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Record Type: Review   ID: 876

Science and Faith: The Anthropology of Revelation

Gans, Eric

 This book by a University of California French professor is based on the assumption that in order to become a truly fundamental human science, "anthropology must absorb the lessons of religion, and this requires that it demonstrate a far greater concern and respect for the form and content of religious experience than is presently the case" (p. 1). Ganz further postulates that the origin of human consciousness, unlike the received view, did not develop gradually but as an originary event in time "that left no physical traces, although its mental traces are coextensive with the human cultural universe" (p. 2). Third, he proposes that that the first human event must have appeared to its participants as a revelation" (p. 3), and must have flown in the face of what protohumans knew as "causality," even as exceptional human experiences do so today. He further proposes that "all individual revelations, the successors of the original collective revelation, communicate through the scene we share as a common heritage" (one could say, humanity's primal scene). But we cannot obtain further revelation via ritual, for new "revelations themselves never occur within the framework of ritual; their privileged locus is the individual imagination, whose intuitions are tested only after the fact by the community" (p. 17), which in our day trusts mainly empiricism. Gans says we should neither believe revelation descends from above in some supernatural manner or that it is a product of natural evolution from below. Instead, we need an anthropology "that is neither transcendental or reductive" but that holds "fast to the hypothetical originary [or primal] event as the source of both. The constraining truth of revelation and the experimental freedom of natural science" (p. 21). Following a chapter on "Revelation and Its Object" are chapters on Mosaic and Christian revelations, respectively, and a concluding chapter on science and faith. He concludes that human truth "is at once eternal and historic, and a science too ensnared in metaphysics to recognize this proves to be less of a science than faith is itself" (p. 122). - DT
Publisher Information:Savage, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1990. 129p. Bibl: 125-126; Chap. notes; Index: 127-129
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