[Book Reviews]


THE issues raised in this book are too important to be discussed casually in a few lines. The relation between religion and science is, of course, a very old problem. But the amazing developments of physical theories are apt to give a new setting to it. When scientific workers find themselves in a philosophical mood, they indulge in offering their readers some tentative suggestions about the theological extension of their particular science. So we get Eddington's scientific approach to religion, Huxley's religion without God, Jeans's mathematical God, and perhaps Einstein's Spinozistic God. Philosophers should be thankful to men of science for such indications; the more so as they are not forced upon one by their authors with the same mental pressure often displayed by metaphysicists. Because scientific workers do not present their conclusions in this respect as binding and final, philosophers must return the courtesy and treat them, for example, in the same dignified spirit as that shown in Sir Arthur Eddington's reply to Mr. Cohen's criticisms. His case would have been perhaps stronger if Mr. Cohen had shown more modesty and less partisanship in his statements and in his professional defence of materialism and free thought. But when he starts off by pro-claiming that after his criticisms of “very many” books by scientific workers aiming at reconciliation of science and religion, their authors decided generally that “discretion was the better part” and that “silence in their case spelt safety”, one may pertinently wonder whether Mr. Cohen should be taken as a safe guide in philosophy, and whether he is qualified to pay compliments to that section of the Christian clergy whom he denounces as “dishonest” for acclaiming these men of science as being witnesses on behalf of God.

God and the Universe: Eddington, Jeans, Huxley and Einstein.

Chapman Cohen. With a Reply by Prof. A. S. Eddington. (Issued by the Secular Society, Ltd.) Pp. 133. (London: The Pioneer Press, n.d.) Paper, 2s.; cloth, 3s.

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G., T. [Book Reviews]. Nature 127, 811–812 (1931). https://doi.org/10.1038/127811b0

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