The Far Side of Reason: Physics and Faith

Description

263 pages
Contains Bibliography
$17.95
ISBN 0-919649-07-6

Publisher

Year

1983

Contributor

Reviewed by Andrew E. West

Andrew E. West was a librarian at St. Michael's College, University of Toronto.

Review

This book consists of four chapters: Perspective from Physics; Perspective from Theology; Perspective from the Bible; and Interpretations: Insight and Faith.

This is a difficult book to read not only because of the subject, but also because of the style. The following quotation is just one example among the many that could be cited to illustrate the language/ style of the book: “One’s understanding of the Incarnation has decisive effects on theological method. If one understands the Incarnation to mean that God meets human beings at the level of their imperfect anticipations, then one must either conclude that God’s other revelations follow a similar pattern, or one must conclude that the Incarnation is an exception of God’s general ways of acting.” Is this sociology or psychology in theological dress?

In the Preface Taylor writes that this work is a discussion of the “relation between faith in theology and what is often called ‘insight’ in science.” He goes on to say that “a reader may be puzzled not to find any clear definition of faith at some place fairly early in the discussion.” And he is correct! However, one is provided with a five-point outline that gives some idea as to what the book is about and the direction the author will take the reader. The five points are: 1) Modern developments in physics, particularly in the understanding of some scientific concepts and of scientific method, are helping us to rethink the concept of faith; 2) An act of faith is a critically important part of any apprehension of reality. It belongs at the ultimate step in the apprehension of reality. Reason operates at the penultimate stage; 3) An act of faith is probably the most intelligent act of which a person is capable, both in science and in religion, though not the most rational; 4) Faith is an act which one must practice, something one must do, rather than something one can possess; 5) For Christian theology, the ultimate reality which meets faith is found in Christ.

In the second chapter, “Perspective from Theology: Theologian and Scientist in History, nine Catholic and Protestant theologians write about faith. From these Taylor concludes that “they all seem to speak a language that is recognizably common to them all... regardless of how much they differ on other theological issues.” To remove faith from the context in which these men present it may lead to a distortion of the very truths they are attempting to convey.

From a theological perspective The Far Side of Reason: Physics and Faith lacks depth. What anyone with a background in physics would derive from this study remains unknown.

The extensive footnotes to each chapter are placed at the end of the book. Much of the material in the bibliography was published in the 1950s and 1960s, and therefore may be dated.

 

Citation

Taylor, William S., “The Far Side of Reason: Physics and Faith,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/36976.