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140 BOOK REVIEWS before Thomas, or of the Christology of St. Albert, Eckhart, and so on. Contrary to the oppositions that our contemporary thought cultivate, the theology of these Dominican masters can be called Christocentric, since it is theocentric in a coherent and unified speculative vision. University ofFribourg Fribourg, Switzerland GILLES EMERY, 0.P. God and Contemporary Science. By PI-IlLIP CLAYTON. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1998. Pp. xii + 274. $25.00 (paper). ISBN 0-8028-44607-X. Everyone now agrees that the dialogue between religion and science has become something of a cottage industry within academia, especially in the United States and Great Britain. Presses, both commercial and academic, spurred on by the phenomenal success of Stephen Hawking's A BriefHistory ofTime, pour out books on the topic in such abundance that no one mortal can read them all. Universities, both state supported and religiously affiliated, sponsor conferences on the topic. And foundations, led by the extraordinary generosity ofthe Templeton Foundation, fund these conferences---conferences which are prestigious enough not only to presume to invite, but also magnetic enough to manage to draw, some of the most prominent scientists and theologians in the English-speaking world. Anyone who has attended these conferences, however, or reads the papers that often get published later, cannot help but notice how much the dialogue still is primarily between scientists and theologians. Conspicuously noticeable by their absence are (for the most part) professional philosophers. A typical Templeton conference, for example, will boast scientists from the National Aeronautics andSpaceAdministration, historians of science from the University of Wisconsin, theologians from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, etc. But a John Searle or a Hilary Putnam, or even a Colin McGinn or a Richard Rorty? Not if published proceedings of these conferences are anything to go by. This background to the religion-science dialogue might seem at first to be of only sociological interest. But in fact it points to one ofthe central dilemmas in the conversation as it is currently being conducted. The essence of the dialogue centers on issues that are almost all strictly philosophical in nature. Yet rarely does an outside observer of the debate in these conferences see any participant explicitly acknowledge this crucial fact. Indeed, one cannot avoid BOOK REVIEWS 141 the impression that the dialogue has stalled, running more or less on cruise-control, primarily becausethe dialogue-partners often do not realizethat they are slipping, all unawares, into a specifically philosophical analysis. Of course, there is nothing to forbid a scientist or theologian from expressing philosophical views, but conversation never gets very far if one is doing that without realizing it. Perhaps the greatest virtue of Philip Clayton's recent book is his realization that, as he puts it, "productive discussion between theology and the sciences requires finding some third playing field within which the similarities and differences between their two sets of conclusions can be brought to clear expression" (82-83), a playing field that only philosophy can provide. In the vast forest of felled trees that constitutes the religion-science dialogue, what a relief it is to read such a sentence as this: "Before we turn our primary attention to the doctrine of God's activity in the world in the light of contemporary science, then, it behooves us first to explore what kind of contribution philosophical reflection can make to the doctrine of God" (83). Forthis reason, God and Contemporary Science represents that rarity in the field: an advance in the discussion that moves the entire dialogue onto a whole new level. And for this task the author is singularly well equipped: trained in Germany in the theology of Wolfhart Pannenberg and in the United States in philosophical theology, he bringstothe discussion (at least from the theological side) a unique battery of competencies, moving with equal facility from the exegesis of Genesis and the natural theology of post-Newtonian theologians to the philosophical theology of Alvin Platinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff. This means that, although he has no specifically scientific expertise to bring to bear on the discussion (he earned his doctorate in theology), the author can nonetheless spot any philosophical weakness in, say, a physicist...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 140-143
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
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