Anthropology--the study of man--is unlike every other study because humans are its subject. And because we are its subject we cannot manage the philosophic and emotional distance necessary to see clearly. Unable to stand apart from ourselves to comprehend our own truth, we are compelled to assume things about ourselves that we cannot prove. In a word, anthropology begins in faith. Lloyd Sandelands approaches the anthropological quest for God by comparing the faiths of modern social science and of the Christian church.
Sandelands describes the social scientific faith articulated by Hume, Kant, Rousseau, Schopenhauer among others, as an imagined state of nature that sees the individual as solitary, self-sufficient, and contented. By contrast, the Christian faith unites us as male and female persons in one flesh before God. The challenge in the author's view is to decide which faith to build our lives upon. Sandelands poses questions about the basic terms of human study--what is a person, and what is society?--and how do the different metaphysics of science and Church lead to different anthropologies?
A worthwhile anthropology must address the questions of what constitutes human freedom, desire, and the nature of the good. Comparing the answers given by science and by the church, he finds that the one paradoxically denies freedom, denies want, and denies the good, while the other affirms freedom, affirms want, and affirms the good. Between these two anthropologies he finds there is but one true study of man.
A companion to Sandelands' Man and Nature in God, his most recent book, An Anthropological Defense of God attempts to establish that an anthropology in God succeeds where an anthropology in science fails. Such success is measured not only by its ideas and findings about man, but even more by its wisdom in teaching us how to live.