International Society for Science & Religion - Library Project

Overview of the Library

This website is an electronic version of the book A Companion to the ISSR Library of Science and Religion which serves as an introduction and guide to a set of foundational texts in the emergent field of science and religion.  Organized under the auspices of the International Society for Science & Religion (ISSR), this ISSR Library is a landmark collection of over two hundred volumes representing a diverse array of contributions from leading scholars across the world.  The core of the ISSR Library is comprised of over a hundred books – monographs and edited volumes – that address foundational issues at the nexus of science and religion. Extending outward from this core lie over one hundred and twenty additional texts that provide essential background and expert insight on subjects related to studies in science and the human spirit.

This unrivaled resource will serve as a vital reference point for many researchers, but the breadth and depth of subjects covered in this collection may well be daunting. The Companion will thus serve as a guide to the treasures contained within the ISSR Library, assisting the eager researcher in his or her quest to discover and comprehend the invaluable scholarly contributions of the Library.  The Companion, available here in print and in fully-searchable online form (www.issrlibrary.org), is comprised of two hundred and twenty-four short introductions to the books making up the ISSR Library. These essays, written by ISSR members and other leading international scholars, are offered mostly as handy guides, not critical or academic analyses. They function to distinguish between introductory books (suitable for novices seeking to grasp wide areas of inquiry) and more advanced and challenging interdisciplinary studies (delving into specific subjects with careful and detailed scholarship). Offering guideposts and landmarks in a complex and fascinating terrain, this book is intended to aid readers at all levels as they seek to map an expansive idea-space and find pathways to their essential interests. The book aspires to live up to its name as a companion, providing researchers a guide to the content, intended audience, and accessibility of the diverse selections in the ISSR Library.

In an effort to aid those consulting the ISSR Library (and its accompanying introductory essays), the Companion offers a variety of useful reference points.  The arrangement of the book as a whole corresponds to the order of appearance of selections within the shelved ISSR Library. Book title and author are offered in the table of contents, along with the matching index number (a simple marker allotted for ease of reference).  Two addenda at the back of the Companion – “Volumes by Author” and “Volumes by Title” – present abbreviated, alphabetical listings of the texts by first author and title respectively.  A full bibliography of all volumes in the library rounds out the Companion.  In addition to this, the flexibility of the accompanying online platform affords a variety of overlapping arrangements, complete with pull-down menus related to scientific and religious subject matter, downloadable and printable indices, and a robust search function which far exceeds the capacity of a traditional printed index.

The categorization scheme used here begins with books whose core concern is “science and religion” proper. From there, the groupings follow disciplinary arrangements related to science, religion, philosophy, and history.  (The groupings are listed and explained in greater detail in the introduction immediately following this preface.)  Classification and categorization of such nuanced subject matters presented a formidable challenge.  The resulting schema may prove contentious and there are a myriad of alternative arrangements that would rival what has been produced here.  As the Executive Editor of the ISSR Library and its accompanying Companion, I assume full responsibility for any oversights and infelicities in the selection and arrangement of these volumes.

This Companion volume represents a huge contribution of time and effort from various members of the International Society for Science and Religion, not least in the form of carefully and lucidly written introductory essays composed by ISSR members. I wish to acknowledge and sincerely thank all those have so graciously given of their time and expertise, including those who provided the first pass at winnowing the tremendous wealth of books to a manageable group of nominees.  In addition to our dedicated membership, I wish to thank the contributing editors whose expertise and diligence made it possible to span the many subfields and related areas that complement the core studies in science and religion. These individuals provided detailed analyses of the literature in their fields, helping the editorial board refine the list of nominees and providing key peer review in the selection process. Those contributing editors include Dr. Warren Brown, Professor Celia Deane-Drummond, Dr. Noah Efron, Professor Mehdi Golshani, Professor Dr. S. Nomanul Haq, Professor Nancy Howell, Professor Edward Larson, Dr. Sangeetha Menon, and Professor Paul L. Swanson. Their generous contribution of time and effort was crucial in forming the pool of finalists from which selections were ultimately drawn.

Once the finalists were selected, our Editorial Board members undertook the exigent task of reading each and every volume and, during dozens of conferences, reviewed and selected the books set that now comprise the ISSR Library.  Few labors of service to our academic communities are this demanding and every reader of the Library owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Editorial Board: Professor John Hedley Brooke, Professor Philip Clayton, Professor Varadaraja V. Raman, and Professor Wesley Wildman. Professor Ron Cole-Turner, liaison to the ISSR Executive Committee, and Dr. Christopher Knight, the ISSR Executive Secretary, also provided remarkable assistance.  For their wisdom, support, sensitivity, and erudition I remain immensely grateful.

Finally, I would like to offer special thanks to our wonderful staff. Without Ms. Sharon Mellul, it would have been impossible to tame the huge lists of books, obtain and distribute review copies, and correspond with ISSR members and essay authors. Her work at every step in this project was crucial to its success. Ms. Christine Toole did phenomenal work in obtaining books from publishers and dealing with the many challenges of the publishing industry. Mr. Joseph Wolyniak spearheaded the design and production of this volume and deserves full credit for its clear organization and layout.

On a personal note, I would like to especially thank my wonderful wife, Dr. Katherine Fowkes, for her endless patience with the time demands that kept me immersed in this project far longer than anyone imagined at the outset.