Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Evolution Scripture and Nature Say Yes! by Denise O. Lamoureux

Lamoureux has brought a very valuable addition to the creation evolution discussion. He calls for the end of the dichotomy of evolution or creation. We don't have to choose. We can have both.

He shares his own story of becoming an atheist after studying evolution. He later found that faith in a creator God is very possible while still maintaining belief in evolution. He has written this book to help students and others who struggle with their Christian faith when confronted with modern science.

He takes readers through the fossil evidence. “Every year there are thousands of new fossils found,” he writes, “and they always show up exactly where scientists expect them to be in the fossil record.” (455/2478) The evidence for evolution is overwhelming, he says.

Lamoureux is an evolutionary creationist. “God with only one creative act set up the laws of nature for everything in the entire world to self-assemble through evolution.” (571/2478) “Beginning with the Big Bang, God put in motion extremely well-designed natural processes which he used to self-assemble the entire world, including us.” (610/2478) “Evolutionary creationists believe the Creator ordains and sustains all natural processes in the world, including the evolutionary process.” (1465/2478)

He argues that the early chapters in Genesis are ones in which God accommodated humans “and allowed writers to use the science-of-the-day.” (706/2478) He proposes the Message-Incident Principle where Bible statements about nature are to be read through the understanding of ancients. Evolutionary creationists believe real historical events in Scripture begin roughly around Genesis 12 and Abraham. Jesus' statements, such as God creating male and female (Matt. 19:4) are also accommodations to the understanding of the day, Lamoureux claims.

Lamoureux is not a deist, however. He believes God miraculously works in the lives of men and women. It is possible to reject God intervening “in origins and operations of the world but then fully embrace personal miracles as well as the miracles of Jesus and his bodily resurrection from the grave.” (743/2478)

He points out that in light of Romans 1:21-23, it “is evident” that “human sinfulness leads to intellectual dysfunction.” (830/2478) “In other words, sin impacts our ability to think clearly and rationally.” (830/2478) Also, “...sinfulness twists our thought processes into believing falsehoods.” (837/2478) Unfortunately, he fails to explore how this might impair the work of scientists and the conclusions they draw.

Difficulties for Christians believing in evolution include man being created in the image of God and man falling into sin. Lamoureux brushes off these issues by writing that understanding how the Image of God and sinfulness arose in humanity is “ultimately a mystery and beyond our comprehension.” (1478/2478) Not understanding how it came about “has no impact whatsoever” on his belief that we bear the Image of God and are sinners. (1478/2478) The evolutionary issue of how humans became conscious and spiritual beings is one Lamoureux does not tackle, even though I think it is a very important problem.

While this book is a good addition to the discussion on evolution and creation, there is much that yet needs to be covered. One is the area of miracles. Lamoureux says “it is perfectly reasonable” to reject God working in nature in the development of animals and humans yet accept “personal divine action.” (1996/2478) We already saw where Lamoureux accepts personal miracles. But personal miracles are God working in nature, healing, calming the storm, etc. Why should we reject God working in nature in one area (origins) but accept His working in nature in other areas?

Another topic needing further discussion is creation initially being good but then being tainted by sin. Paul says in Romans 5:12 that sin entered by one man and death through sin. How do Christian evolutionists explain that? Paul continues his argument by relating the sin of the one man (Adam) to God's saving grace through the one man, Jesus. (Rom. 5:15) If Paul was wrong about Adam how do we know he was right about Jesus?

And what about when Jesus mentioned the days of Noah and said it will be like that when He returns? (Matt. 24:7) Christian evolutionists do not accept the story of Noah as history so what do we do with Jesus' statement? And what about Peter when he writes about the world being deluged? (2 Peter 3:6) Peter relates that event to the future coming of the Lord and the earth being destroyed by fire. If we think Peter did not get the flood right, how can we trust he gets the coming of the Lord right? And John mentions Cain in I John 3:12. If John wrongly believed Cain was a real person how can we trust the rest he writes?

There are parts of this book I really appreciate. I appreciate Lamoureux's proposal of a fruitful relationship between the Bible and God's work revealed in science. I appreciate his discussion of metaphysics and physics and how one must take a leap from physics to metaphysics and belief in design and a Designer. I think he does an excellent job in discussing when evolution has an end in mind (determined by God) or is blind, as atheists claim. He presents very good arguments discounting atheism.

But there are also issues that still need to be discussed. This book is a good beginning to the topic but may not satisfy all readers, as it did not satisfy me. There still needs to be a great deal more work done on the views of Christian evolutionists and how they maintain the integrity of the Bible as revealing spiritual truths.

I recommend this book to those interested in the creation evolution discussion. Lamoureux clearly identifies how making people choose between science and faith has been detrimental. Many will find within these pages reasons to believe God created through the evolutionary process. I also recommend this book to those who are willing to work through the ideas of Christian evolutionary thought and clear up some of the remaining questions regarding the integrity of the Bible.

And just one more thought, this one regarding the title of the book. The title indicates that Scriptures in some way inform readers that evolution occurred. Lamoureux does not show that in this book. The best that can be said is that Scriptures do not say evolution did not happen – if you look at it through the eyes of Christian evolutionary thought. I personally think the title is misleading.

Lamoureux teaches a class on science and faith at the University of Alberta. Readers interested in pursuing this topic can access that class at https://sites.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure/350homepage.html.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Denis O. Lamoureux is Associate Professor of Science and Religion at St. Joseph's College in the University of Alberta, the first tenure-track position in Canada dedicated to teaching and research on the relationship between scientific discovery and Christian faith. He is the author of Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution; I Love Jesus and I Accept Evolution; and Darwinism Defeated? The Johnson-Lamoureux Debate on Biological Origins. You can find out more at https://sites.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure/.

Zondervan, 208 pages. (Instead of giving page numbers for quotes, I have given the location in my Kindle edition.)

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

No comments: