The Hand of God edited by Michael Reagan and is introduced by Sharon Begley. The pictures are breathtakingly beautiful, and the quotes that are paired with the pictures of galaxies, stars and the earth taken from space provide material for meditation.
It is often said that we need a new approach to the creation story: one that brings together what we are learning about God’s creative process. These three books are full of delight. Delight enough to share with our children and grandchildren. Jennifer Morgan and Dana Lynne Andersen give us this process in Born With a Bang, From Lava to Life, and Mammals Who Morph. Like many children’s sermons that speak powerfully to adults because of their creativity and simplicity, these books intend to retell the creation story using the most recent scientific discoveries.
How did humanity keep track of things? From One to Zero is a fascinating account of how people from all time and all places devised ways to record and compute amounts of things. The tale is as engrossing as the origin of language itself. This exhaustive examination, with illustrations to help visualize the process is now available used for very little money.
The Language of God by Francis Collins of the human genome project is described as “a scientist presents evidence for belief”. Collins moved through agnosticism to atheism, ending up in faith because of his science. This is a readable book by a courageous author who is engaging all of us in a re-examination of this contentious issue.
The View from the Center of the Universe by Joel Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams is a mind expanding experience. It will take you to the tiniest to the extreme vastness of what we are beginning to know and get you to pondering about your place in all this wonder. Much has been said that we need to have a new creation story. This book will introduce you to the fundamentals of what that story might be and your place in that story.
Hans Kung has given us, what in effect is his life testament in The Beginning of all Things: Science and Religion. In it he concludes: “This is my enlightened, well – founded hope: dying is a farewell inward, and entry and homecoming into the ground and origin of the world, our true home, a farewell perhaps not without pain and anxiety, but hopefully in composure and surrender, at any rate without weeping and wailing, and without bitterness and despair, but rather in hopeful expectation, quiet certainty, and (after everything that has to be settled is settled) ashamed gratitude for all the good things and less good things that now finally and definitively lie behind us – thank God.” He gathers up a life time of study and reflection and brings us up to date on the dialogue between science and religion so that we can be both/and people like Jesus of Nazareth.
Often, what seems like a tragedy turns out to be a gift. Amir D. Aczel, in his The Jesuit & The Skull, gives us the heroic struggle that Teilhard de Chardin endured in his quest to bring together science and faith. The agony of exile turns out to be the laboratory of discovery. The long years of silencing forced Teilhard deeper than he might have gone if his energies had he spent traveling to speak to the multitudes who would have been attracted to his insights. His deep relationships with both men and women radiates in his understanding of love. For a while his thoughts were suppressed. Now his name and wisdom is popping up everywhere. If you are just beginning to explore the man, his life and work, this is a good book to start with
A provocative read is The Future of Faith. by Harvey Cox. He reflects on Christian history and speculates on Christian future. His premise is that we are entering into what he calls the age of the Spirit, having gone through ages of faith and belief. He says: “Today there is no basis for any “warfare between science and religion.” The two have quite different but complementary missions, the first concerning itself with empirical description, the second with meaning and values. Unfortunately, however, although the war is over, sporadic skirmishes between die-hards on both sides continue. Biblical literalists, who totally misunderstand the poetry of the book of Genesis, try to reduce it to a treatise in geology and zoology. Their mirror image is found among the atheists and agnostics who mount spurious pseudoscientific arguments to demonstrate that the universe has no meaning or that God does not exist. Both parties are fundamentalists of a sort, deficient in their capacity for metaphor, analogy, and the place of symbol and myth in human life. Sadly, battle lines that were drawn years ago continue to cause confusion today. Otherwise thoughtful people still mistakenly view the world as divided between “believers” and “nonbelievers.” But that era of human consciousness is almost over. We are witnessing the emergence of a different vocabulary, one that is closer to the original sense of the word “faith” before its debasement. Pgs. 182-3.”
Alva Noe, a neurologist, in his book Out of Our Heads, takes us into new territory in the discussion of where consciousness resides. He challenges the concept that it is in the brain. The subtitle: “Why you are not your brain and other lessons from the biology of consciousness” pretty much explains his thesis.
I wonder when Rabbi Bryon L. Sherwin wrote his book Golems Among Us in 2004, if he even suspected the radical events that would unfold in our economy since then? His examination of the Jewish concept of the golem, (a human creation) one that could serve humanity or wreak havoc is relevant to many of the issues that beset us today. He looks at biotechnology, corporations and more, in his broad ranging reflection that mines the riches of his Jewish traditions. This is a book to ponder.
Walter Thirring in Cosmic Impressions explores the traces of God in the laws of nature. This book assumes a lot of scientific, mathematical literacy of which I have a small amount. But like all books whose authors are respected authorities in their domains, it gives glimpses of the ongoing search for truth from the scientific perspective.
I have ongoing effort to understand the dialogue between religion and science. Paul Carr in Beauty in Science and Spirit goes deeply into the age old insight that revelation and science have their roots in the human quest and attraction to and for beauty. This is a challenging read, but worth the effort.