Thursday, January 27, 2011

Science vs. Religion – a Comment book review

A scientist who is a Christian usually finds herself somewhat alone in two different communities: within her congregation she is perhaps the only scientist, and within her scientific network she may be the only Christian. In both cases, there is often suspicion and misunderstanding. (The same, I’m told, is true of artists who are Christians.)

For the past year we have been offering many book reviews; here is another one our readers would be interested in. At Cardus, a Canadian public policy think tank which has its roots in Reformational thought, Milton Friesen reviews Elaine Ecklund, Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think (Oxford University Press, 2010) for Comment online.

Here are three quotes from Friesen’s review, which is available in its entirety here.
  • “Despite the binary title, Science vs. Religion is about the need for greater nuance, informed communication, and mutual understanding within the complicated intertwining spaces of religious belief and scientific research.”
  • “Ecklund discovered that extreme positions on both sides of the traditional debate have informed the stereotypes we know so well: the atheist scientist who not only declines religion but actively opposes it in a hostile Richard Dawkins/Christopher Hitchens way, and the fundamentalist with fingers in his ears denying direct evidence to protect a cherished belief.”
  • “There is indeed a very real clash of cultures born of different ideas, different ideologies, and different practices. While these variances are deep and persistent, Ecklund argues that the tone and nature of the exchange must change. Scientists need to understand far more about how people experience and practice religion and spirituality. They need to be much more skilled in translating what they do for public consumption. If religious scientists don’t open up about their religious and spiritual experiences and convictions, colleagues will continue to assume (incorrectly) that these things are absent from their professional circles.”
While I have not (yet) read Ecklund’s book itself, it appears we can all learn a lot from it in terms of approaching the valuable conversations in a mutually edifying way.
Milton Friesen, “What scientists believe”, Comment online, 21 January 2011,

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Festschrift for Theodore Plantinga

Next week (Friday 21 January, 7-10:30pm), Redeemer University College is hosting an evening to honour the late Dr. Theodore Plantinga (1947-2008). This event will mark the publishing of a special series of essays penned by colleagues and students interacting with Prof. Plantinga’s ideas which has recently appeared from Clements Academic Publishing. The evening will feature a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Arie Leder (Calvin Seminary) and featuring Dr. John Bolt (Calvin Seminary), Dr. Craig Bartholomew (Redeemer University), and Dr. Jason Zuidema (Concordia University) on the theme:

“Does the Reformational Movement Need Left and Right Wings to Fly?”

Readers of this blog will note that Theo Plantinga was well-known in the Canadian Reformed churches, and frequently wrote about Schilder, church unity, as well as the interesting quirks he found in the CanRC and other Reformed churches with Dutch roots. He edited and wrote most of a book entitled Seeking Our Brothers in the Light: A Plea for Reformed Ecumenicity (Neerlandia: Inheritance Publications, 1992), which was essentially an appeal to the Christian Reformed churches to reconsider their response to the events of 1944 which were so formative for the CanRC. Plantinga also translated Rudolf van Reest’s biography of Schilder, entitled Schilder’s Struggle for the Unity of the Church (Inheritance Publications, 1990).

From 1996 to 2006, Theo Plantinga blogged at Myodicy, particularly addressing the CanRC in these pieces:
  • “Commemorating Schilder: Have We Learned Anything Yet?” link

  • “The Truth About the Truth: Reflections on Denominational Exclusivism” link

  • “In the Beginning It Was Not So” link

  • “Ken Wilber and the Quest for a Theory of Everything” link

  • “Trimming Our Sails with the Help of Philosophy” link

  • “No More Zorro Outfit” link

  • “It Goes Without Saying: Reflections on Vanzelfsprekendheid” link

I mention these only to remind our readers of Plantinga’s connection with us. The Festschrift focuses on his contributions to Calvinist philosophy.

For more information on the Festschrift see this Redeemer webpage or the Facebook event page. The book can be ordered via the Redeemer bookstore or online at Amazon.

If any of our readers wishes to offer a review of the book, please contact us.