A worthwhile contribution to the ongoing debate about the nature of religion and rationality.

Eternal Harmony

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.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5127-3490-4

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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