Fagg, Lawrence W., The Becoming of Time Integrating Physical and Religious Time
(Scholars Press: Atlanta, Georgia, 1995) ISBN 0-7885-0059-7 $20.46. As reviewed
November 16, 2012 by Walter Shropshire for WesNex.
What is time? is a profound question which has engaged the interest of
philosophers, theologians and physicists for centuries. Yet, in spite of imaginative
speculation and rigorous physical experiments the nature of time remains one of the
greatest unsolved mysteries.
In preparation for a lecture about science and religion to students in a Christian
Theology Honors Course and a lunch-time conversation I was alerted to a classical
treatment of this question by my friend and colleague, Larry Fagg. He wrote a small
comprehensive book nearly twenty years ago which I was unaware of. Larry is a retired
research professor in nuclear physics as well as the holder of a Masters degree in
Religion in which he has productively pursued his scientific and religious interests.
In five parts he outlines the history of this pursuit about the nature of time and
the conclusions reached. These parts are titled: Thinking about time, Time in our Cosmic
Cocoon, The Nature of Time, What Will Time Tell, and finally Time.
As a uniquely trained physicist/theologian he weaves an amazing discussion
between the natural sciences and the complicated nuances of philosophers and
theologians as they wrestle with an understanding of time. He provides stimulating
quotations from a wide variety of religious expression as well as startling reflections about
time by famous scientists that are both mystical and rigorously scientific.
He also summarizes data from psychology about the subjective and objective
patterns of experienced time. The book is well-crafted and precisely written. Extremely
difficult concepts of quantum physics as well as the probing attempts of philosophers to
define time are presented. This reviewer found that some of this fascinating material
required several readings and extensive reflection to grasp what was being conveyed. But
the exercise was rewarded with the richness of the authors precise exploration.
The author presents an overall framework of three revolutions which have
guided human thought. The heliocentric ideas of Copernicus, the biological insights of
Darwin, and finally the becoming of an integrating revolution of spirituality as best
expressed and foretold by Teilhard de Chardin.
In conclusion and quoting the well-known story of Albert Schweitzers insight for
the Reverence for Life he makes an humble appeal: Though I may not have
adequately answered the question, What is Time?, I am convinced that unless there is a
concomitant Reverence for Time, we will not have exhausted all possible means of
This small book will enrich your understanding about time and will suggest
many hours of fruitful reflection upon what it means to you personally and collectively. I
recommend it highly.
Review by Walt Shropshire, November 2012.