No God, No Science? by Michael Hanby (Blackwell, £26.99). Michael Hanby’s provocative book is not an assault on modern science. On the contrary, the author fully acknowledges science’s (limited) autonomy and relishes its achievements. But he rejects the notion that it is the “sole arbiter” of how we explore the natural world. Are we really to believe, he asks, that science can ever be theologically and metaphysically neutral? His answer is “no” and he calls for a deeper, franker dialogue between disciplines. This way lies “a more comprehensive conception of reason”.
Devotional Literature and Practice in Medieval England edited by Kathryn Vulic et al (Brepols, £60). Devotional reading in medieval England was frequently hemmed in by rules and regulations, making a vital aspect of worship the focus, even an obsession, of theological and clerical control. This admirably wide-ranging volume explores, among much else, the portrayal of readers in literature, the production of texts, and the mechanisms of patronage. The assembled chapters, skilfully inserted into historiographical context, reveal just how conflicted and sophisticated medieval reading could be.
Between Faith and Belief by Joeri Schrijvers (SUNY Press, £25). Some philosophers would have you believe that we now live at the end of metaphysics. Religious belief tends to fare quite badly in such a nihilistic landscape, but Joeri Schrijvers’s rewarding book offers a little room for hope. We meet thinkers who regard religion as defunct, but also deconstructionists with guarded spiritual inclinations and, centre stage, a phenomenology that talks of us being linked “through the sheer presence of love”. Faith is not mandatory in such a schema but it can presumably find a place.
Unlocking Divine Action by Michael Dodds (Catholic University of America Press, £28). Ever since Newton, an elegant understanding of causation has been regnant, though it can sometimes seem a little shallow. Modern physics has made things much more messy, and Dodds suggests links with discussions of causality in the works of Aristotle and Aquinas. Perhaps such interplay can enhance conceptualisations of God’s actions in the cosmos. The potential dialogue rests on another solidly Thomistic notion: that truths derived from reason and those stemming from revelation can never be fundamentally contradictory since they share the same divine author.
Death Games by Chris Simms (Richmond Publishing; ebook £2.99). Manchester-based author Chris Simms tackles the spectre of modern-day, home-based terrorism in his latest novel. Iona Khan and Jon Spicer, members of the counter-terrorism unit, arrive at a car crash only to discover a hidden drone and a missing passenger. Navigating through the minefield of radical politics and jihad, Spicer uncovers a plot to kill Prince William by firing an anti-aircraft missile at his rescue helicopter. Chillingly realistic, gripping and tense, this is a superb crime novel.
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