A scientist takes a philosophical stand against the idea that science has a monopoly on reason.
The territorial contest between science and religion is as old as their existences. Modern discussion on the topic often includes the presumption that science, and science alone, can deliver a rational rendering of the world. Debut author Rickards, a physicist, labels this presumption “scientism”—the hubristic assertion that an atheistic science can solve every mystery. The author argues that, in their best forms, both science and religion are evidence-driven enterprises, and that, when properly understood, each improves the other. He also says that science is rife with claims of the existence of theoretical entities, but that it’s blind to the purpose of things and to the existence of free will, thus diminishing the value of human life by willfully misinterpreting the nature and dignity of personhood. In the final analysis, he says, scientism turns out to be a species of “idol worship,” a disfigured faith of its own that hypocritically rejects all other faiths: “Indeed, contrary to widespread misconception, like genuine science, God-made religion is founded and built upon many falsifiable claims.” Rickards’ aim, he says, isn’t to denigrate science, but to restore its appropriate role within a “unified religion-science and faith-reason duality worldview.” His explorations are diverse and far-reaching; for example, he discusses quantum mechanics, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the creation story in the book of Genesis, and Pascal’s Wager. The author’s erudition is breathtakingly broad, and the prose is lively, clear, and consistently avoids hyper-technical academic jargon, though it does sometimes flirt with stridency. His book is also a quirky effort—for instance, it includes several song lyrics that the author composed, largely about his religious devotion. As the first of a planned four-volume collection, it’s a challengingly long study, and it could have avoided repetition in order to be more concise. A synopsis at the start would have been very helpful, given the complexity of the arguments that follow. Still, this is a philosophically nimble work that seeks to end the dispute between faith and reason by demonstrating their natural allegiance.
A worthwhile contribution to the ongoing debate about the nature of religion and rationality.