Thursday, January 27, 2011

Science vs. Religion – a Comment book review

A scientist who is a Christian usually finds herself somewhat alone in two different communities: within her congregation she is perhaps the only scientist, and within her scientific network she may be the only Christian. In both cases, there is often suspicion and misunderstanding. (The same, I’m told, is true of artists who are Christians.)

For the past year we have been offering many book reviews; here is another one our readers would be interested in. At Cardus, a Canadian public policy think tank which has its roots in Reformational thought, Milton Friesen reviews Elaine Ecklund, Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think (Oxford University Press, 2010) for Comment online.

Here are three quotes from Friesen’s review, which is available in its entirety here.
  • “Despite the binary title, Science vs. Religion is about the need for greater nuance, informed communication, and mutual understanding within the complicated intertwining spaces of religious belief and scientific research.”
  • “Ecklund discovered that extreme positions on both sides of the traditional debate have informed the stereotypes we know so well: the atheist scientist who not only declines religion but actively opposes it in a hostile Richard Dawkins/Christopher Hitchens way, and the fundamentalist with fingers in his ears denying direct evidence to protect a cherished belief.”
  • “There is indeed a very real clash of cultures born of different ideas, different ideologies, and different practices. While these variances are deep and persistent, Ecklund argues that the tone and nature of the exchange must change. Scientists need to understand far more about how people experience and practice religion and spirituality. They need to be much more skilled in translating what they do for public consumption. If religious scientists don’t open up about their religious and spiritual experiences and convictions, colleagues will continue to assume (incorrectly) that these things are absent from their professional circles.”
While I have not (yet) read Ecklund’s book itself, it appears we can all learn a lot from it in terms of approaching the valuable conversations in a mutually edifying way.
Milton Friesen, “What scientists believe”, Comment online, 21 January 2011,

No comments: