Now Featured in the Patheos Book Club
By Ken Ungerecht
A Better Bumper Sticker
By James Broderick
Originally published at Religion and Spirituality, July 9, 2011
"For God So Loved The World That He Sent Darwin To Explain It"—Bumper sticker recently seen on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Several recent, high-profile battles between local school boards throughout the U.S. and religious organizations over whether Creationism should be taught in the public schools along with evolution have brought to the fore a long-festering animus between science and religion. Even before these cases made national news, there was little love lost between proponents of classic Darwinian evolution and Bible-derived Creationism. The recent promotion by some adherents of the concept "Intelligent Design"—which some deride as Creationism Lite—has done little to quell the quarrelling.
Of course, it's not exactly news that proponents of the scientific method approach to understanding our world and devout believers in a personal God often see things differently, each convinced that the other side is acting foolishly, or even dangerously.
Into this feud has stepped a brave and sober author named Ken Ungerecht, whose book God Theories: Let's Talk seeks to bridge the growing chasm between belief and reason. Ungerecht, a former high school biology and physics teacher, wades into the debate on Creationism vs. evolution with a new testament proclaiming the truth of a middle way: a realization that both Science and Faith are necessary components in answering the question "Who Are We?"
Ungerecht can count me as one of his disciples. Just a few pages into this remarkably insightful, elegantly written little book (100 pages), I found myself nodding eagerly as he calmly and clearly laid out his argument. Ungerecht is no ally of the blindly faithful. Zealots who have never questioned their religious belief systems will find themselves challenged to explore the sometimes-untenable notions that undergird their faith. Atheists and skeptics who completely deny the presence of a spiritual component will find themselves confronted with some eye-opening discoveries—from the field of quantum physics, no less—to cause them to reconsider their dismissive attitudes. And agnostics will find a lot to think about, from the long-rumored possibility of a "thought particle" that might be responsible for consciousness, to the dangerous consequences of following a sacred text just because someone tells you to do so.
For such a slim book, Ungerecht covers lots of ground. You'll learn about matter, energy, and the important relationship between the two, and find summaries of arguments both for and against the idea of a higher power. Ungerecht makes no bones about his own position as a person of faith, but he doesn't disparage those readers—and here I include myself—who still regard most traditional religious dogma as wishful thinking.
The book culminates with a proposal to rise above the Creationism/evolutionary classroom feud with a more sophisticated, comprehensive approach to the subject that would allow for teaching everything from Native American myths to Judaism, atheism to metaphysics as a means of presenting a mosaic of interpretations.
For Ungerecht, the cause is urgent. Beginning to reconcile the often-warring versions of who we are and how we got here is the necessary first step towards a larger transformation. As he notes, "Science and religion have historically been seen as irreconcilable antagonists of each other...but what both science and religion need to learn is that the other functions in a perfectly legitimate domain of consciousness. And they need to do it sooner or later." He then adds, somewhat ominously: "The world is not in a position to put up with their squabbling much longer."
Somebody should put that on a bumper sticker.
James Broderick, Ph.D. James is an associate professor of English and journalism at New Jersey City University. A former newspaper reporter and editor, he is the author of four non-fiction books, and is currently finishing a book about horror films. He lives in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, with his wife and two daughters.
Susola "Book Lover" (New York, NYC) -
This review is from: God Theories: Let's Talk (Paperback)
God Theories by Ken Ungerbrecht posits an interesting theory: that one cannot understand spirituality or religion without understanding the scientific components of the universe at large, and scientific proof of our existence. It's a fascinating premise, and one that I was eager to understand. Unfortunately for me, probably because scientific concepts are so difficult for me to understand, I couldn't really understand the fundamental scientific principles Ungerbrecht deftly discusses. Where the book's concepts came together for me, though, was in the last few chapters, where the author expertly addressed spirituality, Christianity, science, evolution, intelligent design, and their inter-relating theories; without understanding each component fully, one cannot understand their totality. I may be saying this wrong, but this is a daunting task for the author, and one which he undertakes intelligently and sensibly. It's definitely worth the time spent.