14 marzo 2007

ORACLES OF SCIENCE. CELEBRITY SCIENTISTS VERSUS GOD AND RELIGION

Oracles of Science. Celebrity Scientists versus God and Religion is a singular and important book, published by Oxford University Press (2007). It’s really up-to-date and has been written in a well-balanced style and intellectual rigour. The authors distinguish clearly the facts and reliable judgements (eg. a biologist or a physicist talking about his field) from comments, hypotheses an unreliable judgements from whoever talking on his scientific pedestal to come to philosophical or theological conclusions out of his speciality. This work examines the popular writings of the six scientists who have been the most influential in shaping our perception of science, how it works, and how it relates to other fields of human endeavour, especially religion.

Written by Karl Giberson and Mariano Artigas.

Karl Giberson is Professor of Physics at Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, MA. For years he served as editor in chief of both Science & Theology News and Science & Spirit . Oracles of Science extends the discussion of America’s culture war over origins, begun in Giberson’s previous book, Species of Origins: America’s Search for a Creation Story, co-authored with ENC historian Donald Yerxa. Giberson is currently working on a fourth book for HarperCollins, God Loves Darwin, too, scheduled to be released in early 2008.

Mariano Artigas (1938-2006) was the Dean of the Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy for the University of Navarra (Spain) from 1988 to 1998. Professor of Philosophy of Science, he holds Ph.D.'s both in Physics and in Philosophy. He received the Templeton Foundation Award in 1995 for his work on science and religion. He wrote The Mind of the Universe: Understanding Science and Religion and fifteen other books on science and religion.


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The authors offer an informed analysis of the views of six scientists, carefully distinguishing science from philosophy and religion in the writings of the oracles. This book will be welcomed by many who are disturbed by the tone of the public discourse on the relationship between science and religion and will challenge others to re-examine their own preconceptions about this crucial topic: "Few writers have poured more fuel on the recent science-religion controversies than such religion-bashers as Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, and Stephen Weinberg. In six perky profiles two Christian scholars critically, but fairly, examine the anti-religious claims of these and other scientific ‘oracles’." (says Ronald L. Numbers, about this book).


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Contents

Richard Dawkins is the author of The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, The Ancestor’s Tale, The God Delusion and many other books. Dawkins, known as an evolutionist and materialist, is also well known for being an atheist and anti-religious. He has become an outspoken foe of religion, using science to discredit religious beliefs.


Stephen Jay Gould is the author of Wonderful Life, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, Rocks of Ages, The Mismeasure of Man and many other books. He is known for his theory of punctuated equilibrium, stating that the equilibrium of a species is punctuated by episodes of change that are relatively rapid in geological time. Gould has noted that science and religion do occupy two very different spheres of human experience.

Stephen Hawking is the author of A Brief History of Time, The Universe in a Nutshell, The Large Scale Structure of Spacetime with George Ellis, Stephen Hawking’s Universe: The Cosmos Explained and many other books. Hawking is a cosmologist who is well known for his battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. He first published his no-boundary proposal in 1970, concerning the expansion of the universe and the big bang, and he introduced his rather technical ideas at the Vatican in 1981, where he also was able to meet and speak with Pope John Paul II. Hawking dislikes the label “atheist”, for his views on God are quite mysterious, and he has written of his quest to “know the mind of God”.

Carl Sagan is the author of Cosmos, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence and many other books. His science fiction novel, Contact, was made into a popular, major motion picture in 1997. Sagan is well known for his interests in extra-terrestrial life and is closely linked to the SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence). As a scientist, Sagan educated the public about “Nuclear Winter”, the idea that a nuclear war could precipitate an unprecedented ice age that might render the Earth largely uninhabitable.

Steven Weinberg is the author of The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe, Dreams of a Final Theory: The Scientist’s Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature, Glory and Terror: The Coming Nuclear Danger and many other books. Weinberg is known for being an atheist and anti-religious, and for winning the Nobel Prize in physics for his electroweak interaction theory, showing how the weak nuclear interaction related to electromagnetism in 1979. Weinberg joined the small scientific army waging war on religion. His book Dreams of a Final Theory is an assault on God and religion.

Edward O. Wilson is the author of On Human Nature, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, Biophilia, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, and many other books. Wilson is also a world authority on ants. In 1990, in collaboration with the German biologist Bert Hölldobler, Wilson published the Pulitzer prize-winning The Ants, a massive work of 732 beautifully illustrated pages. Moving beyond ants, he has expanded into the study of social insects, social animals, and human beings. Wilson is also known as an environmentalist and for his work in evolutionary psychology.

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The last chapter of the book, focused on conclusions, is summed up in the following paragraphs. It’s only a short summary to show the value of the book and encourage to read it.

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#371 Varios Categoria-Varios: Etica y antropología

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CONCLUSIONS


POINTS OF DEPARTURE

  • The “Oracles os Science” have much in common, as well as great diversity. Here, we simply offer some of these similarities and differences, focusing on the connections that there scientists make between science and culture, particularly their ideas about religion and their cultural impact.
  • Like all scientists, they have done important work in specific areas but, unlike many scientists, they have a grand view of reality and have elected to engage the deeper scientific and cultural issues of our time. Their ability to do this so effectively accounts for their success, and the impact of their opinions.
  • They combine great ambition with great talent to address great problems. In doing so they have become major public intellectuals. They have real enthusiasm for science, and for the rest of their ideas, and the talent to communicate this enthusiasm. The “Oracles” are interesting and important simply because they are masters of science and want to bring that science to bear on the great questions of our time.


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