Review: Dictionary of Christianity and Science

30649305Dictionary of Christianity and Science is the collective work of over 140 international scholars brought together under the editorial oversight of Paul Copan, Tremper Longman III, Christopher L. Reese, and Michael Strauss. Dictionary of Christianity and Science contains some of the highest standards of research and review, and presents a fair-minded assessment of nearly every corner of the intersection between the Christian worldview and modern science. Together with over 450 articles written on key terms, theories, individuals, debates, and more, by leading scholars and experts in the field, Dictionary of Christianity and Science has rightly positioned itself as the definitive on science and Christian belief.

The organization and format of the Dictionary of Christianity and Science is superb and unlike any other dictionary I’ve seen or used. First, the entries are well-balanced and the contributors are top-tier in the field of the topics they addressed. This is of course of first importance when it comes to any dictionary of this caliber, but this is especially the case for one that boasts itself as a definitive work. Second, the format and organization of Dictionary of Christianity and Science is easy to use and ideal for a resource of this scope. Apart from standard articles on key terms, theories, individuals, and such, the editors have also included multi-view essays on a number of controversial topics—most of which pertain to various aspects of the creation/evolution debate. Additionally, there are introductory articles that function differently than a standard essay and focus on the central facts of a topic in a shorter and more concise form. Third, as one would expect coming to a dictionary, Dictionary of Christianity and Science provides solid, succinct answers to somewhat complex and challenging topics. This provides a clear basis for both understanding and further investigation, which can be explored in the curated bibliography that follows each essay. Lastly, the ground covered in Dictionary of Christianity and Science is simply amazing for its size. To be fair, it is small print crammed into tight double columns, but the riches of information that can be harvested from its pages is simply incredible. Readers will find something new and exciting, or at least interesting, on every page of this dictionary.

While the praises for Dictionary of Christianity and Science certainly outweigh its failed opportunities, there are at least two areas I found difficult or unsatisfying as I interacted with its content over the last few months. First, although there is a decent cross-reference system (using bold text throughout), I found that the navigation between the articles was not as easy as it could have because of some of the sub-titles within articles (e.g. Age of the Universe and Earth [Billions-of-Years View]; p. 28). Also, when I first began reading through the dictionary, I found the bolded text to be distracting and overused in some cases. This turned out to be only a momentary discomfort as I continued to use the resource. Second, I found the “References and Recommended Reading” section to be lacking in many cases, and even a bit unbalanced at times. While I’m neither a scientist nor a student of science, I am familiar with much of the literature and names from that side of the discussion, and would have liked to have seen maybe a bit more representation in the bibliography. That said, what is listed, as far as I could tell during my use of the resource, is well-positioned to point the reader in the right direction.

Apart from a few minor (possible) shortcomings, Dictionary of Christianity and Science edited by Paul Copan, Tremper Longman III, Christopher L. Reese, and Michael Strauss is a fantastic resource that will be unlike anything else on your shelf. The contributors to this volume are to be commended and the editors are to be praised for their work in bringing this phenomenal dictionary into publication. If you are interested in the intersection between the Christian worldview and modern science, then Dictionary of Christianity and Science should be at the top of your wish list and kept within an arm’s reach. It will be used often and unsurpassed for the foreseeable future, and it comes highly recommended!

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