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Modern Physics and Ancient Faith

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  217 ratings  ·  26 reviews
A considerable amount of public debate and media print has been devoted to the “war between science and religion.” In his accessible and eminently readable new book, Stephen M. Barr demonstrates that what is really at war with religion is not science itself, but a philosophy called scientific materialism. Modern Physics and Ancient Faith argues that the great discoveries o ...more
Paperback, 328 pages
Published February 28th 2003 by University of Notre Dame Press (first published 2003)
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Seth Brown
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Easily one of the most thought-provoking, intellectually satisfying, and comprehensively mind-blowing books I have ever read. I hope I don't completely overstate how awesome this book is, but if you have any inkling of interest in science and/or apologetics, this book is for you five times over.

One of my favorite features of the book is how Barr approaches the arguments on both sides with openness and rationality, examining critically arguments for and against. Multiple times through the book,
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm not a science person, and this book is a few years old now, so take this for what it's worth. This is a fantastic and lucidly written introduction to some of the questions modern physics raises about God, the universe, and the mind. Primarily a challenge to materialism as opposed to a robust defense of theism, the book introduces the reader to the basic developments in physics in the twentieth century and argues that, far from vindicating philosophically materialist conclusions, those develo ...more
Apr 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Perfectly serviceable in terms of anthropic coincidences and creation of the universe. But it really shines in its discussion of the problems that materialism has in dealing with the mind. Not just that materialism can not possibly account for the universal human experience of free will and meaningful thought, but that materialism is in fact incompatible with current math and science. Interesting stuff.
Oct 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Ignore the silly biologists like Richard Dawkins, whose area of study is narrow enough that they don't have to ask questions like "why does the universe exist?" The people to speak to are the physicists, who must confront questions about the origins of space and time and how they came to be what they are. As Barr shows, such questions lead steadily and surely to one conclusion: there is a God, and it is rational to believe in Him. ...more
Chris Callaway
Aug 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A good survey of findings from science (mostly physics) and their relevance to a religious (mostly Christian) worldview. Barr does pretty well handling ideas/arguments from philosophy and is adept at explaining difficult concepts from the natural sciences. That's not to say it's an easy read, though! ...more
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is simply brilliant.. Not too difficult - not too easy to read. Stephen is a great physicist! I'm from Poland and unfortunately the entire printout was sold out.. but I bought this book for 3 x the usual price and I just want to say.. it was worth it! ...more
David Bruyn
Jul 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Detailed and fairly technical discussion of discoveries in cosmology, physics and quantum theory that point to theism and the Genesis account.
Luke Paulsen
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Plenty of ink has been spilled on the relationship between science and religion; no one really needed an additional book arguing, or denying, that religion is in conflict with science. What I most liked about Stephen Barr's contribution is that it doesn't read like such a book. If anything, Barr-- a Catholic who's a leading cosmologist and theoretical physicist-- seems concerned to defend science from the charge of conflicting with religion.

At the outset, Barr states his thesis lucidly. He notes
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Finally sat down to finish this. Too good a book to be treated in this fashion! Stephen Barr has, for my money, a lot of GK Chesterton's ability to look at the implicit assumptions of modern thought and point out its inconsistencies. He just does it with contemporary physics instead of theology, politics, and literature.

Whatever you feel about his conclusions, if you read this you will get a tour of the philosophical issues at play in many different subfields of modern physics--particle physics
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very deep and thorough introduction to the competing world views - Theistic vs science debate. Seems a great book to recommend to your scientific/ agnostic friends to get them to open their minds to the possibility of a creator.
Jaime K
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Yes, this book is older so some of the science content is likely outdated, but Barr presents some great facts as to how and why dogma/religion aren't hostile to science, nor are they anti-rational. He briefly discusses the math and science (delving a little more into each in Appendix C and B respectively), but this book was written to be read by ANYONE interested in the intersection of science and faith.

I'm a mathematics teacher and found the physics information to be more understandable than, s
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, science
With a title like Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, one might expect another book describing the purported conflict between science and religion. Instead physicist Stephen Barr argues that "...the conflict is not between religion and science, it is between religion and materialism", a philosophical opinion closely related to science. He explains, "The basic tenet of so-called 'scientific materialism' is that nothing exists except matter, and that everything in the world must therefore be the res ...more
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I loved this book and learned a lot from it. I particularly like the author's knack for explaining high level science and theology with clear, practical analogies. Apparently there is a more recent edition with a preface discussing some minor updates based on recent science. This book is well worth a read. I had the opportunity to meet the author earlier this month and was inspired by how humble and kind he is. ...more
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religión
Se nota mucho la veta de docente que tiene Barr. Estoy impresionado de cómo puede explicar temas tan complejos, en un abanico de diferentes dificultades.
Desde una explicación básica, fácil y amena de leer, hasta una de gran complejidad para los más expertos.

Sin esta característica, hubiera sido imposible de leer.

Por otra parte, el libro cubre un montón de temas, dando un panorama completo sobre las consecuencias filosóficas de los últimos 100 años de la física.
Kelly Wallace
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting argument for the ability of science and faith to intersect. I'm not sure I agree with many of the arguments presented, but it was a fascinating read. Not too heavy on technical terminology. I'm not a "science person" and understood it fine. ...more
Manuel Calero
Sep 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Found it to be one of the best books to explain complex theories very effectively. Read it for this reason alone. As for its core hypothesis, it’ll require quite a few leaps of faith. But then again, I can’t imagine any book on the subject not requiring such.
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this shortly after reading The Big Picture by Sean Carroll, which gives a pretty good description of a naturalist/materialist view of reality. I was hoping for some form of rebuttal of some of the arguments made in Carroll's book, and I was pleasantly surprised at the thoroughness with which Barr deals with the really crucial issues.
The aim of the book is not to prove the Christian cosmology, but merely to refute the idea that scientific materialism is the inevitable world view to be adop
Anthony Cleveland
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Convincing evidence that science and faith can be partners in the search for truth about the universe.
This book should be required reading for every materialist. Wholly convincing and ridiculously impressive.
Aug 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book does an excellent job introducing the materialism vs. true science debate as well as relating the discoveries of modern physics to philosophy and theology.

Dr. Barr's books fills a great need in informing the public and scientists alike that true science and theology are indeed symbiotic, not antibiotic. And Dr. Barr does so in an enlightening, Penrose-like style.

Readers of this book would also enjoy Dr. Anthony Rizzi's The The Science Before Science: A Guide to Thinking in the 21st
Aug 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Much of the mathematical material in this fascinating work is beyond my limited ability to comprehend. I was able to follow most of the logic, but was challenged by the equations and various proofs presented in support of the logic. Having said that, Dr. Barr has done a great job of demonstrating the difficulty of trying to disprove "God" scientifically. In fact, he argues that modern science leaves the basic question of meaning unanswered. In reality, the revelations of modern science seem to s ...more
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religious
This is a great look at the relationship between science and faith, which, as Barr argues, are not at odds with one another. Barr explains that materialism, a belief that physical processes explain all of existence, is the foe of faith, as opposed to science. If fact, much of the cutting edge developments in science fly in the face of materialism and seem to support belief in God. Even though Barr and I wouldn't agree on every point of religious doctrine, his thorough argument for belief is a we ...more
Michal Paszkiewicz
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Barr has done an excellent job of putting into words what so many philosophers and physicists have struggled to say for so long. All of the arguments are presented in a clear and concise way.

There were moments when I was worried that the author was starting to show a belief in a God-of-the-gaps, but every time the argument spun around in a slightly unexpected way that kept me on my toes.

I found Barr's claims on the position of the early Church regarding cosmology particularly interesting, so the
Jul 06, 2011 added it
Shelves: shelved
This book is very slanted toward "modern physics" supporting the existence of God. I get irritated when science trys to disclaim God using the same techniques so in all fairness, I am holding this author to the same standard. I may return to it when the weather isn't so hot and I'm less cranky:) ...more
Jan 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
really makes me wish that I'd paid more attention to Dr. O in astronomy class. This is great stuff so far. ...more
Joshua Mingo
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Totally recommend this, for it's scope and depth. ...more
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Stephen M. Barr is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Delaware. His physics research interests include theoretical particle physics. His particular areas of expertise are grand unified theories, theories of CP violation, theories of neutrino masses and mixing, and particle cosmology, especially theories of baryogenesis and dark matter.

He was elected a Fello

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