Book Reviews

The Big Questions in Science and Religion

Keith Ward West Conshohocken, PA 2008-05-01

Ward is a fellow of the British Academy, a Regius Professor of Divinity Emeritus at the University of Oxford, an ordained priest in the Church of England, and a member of the Council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy. He writes about ten critical questions in contemporary discussions about the relationship between these forces in the world. Four of these questions concern the beginning of the universe, the evidential value of religious experience, the possibility of miracles in a naturalistic world, and the possibility of science-based arguments for God. For him, God is “Infinite Consciousness.” Ward wrote the book in a way that its chapters can be read as discrete units instead of linked chapters with a single argument. Each one has a primary question with a second question that emphasizes the underlying issue. For example the question “Can Religious Experience Count as Evidence?” follows “Is Science the Only Sure Path to Truth?” By the end of the book one can see his consistent call for change: “Religious beliefs cannot remain what they were before the rise of modern science any more than ancient scientific beliefs can” (p. 3). His expertise is comparative religions, but he is also a zealous lover of science. Consequently the book contains a wealth of information that is presented in an evenhanded way. One could wish that he had dealt more directly with the issue of method, since the scientific method is a significant difference between these vast often contentious approaches to life.

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J. Lanier Burns
Dr. Burns is research professor of theological studies and senior professor of systematic theology at Dallas Theological Seminary. He enjoys staying actively involved in administration in Christian and secular organizations. He devotes his time to writing, conferences, and pastoral leadership. He has been involved in post-doctoral research at Harvard and Oxford Universities and has served as president of the Asian Christian Academy in Hosur, India, for over forty years. He has participated in numerous neuroscientific activities for about eighteen years. His research interests include Trinitarianism, anthropology, sin, eschatology, the relationship of science and religion, and issues in social justice. He loves his wife, Kathy, and spends his spare time with his family and enjoying sports.
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