Wonder and Wisdom

Conversations in Science, Spirituality, and Theology

Celia Deane-Drummond

What has wonder, that apparently innocent feeling of amazement so common in little children, to do with wisdom, often thought to be the privilege of those who are old? What has theology and religious experience to do with scientific investigation of the natural world?

Professor Celia Deane-Drummond's exploration of these themes expands the dialogue between science and religion. She begins her study with reflections on the emotion of wonder, tracing the history of its meaning from its IndoEuropean roots to the present, focusing on the experience of the natural world, including that described by contemporary cosmology.

Incorporating insights from Eastern and Western religious traditions, as well as from Franciscan spirituality, she continues with a discussion of wisdom. She discusses natural wisdom and evolutionary convergence and design in the natural world, and she considers how this might mesh with theological understanding of natural wisdom, human identity, and the notion of God as wisdom. She also discusses the origin of the cosmos and the role of God as Creator, as well as whether there is wisdom in nature and what the role, if any, of neuroscience in wisdom as a facet of human nature might be.

Returning to the theme of wonder, she muses on wonder as it relates to the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the cross. She shows that by weaving wonder and wisdom together, a deeper spirituality can surface that integrates theology and science. "If wisdom is the voice for theology at the boundary of science, so wonder reminds theology that science too offers its own wisdom that needs to be taken into account," she concludes.

Catholic Books Review

This is a small book containing much wisdom. Yet I wonder whether the many questions asked, and sometimes answered, in the text will find resonance in the general population interested in spirituality. Certainly scientists who have some inkling of the role of wonder in their life may read this with interest. Theologians? She takes themes many have thought and written about over the years and offers a different perspective on their relationship. This offering may be beneficial to a theologian interested in how these two emotions/habits/virtues/realities relate to each other and life.

Perspectives on Science & Christian Faith—Ipswich, MA - Vol. 59, No. 1

The book is recommended for its exploration of novel ideas in the contemporary science-theology dialog. It will remind the reader of the days of childhood when "wonder" was a constant companion. That is not altogether a bad attitude to take."