Other books byLarry Witham
In Search of Piero della Francesca: A...
In the heart of Tuscany, Piero della Francesca became a painter and mathematician at the dawn of the Renaissance, revealing his innovative mind in some of the best known images from that period, and in his unusual writings on geometry. Yet as a personality, Piero remains a mystery. He leaves an enigmatic legacy that ranges from the merging of religion and mathematics to his use of perspective to make painting a “true science.” In this engaging narrative, Larry Witham transports us to Piero’s tumultuous age, a world of princes and popes, soldiers and schisms. Piero’s Light also reveals how he was part of the philosophical revival of Platonism, an ancient worldview that would shape art, religion, and science’s transition toward modernity. Just sixteen of Piero’s paintings survive, but these images and his writings would fuel some of the greatest art historical debates of all time. Through Witham’s wide research, Piero emerges as a figure who marks a turning point in Western culture. Our past understanding of faith, beauty, and knowledge has been radically altered by a secular age, and the story of Piero helps us understand how this has taken place. The search for Piero has continued among both intrepid scholars and art lovers of all kinds, and it is no wonder: few artists in history take us as deeply into the intellectual excitement of the Renaissance as Piero della Francesca.
The Measure of God
History's Greatest Minds Wrestle with...
The Measure of God, now in paperback, is a lively historical narrativeoffering the reader a sense for what has taken place in the God and science debate over the past century. Modern science came of age at the cusp of the twentieth century. It was a period marked by discovery of radio waves and x rays, use of the first skyscraper, automobile, cinema, and vaccine, and rise of the quantum theory of the atom. This was the close of the Victorian age, and the beginning of the first great wave of scientific challenges to the religious beliefs of the Christian world. Religious thinkers were having to brace themselves. Some raced to show that science did not undermine religious belief. Others tried to reconcile science and faith, and even to show that the tools of science, facts and reason, could support knowledge of God. In the English speaking world, many had espoused such a project, but one figure stands out. Before his death in 1887, the Scottish judge Adam Gifford endowed the Gifford Lectures to keep this debate going, a science haunted debate on "all questions about man's conception of God or the Infinite." The list of Gifford lecturers is a veritable Who's Who of modern scientists, philosophers and theologians: from William James to Karl Barth, Albert Schweitzer to Reinhold Niebuhr, Niels Bohr to Iris Murdoch, from John Dewey to Mary Douglas.
A City Upon a Hill
Pivotal moments in U.S. history are indelibly marked by the sermons of the nation's greatest orators. America's Puritan founder John Winthrop preached about "a city upon a hill", a phrase echoed more than three centuries later by President Ronald Reagan in his farewell address to the nation; Abraham Lincoln's two greatest speeches have been called "sermons on the mount"; and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" oration influenced a generation and changed history. From colonial times to the present, the sermon has motivated Americans to fight wars as well as fight for peace. Mighty speeches have called for the abolition of slavery and for the prohibition of alcohol. They have stirred conscientious objectors and demonstrators for the rights of the unborn. Sermons have provoked the mob mentality of witch hunts and blacklists, but they have also stirred activists in the women's and civil rights movements. The sermon has defined America at every step of its history, inspiring great acts of courage and comforting us in times of terror. A City Upon a Hill tells the story of these powerful words and how they shaped the destiny of a nation. A City Upon a Hill includes the story of Robert Hunt, the first preacher to brave the dangerous sea voyage to Jamestown; Jonathan Mayhew's "most seditious sermon ever delivered," which incited Boston's Stamp Act riots in 1765; early calls for abolition and "Captain-Preacher Nat" Turner's bloody slave revolt of 1831; Henry Ward Beecher's sermon at Fort Sumter on the day of Lincoln's assassination; tent revivalist/prohibitionist Billy Sunday's "booze sermon"; the challenging words of Martin Luther King Jr., which inspired the civil rights movement; Billy Graham's moving speeches as "America's pastor" and spiritual advisor to multiple U.S. presidents; and Jerry Falwell's legacy of changing the way America does politics. A City Upon a Hill provides a history of the United States as seen through the lens of the preached words—Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish—that inspired independence, constitutional amendments, and mili-tary victories, and also stirred our worst prejudices, selfish materialism, and stubborn divisiveness—all in the name of God.
Science and the Search for God
The triumphal Darwinian Centennial in 1959 seemed once and for all to end the argument between science and religion that had been raging since Thomas Huxley took up the cause of evolution in the Victorian era. As far as science was concerned, God was dead--case closed. But in the past two decades, as prize winning science writer Larry Witham shows in By Design, the case has been reopened. Advances in science suggest that the materialist "laws" may be incapable of comprehending the subtleties of evolution. Independent scientists and those involved with organizations such as the New Discovery Institute are now using the cutting edge tools of physics, biochemistry, genetics, information theory, and neuroscience to reconsider whether "intentional" fine-tuning was required for life to be possible. At the heart of "By Design" are two inter-related movements. One is the "science and religion dialogue," which stretches from the laboratories of Nobelists to inner sancta of the Vatican. This dialogue attempts to build bridges between two worlds formerly thought to be implacably hostile and incompatible. The other is the intelligent design movement, which by reviving a natural theology of design in nature has challenged the Darwinian strongholds in science and public education. Larry Witham introduces some of the most colorful characters in these movements, and summarizes the scientific developments that have made this dramatic new dialogue possible. After reading "By Design" we understand how what was once a battleground between God and science is now becoming a meeting ground.