Science is a process of describing the way the universe works. It codifies experimental data into a series of "laws"--equations that effectively prediScience is a process of describing the way the universe works. It codifies experimental data into a series of "laws"--equations that effectively predict the outcome in a given circumstance. Scientists rely on these laws, and assume that they exist--in fact, part of the atheist's argument is that the more predictable the universe, the less we need to rely on the existence of a god to explain it. Poythress contends the opposite: that the existence of natural laws is testimony to the existence of an eternal, unchanging God controlling everything. The laws are reliable because God is faithful. When a scientist studies natural laws, he is not studying some impersonal machine, but the continuous actions of a consistent God.
After all, why should there be natural laws? Why should actions in the world be repeatable? Why should the same equations work equally well at the bottom of the ocean or on the surface of the moon? That the world does work this way is a central principle on which all science is based, but there is no reason for it, apart from God. This is the concept behind Poythress's seemingly outrageous statement: all scientists, whether they acknowledge it or not, believe in God, because they rely on the character of God for their work.
Poythress lays out his argument clearly and relentlessly, leaving little ground to object from the point of view of either Scripture or science. He takes apart the question of Genesis 1 with similar confidence, bringing the reader to understand what Genesis does and does not say, distinguishing between teachings that are theologically indispensable for those who take the Bible seriously, as opposed to issues on which Genesis simply does not speak. At each step, he is logical, easy to understand, and humble. There is no ranting here, no vitriol, no cheap shots at opponents' positions. He wants his readers to love Scripture and love science, just as he does, and it shows. ...more
This book tries to be a realistic look at likely advances in the future, but it was a bit dull from my perspective, since everything it describes hasThis book tries to be a realistic look at likely advances in the future, but it was a bit dull from my perspective, since everything it describes has been done many times in science fiction. (I can also pick up most of what he mentions by reading the list of current research projects at Lockheed Martin)....more
An intriguing set of essays, but like all such, some were much better than others. I expected more of a history of science, but instead I got each wriAn intriguing set of essays, but like all such, some were much better than others. I expected more of a history of science, but instead I got each writer ruminating on his favorite subject. I particularly enjoyed Neal Stephenson's thoughts on Leibnitz's metaphysics, as well as the essay on X-ray crystallography....more
Excellent. Just what I like from my scientist biographies -- a picture of the culture in which the discovery grew, and why it was so revolutionary toExcellent. Just what I like from my scientist biographies -- a picture of the culture in which the discovery grew, and why it was so revolutionary to the thinking of the time. Strongly recommended. ...more
I love books of this sort, that show how people thought about the world before important scientific discoveries, and thus why those discoveries were sI love books of this sort, that show how people thought about the world before important scientific discoveries, and thus why those discoveries were so radical. Despite the title, this is a biography of Galileo, not his daughter, but it's told from the point of view of hundreds of letters that Galileo and his daughter (a cloistered nun) wrote each other throughout his life. Besides showing how Galileo approached the world differently, and was thus able to prove true many things previously thought false, it gives a picture of a truly religious man caught between irrefutable church dogma and the clearly demonstrable truths of nature. He spent much of his life hailed as a genius, popular across Europe, but his enemies finally caught up with him, and at the age of 70 he was forced to recant his science, publicly humiliated, forbidden to publish (with all his other books banned), and confined for the rest of his life. Despite this, he produced his most radical and influential book from house arrest, while going blind, and smuggled it out to Protestant countries where it was widely printed and read. It was over 200 years before the Catholic Church finally removed Galileo's books from the banned list. ...more