Thursday, November 30, 2017

Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique

This is a huge book. It has taken me over a month to work my way through it. Although I have a degree in science, it is in physics. I read this book as a lay person, so to speak, without advanced training in the biological sciences. My interest in reading this book came from being taught theistic evolution in a Christian college in the late 1960s. I found out that much has changed in the fields of biology and origins since then.

Most of this book is written in a scholarly manner and may be beyond the interest of many Christians. Some of the essays are answers to critiques of previous articles and books. However, Christians interested in the issues of intelligent design, special creation, or evolution would benefit from carefully reading this book.

The book is a critique of theistic evolution: that God arranged and set everything in motion so that life would evolve without additional intelligent input. The authors define theistic evolution as the sufficiency of the undirected mechanism of mutation and natural selection as an explanation for new forms of life. (59) In other words, God created matter with certain properties so that no further activity from God was required to bring about all living things. (60)

The first part of the book is an in depth critique of the creative power of natural selection and random mutation. The conclusion is that these mechanisms do not have the creative power to generate new genetic information. The authors explain how current research shows a loss of information from such mechanisms instead. This section also includes a critique of the assumption of universal common ascent. They pay particular attention to fossil and DNA evidence.

The next part of the book looks at the philosophical aspects of science and creating theories. The authors explore how one should define science and argue that science should not limit itself to strictly materialistic explanations. Rather than science correcting the Bible, perhaps Scripture should correct our scientific ideas. (707) There have been many scientific “facts” in the past that have turned out to be incorrect. It is also noted that theistic evolution fails to explain the development of moral values in humans and the spiritual nature of mankind.

The last part of the book deals with theological and biblical issues. This section is not about the age of the earth. It is about whether Genesis 1-3 should be taken as historical narrative, reporting events that actually happened. Theistic evolutionists in general say that Adam and Eve were not the first human beings, there was no fall into sin, and God did not place a curse on the world. (778) This seriously affects the truth of the gospel and the meaning of Christ's death. The conclusion is that “belief in theistic evolution is inconsistent with belief in the truthfulness of the Bible.” (776)

I have mentioned just a small part of all of the information included in this book. It is a detailed critique of theistic evolution and the works of those who promote it. I am impressed with the amount of information this book contains. It may be overwhelming for some readers. The chapters do contain summary introductions and conclusions to help readers navigate the text and decide which chapters may be of specific interest.

ID [intelligent design] is essentially consistent with biblical doctrine, and is supported by many scientists and theologians whose views cannot be lightly dismissed,” Colin Reeves writes. (706) Unfortunately, this book does not contain a presentation of intelligent design.

I do recommend this book to Christians who have an interest in the issues of creation, evolution, and other aspects of origins. Be prepared for a good amount of time studying this topic.

You can watch a very informative book trailer here.

You can find out more about the book, the editors and contributors, and download an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Crossway, 1008 pages.

Note: I received a complimentary digital ARC of this book. My comments are an independent and honest review. Some of the quotes and page numbers I give may have been changed in the final published edition of the book.

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