Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Book Review: Science, Creation and the Bible by Carlson and Longman

"Theology and science are each seekers after truth". Richard Carlson and Tremper Longman III offer this simple yet profound statement in the introduction to their book Science, Creation and the Bible. The problem (and the reason a book like this would even be necessary) is that theologians and scientists are not always seekers after truth. Sometimes they are merely protectors of a certain paradigm or worldview. So it is refreshing when authors such as these two (a scientist and a theologian) are upfront about their worldview commitments:
We profess our deep commitment to Christian faith and the biblical teaching about creation. At the same time, we believe contemporary science addresses questions on how physical and biological processes began and continue to develop, while theology and philosophy answer why for the same questions. The creation-evolution conflict hinges on two issues: (1) the question of the trustworthiness of contemporary scientific understanding of the beginnings of the universe, the earth and life on the earth, and (2) the question of the faithful reading of the two creation passages in Genesis 1:1-2:3 and Genesis 2:4-25 in their literal or non-literal forms.
As you may have noticed, the broader word "science" in the title specifically refers to evolution as the book progresses. The authors are equally critical of both the Young Earth Creationism and Intelligent Design positions, drawing almost no distinctions between the two (a fact that adherents in both camps would resent, I'm sure). Evolution is not so much defended here as simply stated as fact and then shown to be compatible with the Genesis creation accounts. Or to say it another way, this book is not so much a defense of evolution as it is a defense of a non-literal reading of the creation accounts and their compatibility with evolution. However, this is not to say that only those holding to a position of theistic evolution will benefit from this book.

Chapter 3, "Biblical Interpretation", is alone worth the price of admission and will be beneficial for every Christian, regardless of your position on the origin of the universe. I also found their argument for a non-literal reading of the creation accounts did not necessitate evolution and was equally compatible with my own position of Intelligent Design. Overall, Science, Creation and the Bible is a very accessible book on the current origins debate and has something to offer everyone.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Recommended for: Anyone interested in the origins debate

This book was a free review copy provided by InterVarsity Press.

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