Tuesday, 5 January 2010

IVP's "Should Christians Embrace Evolution?" Reviewed

As author of one of the chapters in IVP's new book, "Should Christians Embrace Evolution?", I did receive an early draft of all the other chapters. But I did not make time to read many of them.

Now I've finally had the finished work in my hands for a few weeks. I may be biased, but I believe it is an extremely impressive and important book. I've already seen evidence that it has raised questions for people in circles where there had been little serious questionning of Darwinism before.

I want to encourage all my blog readers to read it and recommend it to others - whether you agree or disagree. I don't know of another work on the market like it. It's scholarly and thorough, with each chapter being written by an authoritative guide to their subject. This is the most substantial contemporary case put "on the table" by Darwin nay-sayers and essential to understanding the present state of debate. It is not a single author trying to cover many fields - each chapter is from an expert on their topic. To the end of persuading you to buy and read it, I'm going to briefly blog my way through the book to give a flavour of what's in there.

Today we'll just do the preliminaries. IVP have obviously shared this view of the importance of the book, and once you open the inside cover you'll find a raft of recommendations. An Anglican Bishop, a Bible college principal, professors of physics, philosophy, theology, law, humanities, mathematics and information science and a head of educational services for Scotland - it's a wide range. There's a common thread running through the responses - this book contains a serious and (for most of the recommenders) convincing Biblical and scientific challenge to "theistic evolution". The list of contributors and their bios follows. A similarly wide-ranging crew - four professors, a senior Cambridge research scientist, pastors and Bible college teachers, a denominational chariman of apologetics, a theological advisor to UCCF. Baptists, Church of Scotland, Presbyterian, Anglican, cessationists, charismatics - and an agnostic! PhDs in theology, environmental science, biology, aeronautics, medicine and chemistry. The charge made by many Darwinists is that only the ignorant doubt Darwinism. That charge itself is ignorant!

The foreword is from Professor Wayne Grudem, research professor of theology and Biblical studies in Phoenix, Arizona and author of a widely used Systematic Theology textbook. His own conclusion is: "I was previously aware that theistic evolution had serious difficulties, but I am now more firmly convinced thann ever that it is impossible to believe consistently in both the truthfulness of the Bible and Darwinian evolution. We have to choose one or the other." That's the case that the book will make.

The 3-page preface comes from co-ordinating editor Phil Hills, a pastor of 23 years. Its purpose is to set the background for the book. In recent years, the "New Atheists" have been making the charge that Christianity and science are fundamentally incompatible - and Darwinism has been their main battering ram. Many Christians have responded by trying to argue that Darwinism and the Bible can be made to agree, and have joined the "New Atheists" in the same strident demands that those who doubt Darwinism give up the fight and concede its truthfulness - even going so far as to treat those who don't as embarassments to the cause. The theology of these "theistic evolutionists", though, is novel and re-engineers key Biblical doctrines. Neither is the scientific case as strong as the rhetoric would make out. The purpose of this book is to set out the case that it is definitely not necessary, or even desirable, for a Christian to embrace Darwinian evolution, whether philosophically, Biblically or scientifically. Each chapter will make a strong case that on the issue at stake, a traditional Christian position holds more water than the new theology of the Christian Darwinists, and in particular its most recent prominent respresentative, Dr. Denis Alexander of Cambridge (via his book, "Creation or Evolution - do we have to choose?").

So much for the preliminaries. Next time on to the meat. Here's the chapter list:

1. Evolution and the Church - Alistair Donald
2. The language of Genesis - Alistair McKitterick
3. Adam and Eve - Michael Reeves
4. The fall and death - Greg Haslam
5. Creation, redemption and eschatology - David Anderson
6. The nature and character of God - Andrew Sibley
7. Faith and creation - R. T. Kendall
8. Towards a science worthy of creatures in imago Dei - Steve Fuller
9. Interpretation of scientific evidence:
A. Homology - Norman Nevin
B. The nature of the fossil record - Norman Nevin
C. Chromosomal fusion and common ancestry - Geoff Barnard
D. Information and thermodynamics - Andy McIntosh
10. Does the genome provide evidence for common ancestry? - Geoff Barnard
11. The origin of life: scientists play dice - John Walton
Conclusion: Should Christians embrace evolution? - Phil Hills and Norman Nevin


RobHu said...

Are there any other for / against books you'd recommend?

I have:
Darwin, Creation, and the Fall (IVP Apollos) which I think is for (I've not yet read it)


Alexander's Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose?

David Anderson said...

Hi Rob,

Yes, that IVP one is pro-Darwin. Other than Alexander, the other big one that the pro-Darwin side recommend is Francis Collins - search for "Collins Language of God".

I've not read it, but Jonathan Sarfati's "Refuting Compromise" has been highly recommended and is probably the most up-to-date and competent overview. Then purely on the science (i.e. not discussing interpretation of Genesis), Stephen Meyer's "The Signature in the Cell" is probably the biggest book for several years, arguing the case that biology contradicts Darwin and reveals solid evidence for intelligent origination of life.

God bless,

RobHu said...

Thanks, I've added those to my Amazon wish list.