=52~2 ______BOOKREVIEWS ______~NA~T~U~R~E~V~O~L~.3~2~4~11~D~E~C=EM~B~E=R~· 1~9=~ the ethical problems it can create need the threshold of knowledge, we can Is the reductionist ethical principle not of its making for their already see that in the primary chemical resolution. Leaders of science and religion elements there lies the potential for the beyond belief? are now less prone to pronounce at each synthesis of proteins and enzymes, and William Paton other's expense. cell replication, cell-constituent assembly, Dr Peacocke's book on biological re­ speciation, learning and association, what ductionism is admirably consonant with may there not be still to be revealed? God and the New Biology. By Arthur this atmosphere. He is well-qualified; a Like other intermediate positions, it Peacocke. Dent: 1986. Pp.198. £10.95 . To physical biochemist and tutor in Oxford, may not satisfy. Does it leave, for the be published in the United States by Harper who took orders, became a college chap­ Christian, room enough for a God with a & Row. lain in Cambridge and is now director of loving personal relation to his creation? the Ian Ramsey Centre in Oxford, an in­ Does it provide, for the reductionist, too "THE brain secretes thought as the liver stitution recently founded for the study of much room for self-deceiving religious secretes bile; and you are all just bundles ethical problems in science and medicine. aspirations to creep in? Perhaps it is n6t so of conditioned reflexes". With this ending The book pulls together his thinking over much the possible existence and human to his lectures on the alimentary tract, my a number of years. awareness of some higher being that can physiology professor, the late John Mel­ His conclusion is best given in his own most worry a scientist, but the idea of that lanby, leant on his elbow on the lectern, words (though they are more precise than being interfering with the natural course and beamed at us. Although he seemed a colourful): of events, with "natural law". Yet the pretty implausible reflex-bundle himself, It is possible for higher level concepts and question is not much different from the that, 50 years ago, was my first intro­ theories ... to be non-reducible to lower level age-old one of whether our own day-to­ duction to reductionism. A.J. Ayer's concepts and theories, that is, they can be day decisions (seemingly "free") actually Language, Truth and Logic was also giving autonomous. At the same time one has to rec­ modify events or not. If our belief in the logical positivism a brisk run. An adv­ ognise the applicability of the lower level con­ one influence is valid and compatible with anced cleric of the day, L.W. Grensted, cepts and theories (for example, those of phy­ natural law, why not the other? was said to believe that "There is no God, sics and chemistry) to the component units of Dr Peacocke, though unequivocally men are monkeys and there may be more complex entities and their validity when Christian, is not, I think, pressing his ". To the eye today, it was all good referred to that lower level. That is, with ref­ views. His posture is like that of Bishop erence to biology, it is possible to be anti­ clean fun . reductionist without being a vitalist. Higher Butler in the Analogy of Religion, pub­ Faith, reductionism, the "enfant terri­ level concepts and theories often refer to lished almost exactly 250 years ago: ble" and the "advanced cleric" are still genuine aspects of reality at their own level of It is come, I know not how, to be taken for with us-but the antitheses are less sharp. operation and we have to eschew any assump­ granted, by many Persons, that Christianity is The church has learnt to face the criticisms tions that only the so-called fundamental parti­ not so much as a Subject of Enquiry; but that it of rigorous scholarship, and science that cles of modern physics are "really real". To do is, now at length, discovered to be fictitious. so is indeed a kind of "fundamentalism" of a And accordingly they treat it, as if, in the pre­ pseudo-scientific kind that is as much to be sent Age, this were an agreed Point, among all avoided in impartial enquiry as its religious People of Discernment; and nothing remained, THE namesake. but to set it up as a principal Subject of Mirth and Ridicule, as it were, by way of Reprisals, The book is a critical review of a rather for having so long interrupted the Pleasures of MANAGEMENT extensive literature on and around the the World. On the contrary, thus much, at "reducing" implications of modern biolo­ least, will be here found, not taken for granted, OF AIDS gy, molecular biology, genetics, evolution but proved, that any reasonable Man, who will and sociobiology (but, deliberately, not thoroughly consider the Matter, may be as PATIENTS neuroscience) . much assured, as he is of his own Being, that, Dr Peacocke finds a genuine middle however, it is not so clear a Case, that there is ground. The reductionist refuses to accept nothing in it. Edited by DAVID MILLER, any "extra" (for example, entelechy or For those who do not like to see people JONATHAN WEBER and JOHN GREEN vital principle) beyond the laws of natural bludgeoned into belief, and who are also The Management of AIDS Patients is the science in order to explain natural pheno­ interested in the work of recent years by first comprehensive guide to the practical mena. The anti-reductionist finds it incon­ both a theologian and a scientist, Dr clinica l management of patients with AIDS ceivable that the full variety of biology and Peacocke's eirenic writing will be much or HTLV III infections. The book avoids the human life can be so explained without it. welcomed. 0 sensational aspects of the disease, offering But molecular biology and genetics do solid advice and information for all people Sir William Paton, 13 Staverton Road, Oxford involved in patient care. bring one striking gift: the breadth of their OX26XH, UK, is Emeritus Professor of Phar­ The ed itors and many of the contributors explanatory power shows how, from sim­ macology at the University of Oxford. ple elements, systems of astonishing com­ come from St Mary's Hospital. London one New in paperback of the foremost centres in Britain for the plexity and richness can arise. Random­ treatment of AIDS patients. The knowledge ness presents itself not as some irrational • The Birth of Particle Physics edited by Laurie and experience of these experts has been intrusion, but as a source of creativity. M. Brown and Lillian Hoddeson (reviewed in combined to provide a much-needed book And it seems that in these new systems, Nature 308,383; 1984). Publisher is Cambridge for doctors , nurses, dentists and indeed for there is a kind of autonomy. Social be­ University Press, price is £12.95, $18.95. health-care professionals everywhere. haviour, for instance, may indeed depend • The Ecological Web: More on the Distribu­ 1986 on the existence of intermolecular forces, tion and Abundance of Animals by H.G. but it is to be discussed and experimented Andrewartha and L.c. Birch (reviewed in Hardback 03334046;; 3 £30.00 Nature 315,81; 1985). Publisher is University of 200pp £10.95 on in terms of its own concepts rather Paperback 0313 40466 1 Chicago Press, price is $19.95, £16.95. Please order this title from your bookseller - or in case of than, say, that of the Van der Waals • Measuring the Universe: Cosmic Dimensions difficulty from Judy Chappell. Macmillan Press. equation. So, too, the B Minor Mass is a Houndmills. Basingstoke, Hants RG21 2XS. from Aristarchus to Halley by Albert Van "mere" assembly of diatonic tones - yet Heiden (reviewed in Nature 316, 492; 1985). we have to understand and discuss it in Publisher is University of Chicago Press, price musical, not acoustic language. If, still on is $8.95, £7.50.

© 1986 Nature Publishing Group