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Faith and Wisdom in Science Hardcover – 29 May 2014

4.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (29 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198702612
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198702610
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 2 x 14.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 420,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


densely argued and erudite book (David Lorimer, Network Review)

Rich and discursive ... it has a lot to offer. (Tim Radford, The Guardian)

McLeishs desire for science to be re-assimilated into the interconnected whole of human activity is clear. Only from such a position will our work as scientists be understood and truly appreciated (John Singleton, Physics World)

It is refreshing and remarkable that a distinguished scientist has written such an eloquent and wide-ranging book (Sir Martin Rees)

The author describes his book as one scientist's search for an answer to the haunting question of Job: where can wisdom be found? It is not, he contends, to be found in popular understandings of conflict, complementarity, or segregation of the cultures of science and theology. Writing as a distinguished physical scientist and committed Christian, he injects new life into an old debate by advancing a "theology of science", which gives to scientific endeavour a special significance in the larger narrative of humanity's experience of pain and hopes for the healing of a broken world. There is verve and vision in his writing, as moving as it is instructive (John Hedley Brooke)

This unique book is for those who are tired of the usual debates over science and religion. It's an intriguing read that includes stories from the lab about the quirkiness of scientific discovery, a deep meditation on the book of Job, and reflections on the current roles of science in society. McLeish offers a thought-provoking view of the place of chaos and suffering in a universe under God's control (Deborah Haarsma, President of BioLogos)

Tom McLeish's engaging passion for science is matched by his unique ability to help the reader locate science in a complex and enriching relationship with ancient texts and stories, contemporary culture and the big questions of human existence. (David Wilkinson, Durham University)

Highly recommended. (Church of England Newspaper)

About the Author

Tom McLeish is Professor of Physics and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Durham University. He studied for his first degree and PhD in polymer physics at the University of Cambridge and in 1987 became a lecturer in physics at the University of Sheffield. In 1993 he took the chair in polymer physics at the University of Leeds. He took up his current position in Durham in 2008. He has won several awards for his work on molecular rheology of polymers, including the Weissenberg Award of the European Society of Rheology (2007), the Gold Medal of the British Society of Rheology (2009) and the Bingham Award of the Society of Rheology (2010). He is also involved in science-communication with the public via regular radio, TV and schools lectures, discussing issues from the Physics of Slime to the interaction of Faith and Science. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the American Physical Society and the Royal Society.

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Customer Reviews

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Format: 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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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Format: 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.
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