THE EXPERIMENT OF LIFE: SCIENCE AND RELIGION
Edited by F. Kenneth Hare.
Volume 12 Number 1
The seven essays that comprise this, volume were selected from papers given at a conference held at the University of Toronto in 1981 to mark the one-hundredth anniversary of the birth of William Temple, the Archbishop of Canterbury before and during the Second World War and one of the most important Anglican theologians and social reformers of this century. Known to the widest audience as the author of Christianity and Social Order (1942), Temple also attempted, in works such as Nature, Man, and God (1934), to reconcile the conflicting perspectives of science and religion, and it is to this aspect of his work that this book is directed. The authors have all sought to re-examine the question of scientific-religious dualism in the light of contemporary scientific developments.
Oxford's John Macquarrie offers a brief life of Temple, critically analysing his theology, its academic and scriptural origins, and its role in leading him to embrace a form of social idealism. D.R.G. Owen explores Temple's concept of the "sacramental universe," his answer to the problem of synthesizing the competing world-views of science and religion. Owen dismisses the body-soul dualism of traditional Christian thought in favour of a belief that holds that matter is not separate from but "a vehicle for the self-expression of the spirit. A.R. Peacocke of Cambridge surveys the implications for Christian theology of the so-called "new biology," especially the fields of molecular biology, genetics, and sociobiology. Scientific advances demand that theologians redefine traditional values, morals, and religious concepts, such as sin, for example, in the light of new knowledge, even if science itself cannot meaningfully provide new definitions.
Kenneth Boulding calls for greater modesty and humility on the part of both scientists and theologians as a means toward their co-existence, if not reconciliation. Paul Kent notes that, after a century of widespread faith in the limitless possibilities of science and technology, a growing fear of science and its implications has led the general public to join with theologians and other social critics to demand greater responsiveness on the part of scientists to community values and ethical considerations. Alan Suggate's discussion of the need for corporate and ecumenical reflection on science and social values and Robert Kates's review of a variety of ecological and values questions in the light of Temple's theology close the volume.
Most of the essays in this book would make difficult reading for those not well-versed in science and theology. The Experiment of Life, will, however, provide a useful resource for anyone who wishes to delve deeply into the possibilities and limitations of science to satisfy our deepest human concerns.
Robert Nicholas Bérard, Dept. of Education, Dalhousie University, Halifax NS.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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