Starting Science from God by Ian Thompson (Book Review)

Geplaatst door

Titus Rivas   (publicatiedatum: 19 July, 2013)


English version of book review by Titus Rivas of 'Starting Science from God: Rational Scientific Theories from Theism' by Dr. Ian J. Thompson.


Book review

Ian Thompson. Starting Science from God: Rational Scientific Theories from Theism. Pleasonton: Eagle Pearl Press, 2011. ISBN 9780984822805.

Theoretical nuclear physicist Dr. Ian J. Thompson has become relatively well-known on the internet through his websites about mind-body dualism and theism (the theory that there is a divine creator who is actively involved in his or her creation). Within a context of monotheistic traditions, Thompson develops a general world view using the methods of rational, analytical philosophy. He discusses the implications of a rational theism for theorizing within empirical sciences such as physics, biology and psychology. Thus, Thompson accepts biological evolution as a necessary step within the creation of living beings and presents his own interpretation of evolutionary processes, which in some respects differs from deistic and Intelligent Design theories.
The author explicitly states he is a proponent of ontological pluralism as a basis for empirical theoretical research. It is remarkable that Thompson presupposes the truth of monotheism (the theory that there is only one God rather than a whole pantheon of gods) and that he rejects both polytheism and pantheism, including for example the metaphyics of quantum scholar Amit Goswami. This means that the reader should look elsewhere for a possible conclusive rational proof for the existence of an active creator. In this book, the author explores the rational implications of his central monotheistic presupposition. Thompson does make an exception for the theodicy (the problem of the justification of the apparent absence of God's active intervention in suffering or [other types of] evil), of which he gives a concise overview, admitting that he only touches upon possible solutions of this basic problem.

In general, the author starts from a so-called dispositional essentialism, according to which ontological substances are composed of dispositions. Among other things, this leads to his explicitly discarding the classical axiom that substances such as the personal soul are simple (as substances). According to Thompson, God is characterized by a triad of love, wisdom and power, and stands at the basis of the whole creation without being identical to it. It must be admitted that it is remarkable that love and wisdom are also regularly mentioned as values that should come first in our lives on earth, which suggests that Thompson's choice of this triad is not completely arbitrary. The author stresses that God is the only 'necessary being', on which all other beings are dependent and which gives life to all creatures. There are many interacting levels in reality that cannot be reduced to one another. For instance, consciousness and the mind cannot be reduced to the brain. For Near-Death Experiences, this means that a patient can really travel to a spiritual domain during clinical death and that he or she will survive there after physical death. Some Out-of-the-Body Experiences outside the context of NDEs could also take place in this realm. One of Thompson's interesting claims reads that in the spiritual world one needs to have some kind of spiritual body as soon as that is what one experiences subjectively. This assumption is linked to Thompson's theory that facts in the spiritual realm are determined much more directly by the mind.

To be honest, I have various philosophical objections against important parts of the author's treatise (for instance against his dispositional essentialism), but it must be said it is intellectually refreshing to realise that Thompson is an original contemporary theistic system builder who is brave and determined enough to go his own way.
Ian Thompson is not prepared to be limited by religious dogmas. This means, among other things, that he is in favour of a symbolical, free interpretation of the Bible and other scriptures. He doubtlessly deserves to be taken seriously.

Titus Rivas

This review was originally written in Dutch for Terugkeer, 2012.