The Constant Fire: Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate / Edition 1

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The Constant Fire tackles the acrimonious debate between science and religion, taking us beyond its stagnant parameters into the wider domain of human spiritual experience. From a Neolithic archaeological site in Ireland to modern theories of star formation, Adam Frank traverses a wide terrain, broadening our sights and allowing us to imagine an alternative perspective. Drawing from his experience as a practicing astrophysicist and from the writings of the great scholars of religion, philosophy, and mythology, Frank locates the connective tissue linking science and religion - their commonality as sacred pursuits - and finds their shared aspiration in pursuit of "the True and the Real." Taking us from the burning of Giordano Bruno in 1600 to Einstein and on to today's pressing issues of global warming and resource depletion, The Constant Fire shows us how to move beyond this stale debate into a more profound experience of the world as sacred - a world that embraces science without renouncing human spirituality.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Heavens be praised: here is a scientist who respects religion and relates it to the same impulse that drives scientific inquiry-an aspiration to the true and the real. Astrophysicist Frank is a lover of the skies with sufficient experience of awe to understand there's more than one way to tell the truth. His history of ideas is real science braided with myth and metaphor-the titular "constant fire" comes from poet Wallace Stevens. He's an engaging storyteller, as might be expected from someone who has published in Scientific American and Discover magazines. He can explain quantum physics and also dismiss woo-woo votaries who produce movies and books based on spurious science. He can relate mythic creation stories to the development of Big Bang theory. Light years beyond the stale standoff between uninspired scientific materialism and unscientific intelligent design, this vision of coexistence appreciates the heavenly music of the spheres. (Jan.)

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Chronicle Of Higher Education
“An elegant reimagining of the relationship between science and spirituality.. . . . Challenges the assumption that science and religion are implacable foes.”
Times Higher Education
“The most striking aspect . . . . is the passion that Adam Frank displays in writing about his experience as a scientist.”
Perspectives On Science And Christian Faith: Journal Of The American Scientific Affiliation - John W. Burgeson
“Frank’s book is most interesting; it is an easy read.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520265868
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 3/10/2010
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 763,215
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Adam Frank is Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Rochester and a regular contributor to Discover and Astronomy magazines. He has also written for Scientific American and many other publications. He was a Hubble Fellow and is the recipient of an American Astronomical Society Prize for his scientific writing.

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Table of Contents

Prologue: House of the Rising Sun 1

Pt. I The Map: Reimagining Science, Myth, and the Sacred

Ch. 1 The Roots of Conflict: Science and Religion before Divorce 19

Ch. 2 The Conflict We Know: Religion, Science, and the Modern World 35

Ch. 3 Science and the Sacred: Telescopes, Microscopes, and Hierophanies 57

Ch. 4 Not the God You Pray To: The Varieties of Scientists' Religious Experience 90

Ch. 5 Science, Myth, and Sacred Narratives: The Universe as Story 107

Pt. II The Terrain: Sacred Narratives in Science and Myth

Ch. 6 The Origin of Everything: Big Bangs, the Multiverse, and the Parade of Ants 141

Ch. 7 The Deluge This Time: Climate Change and Flood Myths 169

Pt. III A New Path to the Waterfall: Science, Myth, Truth, and the Future

Ch. 8 Music of the Spheres: Truth, Myth, and Science 199

Ch. 9 A Need Born of Fire: Mythos, Ethos, and Humanity's Most Dangerous Century 228

Epilogue: Fire in the Open Mind 255

Notes 269

Index 283

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 23, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A complete enjoyable experience.

    I fully enjoyed Adam Frank's insight, especially with regards to myth, and its place in this debate. I do feel that his definition of religion, although I completely agree with him, is a bit out of place with what most people call religion. I am constantly amazed, and awestruck by the existence I find myself enjoying every moment of every day, without tire. I certainly relate to his commitment to a life full of hierophany! There is no better way to view our short stay here. I hope people "of faith" can use this book to see a more complete life without a need for deity.
    Smile, there is no hell.

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  • Posted March 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Enjoyable Book

    This is a very well-written book. I would recommend it to anyone seeking an eloquent, pleasant tour into the arena of myths and history.

    I was somewhat disappointed that it did not contain as much astrophysics as I had anticipated and that a link between this science field and religion or spirituality was not discussed more in-depth. After reading Reinvent the Sacred and The Language of God, I was hoping for more science and less background regarding the rise of religious belief. Still, I found it a very enjoyable book.

    Debating the merits of scientific thought while trying to maintain a sacred world is never an easy task. Indeed, it is an objective that has not been achieved, certainly not by today's literature. This is true whether the author is a scientist (as in this case) or a theologian. Nevertheless, I will keep reading and searching.

    Again, I recommend The Constant Fire as a pleasant and enjoyable book. I hope you find this review helpful.

    Michael L. Gooch - Author of Wingtips with Spurs: Cowboy Wisdom for Today's Business Leaders.

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