Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book Review: The Language of Science and Faith by Giberson and Collins

In 2006, Francis Collins rolled a snowball called The Language of God and tossed it down a hill. It picked up steam, it grew, and it is now an avalanche fast approaching both the scientific and Christian landscape. From the book grew the BioLogos Foundation. Then an appointment of Collins to Director of the Nation Institutes of Health. And finally, BioLogos birthed a second book, The Language of Science and Faith, which was gathered and written by Karl Giberson.

At the risk of being too simplistic, Francis Collins and BioLogos represent the most visible apologists of theistic evolution. While The Language of God was their defense to the naturalistic and atheistic camps, The Language of Science and Faith is their entreaty to the Christian and theistic circles. I honestly don't know which is the more difficult task.

There is much here that I applaud. I believe that all truth is God's truth, and science is one of the ways that we discover truth about our universe. Thus anything that science proves to be true, we should celebrate as part of God's good creation. The chapter on the age of the earth was fascinating and awe-inspiring, and even more so the chapter entitled "What Is the Fine-Tuning of the Universe, and How Does It Serve as a Pointer to God?"

However, there is also much here that I question. The authors seem dismissive of Intelligent Design, brushing it off as a mere creationism in disguise. They state (without citing sources) that a majority of evangelicals still hold to young earth creationism and verge on condescension in the process. They suggest that evolution offers a better explanation to the "evil" we see in nature (wasps planting their eggs inside a live caterpillar which serves as food when the eggs hatch, etc.) but such examples, while rhetorically powerful, are really non-moral problems that can't honestly be considered a problem of evil. At times, they even seem to be committing a sort of "science of the gaps" error in suggesting future science is a better answer than considering the involvement of God.

In the end, this is an important conversation for Christians to have, and Giberson and Collins have played a huge role in advancing that discussion. While this book will be controversial to most people at one point or another, they state their case clearly and compellingly.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Recommended for: Anyone interested in the cross-sections of evolution and ID, science and faith

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

No comments: