Barr, Stephen M. 1953-
BARR, Stephen M. 1953-
CAREER: Physicist. University of Washington, Seattle, research assistant professor, 1980-85; Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY, associate physicist, 1985-87; Bartol Research Institute, University of Delaware, Newark, professor of physics, 1987—.
Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, University of Notre Dame Press (Notre Dame, IN), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: Physicist Stephen M. Barr has conducted research into the relationship between particle physics and cosmology, grand unified theories, and space-time dimensions. Drawing on this extensive background, Barr wrote Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, a "lucid and engaging survey of modern physics and its relation to religious belief," in the words of National Review contributor Joshua Gilder.
Barr focuses in particular on the "anthropic coincidences" that make our universe particularly conducive to life, such as the strong force that holds atomic nuclei together, which is just strong enough to allow the creation of the elements and to prevent stars from burning so fast they would give life no chance to arise.
According to Library Journal reviewer Augustine Curley, Barr "shows that the argument is not between religion and science per se, but between religion and scientific materialism, the philosophy that sees as real only what can be measured and observed." The author is particularly skeptical of the theory that random chance and an infinite number of parallel universes account for our own life-sustaining world. While science cannot prove the existence of God or any particular creed, Modern Physics and Ancient Faith argues that modern scientific discoveries tend to support basic Judeo-Christian teachings rather than contradicting them. "Neither religiously sectarian nor technologically daunting, this is a book that invites the widest range of readers to ponder the deepest kind of questions," concluded Booklist reviewer Bryce Christensen.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 1, 2003, Bryce Christensen, review of Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, p. 959.
Library Journal, March 15, 2003, Augustine Curley, review of Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, p. 88.
National Review, April 1, 2003, Joshua Gilder, review of Modern Physics and Ancient Faith.
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Delaware Web site, http://www.physics.udel.edu/ (July 8, 2004), "Stephen M. Barr."*