This list contains my favorite 10 books from 2015, not necessarily in order.
- A Secular Age by Charles Taylor.
Charles Taylor’s masterful book on secularism explains how Western civilization naively assumed a theistic framework 500 years ago, but now views a theistic framework as just one of many options.
Favorite quote: “Naiveté is now unavailable to anyone, believer or unbeliever alike.”
- Corrupted Science: Fraud, Ideology, and Politics in Science by John Grant.
Some scientists are like the Wizard of Oz saying, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
Favorite quote: “All of the categories of scientific falsification are dangerous: people can die of them…as with fraudulent cancer cures.”
- Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy by Hazen and Trefil.
They begin their book by pointing out, rightly, that science starts with certain philosophical assumptions, namely the correspondence theory of truth, the ability of the human mind to obtain knowledge, and the existence of natural law. Scientists need to study philosophy because they need to see that, when postmodernists deny truth, postmodernists undermine science.
- The Higher Education Bubble by Glenn Harlan Reynolds.
College education is becoming too expensive in America. What happens when college costs $100,000 and doesn’t improve a student’s employment prospects? Either people quit going to colleges and colleges go out of business, or colleges will reform to become more competitive.
Favorite quote: “The whole [student loan] scheme seems like the debt-slavery regimes used by coal mines and plantations to keep workers and sharecroppers in debt peonage for life.”
- The Silence of the Animals by John Gray.
John Gray is a something of a nihilist atheist who attacks secular humanist narratives. A very weird and thoughtful book.
Favorite quote: “The shock is captured in the account Fergusson cites of a middle-aged widow, who went to the bank to be told her life savings had lost three-quarters of their value. Remonstrating with the banker, she objected: ‘Yes, but mine are government securities. Surely there can’t be anything safer than that.’ The banker replied: ‘Where is the State which guaranteed these securities to you? It is dead.'”
- Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville.
This is an excellent commentary on American culture from an outside perspective. De Tocqueville observed that liberty and equality are two virtues that must be held in tension. Our current political situation indicates equality is overtaking liberty.
Favorite quote: “I am also convinced, that democratic nations are most likely to fall beneath the yoke of a centralized administration.”
- Escape from Reason by Francis Schaeffer.
Schaeffer’s thesis is compelling: worship of Reason ends in unreason.
Favorite quotes: “Christianity was necessary for the beginning of modern science for the simple reason that Christianity created a climate of thought which put men in a position to investigate the form of the universe.”
“The early scientists believed in the uniformity of natural causes. What they did not believe in was the uniformity of causes in a closed system. That little phrase makes all the difference in the world. It makes the difference between natural science and a science that is rooted in naturalistic philosophy. It makes all the difference between what I would call modern science and what I would call modern modern science. It is important to notice that this is not a failing of science as science; rather that the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system has become the dominant philosophy among scientists.”
- The Light of the Mind: St. Augustine’s Theory of Knowledge by Ronald Nash.
A super-enjoyable introduction to Augustine’s thought, especially his epistemology.
Favorite quotes: “Augustine believes that the true philosophy is also the true theology. Faith and reason are not psychologically separate activities that may be exercised independently.”
- The Nazi State and German Society by Robert Moeller.
Profoundly disturbing, but it is important to come to grips with the reality of horror in history.
- The Seven Laws of Teaching by John Milton Gregory.
A must have for teachers seeking to improve their abilities. If you purchase it, be sure to get an unabridged edition. Some editors try to remove its explicitly theological content.