Ilia Delio has given us the gift of bringing the thoughts of Teilhard de Chardin into the 21st century. Over 40 years ago I encountered this man’s genius that helped me bridge the chasm between science and religion. Unfortunately back then his ahead of the times thinking was not appreciated but I sensed a truth in his mysticism that kept pulling me forward when others seemed stalled. Now, at last, he is being noticed and appreciated by many. We are catching up to his vision both in science and religion. Delio plunges into the thoughts of others and attempts to move the “ball forward” with their help. It gives me great joy to find companions in this journey. If you want to experience a visual trip into this rich vein of creativity take the time to explore the film strip educational tool offered on this site called Survival. I have used this teaching tool for all these 40+ years. You will be rewarded.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is a page turner. Every person who has had the benefits of medical research should read this gripping tale of the family of Henrietts Lacks. It will cause you to thank Rebecca for her hard work and faithful care of her subjects. No one is an island to themself, and we all can contribute to the common good of all.
If you are interested in the interface between Christianity and Buddhism in the dialogue between science and religion, this may be the book for you. Mind in the Balance examines the history of meditation in both these traditions of belief. B. Alan Wallace explores the subject of mind, intelligence, spirit and reason. His insights from modern science helps to engage those who feel that they are “spiritual” but not “religious”.
The God of Evolution by Denis Edwards. The dialogue between science and religion is maturing. In this age of rapidly developing information, coming at us at such a pace as to cause vertigo for some, this book is a gift of clarity. Fr. Edwards, a priest of the Archdiocese of Adeliade, Australia, brings science and theology together. His insights on the Trinitarian understanding of God and the scientific understanding of evolution are a gift to all. This is a good book to engage you with the mysteries of the universe and the mystery of God.
Noah’s Flood by William Ryan and Walter Pitman, NY. Simon & Schuster, 1998.
In a remarkable joint effort, over a span of many years, scientists of numerous disciplines have pooled their information to bring forward what can be known about the ancient flood stories of the many cultures in antiquity. With the advent of undreamed of technology, and cooperation by peoples formerly separated by the cold war, this study of the great flood dated around 7,000 BCE is made possible. The book reads like a mystery story. It examines the data from ocean, sea, desert, mountains, cultures, and more. Here is an example of what can be accomplished when people are drawn together by a common quest that transcends barriers of time, place, culture, ideology or theology.
The Holy Web by Cletus Wessels, O.P. Fr. Wessels’ book has been “rumbling around in me for many years”. He says that “I owe much to my many students and colleagues over the years. It is my hope that his work will repay all these people and excite many others”. I am sure that if you treat yourself to this book, you will not be disappointed. The subtitle, “Church and the New Universe Story”, gives you the thrust of this work. With contemporary science challenging us from many sides, most recently the human genome project, we need to have guides such as this book to help us begin to think through the many new questions and opportunities that seem to come daily anymore. More and more we realize that all that is, is in a “web of relationships”. Just how to live creatively in this web is the new story that is unfolding before our eyes.
Cosmology and Creation by Paul Brockelman Many have said we need a new story to bring together the scientific and spiritual understandings of life so that our young may live whole lives again. This book is one of the many that attempts to lay out the chapters of such a story. This new story needs to help us rediscover the spiritual insights and practices lying at the core of all the world’s religious traditions. It will help us connect our spiritual and scientific experiences in a way that opens the wonder of awe once again. This new story is not an enemy of the human spirit, but an expression of it.
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.
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.
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.”
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.