Science & Religion [ePub]

by John F. Haught

Due to the nature of how I make use of books like this one (read, absorb, formulate my thoughts, write about it, then repeat the process) it may take me the rest of the year to finish it, BUT I find it fascinating. What some of the other reviewers seem to miss is that Haught is not representing four viewpoints that he personally espouses, but is trying to accurately portray viewpoints held by atheists, agnostics, liberal and conservative theological camps etc.

Because I am frequently engaged in dialogue with folks from all these viewpoints on the subject of science and religion, I find Haught's portrayals pretty accurate. The material is sometimes repetitive because some of the viewpoints overlap and I find the way he chose to handle this—by keeping each viewpoint separate and cogent—keeps the material from becoming confusing and the reader from getting lost in the competing ideas.

The most fascinating thing to me about this "debate" is that the two extremes—atheists who believe that science and religion are hostile entities and theists who believe the same thing—are in such hearty agreement on the point. It's a thing of beauty when two groups that are supposedly at opposite ends of a spectrum share a central point of unity ... flawed though their reasoning may be.

I'm finding Haught's book useful because it clarifies the points of contention and agreement between different points of view and carefully follows the reasoning behind each one. That careful attention to nuance of thought is missing in many of the works I've read that treat the same subject.

There is, to me, one glaring flaw in Haught's reasoning, but it has more to do with the nature of religion than with the nature of science. He asserts that religion, like science, the universe and all life, is meant to evolve (a point upon which I heartily agree), but then stops short of taking this idea to its logical conclusion—that a 2000 year old revelation targeted to a pre-scientific society cannot be the last word in religion.

14.10.2011

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