My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Review: A Christian Theology of Science: Reimagining a Theological Vision of Natural Knowledge

A Christian Theology of Science: Reimagining a Theological Vision of Natural Knowledge A Christian Theology of Science: Reimagining a Theological Vision of Natural Knowledge by Paul Tyson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I am an Engineer (aka Man of Science). I am also a practicing Christian (aka Man of Faith) … so I was intensely interested in this ambitious attempt to integrate the two (where I have traditionally seen the two in completely different domains of knowledge). Unfortunately … I am NOT a Philosopher (ergo I eschew sesquipedalianism) … and that makes this book a struggle. The nearly complete lack of simple and/or common language in the treatment of this topic makes it primarily accessible to academics (and probably a small subset of those). This alone makes it difficult to recommend the book.

But wait … there's more. Unless I have totally missed the principle argument here, the author is basically complaining that our society places more emphasis on science to understand our world than theology/philosophy … without coming straight out as a fundamentalist fanatic that denies the benefits and efficacy of science. Any time there is a confirmed advantage to a scientific approach, the author seems compelled to call out just how dangerous this is as well … without ANY specific examples of how or why that would be true.  It just is ‘cause.  And that is not likely to convince anybody of anything. Even outside of the prodigious use of fancy allegories, I found no clear answers to any of the questions posed … especially the big one asking if science and theology are even compatible.

In fact … the author specifically condemns my own approach that limits the application of science to those questions that lend themselves to the scientific method (aka reductionism and patterns) and theology to those questions that deal with existential meaning and “first order truths” (truth is another term thrown around so much that I started hearing the meme from A Few Good Man in my head saying “You can’t handle the Truth”). Obviously science has no purview in adjudicating the ultimate meaning of life or even one-off miracles that have few analogs in the natural world. Asking it to do so and then claiming science is somehow flawed is simply sophistry.


1. Starting Definitions of Christian Theology
1.1 What is Christian Theology?
1.2 What is Science?
1.3 Prescriptive Theology and Science
1.4 Christian Theology and Science?

2. Viewing Christian Theology through the Truth Lens of Science
2.1 Empiricism and Christian Theology
2.2 Rationalism and Christian Theology
2.3 Physical Reductionism and Christian Theology
2.4 Are Modern Science and Christian Theology Incompatible?

3. Christian Theology as a First Truth Discourse
3.1 Secularization and Interpretation
3.2 The Primary Interpretive Commitments of Christian Theology
3.2.1 God
3.2.1 God as the Source of All Created Essence and Existence
3.3 Theocentric Foundations versus Egocentric Foundations

4. Viewing Science through the Truth Lens of Christian Theology
4.1 Christian Theology and Empiricism
4.2 Christian Theology and Rationalism
4.3 Christian Theology and Physical Reductionism
4.3.1 Nominalism and Physical Reductionism
4.3.2 Voluntarism and Physical Reductionism
4.3.3 Pure Matter and Physical Reductionism
4.4 Physical Reductionism Is a Useful and Dangerous Abstraction

5. The Remarkable Reversal - Revisiting History
5.1 Modern Scientific Historiography and Christian Theology
5.2 The Social Sciences and Christian Theology
5.3 “Science and Religion” and Christian Theology after the 1870s
5.3.1 Functional Demarcation
5.3.2 Autonomous Overlap
5.3.3 Integration
5.4 The Unremarkable Remarkable Reversal

6. Thinking “After” Science but Not “After” Christian Theology
6.1 “After” Science
6..2 No “After” Christian Theology

7. Rediscovering Christian Theological Epistemology
7.1 The Fall, the Foundations of Science, and Two Theological Anthropology Trajectories
7.2 In Nature Knowable?
7.3 Can Fallen Humanity Know Nature?
7.4 Complexity Issues regarding Natural Light and Divine Light
7.6 An Integrative Zone for “Science and Religion” Today?
7.7 Ockham’s Pincer
7.8 Christian Theologian Epistemology and Post-Victorian Science

8. Myth and History - the Fall and Science
8.1 Myth and History in Christian Theology
8.2 Eternity and Time
8.3 Myth Defines Norms
8.4 The Myth of Secular Progress Falters
8.5 Ricoeur on the Four Basic Mythic Archetypes
8.5.1 The Mythos of Original Violence
8.5.2 The Fall Mythos
8.5.3 The Tragic Mythos
8.5.4 The Mythos of Exile
8.6 Ricoeur on Myth, Time, and Power
8.7 What Stands and Falls with the Edenic Fall?
8.8. On Finding What You Are Looking for - the “Myth” of Epistemic Neutrality
8.9 Eden and the Shibboleth Dynamic
8.10 Myth and History - Adam and the Fall
8.11 Myth and Christian Theological Epistemology

9. Recovering an Integrative Zone
9.1 The “Myth” of the Autonomy of Science from Theology
9.2 Obstacles to Recovering the Integration of Knowledge and Understanding
9.3 Christian Theology’s Need for an Integrative Zone for Knowledge and Understanding
9.4 Rejecting the Sublimation of Understanding into Knowledge
9.5 Obstacles to Integrating Christian Theological Understanding with Scientific Knowledge
9.6 What a Working Integrative Zone for Christian Theology and Modern Science Might Look Like
9.7 A Confident and Uncomfortable Stance


I was given this free advance review copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#AChristianTheologyOfScience #NetGalley.

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.