January 9th, 2011 | 10 Comments
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have long maintained that we cannot hope for a broad acceptance of evolution among evangelicals until the heavy theological questions are acknowledged and a plausible approach to the theological quandaries evolution creates are sketched out — followed by rather than in reaction to an explanation of the science behind it. This is what Denis Lamoureux aspires to do in Evolutionary Creation.
This book bears the name of Lamoureux’s recommended term for exclusively non-interventionist “theistic evolution”. In discussing scientific strengths of evolutionary theory, I especially appreciated how Lamoureux supplements a respectable treatment of genetic evidence for common descent by lending his unique perspective as a dentist to present the considerable paleontological evidence from analysis of teeth and jawbones. His critique of special creationism and intelligent design was clinical and admirably civil, but fervent nonetheless.
Lamoureux spends considerable space presenting a view of the Bible’s authority that doesn’t take its scientific or even all of its historical claims as accurate. In his memorable terminology, he rejects scientific and historical concordism, the beliefs that an authoritative Bible demands full agreement between the authors’ understanding and scientific/historical reality on those matters. This is a good and necessary start, and I found his candor about theological problems and uncertainties commendable. Yet ultimately I found rather weak his basic assumption that a “message of faith”, a divinely guaranteed spiritual message, lay embedded within every passage; I found that he offered no compelling rationale for discarding scientific or historical concordism while retaining what appears to be merely nuanced theological concordism.
One more significant component of the book is its detailed account of Lamoureux’s “evolution” of thought on these matters, beginning with creationism, followed by evolution acceptance and atheism, then back to creationism, and finally to acceptance of evolution. One should not underestimate the potential of testimony for creating empathy and so attracting outsiders.
Due to this book’s impressive attempt at being a comprehensive volume giving at least an overview of all areas touched by “evolutionary creation”, it is not for the casual reader. For someone who wants to delve deep into the theological and scientific issues swirling around the debate, it seems a great introduction, almost textbook-like (indeed, I can see it being used in Christian college environments). Evolutionary Creation will serve as a useful introduction for those wanting a thorough discussion of all these matters.
(Please note: this book review first appeared at Goodreads. I’m just getting into that site and noticed that I could post my review as a blog post; hence this.)