5.0 out of 5 stars Useful Bridge, Provokes Reflection
October 28, 2007
It was my good fortune to receive a copy of this book in galley form, and then again when published, because the author was scheduled to speak at one of my conferences. Having read a number of books on religion in politics (bad) and religion in diplomacy (good), as well as a number of books on science in isolation (bad) and science in relation to the humanities (good), I was most intrigued by this author’s daring–and ultimately successful–endeavor to combine the accuracy of a scientific textbook with the inspiration of religious faith and gospel (good).
Yes, for some this may be a stretch, and some of it may annoy those who like their religion dressed in dogma and ritual and “no humor allowed,” but on balance I found this book totally worthwile. See others I recommend along these lines at the end of this review.
The author does not address, nor does he need to, the extremes of religion or of the politicization of science. Instead, he reconciles perspectives that have been allowed to claim they are in contradiction when in fact they are not. He builds bridges and makes important distinctions, such as between private and public revelation, facts as God’s native tongue, and contrasting faith-based views on evolution.
The book is full of quotes from many of the most respected evolutionary thinkers of all time – both living and dead–as well as dozens of personal anecdotes. There is a separate list of Highlighted Stories, just after the Table of Contents.
Drawing on evolutionary brain science and evolutionary psychology, the author reframes and “makes real” traditional Christian concepts such as “Original Sin” and “The Fall”, but does so in a way that anyone, regardless of their religious or philosophical worldview, can embrace and benefit from. I am reminded of Conversations with God in that sense.
Part IV: “Evolutionary Spirituality” is a collection of exercises, practices, and “self-help” and “relationship-help” tools. Although I have not seen any other “self-help” books, this section struck me as provocative (of reflection) and therefore helpful to anyone.
Overall the author offers us all a “big picture” understanding of life’s most important and persistent questions such as: “Where do we come from? Where are we going? Why are we here? How are we to live?”
The bottom line: this book addresses concerns many Christians have about evolution, yet also communicates a universal “gospel” (good news message) that will speak to people of all religious traditions, and even those hostile to religion.
From now on, no discussion of how science and religion or evolution and creation relate can ignore this book. The index is excellent, as are the concluding offerings, a “Who’s Who” section and a Resources section.
The Complete Conversations with God (Boxed Set)
The Celestine Prophecy
Left Hand of God, The: Healing America’s Political and Spiritual Crisis
Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right
Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge
The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition into the Forces of History
Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century
Faith-Based Diplomacy: Trumping Realpolitik
Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction
To Govern Evolution: Further Adventures of the Political Animal