A Course of Controversy in Science and Religion (July 2011)

(Eight books on science and religion, summaries only here)

Compiled and recommended by John Manimas Medeiros

1) Elaine Ecklund, Science vs. Religion. Oxford University Press, 2010.

2) Francis Collins, The Language of God. Free Press, 2006.

3) Graeme Taylor, Evolution's Edge. New Society Publishers, 2008.

4) Mark Lynas, Six Degrees to a Hotter Planet. [Kindle] Harper Collins e-books, 2011.

5) Rob Bell: Love Wins. Harper One, 2011.

6) John Manimas, The Primacy of Stewardship. J Manimas Publishing, 2008.

7) Catherine Cory, David Landry (editors) The Christian Theological Tradition, 2000

8) Janine Benyus, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, 1997

Summaries of each of the eight books:

1) Elaine Ecklund, Science vs. Religion. Oxford University Press, 2010.

Summary: Highly disciplined anthology of the actual views of scientists on religion, religious beliefs, what it means to be religious, or spiritual, definition of these terms, relationship of science and religion from scientists' viewpoints. (at elite universities)

Chapter 1: The Real Religious Lives of Scientists

Scientists "lash out" against fundamentalists who pressure society to teach creationism in public schools because evolution is science and creationism is religion.

Scientists need to better understand how scientists "came to their views" on religion (some are religious). Problem: The general public believes that one must be anti-religious or "clueless about religion" [or atheist] in order to be a successful scientist.

In fact, what scientists think about religion is complex and interesting.

Scientists may define religion differently (from religionists or fundamentalists).

One scientist categorizes self as a "spiritual atheist" and therefore defines religion differently, suggesting that general public and "religionists" need to allow scientists the freedom to define religion in their own terms. The author does allow this freedom.

Ecklund is by her study method in agreement with JMM principle that the best way to understand religion is to study religion scientifically, and to do what JMM recommends in The Seven Pillars of Religion (Chapter 12 of Primacy).

-- JMM: With regard to the visible conflict between science and religion, and making use of the seven pillars (People, Calendar, Ritual, History, Teleology, Ethics, Institutions) the primary cause of the classic and ongoing conflict is teleology. The other pillars or elements of a religion are cultural differences that do not impose any significant conflict with science.

2) Francis Collins, The Language of God. Free Press, 2006.

Summary: Scientific arguments, logical arguments, in defense of a belief in God, as being compatible with or consistent with science or a scientific mind.

Presents scientific arguments in defense of religious faith and a belief in God, or in divinity. Also presents material on the relationship between science and religion as a challenge to learn and use the vocabulary of religion in order to understand religions, what religion is and discuss religion without betraying the principles and precepts of science. Collins argues that the DNA code is the "language of God." JMM proposes a specific study strategy for "learning about religion" that he calls The Seven Pillars of Religion.

Collins' book presents his viewpoint that the language of DNA is the "language of God." He also presents a very interesting and informed discussion of the relationship between the scientific theory of evolution and intelligent design. He presents a great deal of information about human genetics in understandable words. This book is recognized by many scientists -- according to Ecklund, below -- as a good example of a reliably scientific scientist who is also comfortable discussing his religious beliefs publicly. Collins is therefore an example of a person who presents himself as one who has reconciled religious beliefs with a scientific world view. Each reader of this book has to decide for themselves whether Collins' religious beliefs are in some way "more rational" because he is a successful scientist. I do not see Collins' religion as any more "rational" or credible just because it comes from the mouth and mind of a scientist. I believe it is consistent with "scientism" or worship of scientists, to conclude that any religious ideas have greater weight because they are supported by a scientist.

3) Graeme Taylor, Evolution's Edge. New Society Publishers, 2008.

The Coming Collapse and Transformation of Our World.

Summary: Using scientific research, Taylor explores and describes how our environmental damage is likely to cause mass extinctions and how our economic activity is irretrievably destructive of the life-supporting environment. Taylor also argues that quick and radical economic and technological changes could transform our civilization into an ecologically sound and sustainable form of society.

4) Mark Lynas, Six Degrees to a Hotter Planet. [Kindle] Harper Collins e-books, 2011.

Summary: Using scientific research, explores and describes how our energy policies and economic activity is the cause of global warming, and how a gradual and seemingly minor increase in the planetary average temperature would destroy life on Earth as we know it, including us. The most interesting point of the book is that somewhere between an increase of two degrees and three degrees, the ecological changes and changes in the way planetary climate is generated would most likely become irreversible, and the process that would destroy life on Earth for thousands of years could not be stopped and reversed by human effort.

Agreement with JMM/Primacy: Shows through extensive citation of scientific research that end result of bad stewardship will be self-destruction, loss of everything, extinction.

5) Rob Bell: Love Wins. Harper One, 2011.

Summary: Defends many social justice principles, and equality of all, no salvation by membership, similar to JMM in The Primacy of Stewardship, but still defends the Gospel message as a moral teaching or spiritual teaching, still in traditional context of Christian morality as being in support of a future world, a better world, the "age to come" which means that humans grow up rather than go to another place.

Nearly all of his view of the main theme of the Gospel message is that it is about social justice and equality. And Bell discredits Heaven and Hell as separate places and discredits salvation by membership. These views are in agreement with JMM/Primacy. However, Bell does not propose that the Gospel be examined as a scientific message instead of a moral message. Bell sees Jesus' Heaven as "the age to come," but JMM sees Heaven as "the kingdom of life in the universe." In the end, Bell regresses back to the viewpoint that any spiritual enlightenment or connection with God is through Jesus, suggesting a reversion to the exclusivity of Christianity as the only true path to God.

6) John Manimas, The Primacy of Stewardship. J Manimas Publishing, 2008.

The Handbook for Christians Who Believe in Democracy.

Part 1) The Universal Jesus

Part 2) A Traveler's Guide

Summary: Using two principles and five questions* as a guide, Manimas proposes that whatever the source of the Gospel message, it was originally intended to teach evolutionary science, what we need to know, rather than a moral philosophy. This proposition is supported by citation of the parables and other passages from the New Testament Gospel. The moral philosophy is the error of the disciples and early Christians. They did not get the message and they laid the foundation for perpetuation of their viewpoint that Jesus' purpose or goal was to affirm the ancient religious superstitions about Heaven and Hell and eternal reward or punishment for behavior after death. Manimas is saying that the history of western civilization is based on a mistake. The original intent of the Gospel message was to teach that:

A) Survival of the good steward is survival of the fittest.

B) Serious democracy requires serious equality.

7) For those who are personally concerned with the special role of the Roman Catholic Church in its history of conflicts with science, look at: Catherine A. Cory and David T. Landry, Editors. The Christian Theological Tradition (Prentice Hall, 2000) Copyright 2000, University of St. Thomas, Theology Department.

Notable: A) Mary, Mother of God, was made unique being in all the world's history in that she was "assumed" into heaven (not ascended) according to doctrine adopted in 1850. B) In the Middle Ages, when people who took the Church seriously were concerned about clergy corruption, priests who had mistresses, and or children, or homosexual relationships, or who were corrupt through accepting bribes, stealing Church property, lying -- the primary concern of the people was whether the sacraments the corrupt priests and bishops had administered (baptism, marriage, extreme unction, etc.) were effective.

8) For those who want to learn about the best scientific solutions to the problems created by environmental damage through centuries of bad science, look at: Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, by Janine Benyus, Harper-Collins, 1997. And search for "biomimicry" and "biomimicry institute" online.

Notes: Fascinating, informative and encouraging tour into molecular science and molecular engineering. Chapters:

1 - Echoing Nature

2 - How Will We Feed Ourselves? -- Growing Food Like a Prairie (natural succession)

3 - How Will We Harness Energy?

4 - How Will We Make Things?

5 - How Will We Heal Ourselves? - Animals know which plants fight disease.

6 - How Will We Store What We Learn?

7 - How Will We Conduct Business?

8 - Where Will We Go From Here?

This book is about transforming from bad science to the good science of imitating Nature. Biomimicry means that Nature is the model for the best science. (Includes stem-cell research.) Nature's way is the msot efficient and least destructive way of doing everything. The human technology of the industrial revolution and the Age of Exploitation is profoundly inferior to Nature's technology, which evolved slowly and safely over hundreds of millions of years.

Example: Chapter 4: How Will We Make Things? There is no material that combines the most extreme hardness with some flexibility as nacre, the mother-of-pearl substance created on the inner surface of an abalone shell.

*COMPARISON OF Biomimicry with Loves Wins! and or The Primacy of Stewardship -- A KEY REALITY OF THE SCIENCE VS RELIGION PHENOMENON: This comparison illustrates the profound divorce between natural scientists, including environmentalists and ecologists from Christian beliefs. The author of Biomimicry, Janine Benyus, often discusses religious beliefs and viewpoints, especially in the last chapter, but does so without ever making any reference to Christianity or Christian beliefs, or theology, or using the word "religion." All of her references to reverence for life and Nature are presented in a context of philosophy, poetic (Wendell Berry, Thomas Berry, Linda Hogan) love and reverence for Nature, or philosophical love for Nature. She uses the word "biophilia," which obviously means "love of nature" to express the viewpoint that is synonymous with "good stewardship." Also, her references to love of Nature and respect for Nature's way, in the last chapter, is presented as having Native American beliefs as their source. Her writing does imply that Native American beliefs are better understood as Native American science rather than Native American religion, which I fully support. However, in this book Benyus does not suggest even the slightest hint that Christian beliefs support good stewardship of the life supporting environment on Earth. It is as though Christians cannot be relied upon to understand or support good stewardship of life on Earth. It is an omission that cannot be explained by ignorance.

[With reference to viewpoint presented in The Primacy of Stewardship:] Q2

Question #2: Is the Source of the Gospel Message a Teacher of Science?

[C 1 - My God…]

"My God sent Jesus to tell us what we need to know, tell us that good stewardship is our primary obligation and our primary goal. …"

[C 13 - The Old and the New in the Kingdom of Heaven]

"The laws given to us in the Old Testament are like the rules that parents make for infants and young children. They tell us what kinds of behavior to avoid so that we will not be self destructive. … Standard of Evaluation (Matthew 25) is added, is like guidance parents provide to adolescents and young adults.

*Question #3: How Can One See the New Testament With One's Own Eyes? Q3

The Two Principles and the Five Questions

The two principles and five questions - the scientific method used by John M. Medeiros to study the Gospel message as a scientific document (1958-1977-2007):

A) The Gospel message is about scientific facts, not about morality.

B) The purpose of the Gospel message is to tell us what we need to know, what we need to know in order to survive and thrive as a species.

1) What is the kingdom of heaven?

2) What is the main theme or main idea conveyed by the parables?

3) Why are there so many parables about good servants and bad servants?

4) What do all the good servants have in common?

5) What do all the bad servants have in common?


*Conclusion: Scientists can not only reconcile science with religion, which we must do, but can actually claim the New Testament Gospel as a scientific message, as an episode in the history of science: Democritus, Thales, Archimedes -- Francis Bacon, Galileo, Isaac Newton, Leonardo Da Vinci -- James Maxwell, Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Werner Heisenberg, etc. Between Archimedes and Francis Bacon, now insert "Jesus Christ" as a great teacher of scientific facts, specifically evolution and how evolution operates with regard to a technological animal (Survival of the good steward is survival of the fittest; bad stewards self-destruct.)

*The set of choices available for the relationship between science and religion:

Leading to certain self-destruction:

1) Science versus religion, one wins and the other loses.

2) Science versus religion, each maintains possession of their own "realm" of reality.

3) Democracy versus theocracy, theocracy prevails [First Amendment discredited/rejected.]

Leading to continuation of schizophrenic civilization, with high risk of self-destruction:

4) [as is] Democracy versus theocracy, democracy prevails, without resolution of science versus religion or with continuation of two realms of separate realities.

Leading to development of a healthy civilization that is ready to move forward:

5) Conflicts between science and religion are resolved by individuals, groups, nations and the human species through a legitimately rational process of reconciliation of science and religion.

6) **[new option] The reconciliation of science and religion by identifying the Gospel message as science, as useful information. With adoption of the scientific principle of "the primacy of stewardship" the Gospel message is re-categorized by individuals and groups as scientifically accurate information: the evolutionary process operates on us, technological animals, such that we survive and thrive if we are good stewards of life and the life-supporting environment and we self-destruct if we are bad stewards of life and the life supporting environment. With this option, science = morality and there are no longer two separate realms or realities.

*IMPORTANT FOOTNOTE: The Five Possible Sources of the Message in the Gospels:

This means that the source of the Gospels does not in itself necessarily confirm the validity of the message. However, the source is important. Still, we do not need to establish the source beyond reasonable doubt in order to proceed to examine the message in a scientific manner. Toward the purpose of having us study the Gospels scientifically, let's say that the Gospels are a message that is probably an important message, and that we do not know the source precisely, but we can list five possible sources:

One: Jesus alone, charismatic person and profoundly skilled philosopher and observer of human behavior, who by himself provides the parables and wisdom that constitute the entire message that we have received as the Gospels.

Two: Jesus not alone, but still a charismatic person and profoundly skilled philosopher and observer of human behavior, who by himself with a special educational and training experience, provides the parables and wisdom that constitute the entire message that we have received as the Gospels. This means he probably traveled and studied and practiced during the eighteen years of his "absence" (from age 12 to 30) in many lands, possibly Egypt, Persia, India, Greece, Rome, and possibly even China, Tibet and parts of North Africa such as Ethiopia.

Three: Jesus not alone, but still a charismatic person and profoundly skilled philosopher and observer of human behavior, who by himself with a special educational and training experience, provides the parables and wisdom that constitute the entire message that we have received as the Gospels. This means he probably traveled and studied and practiced during the eighteen years of his "absence" (from age 12 to 30) in many lands, possibly Egypt, Persia, India, Greece, Rome, and possibly even China, Tibet and parts of North Africa such as Ethiopia. And further, thirdly, the body of knowledge he came to master -- the message -- was not the result of any single ethnic or national tradition or sect but was in fact the accumulated record of wisdom and knowledge from the Gnostics and Greeks and Eastern cultures which represented a universal collection of the wisdom and knowledge of humankind to date. This option best explains the universal quality of the Gospel message that lifts it above the traditional sectarian or tribal religion of the Hebrews, even though Jesus was biologically and by cultural heritage a Hebrew.

Four: Jesus was a messenger from a superior extraterrestrial humanoid species that was sent on a mission to provide the human species with important information about what it means to be a technological animal, or intelligent species, and what are the traits and obligations and the possible destinies of such a species on a water planet like Earth.

Five: Jesus was God, or the Son of God and the Holy Spirit in a Holy Trinity, and in any case Jesus was essentially the "incarnation" of the divinity that created the universe and came to us in the form of a human being, Jesus, in order to tell us what we needed to know, or to tell us what He, God, considers to be good behavior and bad behavior so that we could be a loved and approved by God instead of being sent to bed without dinner or sent to Hell without any hope of salvation and reconciliation with God.

*In support of freedom of religion and with respect for one's rights as an individual, each individual is invited to make their own decision about who Jesus was, or is. The purpose and format of The Primacy of Stewardship is restricted to examination of the Gospels -- whatever the source -- in order to formulate a conclusion as to whether the teachings in the Gospels are credible. The question is: Is their science in the Gospels? The answer is: The Primacy of Stewardship, according to the thinking of John Manimas Medeiros. The Primacy of Stewardship is what John Manimas hears Jesus teaching and it is science as well as morality. - end-

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