James F. Molben
I tend to read in threes, and read this book together with Questions of Truth: Fifty-one Responses to Questions About God, Science, and Belief and The Beginning of All Things: Science and Religion. The three books complement each other very nicely, and if you can afford the time and money, all three are recommended. Of the three, this is the six plus, with the other two being solid fives, but with the added comment that Questions of Truth is easily the second recommended book, and for the more general audience, while Beginning of All Things is more of a graduate review. It must be said that John Polkinghorne and Hans Kung are Nobel-level pioneers on this topic, and hence I must emphasize that while their intellects and total published contributions in the aggregate are six plus in every way, in this instance, this particular book by James Molben won by a solid head and neck.
The discussion of science and religion as NOT being in conflict, and as both being complementary and both sharing a focus on finding the truth, has been given recent impetus by Pope Benedict XVI, who has appointed a Protestant to head the Science Academy of the Catholic Church; sponsored an inter-faith summit at Assisi in October 2011 that we hope will focus on the reality that secular corruption and indemnification from the truth are what create war and poverty; and made direct statements to the effect that there is no conflict religion and science, and both strive toward the same end, the truth. As I like to say, the truth at any cost lowers all other costs, it is high time We the People demanded the truth, and nothing but the truth, from what I call the eight tribes of intelligence (academic, civil society including labor and religion), commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-government/non-profit).
The author states early on that the gestation of the book stems from his concern about the “new atheists” who seek to use science to destroy religion–this is of course a switch from earlier centuries when the Catholic Church in particular used the inquisition and other atrocities to repress “inconvenient” science.
QUOTE (2): “The truth is that the most objective and clear-minded science reveals tha our world is much more bizarre than we can imagine.”
QUOTE (4): The book is “an examination of the forefront of science through a theological lens.”
QUOTE (8): “The more we understand about the nature of our universe, the more the separation of God and science begins to crumble.”
In plain common sense, there is a sufficiency of the super-natural to suggest that there must be a super-natural cosmic architecture.
He cites John Polkinghorne, ” science and religion are both truth-seeking paradigms devoted to enhancing our understanding of the world.”
QUOTE (10): Discussing the drive toward a theory of everything, “in the decades to come, the inevitable fate of science may actually be a synergistic reconciliation with the spiritual.”
Fasinating insight from the author: whereas science was once constrained by theology, now it is the new atheism and the refusal to consider the spiritual that seems to be constraining science. This leads to my own question, “What is objective? Can one achieve a full ‘objective' understanding without the spiritual?”
QUOTE (13): “Time is actually one of the most poorly understood concepts in physics.”
The author takes on Richard Dawkins and his The God Delusion, and in going back to my own review of the latter book, find that I was consistent, but too quick, while completely embracing God, to discard religion as a constructive influence.
The author provides a fine overview of the fourth dimension and what that implies, and below is a quote that I found especially valuable for showing how a “closed” system is in fact open if you add another dimension.
QUOTE (27): What seems completely enclosed to 3D beings, be it a locked vault or the hearts inside their chests, is actually open and accessible on some perceived ‘side' to the 4D being.”
The author discusses how gravity provides for a form of space distortion (e.g. warping light beams passing mass), and suggests that it is highly likely that huge mass can also alter time. I have a note: an hour at light speed might be a century of Earth time.
The author emphasizes that the “many words interpretation” (MWI) is now mainstream and not fringe at all, and goes on to discuss how consciousness is a vital “place” and quantum mechanics a prime portal for science into consciousness. Here I just want to link to one DVD and one book that I recommend in association with this aspect.
What the Bleep Do We Know!?
Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution
From this it follows that Extra-Sensory Perception (ESP) and Collective Intelligence are logical capabilities.
Reading this book causes me to think about consciousness (and especially the emergent consciousness of the three billion poor) as the most fundamental force in the universe, being a form of energy/time that in theory can penetrate or accomplish anything.
The author provides a fine discussion of Near Death Experience (NDE) and observes that there is an extraordinary documented and consistent record into how each “saw great light, felt positive emotions, and communicated wit hthe light and/or deceased relatives of friends.” (p. 68).
Higher consciousness, collective consciousness, raises the possibility that there is a small part of God in each of us, when these connect we move to a higher state of grace, and this could be the key role that religion plays. The author specifically explores whether relition and belief in God could be an evolutionary advantage.
For me, perhaps not for others, this is the first time I hear of a literature on the possibility that Earth is unique rather than a mediocrity within a spectrum of extra-terrestial intelligence. This is called the “rare earth hypothesis.” The author draws on the work of many to suggest that the constellation of complex conditions and timing needed to create humanity are so extraordinary as to defy replication elsewhere. I am not persuaded.
I do, however, agree with the author's optimism.
QUOTE (96): “We could be at the dawn of a wonderful new era in human history.”
The book draws to a close totally persuasive to me that religion and science are compatible and that they should strive for mutual rineforcement and symbiosis.
In the comment (Amazon is too limiting on links in a review) I provide links to the books that the author himself recommends. Two more of my own:
The Theory of Everything
In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations
Please do read my reviews of the other two books in this series, they form a trinity (smile).
Links to Books Recommended by the Author
The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford Paperbacks)
From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time
God and the New Physics
The Matter Myth: Dramatic Discoveries that Challenge Our Understanding of Physical Reality
The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World
The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery
A Brief History of Time
The Universe in a Nutshell
Free Online: Four Reasons You Don't Exist: Quantum Physics, Logic, Buddhism, and Information Theory
Web Books: The Physical God
Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution (P.S.)
Quantum Physics and Theology: An Unexpected Kinship
Exploring Reality: The Intertwining of Science and Religion
Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions
Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness
New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy
Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe