Academic journal article Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith

SCIENCE AND CHRISTIANITY: Foundations and Frameworks for Moving Forward in Faith

Academic journal article Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith

SCIENCE AND CHRISTIANITY: Foundations and Frameworks for Moving Forward in Faith

Article excerpt

SCIENCE AND CHRISTIANITY: Foundations and Frameworks for Moving Forward in Faith by Tim Reddish. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2016. 190 pages, bibliography, index. Paperback; $25.00. ISBN: 9781498296045.

"What, another book on science and Christianity?" Such were indeed the initial thoughts of this reviewer. In fact, these are the introductory words of the author himself. Tim Reddish goes on to explain part of the motivation behind the book: the backdrop of the numerical decline of established churches. The author then answers his own question by explaining that the target for this work is primarily ministers and seminary students.

Reddish himself is a relatively recent seminary graduate (MDiv, 2015), from Knox College in Toronto, one of three seminaries operated by the Presbyterian Church in Canada. This may explain, in part, his ability to reach his target audience. He is also a physicist (PhD, Manchester, UK). After spending time at the Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK, he moved to Canada, and was a professor of physics at the University of Windsor. He commenced his Knox College studies in 2011.

The subtitle of the book is Foundations and Frameworks for Moving Forward in Faith. As a Knox graduate myself, I would note that Reddish was paying close attention to the preaching class that covered the topic of alliteration! The phrase does reveal, however, the well-structured nature of the book, although there are some refreshing alterations to usual approaches on this well-covered topic. For example, while many books tend to handle the topic of Genesis in earlier sections, the author saves this for the final chapter, which is entitled "Revisiting Science and Scripture: Creation Texts in the Old Testament." There are also two short appendices covering theistic arguments for the existence of God and metaphysics.

The first two chapters focus on Scripture. In addition to a historical overview, a primary topic of chapter 1 is the "Galileo Affair" (author's quotes). We see another of the author's propensity for alliteration, as he summarizes the complexities of the affair as concerning "power, politics, patronage, popes, precedents, principles, polemics and personalities." The chapter concludes with a useful section entitled "Galileo: Lessons for Today," noting that, "Sadly, some Christian traditions are simply fighting an outdated war with the wrong tools."

The second chapter continues the focus on scripture, particularly its inspiration and interpretation. Amongst the theologians cited is Bradley McLean, who is professor of New Testament Language and Literature at Knox College. Reddish makes extensive and appropriate use of McLean's book Biblical Interpretation and Philosophical Hermeneutics, and cites the utility of two types of meaning of a text: the original founding sense event, and a reinterpretation of its significance in every subsequent generation.

The next two chapters then focus on the nature of science (chapter 3) and relating science and Christianity (chapter 4). Like others, the author uses the classifications of Ian Barbour (Conflict, Independence, Dialogue, and Integration). In this case, the author makes considerable efforts to review the strengths and weaknesses of each classification. This chapter is worthy of (and requires) several reads, but provides a useful backdrop for the remainder of the book.

This reviewer found the last four chapters of the book the most intriguing. Chapter 5 is entitled "On Chance, Order and Necessity." It builds upon two opening quotes, one from Ecclesiastes 9:11 concerning the ubiquity of both time and chance, and the other from Stephen Hawking who admits that those who believe in predestination still look both ways before crossing the street. …

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