Thursday, May 26, 2011

Book Review – Hawking’s The Grand Design

“Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time remains a top seller after 22 years, paralleling his surprising longevity with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. This new book, written with Mlodinow (also a theoretical physicist and trade-book author), despite its grand claim says little new, except for providing a surface-level update on the speculative M-theory as well as joining the fashionable ‘Ditchkinses’ in providing naïve jabs at religion….

“Hawking & Mlodinow approach deep spiritual, metaphysical, ontological, and existential questions, but instead of seriously engaging them, they apply superficial physical-reductionistic answers. This is not surprising, given Hawking’s habit of ridiculing religion as outmoded myth, but it is sad nevertheless; I had hoped that he and Mlodinow would have learned from both atheist and Christian critiques of Dawkins and Hitchens. Apparently there remains a significant market for sloppy dismissal of anything to do with faith….

“Hawking and Mlodinow display extreme philosophical and theological naïveté, beginning with their announcement that ‘philosophy is dead’….

“The goal of the book was to answer ‘the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything,’ which they state as: ‘Why is there something rather than nothing? Why do we exist? Why this particular set of laws and not some other?’ (p. 10). These are good questions, but scientists and the general public, Christian or otherwise, will not receive reliable answers in this failed attempt by Hawking and Mlodinow.”

The above are snippets of my review of The Grand Design, which has been published in the June 2011 issue of Perspectives on Science & Christian Faith; read the entire review here or here, it is also listed in our “Collected Papers”.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Book Review - Pen of Iron: American Prose and the King James Bible

The influence of the King James Bible upon the English language and culture is immense. This year, a number of books have been produced to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version. We have found Tim DeJong, a doctoral student of English, willing and able to review Robert Alter’s Pen of Iron: American Prose and the King James Bible, which originated as the 2008 Spencer Trask Lectures at Princeton University. Alter is currently a professor in Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California-Berkeley, where he has taught since 1967. He is the author of numerous books and articles and a recognized expert in ancient Hebrew. In 2007 he published an English translation of the Psalms.

DeJong, who previously reviewed Marilynne Robinson’s Absence of Mind for Reformed Academic, introduces and critiques Alter’s study, which reflects on how the KJV’s distinctive prose and themes have influenced the work of some of America’s great writers, including Melville, Faulkner, and Hemingway. We invite you to engage with DeJong’s review, which is listed in our “Collected Papers”; a direct link is here.