Book Reviews

"A learned effort at the seemingly impossible—reconciling the central claims of science with the basic truths of Christianity. As the 19th century’s Scientific Revolution exploded into the unprecedented developments of the 20th, Christian believers were forced, in more dramatic ways, to square new science— evolution, quantum physics, relativity—with long-held spiritual beliefs. As the modern age grew ever more modern, many believed that the putative disparities between science and religion forced individuals to choose one of the two. In his new collection of very erudite (if not always accessible) essays, Brun suggests that the faithful need not make that choice—that a third solution can split the difference between science and religion and allow us to use the tools of the former to see God in nature. Much to his credit, he does not cut corners, wisely avoiding the pseudoscientific—and ultimately false—claims put forth by inexact amalgamations like the so-called “creation science” or the more recently discredited “intelligent design.” These schools of thought merely gravitate toward the inevitable gaps in scientific knowledge and shoehorn the divine into them. To this issue the author sharply writes, “It would be foolish indeed to again argue for a God of the gaps!” It would be equally foolish to try to hastily summarize Brun’s intricate arguments regarding the “theology of nature.” Suffice it to say that his reasoning only periodically works, but his writing is intellectually honest and spiritually daring. As familiar with hard science as he is with complex theologies, he brings an exacting mind to a daunting task and leaves readers the wiser. A remarkable, thorough collection of academic essays."
Kirkus Discoveries

"Rudolf Brun is a rarity in the modern academy. A developmental biologist retired from years of research and teaching at Texas Christian University, he studied as a young scholar with the significant Catholic thinker Hans Urs von Balthasar and sat in on lectures of Karl Barth. Thus, from his earliest education he has had the heart and soul of a Christian intellectual, seeking to make sense of his experimental work in biology in a larger context. He has devoted his time since retirement at working out a Christian understanding of cosmology, the results of which are contained in his new book, "Creation and Cosmology." Brun takes utterly seriously that science describes cosmology as being fully explainable as the product of natural laws: Brun's God is no intervening deity in the process of nature. But rather than conclude therefore that God does not exist, Brun sees this as an affirmation of the fundamental Christian affirmation that God is love: God so loved creation that God gave creation freedom to create itself, apart from God. Only in this way, says Brun, can creatures have the freedom to truly love God in return. As is evident from his references to Hegel, Descartes, and Hume—and to Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and Bonaventure—to name a few, Brun works his way through philosophical and theological texts as he weaves his position together. Not all will agree with Brun's conclusions and the way that he holds a radically naturalistic view of creation together with a traditionally orthodox notion of Scripture and Christology. Nonetheless, it is a worthwhile trek to follow his argument along to see the way that one steeped in science, theology, and philosophy constructs a view of religion and science today that tries to take all three equally seriously."
C. David Grant, Professor,
TCU, Department of Religion.

“In this insightful book, Professor Rudolf Brun, a developmental biologist, demonstrates that Christian faith and a sophisticated Christian theology are completely comfortable with the discoveries of natural science. The author thoughtfully avoids any suspicion that biblical texts and theological tradition can ever be true rivals of science’s naturalistic method of inquiry. Brun understands the natural world as the place where an indeterminate future and genuine human freedom can come into existence precisely because the mystery of infinite divine love requires a universe that is truly “other” than God. Prof. Brun develops an understanding of divine creativity in which God generously gives to the natural world an autonomy that allows it to be self-creative. By avoiding the deterministic ideology of shallow materialism, his approach goes a long way toward showing how the latest developments in physics, cosmology and evolutionary biology are consonant with a thoroughly incarnational Christian theological vision of the universe.”
John F. Haught, Ph. D.
Senior Fellow, Science & Religion
Woodstock Theological Center
Box 571137
Georgetown University
Washington, DC 20057