by Rudolf B. Brun
Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism
The Lumen Christi Institute is offering a conference for high school students to investigate the connection with faith and reason this spring. This book honors the topic as it contains essays contributing to the discussion between Christianity and modern Science. The author, Rudolf B. Brun received his Ph.D. in developmental biology in Basel Switzerland. He was a member of a group founded by the theologian Cardinal Hans Urs Von Balthasar.
In 1969 he became a faculty member at the University of Geneva and in 1977 he continued his research at the University of Indiana, Bloomington. In 1978 he accepted a faculty position in Biology at Texas Christian University; the National Science Foundation-supported his research. In 1989 he became a US citizen. Together with a theologian he also taught a course in Religion and Science.
This book truly gives that sense of enlightenment that comes from excellent questions. The information in the book deals with the difficult topic of science and religion, or more precisely with general cosmic evolution and Christianity. As the author points out, the topic is difficult because there is no obvious connection between a worldview from modern science and Christian faith. This situation often leads to schizophrenia-like situations in people that strive to follow Christian teachings and are well informed about the discoveries of modern science. Biblical teachings about the origin of creation and our place within it clash with the views from science. The discovery that our universe came about through its own history, not by supernatural intervention, does not easily harmonize with Christian tradition. Yet theology cannot simply let go of the basic message in the biblical story of creation. Its central message is that the word of God creates creation. So the major question becomes “How can we reconcile the revelation that the word of God creates creation with the view from science that nature is capable of bringing forth itself?” Putting our question in philosophic terms: “What is the nature of nature?” The collection of essays attempts to give an answer to the questions. From Cardinal Van Balthazar we know that God is love. Then creation becomes the gift from the loving God. The seven essays carefully investigate how modern science informs the question and leads to another question. Reading the essays made me have the wonderful curiosity that I had in my first cosmology class. These essays provide the deeply committed Christian with a sense of probing into the mind and heart of God. It is definitely worth the time and effort it takes to read the essays well and to promote the investigation of God to others.
I would like to offer the concluding remarks from the last essay for the reader to ponder: “The Fundamental discovery by modern science is that nature is capable of bringing forth itself. It is the prerequisite for bringing forth a creature that is free. That God is love is the fundamental dogma of Christianity. Any loving relationship is based on freely deciding whether to enter the bondage of love. Therefore, what science discovered is only making explicit what is already implied in the Christian revelation that God is love.”