and 5) the divine origin of human languages. One item worth noting is the simple, yet interesting, chart on the classification of the sciences by Arthur Peacocke (Theology for a Scientific Age) as modified by Nancey Murphy (Reconciling Theology and Science) -- perhaps their books will shed more light on the topic of Science and Christianity than this work compiled by Richard F. Carlson.

Great views!!  Feb 13, 2001
This book is exciting as well as informative. Steve Meyer's essay is extraordinary! Great info! I can't wait to read it again!!
A very helpful dialogue...whatever your view.  Oct 18, 2000
While we stand firmly in the "creationist" camp, all of the contributors are worth reading here -- and Editor Richard Carlson provides invaluable help as "moderator." If you are dealing with these issues -- get this new book! Recommended. -- The Discerning Reader

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