Books

This is an annotated list of notable books related to science and religion.

Short reviews can be updated based on input from members of the Society. Not all of these books represent the views of the Society; many are important books that present alternate views. But to be well-read on science and faith, you should have read them all!

Books marked with a * are good introductory books.

 

General Issues of Science and Faith

*C.J. Collins, Science and Faith: Friends or Foes? (Crossway, 2003). Very readable general introduction to many issues of science and faith interaction by evangelical Christian and Old Testament scholar Jack Collins.

*N. Pearcey, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity (Crossway, 2004). This book is in many ways an updated and easier-to-read version of Pearcey’s earlier book, the Soul of Science, with less focus on science alone and more focus on the larger cultural issues. Nancy Pearcey was for many years a writer for Chuck Colson.

Stephen Jay Gould, Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life (Ballantine, 1999). The well known agnostic evolutionist presents his concept of NOMA (“non-overlapping magisterial of authority”). This idea has been presented in various forms by many people, including some Christian theistic evolutionists, under various names  such as “complementarity,” “orthogonality,” etc. (See this paper for a discussion.) It basically amounts to “apartheid” between science and religion: “We’ll control the law, the economy, engineering, science, medicine, and education, and you can have anything that doesn’t interfere with us.” Gould wrote numerous other popular books on evolution. Though a committed evolutionist, he often questioned elements of the standard evolutionary views; for example, he argued for “punctuated equilibrium” instead of gradualism, and he criticized the entire field of evolutionary psychology.

Alvin Plantinga, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism (Oxford University Press, 2011). Evangelical Christian philosophy professor Plantinga is widely viewed as one of the most brilliant and influential philosophers alive today. This book gives a comprehensive survey of his approach to science and Christianity, which can be called integrative, in contrast to the NOMA philosophy of Gould, Van Till, and others.

Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy (University of Chicago Press, 1974). Polanyi is widely viewed as causing the death knell of the modernist movement with its idea of a dispassionate, objective scientist. Polanyi showed that scientists do science on the basis of values and beliefs that they hold deeply, and this is not a failure, but rather, crucial to science.

See also Roger Bacon and Francis Bacon.

 

History of Science

*Stanley Jaki, The Savior of Science (Eerdmans, 2000). Roman Catholic historian Jaki addresses the question of why in all the world, science only came to fruition in Western Europe, arguing that Christian beliefs played an essential role. Jaki has written numerous other scholarly books on foundational issues in history of science and Christianity.

Peter Harrison, The Bible, Protestantism, and the Rise of Natural Science (Cambridge University Press, 2001). Harrison presents a new argument that the Scientific Revolution and the Reformation both arose from the same cause: a change toward taking the “plain meaning” in both the Bible and nature, as opposed to trying to see coded messages from God in everything.

*Owen Gingerich, The Great Copernicus Chase and Other Adventures in Astronomical History (Cambridge University Press, 1992).  Harvard astronomer and evangelical Christian Owen Gingerich tells “the other side of the story” on a number of stories in history we think we know about. For example, the trial of Galileo had more to due with local politics than with any general opposition of the Roman Catholic church to science.

*C.G. Hunter, Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil (Brazos Press, 2001). Biologist and evangelical Christian George Hunter looks carefully at the theology of the 1800’s which influenced Darwin. Neither Darwin nor young earth creationists who opposed him could imagine that God would make violent or parasitical creatures in a good world. Hunter tracks the use of theological statements about what God would do by evolutionists ever since.

Wayne Rossiter, Shadow of Oz (Wipf and Stock, 2015) takes a critical look at the consistency and coherence of the theology of prominent theistic evolutionists such as Kenneth Miller, Karl Giberson, and Francis Polkinghorne. In a way, it is a companion volume to C.G. Hunter’s book, above, bringing the theological arguments up to the present.

Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (University of Chicago Press, 1962). In this very influential and widely read work, physicist Kuhn, like Michael Polanyi, argued that science proceeds not merely by dispassionate logic, but with a strong human element that resists change from a prevailing paradigm until a breakdown of coherence forces a shift. Some have criticized him for assuming scientists mostly don’t want to change theories and only like “puzzle solving;” though puzzle solving is a large part of science, most scientists do question paradigms on a regular basis.  Kuhn’s concept of jumps between different paradigms as opposed to linear, logical deduction to truth has been embraced by numerous philosophers and theologians.

 

Cosmology & Origins

*P.C.W. Davies, The Accidental Universe (Cambridge University Press, 1982). Well known physicist Davies presents a readable introduction to many of the “fine tuning” coincidences of cosmology, which show that for life to exist, the universe is in a highly improbable state. Davies has written many popular books on the apparent design of the universe since then, including God and the New Physics (Penguin, 1990) and The Goldilocks Enigma (Penguin, 2009) which often discuss the implications of cosmology for the existence of a creator God. He won the Templeton award for progress in religion in 1995.

J.D. Barrow and F.J. Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford University Press, 1988).  This was the first comprehensive book on the “anthropic principle,” also known as fine tuning of the properties of the universe to allow intelligent life. Physicists Barrow and Tipler present a historical survey as well as many facts and figures for fantastic fine tuning in both the cosmological and biological realms. Tipler has gone on to write books arguing for a new-age/neo-pagan view that humanity will become God (see Peter Jones, One or Two: Seeing a World of Difference (Main Entry, 2010) for background on the neo-pagan movement). One thing Tipler’s books show is that God is certainly not foreign to scientific thinking—physicists love to think about ultimate questions.

*Louise B. Young, The Unfinished Universe (Simon and Schuster, 1986).  Writing from an explicitly new-age/neo-pagan perspective, science writer Louise Young presents a sweeping tour of much of the fantastic fine tuning and design in the universe. The book is easy to read for nonexperts.

*Hugh Ross, The Fingerprint of God (Reasons to Believe, 1989). Physicist Hugh Ross was the first evangelical Christian to give widespread attention to the importance of cosmological fine tuning in the Big Bang model to Christian apologetics. In this book he documents how atheist scientists opposed the Big Bang model for years because it seemed too much like the Creation of the Bible. He also, surprisingly, argues at the end of the book that the entire Gospel can be deduced from nature without reference to the Bible.  His organization Reasons to Believe promotes old-earth creationism as well as premillenial eschatology. Ross has gone on to write many popular books on science and Christianity, including The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Latest Scientific Discoveries Reveal God (Reasons to Believe, 2011), with updated discussion of the fine tuning arguments.

Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time (Bantam, 1988). One of the best selling books on philosophy of physics of all time. Atheist physicist Hawking, famous for his work on the theory of black holes, argues that the entire universe can be understood in terms of deterministic laws with no need to invoke a Creator. His arguments are outdated now, since he assumed a closed (finite) universe, while modern observations tell us the universe is open and infinite. But along the way he gives a good introduction to black holes, wormholes, and other odd things predicted by real physics. His argument for not worrying about “in the beginning” of the Big Bang is based on a mathematical trick; most physicists would say that something very dramatic happened at the Big Bang, no matter what math you use.

J.M. Templeton and R.L. Hermann, The God Who Would Be Known: Revelations of the Divine in Contemporary Science (Templeton Foundation, 1999). This book is a survey of fine tuning arguments in cosmology. What is significant is that one of the authors, Templeton, was one of the richest men in the world and set up the Templeton Prize (a religious equivalent to the Nobel prize) and the Templeton Foundation for science and religion. Although this book embraces fine tuning arguments in cosmology, the Templeton Foundation strongly opposes fine tuning arguments in biology, a.k.a. intelligent design arguments.

*J.C. Polkinghorne, The Faith of a Physicist: Reflections of a Bottom-Up  Thinker (Augsburg, 1996). Physicist John Polkinghorne created a stir in 1996 when he resigned from being a professor and president of Queen’s College at Cambridge University to become an Anglican priest. Since writing this book, he has written many other books on faith and science, arguing that fine tuning in cosmology points to the existence of God. Like the Templeton Foundation, he strongly rejects using biological fine tuning arguments, and may in fact have been an important influence to bring the Templeton Foundation to that position.

*G. Gonzalez and J. Richards, The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery (Regnery, 2004). This book caused Guillermo Gonzalez, a well-respected astronomer who was one of the first to promote the idea of a “galactic habitable zone” in the search for extraterrestrial planets, to be denied tenure at Iowa State.  Gonzalez and philosopher Jay Richards, both evangelical Christians, argue in this book that there is fine tuning not only in the laws of the universe but in details such as the location of the sun and the size of the moon. They argue that this fine tuning allows not only the existence of life but the ability to discover the laws of nature.

See also Leggett, The Problems of Physics.

 

The Age of the Earth

*D.W. Snoke, A Biblical Case for an Old Earth (Baker Books, 2006). This book is primarily Bible study, not an in-depth look at science. It addresses arguments made by young-earth creationists that the Bible requires a young earth; in particular, it looks in detail at the argument that no animals could have died before Adam and Eve sinned.

*Davis Young, Christianity and the Age of the Earth (Artisan, 1982). When it was first published, this book shook up many evangelical Christians who had by default assumed a recent creation. The book gives a comprehensive look at the geological evidence for an old earth and a critical look at many young-earth creationist scientific arguments; it does not look in detail at Bible exposition.  Reprinted and updated with coauthor Ralph Stearley as The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth (IVP, 2008).

Gerald Schroeder, The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom (Free Press, 2009). Jewish physicist Schroeder is one of the chief current proponents of “concordantism,” the view that Genesis 1, if properly interpreted, corresponds to the history of the universe revealed by science.  In a novel approach, he invokes the relativity of time to argue for days that were ages of different lengths.

R.C. Newman and H. Eckelmann, Jr., Genesis One and the Age of the Earth (IVP, 1979; reprinted by IBRI, 1989). A concordantist approach to Genesis 1 from an evangelical Christian perspective. Physicist Bob Newman, who eventually became an ordained Christian pastor and theologian, and Pastor Eckelmann, who also had a science background, influenced a generation of students at Cornell to a rational approach to faith. They eventually founded Biblical Theological Seminary and the Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute (IBRI).

See also Augustine’s Commentary on Genesis.

 

Chemical Evolution & Origin of Life

F. Hoyle and C. Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space (Touchstone, 1984). Physicist Fred Hoyle was a famous curmudgeon who doubted that the fine tuning of cosmology and the origin of life could be explained without intelligent design. (His was the famous quote that theories of abiogenesis were like a tornado hitting a junkyard and assembling a 747.) So to explain the origin of life he argued that aliens from outer space seeded life throughout the universe. This idea, known as “panspermia,” is still taken seriously by many people who look into the problems of fine tuning in the origin of life but reject the idea of a creator God.

*C.B. Thaxton, The Mystery of Life’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories (Allied, 1984). This was the other book, along with Denton’s Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, which made many people take a second look at the foundations of evolution, and eventually led to the intelligent design movement. Reprinted and updated in 1992 along with coauthors Walter Bradley (professor of engineering at Baylor University) and Roger Olsen.

W.A. Dembski, No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence (Rowan and Littlefield, 2007). Evangelical Christian and mathematician Bill Dembski has adapted theorems of information in computer science to the question of the origin of life. No Free Lunch is the most readable and complete presentation of his views. The arguments are very sound but require some assumptions about a maximum of “probability resources” and a notion of “specification” which can be identified only after observing a system.  One point made very clearly is that many of the “evolutionary algorithms”  used to simulate biological evolution on computers actually sneak in information, for example in the fitness functions which are specified.

A. Flew and R.A. Varghese, There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind (Harper, 2008). Anthony Flew was a famous British atheist who traveled the world debating theists. In 2004 he converted to deism, largely in response to intelligent design arguments, i.e., fine tuning arguments in both biology and cosmology, but especially in biology, and publicly associated himself with the Discovery Institute and with evangelical Christian apologetics professor Gary Habermas. Some atheists argued he had gone senile, but in public appearances presenting his change of views for several years after 2004 he was quite sharp.

*David Berlinski, The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions (Basic Books, 2009). Jewish mathematician Berlinski uses his rapier wit to dissect the standard atheist scenario of evolution.

Ilya Prigogene, Order Out of Chaos (Shambhala, 1984). Physicist Prigogene won the Nobel prize in 1977 in large part for showing that orderly pattern formation can occur spontaneously in nonequilibrium systems, and he argued that this could be the basis of the origin of life from non-life. His work led to the oft-repeated claim that the Second Law of Thermodynamics doesn’t apply in open systems, which is just plain silly. After three decades of “soft condensed matter physics” trying to show how life could come from non-life via pattern formation, the project has largely been give up and physicists interested in biology have turned instead to “reverse engineering” actual biological systems to see how they work. Spontaneous pattern formation works for things such as ripples in the sand on a beach and orderly arrays of clouds, but can’t generate machines that copy DNA.

See also Tielhard de Chardin

 

Biological Evolution & Common Descent

*Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Adler and Adler, 1986). The impact of this book cannot be understated; it led many other scientists to seriously question the standard scenario of evolution, including biochemist Michael Behe. Australian molecular biologist and agnostic Denton gives a comprehensive case that many problems have been swept under the rug in origin-of-life research. At best the origin of life requires extreme fine tuning and coincidence; at worst it may be simply impossible by known laws of nature.

*Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory Still in Crisis (Discovery Institute, 2016). In this new book Denton does not just argue against traditional Darwinism, he argues positively for his view that life spontaneously adopts certain Forms and Types. This is akin to neo-Platonism, which says that Ideals exist in a spirit world and instantiate themselves in the physical world, but Denton argues for a physical mechanism based on the spontaneous organization mechanisms of Prigogine and Stuart Kaufmann. Along the way he reviews the dramatic new work in evolutionary science over the part thirty years, which does not solve the problems he raised earlier for Darwinism, but rather, supplies even more evidence for pan-phylogenic forms. For a detailed review, see this page.

*Philip Johnson, Darwin on Trial (IVP, 1990). Berkeley law professor and evangelical Christian Phil Johnson can be said to have officially started the ID (intelligent design) movement with this book. He questions the level of evidence for many claims of Darwinism.

*Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (Free Press, 1996). Probably the most famous ID treatise. Catholic biochemistry professor Behe was woken up to question the standard evolutionary paradigm by Denton and Dembski, and has since gone around the world as an outspoken proponent of the limits of Darwinian evolution. In this book he used several examples to illustrate his claim that some elements of biochemistry are “irreducibly complex.” He followed up with The Edge of Evolution (Free Press, 2007) which makes a quantitative argument based on malaria evolution that certain biological changes are too great to be caused by random mutation and selection. Probably no scientist has had more people work to refute his ideas.

*Jonathan Wells, Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? Why Much of What We Teach About Evolution Is Wrong (Regnery, 2002). Molecular biologist Jonathan Wells showed that many classic evidences of evolution used in textbooks are now known to be wrong, and in some cases were known to be wrong even when they were first published.  Modern textbooks have largely dropped or qualified their use of these examples since Wells’ book came out.

*David Stove, Darwinian Fairytales: Darwinian Fairytales: Selfish Genes, Errors of Heredity and Other Fables of Evolution (Encounter Books, 2007). Agnostic writer David Stove, like David Berlinski, shows that one doesn’t have to be an evangelical Christian to doubt some of the stories told in the standard scenario of evolution.

*Stephen Meyer, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (HarperOne, 2010). Philosopher of science Stephen Meyer is probably the main public speaker for the Discovery Institute and the public face of the ID (intelligent design) movement. In this book he presents a comprehensive survey of the ID movement, reviewing the ideas of Behe, Dembski, and others. Meyer has followed up with another extensive review of paleontology and genetics, Darwin’s Doubt (HarperOne, 2013).

Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design (W.W. Norton and Company, 1996). Zoologist and outspoken atheist Dawkins has published numerous books arguing for Darwinian evolution and Enlightenment-style modernism. In Ben Stein’s movie Expelled, Dawkins allowed that he could believe that life on earth was generated by aliens from outer space, just not God. In this book, and in Climbing Mount Improbable (W.W. Norton and Company, 1997) he gives the standard arguments for gradual evolution. The arguments are general, not specific; as Behe, Dembski, and others have argued, the devil is in the details.

*Francis Collins, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief  (Free Press, 2007). Geneticist and evangelical Christian Francis Collins led the Human Genome Project and has since become the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  There are two halves to this book. In the first part, he argues that physics can never explain cosmological fine tuning and evolutionary psychology can never explain human free will and morality, and these observations persuaded him to become a Christian. In the second part of the book, he rejects all fine tuning and intelligent design arguments in biology, arguing that we should never say that science can’t explain something, because eventually it might.  Many people noted this odd pivot in argumentation, but his personal story of coming to faith is engaging. He also presents genetic evidence for common descent.

J.C. Avise, Inside the Human Genome: A Case for Non-Intelligent Design (Oxford University Press, 2010). National Academy of Sciences member and biologist Avise gives what is probably the most up-to-date argument against intelligent design. His argument is based partly on evidence of transitional stages within DNA and partly on arguments of things God wouldn’t do, of the type addressed by Hunter.

Jonathan Wells, The Myth of Junk DNA (Discovery Institute, 2011); A. Gauger, D. Axe, and C. Luskin, Science and Human Origins (Discovery Institute, 2012).  These books give the Discovery’ Institutes responses to arguments by Francis Collins and others to the DNA evidence for common descent. Some have argued that the Discovery Institute is wrong to say that biologists ever said that junk DNA was “junk,” but those of us who lived in the 1970’s and 1980’s know that the existence of junk DNA was indeed often used to argue for undirected evolution of life.  This is an ongoing and hot topic of research; the ENCODE project has indicated that most DNA appears to have function and is not junk.

Sean B. Carroll, Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo (W.W. Norton, 2005). NAS member and biologist Sean Carroll attempts to meld both evolutionary and developmental biology together as a way to understand differences between organisms. One can gain a lot of insight from this book as to the nature of developmental processes and how certain sets of genes, which he refers to as the “genetic tool kit,” can be flexibly employed to generate a variety of morphologies; the book gives a good overview of the way things work.

See also Darwin’s Descent of Man

 

Archaeology & the Origin of Mankind

Fazale Rana and Hugh Ross, Who Was Adam?: A Creation Model Approach to the Origin of Man (Navpress, 2005). Rana and Ross of Reasons to Believe look at the various archaeological data and biblical passages to try to narrow down a range of dates for Adam and Eve. They make a strong case that Neanderthals were a different species and non-human. They also make several predictions for future data. Rana is a convert to evangelical Christianity from an Islamic family and was for many years a senior biochemist for Proctor and Gamble.

*C.J. Collins, Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care (Crossway, 2011). In this short book, Old Testament scholar and evangelical Christian theologian Jack Collins argues from biblical theology that even Christians who believe the earth is billions of years old should hold to a historical Adam and Eve.

See also the book chapter in Science and Human Origins by Ann Gauger. She makes the argument, contra Ross and Rana, that Neanderthals were human.

 

Mind, Brain, & Spirit

Doug Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (Basic Books, 1979). This book is lots of fun and even games, but quite densely packed with mathematical and logical lessons. The main topic is the use of Gödel’s theorem to argue that humans have a type of understanding that can never be reduced to machines (and therefore strong AI—artificial intelligence—is impossible). Hofstadter disagrees and at the end of the book presents a handwaving argument for how complex deterministic machines might reproduce thought, but along the way he gives a profound discussion of Gödel’s theorem. That theorem shot down, among other things, Bertrand Russell’s program to eliminate all human choice from the realm of mathematics, and indirectly was the first step in the downfall of modernism, in showing that some things can be true but cannot be proved to be true by any straightforward logic.

Roger Penrose, The Emperor’s New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics (Oxford University Press, 1989). In this book and the subsequent book, Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness (Oxford University Press, 1996), Oxford physicist Penrose (co-awardee of the Wolf prize in physics with Stephen Hawking) argues that strong AI (deterministic machine-based intelligence equivalent to human consciousness) is impossible. His argument based on Gödel’s theorem is the one to which Hofstadter responded, based on an earlier similar argument. In the second book, Penrose argues in a handwaving way that quantum mechanics can provide the physical basis for human consciousness without determinism.

*Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1983). Roman Catholic  linguist and award-winning author Walker Percy makes a fun and easy-to-read argument that humans are different from anything else in the universe because of the way we use language.

*D.M. Mackay, Brains, Machines, and Persons (Eerdmans, 1980). Evangelical Christian and professor of neuroscience Donald Mackay published several books arguing that human consciousness and morality is compatible with determinism; Calvinists will not disagree. His argument in this book is not unlike Hofstadter’s but has unique insights on how humans perceive their own will.

Stanley Jaki, Brain, Mind and Computers (Herder and Herder, 1969). In one of Roman Catholic historian Jaki’s earliest books, he addresses the highly optimistic arguments being made for strong AI and argues, with a comprehensive survey of science and philosophy, that deterministic materialism cannot explain human thought.  Optimistic predictions were being made even at that time that computers would soon be smarter than people, as in the 1968 Kubrick Movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, but it hasn’t happened yet.

*Edward Welch, Blame It on the Brain?: Distinguishing Chemical Imbalances, Brain Disorders, and Disobedience (P&R, 1998). Evangelical Christian counselor Ed Welch, one of the founders of the well-respected Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF), argues for an explicitly dualist view, that human thought cannot be explained entirely by the material and requires some concept of spirit, and argues that this makes a difference at the practical level in counseling.

See also Jonathan Edwards’ Freedom of the Will

 

Quantum Mechanics

Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics (Wildwood House, 1975) and Gary Zukav, The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics (Bantam, 1984). These two books may be said to have founded the New Age, or neo-pagan movement by giving scientific respectability to these beliefs in the guise of quantum mechanics. (The recent movie What the Bleep Do We Know?, produced by the Maharishi Institute of transcendental meditation, is a heavy-handed example of this. See Peter Jones, One or Two: Seeing a World of Difference (Main Entry, 2010) for a discussion of neo-paganism.)  Both books rely heavily on the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics which invokes human observation as a crucial element. Many, if not most, modern physicists have called this view into question and believe any interaction with a macroscopic system will have the same effect as a conscious observation. (See, e.g.,  Leggett’s The Problems of Physics, below.)

Anthony Leggett, The Problems of Physics (Oxford University Press, 1988) Nobel-prize winning physicist Anthony Leggett airs the laundry on many paradoxes of physics, including the fine tuning coincidences and the paradoxes of quantum mechanics, taking a matter-of-fact and least-wild-hypothesis approach.

John Polkinghorne, Quantum Physics and Theology: An Unexpected Kinship (Yale University Press, 2008). The physicist-turned-Anglican-priest looks at the basic philosophy of quantum mechanics, in particular arguing that the existence of paradoxes does not undermine rational thought.

 

Miracles & the Sovereignty of God

*C.S. Lewis, Miracles (Geoffrey Bles, 1948; reprinted by HarperOne, 2001). The bard of evangelical Christianity gave serious thought to the question of miracles and whether they undermined scientific or rational thought.  He had a weak view of the authority of Scripture, feeling that some Old Testament passages were just mythology, but argued nevertheless on general terms that belief in miracles and the supernatural is not irrational.

H. Van Till, D.A. Young, and C. Menninga, Science Held Hostage: What’s Wrong With Creation Science and Evolutionism (IVP, 1988). Howard Van Till, professor at the evangelical Calvin College, traveled the country for several years promoting his idea of science and theology being “complementary” (a.k.a. NOMA in Gould’s book) and his idea that God is only glorified if nature is a “seamless garment” with no intervention. Many critics pointed out that this view sounded like the deist clockmaker God and seemed to imply rejection of the Christian concept of miracles, and indeed, after his retirement, Van Till came out as a deist.

John Earman, Hume’s Abject Failure: The Argument Against Miracles (Oxford University Press, 2000). World-renowned philosophy professor John Earman looks critically at 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume’s argument against miracles, which was so influential in the foundation of the Enlightenment and the consequent modernist movement, and finds it seriously wanting.

 

Apologetics

J.P. Moreland, Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity (Baker, 1987). J.P. Moreland, professor of philosophy at Biola University, is one of the main proponents of evidential apologetics with an emphasis on “coherence,” that is, a presentation of a world view that makes sense, as opposed to linear deduction to conclusions in the style of Aquinas, or an irrational leap of faith in the style of Kierkegaard.

*Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (IVP, 2011). A comprehensive yet readable volume that takes into account all manner of updated science and philosophical developments.

 

Historical Classics

Augustine, Commentaries on Genesis (4th century; translation reprinted by New City Press, 2004). The early church also wrestled with the meaning of the early chapters of Genesis, and it is useful to see what was viewed as obvious and what was not. A major issue for Augustine was why God should take so long as six days, and not create everything instantaneously.

Roger Bacon, Opus Majus (13th century; translation reprinted by Adamant Media, 2000). Roger Bacon was probably much more important to the origins of the Scientific Revolution than many people give him credit for. He was the first to extensively argue for an experimental approach as opposed to pure scholasticism, and argued that traditions could err if not checked by observation. He picked a fight with Thomas Aquinas, and his books were banned, and therefore also not cited, so it is hard to know who was influenced by him. But English tradition holds that he did numerous experiments and observations, including such things as visiting the homes of witches to learn their practices and developing gunpowder from the Chinese novelty into its use for modern weapons. His writing comes across as surprisingly modern.

Francis Bacon, The New Organon (17th century; translation reprinted by Shenandoah Bible Ministries, 2009, and Cambridge University Press, 2000). Francis Bacon (no known relation to Roger Bacon) eloquently proposes the main ideas of the modern scientific method, often with devastating humor and wit, pointing out the worthlessness of both armchair philosophers who do no experiments and experimental drudges who merely collect facts. A devout Christian, he argued that the “two books” of the Bible and nature could never conflict if both were understood properly, echoing arguments Roger Bacon had made years earlier. Still well worth reading today as a corrective to bad science. His title, “New Organon,” was meant as a direct contrast to the prior world view of Aristotle, who wrote the Organon.

Jonathan Edwards, Freedom of the Will (18th century; reprinted by CreateSpace, 2012).  Edwards was one of the most brilliant scholars in any field to come from North America. In this book he lays out a case for Calvinism, and along the way touches on many issues foundational to the mind-brain-spirit problem, such as the two-level description of experience used by Donald Mackay and others.

William Paley, Natural Theology (19th century; reprinted by DeWard Publishing, 2012). Paley’s book was an early comprehensive work on intelligent design, with arguments that are still powerful. Its impact was huge; for example, it was required reading at Cambridge University for years, and it laid the foundation for the Christian intellectual hegemony in the English speaking world in the Victorian era.  Darwin’s work was in direct response to Paley. One flaw of Paley’s work was that he presented some of the arguments as “no one could imagine a natural mechanism for this,” which set a very low bar for refutation: all Darwin had to do was find a mechanism which could be imagined, not proved.

Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (19th century; reprinted by Empire Books, 2012). Darwin’s argument in this book was thoroughly racist, not tangentially racist—he argues from racism to evolution, not the other way around. In other words, the persuasiveness of Darwin’s theories in his day was precisely that it appealed to the prevailing racist world view, putting white Europeans at the top of the evolutionary hill. Does it matter? Many theories are true despite wrong beliefs of their original proponents, but one must ask whether racism can ever be truly separated from Darwinism. Is a survival-of-the-fittest mindset compatible with the idea of the inherent dignity of all people?

Pierre Tielhard de Chardin, The Human Phenomenon and The Future of Man (1959; reprinted by Harper, 2001 and 2004). A Jesuit priest and paleontologist whose writings were eventually banned by the Catholic church, Tielhard de Chardin was the first to “sacramentalize” evolution, developing a theology that God must have worked through evolution, and that eventually people will become God at the “Omega point” in time. This idea has been invoked by New Age/neo-pagan writers ever since, such as Barrow and Tipler, Louise Young, and Fritjof Capra.