Wed | May 24, 2017

Author bridges theology and science in remarkable book

Published:Sunday | May 24, 2015 | 5:00 AM
Glenville Ashby, reviewer.
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Title: Journeys with Wolves and Lambs: Living with Surprises, Tension, Conflicts and Purpose

Author: Barry A. Wade

Barry A. Wade's Journeys with Wolves and Lambs is a compelling autobiography steeped in theological, scientific and sociocultural epistemology. Wade guards against linear thinking, opting to view the world through a broad and bending prism, shaping his critical, mind-challenging normative beliefs on the origin and purpose of life.

It is interesting that theories of creationism and evolution still compete in this technological age as they did during the times of Galileo, Copernicus and Darwin. Wade adopts a unique stance on this debate. He is a scientist, ever decoding the underlying forces that constitute life. In 1967, Wade's scholarship was celebrated especially after his seminal thesis on the beach-dwelling bivalve mollusc, Donax.

He writes: "One of the secrets I revealed was the nature of the animal's tidal migrations ... . The other was the range of evolutionary adaptations which Donax had undergone in order to live successfully in such a difficult environment ... . I discovered a species of Donax, which, in every sense, fitted into the evolutionary definition of intermediate or transitional species ... . God was in my science as He was in my faith." He completed his doctoral studies "in record time".

Clearly, Wade's scientific pursuits do not undermine his spiritual beliefs. He's moved by systematic theology and hermeneutics. And admirably, he has not swerved for all his 45 years as an academician, businessman and spiritual mentor. Wade is more than a Christian apologist. In fact, he rejects the doctrine of Intelligent Design, scoffs at Deism and inveighs against biblical literalism. "From the earliest beginnings of science as a serious discipline for describing nature," he pens, "its primary purpose was to demonstrate the goodness and genius of God in creation. The revelation of God to man was, therefore, understood through both the wonders of God (the Bible) and the works of God (Nature)."

 

REFEREEING THE BATTLE

 

Wade dwells on God's immanence. God's energy is in every life form. Evolution is undeniable; cannot be negated. But so is God's existence. In a majestic blending of science and theology, he cautions that God's existence must not subvert another reality: the irrefutability of science. His work referees the battles between scientists and theologians. He does not take sides but serves as an arbitrator, a man of reason in a world where dogma has supplanted reason; faithful to the words of Albert Einstein: "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

Later, Wade effortlessly switches gears, donning his existential garment as he explores identity and culture. But his faith is ubiquitous. It is his compass and his life force.

There is nostalgia and a palpable longing in Wade's writing as he recalls his early childhood in Belize and his family's abrupt move to Jamaica. His love for both countries cements his Caribbean identity.

Wade's cultural sensitivity is endearing and he is hardly hoodwinked by materialism. "Regrettably, stories abound of families who were making it good in Jamaica and who, when they migrated, fell apart economically, socially and even mentally. I know of many of them myself and can quote vivid examples from among my university, professional and church communities," recalls Wade.

 

CULTURALLY GROUNDED

 

International recognition and academic acclaim do not shroud his humanity and humility. Wade is grounded culturally and spiritually. He is Vicktor Frankl come alive, giving meaning and purpose to life. Of course, the road is seldom without hiccups and Wade cannot avoid them. Philosophical clashes with University of the West Indies administration, the bittersweet experience at Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica and his brief and choppy foray in the Insurance business are all part of Providence's much broader plan. Every experience continues to mould a man destined for greater, more meaningful accomplish-ments. And as a pastoral counsellor he begins to fathom the weight of human suffering.

" ... I had to confess to my own failure to understand and appreciate the word of God in the lives of the poorest and most needy, and to recognise that my own need of God's grace was no different to theirs," concedes Wade.

He advocates for the disempowered through his environmental work and his restorative, living ministry. His business (Environmental Solutions Ltd), sought "to protect and enhance the environment, while creating economic opportunity and advancement to those most dependent upon it".

According to Wade, God's creation is perfect. We cannot dominate or rape our natural surroundings without consequences. We can only heal through knowledge and responsibility. On some levels, Wade mirrors the inimitable lives of the scientists he admires. In venturing to reconcile science and theology, Wade has taken on a Herculean task; not new by any means, but still a contentious issue only understood with wisdom and reason. That Wade possesses these attributes is hardly up for debate.

Rating : Highly recommended

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