The Many Faces of God: Science's 400-Year Quest for Images of the Divine

Overview

How science has changed our perceptions of God—from the age of Newton to the era of quantum mechanics.

A grand work of philosophy and history, The Many Faces of God shows how our religious conceptions have been shaped by advances in technology and science. Beginning his narrative in the 1600s and concluding with the fervor of the millennium, Jeremy Campbell shows how Isaac Newton and his generation altered the medieval definition of God from one interpreted through divine ...

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Overview

How science has changed our perceptions of God—from the age of Newton to the era of quantum mechanics.

A grand work of philosophy and history, The Many Faces of God shows how our religious conceptions have been shaped by advances in technology and science. Beginning his narrative in the 1600s and concluding with the fervor of the millennium, Jeremy Campbell shows how Isaac Newton and his generation altered the medieval definition of God from one interpreted through divine messengers to an all-knowing, autocratic God who watched over the scientific wonders of the universe. Arguing that religions harbor a secret fear that science may one day explain God away, Campbell masterfully shows how twentieth-century technology and theology have become intertwined, often to the detriment of both disciplines. Illuminating the writings of such intellectual luminaries as Calvin, Luther, Einstein, and Niels Bohr, all the way up to John Updike, The Many Faces of God is a sweeping history of religious and scientific thought in the Western world.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
God may be invariable, but human perceptions of God are not. In particular, the meanings of the qualities of God-omnipotence, transcendence, and benevolence-change as cultures change, and thus images of God reflect these variations. Campbell (The Liar's Tale) commences his scholarly investigation in the 17th century, roughly through the influences of Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton on images of the Judeo-Christian God, and continues with many departures backward and forward in time, through the entanglement of theology with 20th-century technology. An ongoing theme is how science limits perceptions of how God works and what he can do. Marked by an obtuse style and a tendency to digress, this heady academic discourse is recommended only for academic philosophy and history of science collections. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Refreshing view of how science and religion interact. In an engaging and wide-ranging work, Campbell (The Liar's Tale, 2001) explores the complex relationship between science and religion since the 1600s, which saw the advent of "new science" through such figures as Isaac Newton and Galileo. Campbell's book makes clear that the widespread "religion versus science" mentality is far too simplistic. Indeed, religion and science have been involved in an intricate relationship over the past few centuries, sometimes acting as adversaries, but more often feeding off of each other. As scientific knowledge continued to expand, scientists and theologians alike struggled to find God's "place" in the cosmos. Was he a clock-starter standing idly by as his creation worked itself out, a "God of the gaps" involved in unexplainable phenomena, or was God's relationship with creation too complex for humans to comprehend? Or, did God exist at all? Campbell examines the role of philosophy as it relates to these questions. Indeed, the reader may be surprised to find that the author spends more time addressing philosophical questions and their impact throughout history than the stereotypical squabbling between scientists and theologians. Drawing upon a range of thinkers past and present-from Newton to Polkinghorne, from Donne to Updike-Campbell provides a broad survey of the weighty issues both science and religion have had to face over the past 400 years. The book leans heavily toward a Western (especially English) viewpoint, with only occasional nods to science's interactions with non-Christian worlds. Intriguing analysis of a continuing conversation.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393344851
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/1/2006
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeremy Campbell is the author of The Liar’s Tale, Winston Churchill’s Afternoon Nap, and The Grammatical Man. He is the Washington correspondent for the Evening Standard and lives in Washington, DC.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Smashing the idols 3
Ch. 2 God's immensity, man's dilemma 14
Ch. 3 Angels come out of hiding 29
Ch. 4 The technical trinity 39
Ch. 5 The sweet deceits of piety 50
Ch. 6 "Almost like a contagious disease" 60
Ch. 7 Getting God wrong 69
Ch. 8 Strangeness and the quest for the divine 81
Ch. 9 "One of history's great losers" 93
Ch. 10 A cool mediator 106
Ch. 11 Simplifying the divine 118
Ch. 12 "People simply cannot be religious any more" 129
Ch. 13 Secularizing the sacred 139
Ch. 14 The private and the public 155
Ch. 15 Cutting God down to size 170
Ch. 16 Reasoning God into existence 181
Ch. 17 The uses of paradox 192
Ch. 18 Ironic theology 206
Ch. 19 Democratizing transcendence 216
Ch. 20 God's biography 231
Ch. 21 The bagginess of nature 246
Ch. 22 The tiger and the lamb 261
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