Science," however you unpack that charged concept, touches pretty much every aspect of our lives these days. Isn't it surprising, then, how little you read about it in Christian magazines, except in connection with a handful of hot-button issues? If only Christianity Today's budget permitted, the magazine could employ a full-time science editor to keep up with breaking news, hang out with researchers at work, attend the occasional conference, and read, read, read, for we live in a golden age of science-writing, and there would be no shortage of material worth passing on to a larger audience.
Maybe an enlightened donor will step up. In the meantime, let me tell you about one exceptionally good book that touches on matters of interest to us all: Jonathan Weiner's Long for This World: The Strange Science of Immortality (Ecco). Weiner's narrative deftly interweaves three strands: an overview of human speculation on aging and the prospects for immortality, from antiquity to the present, mixed with his own reflections on mortality and the meaning of our lives; an introduction to the scientific study of aging, with an emphasis on the findings and controversies of recent decades; and an up-close portrait of one long-bearded maverick, Aubrey David Nicholas Jasper de Grey, obsessed with life extension and the quest for virtual immortality.
Weiner's perspective is that of a thoroughly secularized Jewish intellectual, deeply conversant with modern science (especially biology), which has been his province as a writer, but also knowledgeable in other spheres. He is well aware of Christian teachings about death and the afterlife, and he alludes to them on several occasions, but they don't figure significantly ...1
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