- Paperback: 556 pages
- Publisher: Gracewing Publishing (15 January 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0852449224
- ISBN-13: 978-0852449226
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.1 x 22.9 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 862 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 115,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Realist Guide to Religion and Science Paperback – 15 Jan 2018
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With this volume, the student will be able to safely navigate through the busy halls of philosophy.
FR JOSEPH AZIZE, PH.D.,
Honorary Associate, Dept of Studies in Religion, University of Sydney;
Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Notre Dame, Australia.
The Realist Guide to Religion and Science is an historical and radically interdisciplinary work that provides clear answers to the intellectual confusion that besieges the modern world.
DENNIS BONNETTE Ph.D.,
Professor of Philosophy (Retired), Niagara University.
Fr Robinson knows that talking about the absoluteness of truth is not very pleasant to a modern scholar … but it is—de facto—a very scholarly thing to do. In my opinion, the author of the Realist Guide deserves praises for this attempt.
JAKUB TAYLOR, Ph.D. (Seoul National University),
Professor Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea.
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Robinson edifies us with interesting examples to show that only a balanced and completely realist philosophy can produce and progress an accurate, useful science. Beginning with an optional review of metaphysics (the Four Causes, and primary and secondary causality), he skillfully walks us through history to demonstrate how a religion (philosophical worldview) is or is not compatible with scientific progress in various cultures at various times, from ancient pagan societies (Greece, China, India) through Medieval Islamic and Catholic cultures to Reformation times and our own post-Reformation culture. The analysis is done using reason that is realist; that is, takes into account both empirical evidence and intangible realities in balance. This well-organized book is packed with science, logic, history and current events, and sprinkled with humor.
Personally, despite decades of searching (as biology student and later as teacher), I have never found a satisfactory solution to the "God versus science" problem until now. I've been overjoyed to find in this book a secure position on the battlefield of viewpoints. I've also found it useful for non-scientific discussions because of the philosophical principles presented.
Having read The Realist Guide, I would like to say that there seem to be some inaccurate impressions about the book based on hearsay or, from a few among those who have actually read it, taking exception to some wording... So, I would encourage you to read it entirely for yourself and be treated to some logical thinking that is like a breath of fresh air. Thank you, Paul Robinson!
The book is divided into three sections: 1) Reason; 2) Religion; 3) Science. Here is a summary of those sections.
Ch.1 “Three Witnesses” – there are three ways of looking at human knowledge of reality: empiricism (sense knowledge only); idealism (conceptual knowledge only); and realism (both sense and conceptual knowledge). Only realism makes sense, as you can’t live your life without being a realist or claim to know truth or justify human communication.
Ch.2 “Four Causes” – for a realist, there are four causes: material, formal, efficient, and final. When we stop time and try to find why anything exists at any moment, we find that there must be a first efficient cause, who makes things exist and who also enables creatures to do their own causation.
Ch.3 “Three Knowledges” – philosophy, theology and science all have different objects of study and different methods in learning about their object. Philosophy uses reason to study ultimate causes, theology uses authority to study the revelation of God, and science uses empirical evidence to study physical bodies. If each of them is realist and uses the four causes, there’s no problem. But if scientists become empiricist, they try to destroy religious thought; if theologians become idealist, they try to destroy scientific thought. Then, you’ve got a mega problem, Houston. Let’s turn to history and see religions being idealist and scientists being empiricists and both being irrational.
Ch.4 “Pagan Pantheism” – the pagans all thought that the universe is eternal and goes in cycles. Those pagans who identified the universe with God could not get very far in understanding reality with their reason and so made up myths about it. Those pagans, the Greeks, who gave up on mythology in order to do philosophy had huge insights about reality, especially Aristotle. However, there was one flaw in his philosophy that made him an idealist in science; his false ideas in this area were accepted for 1700 years.
Ch.5 “Catholic Creativity” – when Catholics built up the world of Christendom and started to find a philosophy to match up with their theology, they settled on Aristotle’s realism. But they had to disagree with Aristotle about the eternity of the world and their idea of God as a rational creator led them to improve Aristotle’s metaphysics and completely reject his false science. Their better realism gave birth to the scientific method and started science as we know it today.
Ch.6 “Muslim Monotheism” – the Muslims were led away from realism and straight into idealism by their text-based religion. Their Koran speaks to them of an Allah who is random in the things that he does, not rational. Medieval Muslim theologians made an Allah of raw will without logical consistency and a Koran not to be interpreted to be the orthodox position for Sunni Muslims. Under this idealism, it is impossible to find causes other than Allah for the things around us, and philosophy and science are seen to be useless endeavors and even obstructive of religion. That’s why the Muslims were not able to give birth to modern science.
Ch.7 “Protestant Biblicism” – when Luther invented his Bible alone religion, he wanted to leave reason completely out of it. This led him to an idealism similar to that of the Muslims: a sacred text that is not to be interpreted, a God who acts without consistency or reasonableness, a world that cannot be investigated by the human mind. Modern Protestant fundamentalists (and the one-star reviewers of The Realist Guide) are faithful to this worldview when they attack science using the Bible. Fr Robinson shows that they are wrong about geocentrism, about the earth being only 6000 years old, and about the Flood covering the entire earth, instead of part of it.
Ch.8 “Science Suicide” – when the science that was born in the Middle Ages started to grow up, medieval realism was on the decline and the great scientists of the 17th century, the century of genius, built up the empiricist worldview instead. This led Kepler, Galileo, and Newton to do damage to science as a philosophy in five ways, resulting in their worldview being completely incoherent. Modern scientists manifest the incoherence of this empiricist worldview with their theories on the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and the origin of new species, as seen in the next three chapters.
Ch.9 “Godlike Universe” – in the 20th century, powerful evidence, supported by the Big Bang Theory of Fr Georges Lemaitre, indicated that the universe came into existence 13.7 billion years ago as a burst of energy that has been expanding ever since. This theory was opposed by atheist scientists who want to turn the universe into God by making it infinite, unchanging, homogeneous, and uncaused. The universe refused to be deified, continually showing all of the marks of a created universe. This has not led the atheists to become theists, but rather has led them to be more and more irrational, in their tenacious desire to cling to empiricism.
Ch.10 “Inorganic Life” – if empiricists make themselves look ridiculous trying to show that the universe came into being without God from nothing, they make themselves look just as ridiculous trying to explain the origin of life by purely material causes. We now know that the cells of each living thing on this planet have a complexity that cannot ever be explained by lightning striking a warm pond. Moreover, we know that intelligence has the ability to arrange matter in extremely complex ways. But intelligence as a cause of life is not allowed by the religious, anti-religious empiricists.
Ch.11 “Unspecified Species” – in the service of empiricism, Darwin tried to explain the origin of new species on the earth by means of random mutation and natural selection alone. His theory, however, is philosophically bankrupt unless it invokes formal and final causes. Without them, there are no species and there is no striving for survival. His theory is also scientifically bankrupt, at least today, because we now know so much more about the material components of life than he did. Yet empiricists go to desperate lengths to have us believe their story that reptiles come from fish, that humans are the same as animals, and that blind genetic changes can work miracles of innovation.
In short, The Realist Guide to Religion and Science is quite simply a tour de force! There is something in this book for everyone, and I cannot recommend it enough.