The "Encyclopedia of Science and Religion" addresses all aspects of the dialogue between the sciences and the world's religions. The multidisciplinary 2-vol. set reaches far into the humanities as well as into the physical sciences and technology. In addition, controversial issues such as human cloning and stem cell research are examined along with more traditional questions such as the origins of life, the nature of sin, and the philosophy of science and religion.
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This encyclopedia, intended for "a wide readership from high-school students to independent researchers and academics," deals with all aspects of the conflict and dialogue between science and religion. The list of scholars who have contributed is impressive, and the project had as a consultant and contributor Ian Barbour, physicist, theologian, and well-known author on the interplay of science and religion. The editorial point of view is that the formal consideration of the relationship between science and religion has become a new academic field of study. The troublesome potential of new technologies has brought questions into the public arena as well.
The 400-plus alphabetically arranged entries range from broad essays on topics such as Biotechnology, Causation, and Sociobiology to shorter pieces on terms such as Cybernetics, Eco-feminism, and entropy. There are also 20 biographies of important figures in the dialogue between science and religion, from Aristotle to Stephen Jay Gould. The fore matter includes an alphabetical list of all articles as well as a synoptic outline, which enables one to see all of the articles related to, for example, physical sciences or Chinese religions. The historical and contemporary relationships between the realm of science and the major religious groups--Judaism, Islam, Christian traditions, Chinese religions, Buddhism, and Hinduism--are treated individually. Major scientific and academic fields are examined in the context of the encyclopedia's focus. Close to 70 articles on the physical sciences, for example, include entries on all the major arenas of the field: chemistry, particle physics, quantum physics, etc., each providing an overview of early research, contemporary developments and lessons, or applications to religious thought. All of the articles are signed and have bibliographies, some extensive. In addition, a nine-page annotated bibliography serves as a guide for further reading (and collection development) in various topics such as the human sciences and religion. A detailed index makes the wealth of material even more accessible.
The History of Science and Religion in the Western Tradition: An Encyclopedia (Garland, 2000) covers much of the same ground. Both are reference works of very high quality with scholarly contributors, several of them in common. But the approach of the earlier work is to treat fewer topics in broader essays. Some of the treatments are more substantial in the Garland work: medicine is covered in seven pages as opposed to two and a half. The Macmillan work does have a more global scope, including non-Western religions or belief systems. The references and bibliography of the set under review are much more up-to-date.
The comprehensive, global treatment of the historical and contemporary tensions and interplay between our sacred and secular knowledge make this an excellent addition to academic and large public libraries. RBB
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..."a great reference resource that addresses a wide variety of topics in religion, science, and the intersection between the two...entries are written for nonprofessionals in both religion and science, and are balanced and without obvious bias...very useful and is recommended for academic and public libraries."
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