Score 96/100 (9.6 out of 10)
“Revelation Through Science” is a fascinating read that attempts to take an open-minded view of science through the lens of a man both of science and of religious faith. Not only is James G. Martin the son of a minister, but he just so happens to have a PhD in organic chemistry from Princeton, and he definitely shows off his extraordinary knowledge!
Side note: Did we also mention he's a former GOVERNOR of North Carolina and a US congressman?!
Martin goes over the history and intricacies of science, especially cosmology, biology, chemistry, and biochemistry in great detail. He doesn't discredit science or attack religion, instead choosing to present them as two different and equally beautiful approaches to understanding God's universe.
This is a view similar to that held by some of the first great scientific minds after the time of Christ, namely St. Augustine and Galileo, both of whom were practicing Christians, and both of whom viewed science as a way to better understand God's handiwork. Even Charles Darwin, the father of the theory of evolution, was a devout Christian for much of his life, although the death of his daughter did dampen that world view.
We're reminded of when Neil deGrasse Tyson stated how he was surprised that even 7% of the highest-ranking, most respected scientists on Earth still believe in a supreme being (a “God”)--even despite all of the knowledge and information available to them about the Big Bang and evolution.
Interestingly, Martin never attacks Big Bang, evolution, or Darwin. If anything, he actually glamorizes and defends Darwin, seeming to suggest that Darwin's original intent wasn't to become the god of atheism, but that his research was heavily skewed by his colleagues and successors who used to it to further their own ends. Darwin is even called “our hero” at one point—astonishing to hear a Christian say as Darwin is paramount to the “great Satan” of science in the minds of many creationists.
We're moving closer to an age of absolutes that only a Sith could be proud of: you're either for science or you're against it, you're either for religion or you're against it. You either believe in creationism or you believe in evolution and the Big Bang. Martin is quick to reign us in and remind us that there's nothing less scientific than absolutes—nothing less scientific than untested, unchallenged dogma. Even the accepted laws of physics break down at the center of a black hole or before the Big Bang. Even Darwin made mistakes and misidentified certain birds, having to be corrected by coworkers. Even the so-often quoted phrase “infinite density” to describe the Big Bang at the moment of creation is an oxymoron because the universe, as far as science understands, is finite. That means it has a beginning and an end.
Modern science has become it's own kind of dogmatic religion. Science, like religion, makes a lot of leaps of faith and assumptions—the exact opposite of what's scientific. For example, one of the leading theories of life on Earth is that it came from outer space. You read that right. Scientists—the same ones who constantly talk down to the “Jesus freaks”—believe that because they found a meteorite that had some amino acids in it, clearly life originated from a meteorite that impacted or came close to Earth. What a leap!
To say that we had high hopes for this book would be an understatement. To say that we were slightly disappointed would be an understatement as well. This book is complex and very detailed, which we loved, but it just seemed like—despite all of this detail and complexity—most of that didn't specifically address or support the supposed thesis. Maybe we were expecting something else. To us, the thesis seemed to be that there are aspects of science that may support the existence of God. We expected to be able to pick this up and show other scientific-minded and religious friends all of these great finds that somehow prove the existence of God and events in the Bible. Unfortunately, that's not what this book is.
This is a science textbook talking about the history of modern science, practically from beginning to end—in painstaking detail. This isn't a “they found a God particle!” book. Nor is it a book that claims that the 1st law of thermodynamics proves the existence of God because energy can't be created—something Christians often cite. This isn't even a book trying to explain supernatural phenomena using rational, scientific means, like claiming that the parting of the Red Sea by Moses was actually the result of a passing meteor or other orbital body. This book is barren of those sorts of things, for better or for worse. Forgive us for hoping, but we were optimistic that this book was going to be a lot more like the History Channel at 2 AM. Instead, it's the History Channel at midday. It's just loaded with scientific information, thrown at you because... the author knows it or something.
You can almost make the argument that the real thesis of this book is that you can believe in God even if you're someone who knows everything there is to know (currently) about science. And perhaps that's a better thesis.
There are several instances in which the author does try to make the argument that some things are just highly unlikely to be up to chance. That's the closest he gets to proving creationism. He makes the argument that the chances of the universe and life within it assembled itself by chance are as unlikely as a tornado rolling through a Boeing factory and assembling a fully-functional 747. That seems like a pretty good analogy. Another example is he points to the “right-handed DNA” or the way that the strands of RNA wrap around each other perfectly in perfect “righty-tighty” fashion like specific nuts designed to fit specific bolts—unlikely, he argues, to have simply been up to chance.
The author also takes on the “mediocrity principle” which, in layman's terms, states that we aren't some special bunch of human animals on a special planet with a special sun, we're one of many animals in the universe on an average planet with an average main-sequence star as our sun. But are we really? The author argues, as we would, that the Earth and its human inhabitants do seem rather special. First of all, we haven't found life on any other planets (yet). And our planet exists in the Goldilocks zone in relation to the sun. If it were any closer or further, it might not exist. If our sun were a larger star, it might not have lived long enough to allow the Earth to exist the way it does, much less life itself. It could've burned itself out.
Next, the author immediately stomps down the assumption that many—both atheists and Christians alike—often make in the belief that the Bible supports a “young Earth” of about 5000-6000 years. The Bible really doesn't, and the author is quick to point that out. The 5000-6000 year thing is a human invention built on several assumptions: that the genealogy of Jesus found in Luke is the complete, exhaustive genealogy of a man who lived 2,000 years ago going back to the very first man (Adam), not symbolic or poetic in the slightest. The next assumption is that Adam was made by God on the 6th Earth day. Well, surprise, Earth days didn't exist until the “fourth day” of creation because God only created the sun then. So it's much more likely that these “days” are simple measurements of a length of time and not actual Earth days. Earth doesn't have to be 5000-6000 years old for the God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam to exist. At no point does the Bible actually tell us how old the Earth is, it's the result of fallible human attempts to misinterpret the “generations” from Luke.
In conclusion, this is one of those books you own just to say you own it. This is one of those books, like the Bible, Webster's Dictionary or “How Everything Works” that—whether you've read it or not—you can pull it off the shelf in the middle of an argument and say, “Hey, I read this big, huge thing and understand it, so listen to me and believe what I say!”
And, yes, the information will WOW you, and it is pretty darn comprehensive. At the same time, if you're going into this expecting to have a renewal of your faith or to convince an atheist or agnostic that your religion “had it right all along,” then you're expecting too much. This book is great for what it is.
Another thing about this book is that the research and writing are impeccable--some of the best we've seen this season!
Check it out on Amazon!