This author’s testimony, as described in A. D’Adamo, Science As Natural Theology (2018), has individual merit. All religions and theologies evolve with time and cultural circumstances and are subject to extinctions to the extent that they do not incorporate understanding of reality that translates into sound individual behavior and community management. Science provides important insights into realty, but direct spiritual experience of individuals also informs us of that reality. This author seeks a path between theist distortion of reality for emotional comfort, justice, and confirmation of their parochial religion, and atheist attacks on religions due to their historic human and environmental harms.
Aspects of the book are off-putting, but the discussion is substantially sound and consistent with the experience of many Quakers in their evolving understanding of reality and the link between trust in that understanding of reality and human practice.
This book raises uncertainties, but theargument’s presentation should be assessed on its merits. The uncertainties include self-publication by an undisclosed press, opaque personal background or institutional credentials for the author, the possibility that the author is a pseudonym, and the use of the royal “we” in the narrative text. Evidence in the text of the need of an editor suggests a one-person publication effort. A professional editor could have helped remove the uncertainties raised by technical errors.
The book title is not an accurate reflection of the book’s content or the argument presented. The title says that science is natural theology, but the author argues that science is not a natural theology, but that science is an important source of understanding reality, which must be recognized in any theology or true religion.
The author argues that God exists, can be directly experienced by humans. With human commitment to truth as a guide, understanding will continue to evolve without the structure of religions, if religions do not evolve with that constantly revealing reality, driven by science. The author’s view of reality is stark and sobering, absent rosey views of personal God-provided status and protection for humans and assurances of comfort security after death.
The author’s argument is that all religions evolve, that many religions and their gods have been created and disappeared in human history, and that the same expectations for current religions is part of the reality that is unfolding. Quakers and others: Take Note!
The author’s solution is to recognize reality, particularly as disclosed by science and seek community within conforming religions where possible, which can help translate the understanding of reality into practice. At the end of the book, he offers to write such a book and encourages others to do likewise.
Quakers: Quakers may ask, what is new here? The challenge for all humans is in the assessment and inclusion of new insights into our view of reality and the translation of that understanding into practice in our lives, which translation involves both individual and corporate practice of silence and community discernment. The Quaker tradition testifies that that assessment process involves reflection and the liturgical experience of silence. The faith and practice translation is reflected in the identification and enrichment of the Quaker testimonies as evolving understanding of reality for practice.
SBNRs (Spirituals But Not Religious) will find affinity with the analysis here. Many Quakers will find comfort in more traditional and personal relationship language of the Christian tradition, while expressing agreement with the analysis here. Other Quakers will find the discussion welcome as far as it goes, but will bemoan the lack of attention to the liturgical and discernment dimensions affirmed in the Quaker tradition. This book is a profitable read.
- Can Quakers benefit from outside challenges like those in this book?
- How do we identify undisclosed Quakers by their testimony and actions?
- Do Quakers recognize the evolving nature of Quaker faith and practice?
Arthur D’Adamo, Science As Natural Theology (2018)