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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A theology of science, written by a scientist - will challenge how you think about both science and theology.
As both a Scientist and a Christian, there is something within me that truly feels this is a book that ought to have been written for some time. So, I don’t stand on neutral ground (but, then, which reviewers do?). If you want something beyond the usual fights between the new atheists and the creationists, something more thoughtful, then this might well be the book...
Published 11 months ago by dr dread

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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lacks rigour in both argument and style.
I am not sure whom this work is aimed at. Maybe bible enthusiasts who wish to feel better connected with science. I have the Kindle version of this book. The first chapter is okay - it deplores the superficiality of media debate on religion/science. The problem is the rest of the book. It is effusive and scatter shot - picking "bits" from science, poetry and...
Published 5 months ago by W. R. Stewart


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A theology of science, written by a scientist - will challenge how you think about both science and theology., 9 May 2014
This review is from: Faith and Wisdom in Science (Hardcover)
As both a Scientist and a Christian, there is something within me that truly feels this is a book that ought to have been written for some time. So, I don’t stand on neutral ground (but, then, which reviewers do?). If you want something beyond the usual fights between the new atheists and the creationists, something more thoughtful, then this might well be the book for you.

The book opens with “A Clamour of Voices,” a chapter simply listening to the often shrill and fractious voices which usually surround discussions on science and theology. Readers will be familiar with many of these: the strident claims of the new atheists; the equally absolute claims of the creationists; the arts-science divide. What are we to make of all this? Perhaps, we would be as well to find out what doing science is really like, which means hearing some stories about science (there are many in this book). We discover that science is shaped much more by inquisitiveness about the world, by asking the right questions about how things are. And, when we turn to the Bible, we discover that a biblical view on science does not end, or even begin, with those two creation stories at the start of Genesis. There are many creation stories in the Bible, and they share with science that natural inquisitiveness about the world - in fact, they encourage investigation into nature.

The centrepiece of the book is a discussion of the dramatic passage on nature and creation found at the end of Job. Any scientist reading this passage will recognise that it contains most breathtaking set of questions, covering all of nature in its vast array. McLeish hears, amongst these questions, both an invitation and a challenge to seek after answers, to gain wisdom, to understand the physical world better, and to join with the creator in helping to shape and to order it. In other words, to do science. Nor does McLeish shy away from the other themes in Job (pain, suffering, injustice) - there is a sensitive, and insightful discussion of the boundaries between order and chaos. An invitation to understand creation better helps to reconcile us towards living within it.

In the end, this book is all about reconciliation, not least between science and theology. McLeish argues, persuasively, that just as we need a "science of theology" (investigation into the phenomenon of religion) we also need a "theology of science." We need to explore and understand the human dimensions of science: what it is for, why we do it, and where it belongs in our history, our hopes and our values. In McLeish's view, science permits a reconciliation between humankind and nature; it takes away our fear of the unknown otherness of matter; it permits a healing of the damage we do towards, and receive from, the natural world. Such a theology actively encourages science.

A closing chapter looks at how all of this might be cashed out in terms of science policy, education, public perception of science, and not least the “troubled technologies” which so plague our modern life.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, intelligent, important, 23 Oct. 2014
By 
G. Y. Ritchie (Chiang Mai, Thailand) - See all my reviews
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What a delight to read! This book deals with science and theology in an original way, relevant to, but quite different in substance and tone from "God delusion / conclusion" debates. McLeish tells the story of science from within, a story of hard-won understanding, humility, and perseverance. This is story rather different from that told by science journalists who present something more like a triumphal march from darkness to light. Importantly McLeish tells this story as one which has a much longer history than the modern "scientific revolution" of history textbooks. Completely central to his thesis is the gentle recovery of the idea of "natural philosophy" (love of wisdom of natural things) replacing or at least complementing "science" (based on the root idea of "to know"). This immediately makes science an enterprise more human, more humble, and more accessible. As a science educator, no longer a working scientist, I see this as a real game-changer leading to an emphasis on questions, inquiry, fascination, and no little sense of wonder. As regards theology, McLeish spends very little time on Genesis texts, but includes an extensive study of ideas about nature in the book of Job, culminating in the great questions at the end of that book. McLeish sees here at least a hint of a challenge to explore these questions. For those within the Christian church, perhaps the most thought-provoking idea is that science is an integral part the "ministry of reconciliation" to which the church is called. In a world where the local church is often indifferent to science, ignorant of science, afraid of science, or even at war with science, I earnestly hope church members, pastors, and youth leaders hear this. This is an inspiring, intelligent and important book. I hope it is widely read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loving Science, 20 Sept. 2014
By 
Mr. Michael Lumsden (Cambridge, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Faith and Wisdom in Science (Hardcover)
The first positive point about the book is that Prof Mcleish writes from an unusual position. He is first and foremost a very eminent practicing scientist – and his love of science comes through every page. This means that while he clearly has a deep Faith he is writing as a friend of science and is therefore able to understand and indeed agree with some of the ideas of Atheists who are also scientists. There are few writers that are better placed to bridge the gap that seems to have opened up between Scientists and the general populace; indeed it seems to me that the book is as much a defense of science as of any religious tradition.

When I started the book I had some concern that the theological side would be lightweight. My own expertise is limited here, but my impression is that this is not the case. I think that the writer had taken good advice and had been guided to explore issues and themes that had proved to be inspiring and fascinating to him.

McLeish seeks to explore some of the problems associated with science. Having a scientific training I was somewhat shocked to consider or recognise the failure of science to get a positive message across. He contends that outside of the “scientific fraternity” science is generally misunderstood or feared. Science is often seen as a dull mechanical routine which is carried out in laboratories by people wearing white coats. Many able students reject a scientific career as they see it as stifling any creativity – it is the orbit of geeks. Worse, the expert scientist is seen as the holder of power that might be unleashed on the rest of society who are kept in ignorance. Science is seen as lacking in soul – a discipline that produces useful results but is devoid of colour. I was left feeling that science itself needs to be rescued, and indeed Mcleish appears grieved that so few appear to understand and share his joy in science.

McLeish is particularly interested in the relationship between theology and science – and sees theology as a friend of science. This is a refreshing approach! But he believes that the view that there is an interface is flawed; he agrees with Dennett that there should not be any area that is beyond the reach of scientific enquiry. But he also affirms that theology has no boundaries either, and calls for a development of a theology of science.

He argues passionately that until relatively recently there was no gulf between the disciplines and gives several detailed historical examples of scientific work and thinking being practiced by individuals who would mainly be thought of in connection with theological work. Indeed the word “science” (linked to knowledge) is a relatively modern term – before about 1830 workers in the field dealt with Natural Philosophy (loving wisdom in natural things). He refutes the contention of some “New Atheists” that science is new – and only flourished when we were able to break away from old religious dogma.

Noting that both disciplines have a long history he also points out that they share a questioning approach. This may be a surprise to some unfamiliar with science (schools tend to teach a body of knowledge) or religion (surely religion is about dogmatic beliefs?). I found this part very refreshing – with both approaches sharing (to some extent) a contingent view of truth which means that both should develop and evolve. In science it is clear that there is no end to the road of discovery – and the same must be true of any Faith journey – be it of an individual or the community.

McLeish looks for reconciliation between the disciplines and hopes that each will be able to help and support the other. This seems a long way away! I was disappointed that there were not clearer ideas as to what McLeish would like the Church (and other religious traditions) to contribute here.

There is a delightful study of the nature themes in the bible and especially in the book of Job. I am grateful to the author for this section which certainly expanded my thinking – I was especially pleased with the focus on God as creator of all things, and Man not the most important!

The book is a serious study of important issues which are sometimes not a particularly easy. Readers will need to be prepared to work hard and grapple with some of the content - but I believe that such efforts will be richly rewarded.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The author, a soft materials physicist, explain his ..., 17 Oct. 2014
By 
M. Hancox (Abingdon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Faith and Wisdom in Science (Hardcover)
The author, a soft materials physicist, explain his views on creation and the natural world, suggesting that creation is about establishing boundaries and order. Chaos, and with it pain and death, are present in creation and humans are very sensitive to disorder and unpredictability. The book of Job is considered as the Bible's central offering on suffering and how to resolve this given a loving, omnipotent God. Humans are invited into the chaos of creation but are not given a central role. We need to journey towards healing and understanding. The final chapter was not, I thought, so interesting as it dealt more with administrative aspects of science and issues of public communication. Reading the book requires concentration and some familiarity with science.The author takes an overall view; the individual has to accept that s/he is a bit player on a far bigger canvas.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Job and science: fascinating, 13 July 2014
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This review is from: Faith and Wisdom in Science (Hardcover)
Excellent, accessible book with illuminating and sometimes challenging insights in all three sections. My only quibble is that the three sections didn't mesh together perfectly.

I was tempted to title this "the peer reviewed trials of Job"...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 5 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: Faith and Wisdom in Science (Hardcover)
wise and profound.excellent
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lacks rigour in both argument and style., 25 Nov. 2014
By 
W. R. Stewart - See all my reviews
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I am not sure whom this work is aimed at. Maybe bible enthusiasts who wish to feel better connected with science. I have the Kindle version of this book. The first chapter is okay - it deplores the superficiality of media debate on religion/science. The problem is the rest of the book. It is effusive and scatter shot - picking "bits" from science, poetry and mainly the old testament and then pointing out correlations. You suspect things are going wrong pretty early when the poet Keats is referred to several times as 'Keates'. Crucially it seems to make no effort at forming a coherent analysis of the religious impulse and it's relationship to the scientific impulse. The style and language is very lightweight almost patronisingly simple, almost I think childish. Unless you are heavily into bible readings you may find it tedious. Unfortunately it may not be well represented via a kindle sample as the beginning is the best part of the book. The book may be useful in the states to any fundamentalists looking to modify their "thinking" to the next level - this would certainly be a major and important application of the book - if such a thing were to be possible.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 22 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Faith and Wisdom in Science (Hardcover)
Well written book about a very important topic.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A missed opportunity, 1 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Faith and Wisdom in Science (Hardcover)
An interesting diversion from the norm methinks, a scientist daring to voice an opinion about biblical creation accounts!
Historically quite normal, almost expected, assuming of course that you didn't offend the local clergy.
But perhaps since the time of Newton scientists and the church have had increasingly polarised positions.
So Proff McLeish has dipped his toe into theology and risked losing it it to the "clamour"!
My real concern is what has been left out of the book rather than what it contains. Real science, like real religion looks for harmony and unity within our material universe, endeavouring to understand and explain our world rather than destroy and ridicule those struggling to understand it.
McLeish had the opportunity in this book to confront both creationism and evolutionary theories as two extremes that appeal to sectarian minorities but not to the 98% of the general public who view both extremes as just that, extreme! Yet he has chosen not to to say even a sentence about either. So for me, returning to the book, nicely written and insightful, but if anything rather sanitised.
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Faith and Wisdom in Science
Faith and Wisdom in Science by Tom McLeish (Hardcover - 29 May 2014)
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