A philosophically challenging but accessible argument for comity between reason and faith.



A sweepingly thorough account of the ways in which modern science and religion share common ground.

Few cultural cleavages are as stark as the one between modern science and religion—or at least, that’s the conventional wisdom. Debut author Martin, who served as the governor of North Carolina from 1985 to 1993 and holds a doctorate in chemistry from Princeton University, argues that the relationship between the two systems, though historically fraught with tension, has evolved over time toward a point of reconciliation, if not harmony. Prior to Galileo’s monumentally important astronomical discoveries, he says, theology and science enjoyed a fairly cozy relationship, with each supporting the other, and afterward, they affected a détente that lasted centuries until Charles Darwin’s seminal discoveries renewed the acrimony between them. However, Martin contends that the most recent scientific discoveries close the gap and function as instruments of revelation. As a result, he says, many people see Darwinian evolution as the final confirmation of atheism but “Others of us prefer to interpret the same scientific evidence as modern revelation of the creative glory of God, revealed to us through the unique intellectual powers that He has provided for us to acquire.” The author treats readers to a stunningly comprehensive tour of modern science that visits the innovations of physics, biology, and chemistry. He finds in all of them evidence for an updated version of the classical teleological argument, which states that the order of the universe is so intricately complex that it powerfully suggests intentional design. The author reassesses various sources of conflict between science and religion, providing fresh perspectives on such things as the infamous Scopes “monkey trial” of 1925 and the controversy over the teaching of creationism in schools. But although he ably discusses the rift between the political left and right on matters of science, he sometimes tries to cover too much territory; for example, his quick, even dismissive discussion of health care abandons the rigor and meticulousness that typifies the study as a whole. Overall, though, this is a provocative introduction for the “educated nonscientist”—one written out of great respect for both science and religion.

A philosophically challenging but accessible argument for comity between reason and faith. 

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5245-3608-4

Page Count: 438

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.


New York Times columnist Brooks (The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement, 2011, etc.) returns with another volume that walks the thin line between self-help and cultural criticism.

Sandwiched between his introduction and conclusion are eight chapters that profile exemplars (Samuel Johnson and Michel de Montaigne are textual roommates) whose lives can, in Brooks’ view, show us the light. Given the author’s conservative bent in his column, readers may be surprised to discover that his cast includes some notable leftists, including Frances Perkins, Dorothy Day, and A. Philip Randolph. (Also included are Gens. Eisenhower and Marshall, Augustine, and George Eliot.) Throughout the book, Brooks’ pattern is fairly consistent: he sketches each individual’s life, highlighting struggles won and weaknesses overcome (or not), and extracts lessons for the rest of us. In general, he celebrates hard work, humility, self-effacement, and devotion to a true vocation. Early in his text, he adapts the “Adam I and Adam II” construction from the work of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Adam I being the more external, career-driven human, Adam II the one who “wants to have a serene inner character.” At times, this veers near the Devil Bugs Bunny and Angel Bugs that sit on the cartoon character’s shoulders at critical moments. Brooks liberally seasons the narrative with many allusions to history, philosophy, and literature. Viktor Frankl, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Tillich, William and Henry James, Matthew Arnold, Virginia Woolf—these are but a few who pop up. Although Brooks goes after the selfie generation, he does so in a fairly nuanced way, noting that it was really the World War II Greatest Generation who started the ball rolling. He is careful to emphasize that no one—even those he profiles—is anywhere near flawless.

The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9325-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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