Customer Reviews


17 Reviews
5 star:
 (11)
4 star:
 (6)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 
‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A refreshingly balanced overview, 13 Feb. 2009
By 
Jon E (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This entry in the "Very Short Introduction" series is an absolute gem. Thomas Dixon is neither a scientist nor a theologian, but, as an academic and member of the International Society for Science and Religion, he writes with authority and clarity on a debate that has been topical at least since the time of Galileo.

Dixon provides an entertaining overview of the debate as it has shaped up from the heresy trial of Galileo in 17th Century Rome, through the seismic upheaval wrought by Darwin's theory of evolution in the 19th Century to the contemporary clashes between neo-Darwinists and the creationist and intelligent design theorists who oppose them. The book presumes no in-depth knowledge of either scientific theory or religious teachings, but provides brief but helpful explanations of how developments in the various branches of science that have taken place since Copernicus first posited a sun-centred astronomy in 1543 have impacted on religion and theology across the different traditions (though the focus is very much on the theistic religions). Dixon shows how the on-going discussion has been shaped by deeper socio-political currents, so that the truth claims made by participants on either side of the debate cannot be understood in isolation from their historical or cultural context. For example, the form and emphases that the debate has taken in America has been largely shaped by the US Constitution and its First Amendment which enshrines the principal of the separation between Church and State.

Above all, what makes this book such a valuable resource for anyone interested in exploring the debate in further depth is the balance that Dixon strives to keep. Where so often the interface between science and theology is seen as one of conflict, Dixon keeps in view the possibility of harmonious interaction between disciplines. By training a keen philosophical eye on the various orthodoxies that have been adopted down the centuries by key players on either side of the debate, Dixon gently exposes the flaws in any form of absolutism or reductionism, be it scientific or religious.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A balanced approach to the subject, 18 April 2011
By 
Dr. Bojan Tunguz (Indiana, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
The subject matter of the interaction between science and religion is one fraught with misunderstandings. For a while now, there has been a growing tendency to view these two disciplines as polar opposites of each other, and to characterize the interaction as that of a conflict. It does not help that many scientists are atheists, and many believers are not well versed in science. Consequently, each field is perceived as a caricature of itself when viewed through the eyes of its opponents. And yet, what each one offers in its own right and with the respect to other is much more nuanced and rich than these caricatures would imply. The recent spate of neo-atheist books has rekindled interest in the connection between the two. This new atheism bases itself largely on scientism, the idea that religion is false because it is not science.

There is a paucity of good books that do justice to both fields, which makes it difficult for the serious and intellectually honest novice to receive an objective and yet comprehensive account of them. Thomas Dixon's "Science and Religion - A Very Short Introduction" is a welcome exception and probably the best first introduction to the subject. In line with the other "very short introduction" books, this one is sophisticated and does not condescend to its readers by calling them "dummies" or "idiots." Nevertheless it is a very accessible book that sheds a lot of light on its subject. It would be unreasonable to expect a book this slim to cover all of the different approaches to religion and science, and some adjustments need to be made. For the most part, it uses Christianity as the primary example of religion, and discusses those scientific theories and discoveries that have historically posed the greatest challenges to the Christian worldview. It includes all of the "greatest hits" of the debates between science and religion - the Galileo affair, Darwin and evolution, creationism and intelligent design, and mind and morality. Dixon approaches all of these controversies with a lot of historical insight and manages to stir clear of catering to facile misinterpretations that have become popular in the public conception. Thus, the Galileo affair is viewed against the backdrop of the seventeenth century political and scientific events, from which it becomes clear that much of the latter interpretations are mere mythologizations of the events in question. On the other hand, Dixon is equally careful to avoid the trap of revisionist apologetics that underplay the severity of the punishment that Galileo had to endure and the chilling effect it had on his further scientific endeavors.

By focusing on concrete events and controversies, Dixon enhances the readability of the book. Too often a potentially intellectually honest appraisal of the connection and the interaction between science and religion assumes too much or too little of the reader, and consequently falls into either of the two categories of scholarly philosophizing or amateurish polemicizing. Nevertheless, the right balance can be achieved, and anyone who is new to this subject would greatly benefit from reading Thomas Dixon's succinct yet informative volume.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great, balanced little book, 13 Aug. 2010
I really enjoyed this book. Clear, concise and most of all balanced - a quality that is hard to come by when science and religion are discussed together. Thomas Dixon gives a thoughtful and objective overview of the relationship between science and religion. I am interested in reading about what theology and science each bring to the big questions such as how did life come about? Why are we here at all? For me, discussions are all the richer for both perspectives being present. I don't want to be converted to particular belief (theistic or atheistic), I'm not interested being part of a 'them and us' culture. This book, for me then, felt like a real breath of fresh air as it encouraged the reader to develop a similarly balanced, yet questioning approach, to both science and religion. More like this please!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant little book, 12 Sept. 2010
If you're thinking about the relationship between science and religion this is a fun and gently persuasive guide to the issues that succeeds in complicating any lazy "science vs religion" construal of the interaction.

Dixon's book, as you might have guessed, is basically a tour of the big questions in the debate. Dixon has a knack for raising big themes in a a fun way. The chapter on how science has been used to promote moral agendas does this nicely. Dixon mentions a pamphlet warning of the perils of onanism, which reports the ruinous effects of self-abuse on a person's mind and body.

Dixon's demolition job of the Intelligent Design movement is worth the price alone. Dixon traces the tendency of its proponents to hop from one "irreducibly complex" phenomenon to the next. Behe and co tend to focus on what is currently a problem in area in scientific research, only to jump to another when the mystery starts to unravel. They once talked about biochemical cascades, now they talk about the bacterial flagellum motor. In addition to exposing this dodgy use of difficulties in current research, Dixon also illuminatingly discusses the cultural forces driving what is really an American thing.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Science and Religion in the Very Short Introduction Series, 15 Feb. 2014
By 
Robin Friedman (Washington, D.C. United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Author Thomas Dixon says that most books written about the relationship between science and religion aim to make the reader either more religious or less religious. Dixon claims that his book, "Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction" (2008) has the goal of stepping back from the aim of drawing a conclusion about this issue and to show the reader instead what is at stake in the disagreement. Dixon, Senior Lecturer in History at Queen Mary, University of London, succeeds, in general, in offering an even-handed, insightful account of the debate about the relationship between science and religion.

If there is a single lesson to be drawn from the book, it is that the discussion about the relationship between science and religion has three rather than two elements. The third element is politics. The matter cannot be simply reduced and does not depend on a specific political commitment. Rather, the dispute arises typically when a person takes a position based ostensibly upon a strongly-held religious or scientific belief. A person opposing that belief may try to block it by arguing against its alleged religious or scientific base. To be a little more concrete, a person may argue that a particular war is justifiable/unjustifiable or that same sex marriage is right/wrong based on alleged religious grounds. One who disagrees may try to block the use of religious grounds to decide the issue. I think almost everyone is aware of claimed disputes between religion and science turning on such matters with political positions as the unspoken third element. In his book, Dixon offers further historical examples, ranging from Galileo to the Intelligent Design movement to show that politics often plays a large, unspoken role in the debate about science and religion.

Politics, of course, is not the full story of the matter. If "politics" is difficult to understand precisely, "religion", "science" and especially God are even more so. Dixon shows the shifting, complex character of both science and religion which make it hard at best to settle for phrases, short answers, and stereotypes on one side or the other. There are many sides and gradations. The parts of Dixon's discussion that I found most helpful in thinking about science and religion are his treatment of the broad philosophical positions of realism and anti-realism in both science and religion and his suggestion that God might well not be considered as involving claimed "gaps" in scientific teaching but as both more elusive and less immediately causal.

In successive chapters of his book, Dixon applies these broad considerations to discussing Galileo and the Catholic Church, the possibility of miracles, Darwin, evolution, and contemporary proponents of intelligent design, and mind-body in the light of neuroscience. He also considers the importance, or its lack, of science and religion to specific ethical/political issues. On both sides, this question presents an issue of "naturalism" or of the separate status of ethical questions. When viewed from a religious perspective, this issue is sometimes called the "Euthyphro" problem after Plato's dialogue of that name. (Dixon does not use the "Euthyprho" in discussing the question.) He argues that neither science nor religion provide sure answers to questions of ethics.

Dixon tries admirably to get readers to clarify their own thinking rather than to convert. He asks his readers to think less dogmatically and to be careful what they wish for. "Would [each reader] really prefer to live in a society where everyone agreed about the questions this book has been about? What sort of place would that be?"

Unlike, say, an introduction to chemistry, a "very short introduction" to science and religion will work on readers with various levels of background, from those who have thought about the matter a great deal to those readers with a more casual interest. Dixon's book will be valuable to readers of whatever level of study who wish to engage with the questions he raises. The book includes detailed notes and an especially good bibliography. Dixon has also prepared a "Readers Guide" to this book consisting of a series of provocative questions to aid in understanding. It is available on the OUP website.

Robin Friedman
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A balanced and unbiased review of the interlinked role of science and religion in our lives, 30 Nov. 2011
By 
N Louis (Emsworth, UK) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an excellent book for someone seeking to expand their knowledge on the arguments for both science and faith in the interpretation and the understanding of our existence in this immense universe, and how human beings came to be, by exploring all prominent theories including the laws of nature, the notion of ' prime mover ', the formation of the universe, evolution, ethics, and highlighting the unclosable gaps in our scientific knowledge. It discusses at length all thoughts behind darwinism, neo-darwinism, creationism, intelligent design, theistic darwinian evolution, the precise universe and the physical laws underpinning it, evolution of ethics versus inner altruism, and the mind and human soul, and exhausting in the process all ideas and theories, with many quotes throughout for both sides of the argument. Thomas Dixon has given a comprehensive, objective and easy to read review of the subject.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended Introductory Read, 22 Dec. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
From the previous reviews this little book has attracted nothing but recommendations. I do no more than add my support to these views. If you are interested in the subject 'Science and Religion' then I can think of no better start. Enjoy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Science and Religion, 19 Sept. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book does what it's title says ie serves as an introduction to the Science and (versus?) Religion debate.
It is a useful "snapshot" of the subject, highlighting the well known"flashpoints" such as Galileo and Darwin, and the increasingly controversial debate, in view of the recent developments in neuroscience and psychology, about Mind and Morality (or Mind and Matter).
Strongly recommended as a starter.
E Housley
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and thought provoking, 14 Jun. 2012
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Studying in the sciences myself I find the issues of science and religion highly interesting. This book offers a well informed overview of many issues, current and in the past, and provides arguments for both sides. I would highly recommend this book to others. Even if you yourself are leaning towards one side of the argument it provides a great opportunity to understand the other side.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really worth a read, 20 April 2009
By 
Jeremy R (Richmond, UK) - See all my reviews
I'd recommend reading this short book to anyone with an interst in this important area. It summarises the issues in an easy to understand and digestible way. Thomas Dixon is a fluent and effective communicator.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only search this product's reviews