Book Review: Mormon Scientist

Mormon Scientist
By Henry J. Eyring
303 pages
Finished 9/23/08


Henry Eyring was one of the preeminent scientists of his era–no mean feat when you consider that his era included the likes of Einstein and Heisenberg. He was also a believing and practicing Latter-day Saint, an apparent contradiction that Henry mastered with surprising ease. To Henry, science and religion were not opposites–they were part of one unified picture that God would ultimately reveal. As a scientist, and as a man of faith, he worked at discovering the missing puzzle pieces that would make the picture complete.

This engaging biography tells the story of a boy born on a ranch in the Mormon colonies of northern Mexico who attained the heights of scientific achievement, ultimately publishing more than 600 papers and leading the world’s largest scientific societies.

It is also the story of the family legacy that produced Henry Eyring–of the faith and sacrifice of his forebears that made his education and scientific achievements possible and laid the foundations of his own unshakable faith.

Above all, this is the story of a scientist whose religious faith helped him find simple truths in a complex world. It is a legacy we can share as we learn from his experiences and apply his insights.

This book first caught my eye nearly 6 months ago during General Conferece. I remember it being heavily advertised during that weekend and thought it looked interesting. I immediately put it on hold at the library and began 6 months of waiting to get it into my hands. I had hoped that it would be a fairly easy read, but I didn’t take into account that when you’re reading about a master scientist, you would obviously have to endure quite a bit of scientific talk. There were many times when I read a chapter only to stop and realize that the only things I understood were the prepositions in between all the big words. Lets just say that I pulled a C in college chemistry (and only a B+ the second time around), so I wasn’t really on board with all of the chemistry talk that this book contained. It wasn’t overdone, considering it is the biography of a chemist, but just be warned that there is plenty of technical language to be had in this book!

I started my reading at a hectic time. It seemed that there was always a interrupption causing me to put the book down. I took longer than I’d have liked to get through it all….and it wasn’t as easy a read as I’d first thought. However, the overall message is a really good one, and I did find a lot of the religion vs. science discussion to be very interesting. Henry Eyring (oh yeah, that reminds me…there are a LOT of Henry Eyrings in this family, so brace yourself for some confusion!) sounded like such a great man….and I’m sure that if I’d taken college chemistry from him, I’d have gotten an A! I love his mix of intelligence, humor, faith, and congeniality.

During the last week, I’ve heard advertisements on the radio for a DVD version of this book that has just been released. Honestly, I think I’d have liked that version much better than the actual book, but if you enjoy biographies and don’t mind muddling through a higher level of thinking than I’m used to, you’ll probably enjoy this one!

2008 Page Count: 7748


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