Book Write-Up: The Physics and Philosophy of the Bible, by James Frederick Ivey

James Frederick Ivey, M.D. The Physics and Philosophy of the Bible: How Science and the Thought of Great Thinkers of History Join with Theology to Show that God Exists and That We Can Live Forever. WestBow, 2017. See here to purchase the book.

James Frederick Ivey is an M.D. He is also the father-in-law of Eowyn Ivey, who was a Pulitzer finalist for her novel, The Snow Child. She offered suggestions for Dr. Ivey’s book.

This book is somewhat of a mixture between apologetics and testimonial. Ivey attempts to argue that Christianity has a truth that non-Christian religions lack, and that science points to an intelligent mind behind the cosmos. He can get pretty deep in his discussions, but there is also an informality to the book, as Ivey talks about how different thinkers—scientists, philosophers, theologians, and novelists—have influenced his religious worldview. There is also an anecdotal element, for Ivey discusses some of his family’s faith journey. It was like hearing Ivey talk about his interests and insights over a cup of coffee.

In terms of positives, Ivey is very well-read, and that shows in this book. He discusses the anthropic principle and intelligent design, as do a lot of apologetic works, but his scientific discussion is not limited to that. Quantum theory looms large in this book, and Ivey engages the speculation that the cosmos is a thought in the mind of God. Ivey draws some from Rob Bell’s “Everything Is Spiritual” thoughts and refers to the importance of light in the cosmos and possible theological conclusions that one can draw from that.

In terms of aspects of the book that I did not like as much, I did not care that much for his discussion of the various religions. There was a humble tone to that discussion, as Ivey said what he liked and disliked about them. In some cases, he could have tried harder to approach the religions empathetically. He inquired about the basis of the Buddhist noble path, as if morality can only be grounded in theism. Yet, a number of Buddhists would say that their way of life is correct because it recognizes the miserable human condition and tries to cure human spiritual sickness. Why would we want to do that? Well, why would anyone want to be miserable?

On one occasion, Ivey said: “Thus, if you wish to dispute my idea of abstraction that can do something, you will have to go up against Hawking.” That statement was an argument from authority. Also, Hawking was an atheist. There were places in which Ivey offered a more nuanced understanding of Hawking’s thought, which is what makes that one passage rather surprising.

Some of Ivey’s arguments were “God-of-the-gaps” arguments: we cannot account for certain things naturalistically, so we should at least be open to saying that God did it. Is that an argument, or is it jumping to conclusions with limited knowledge?

Some of his more theological discussions were a mixture of positive and negative. Ivey is not afraid to think outside of the box, but he occasionally throws in a thought without much support, as when he says that God does not punish but we punish ourselves. More interaction with the Bible may have enhanced the theological discussions.

This is still a good book. The scientific discussions were over my head, in places, but Ivey was still fairly clear about what point he was trying to make.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers. My review is honest.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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