A slim but powerful entry in the long-running debate between science and religion.

Science, Art, and Christianity

CONTRIBUTION TO A THEOLOGY OF NATURE FOR OUR TIME

A brief work that argues for the synthesis of Christian faith and scientific discovery.

Brun (Creation and Cosmology, 2009) attempts to square the circle of Stephen Jay Gould’s famous “non-overlapping magisteria”: the worlds of religion and science. He does so with intellectual rigor and a surprising amount of success, beginning with some fairly large ideological conceptions: “Any serious discussion between Christian theology and science must accept that nature is free to become itself,” he writes. “This is to say that there is no interference from supernatural entities into the natural creative process.” Modern physics, he observes, has demonstrated that physical laws are the results of the natural process, not the superimposed dictations of a “super-nature.” Brun’s view, which draws on the work of the famous Jesuit theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, is that nature is the result of God’s Word, but it is also “free to become itself” without interference from supernatural forces, and that human science is also free to explore it. The author may run into trouble with more doctrinaire readers, not only for flatly declaring that all religions are human inventions, but also for exploring beliefs regarding God’s limitations; Panentheism, he says, believes that God is good and encourages good, but “cannot prevent evil from happening.” He also champions the notion of what he calls “syntheses” of the natural and the spiritual world, typified by the human drive to produce classical music or paintings, for example; the author’s side-discussion of the work of painter Wassily Kandinsky is quite engaging. Despite some distracting typos, the book’s arguments are persuasive. Ultimately, it asserts what many others have hopefully asserted before: that religion and scientific inquiry are only enemies when they’re being shortsighted: “Christianity has always adhered to the notion that faith must seek understanding,” Brun writes. “Therefore, Christian faith cannot ignore the understandings gained by science.”

A slim but powerful entry in the long-running debate between science and religion.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Brun Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2014

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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IN COLD BLOOD

"There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that." This is Perry Edward Smith, talking about himself. "Deal me out, baby...I'm a normal." This is Richard Eugene Hickock, talking about himself. They're as sick a pair as Leopold and Loeb and together they killed a mother, a father, a pretty 17-year-old and her brother, none of whom they'd seen before, in cold blood. A couple of days before they had bought a 100 foot rope to garrote them—enough for ten people if necessary. This small pogrom took place in Holcomb, Kansas, a lonesome town on a flat, limitless landscape: a depot, a store, a cafe, two filling stations, 270 inhabitants. The natives refer to it as "out there." It occurred in 1959 and Capote has spent five years, almost all of the time which has since elapsed, in following up this crime which made no sense, had no motive, left few clues—just a footprint and a remembered conversation. Capote's alternating dossier Shifts from the victims, the Clutter family, to the boy who had loved Nancy Clutter, and her best friend, to the neighbors, and to the recently paroled perpetrators: Perry, with a stunted child's legs and a changeling's face, and Dick, who had one squinting eye but a "smile that works." They had been cellmates at the Kansas State Penitentiary where another prisoner had told them about the Clutters—he'd hired out once on Mr. Clutter's farm and thought that Mr. Clutter was perhaps rich. And this is the lead which finally broke the case after Perry and Dick had drifted down to Mexico, back to the midwest, been seen in Kansas City, and were finally picked up in Las Vegas. The last, even more terrible chapters, deal with their confessions, the law man who wanted to see them hanged, back to back, the trial begun in 1960, the post-ponements of the execution, and finally the walk to "The Corner" and Perry's soft-spoken words—"It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize." It's a magnificent job—this American tragedy—with the incomparable Capote touches throughout. There may never have been a perfect crime, but if there ever has been a perfect reconstruction of one, surely this must be it.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1965

ISBN: 0375507906

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1965

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