Books, Covers, and Genesis

On the back of The Grand Canyon: Monument to an Ancient Earth, one the latest books coming out of Kregel publications about the age of the earth, boasts a Paul Copan quote recommendation on that back that goes like this: “Irenic in spirit, scientifically informed, and biblically sound.” Dr. Copan is one of my favorite apologists out there at present, and a genuinely nice guy. So when he states that a book is aimed at peace and the reconciliation of denominational differences, I do not hesitate to pick it up.9780825444210

On the surface, The Grand Canyon looks like a work of great care and consideration. As scientific textbooks go, it is by far the most readable I have encountered in some years, interspersing the scientific lingo with beautiful pictures and engaging diagrams. The eleven authors mentioned on the first page demonstrate a breadth of knowledge that is impressive. They present the case that the Grand Canyon serves as irrefutable proof that the Earth cannot be young, and that Noah’s Flood cannot possibly have created something like the gorge surrounding the Colorado River. The book showcases remarkable lucidity with a topic that is often tedious or difficult to understand. Having read several books on the topic, including Alvin Plantinga’s Where the Conflict Really Lies and Francis Collins’s The Language of God (to name a couple), and find there is a fine line between scientific tedium and understandable theorizing. But the authors work hard to make the subject even enjoyable.

All of that being said, I think to call this book irenic is a bit misleading. While there are authors out there genuinely working to bridge the gap between Christians who disagree (like Kenneth Wheately and Alvin Plantinga), the bulk of this book is dedicated to converting Young Earth Creationists to a different view. Now, I understand that books are frequently written to make an argument. This can be done in a tasteful way, however, and much of the shots taken at YEC proponents through the book detract from what would otherwise be an insightful contribution to the larger discussion. Such a dismissive attitude limits the book’s potential.

While the book is one I recommend, I do so with caution. Coming to this book for a genteel and fair-minded discussion will not go far. But if you are already in, or leaning towards, an Old Earth view which congeals with Christianity, then this book is definitely for you.

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Questions Regarding Creation

429415_1_ftcI have read a number of book about science, faith, and the beginning of all things. I’ve read everything from Stephen Hawking’s A Briefer History of Time to Alvin Plantinga’s Where The Conflict Really Lies: Science, Faith, and Naturalism. One of the things I have to recognize is that every one of these books hinges upon a position of faith held by the author, whether they acknowledge it or not. Of course, when an author does recognize their faith position, and works out of it, the books tend to be more engaging (and convincing in my mind).

When it comes to Christians and science, this is a tough position to be in. For many Christians, the theory of where “it all began” is essential to the faith, with Theistic Evolutionists feeling slighted by Young Earth Creationists and those in the YEC camp feeling abandoned by the TE scientists. But every once in a while, a book comes along that speaks kindly of everyone involved and wrestles with the questions that such a subject touches upon. 40 Questions About Creation and Evolution is just such a work.

The book lays out the standard questions that a Christian (or skeptic) will have to wrestle with when it comes to the topic of Creation. Although there are divisions in the book, it is hard to say what can be found where. The authors do a great job of dealing with different theories in context, so OEC, YEC and TE all find treatment in each portion of the book. This necessitates that writers provide lots of secondary sources, which they do (including a great index of Ancient Sources on the topic starting on page 429). Overall, the book doesn’t push any new ideas in terms of Creation Science of Evolutionary Theory, but does an excellent job of summarizing the debate in a manner that any Christian could pick up and engage with.

While I don’t hold to the YEC or OEC (Old Earth Creationist) positions of the authors, I found their efforts enlightening and edifying. Keathley and Rooker approach the topic in a simple Q&A method, offering good insight and resources about the discussions in the book. While they don’t shy away from their own stance, both of the authors write charitably of Christians who hold to other positions. Perhaps the most valuable chapter in the whole book is Chapter 38, “Can a Christian Hold to Theistic Evolution?” Keathley and Rooker don’t acquiesce to the TE position, but they do acknowledge the adherents aren’t villains. They “[affirm] the Bible’s inspiration, inerrancy, and authority,” (384). In a book that might provide fodder for bashing those of different stripes, instead they exhorted those who hold to TE, “to formulate a model that fits well with the biblical text,” (385).

Christians need more books like this, which seek to amiably explore issues that are often divisive. Keathley and Rooker are to be commended for their candor and their caritas.

Creation Science

As always, I encourage you to download the handout and fill it out as you watch the video above.

This past week’s lesson was a good one. The PowerPoint didn’t work. We ran out of time. And multiple people expressed disappointment that we didn’t get to have more of a discussion.

What made it good had nothing to with the decent lecture I had prepared. And it wasn’t because we had a pretty amazing time of praise before we got started. Our lesson this past Wednesday was awesome because fellowship happened.

People volunteered to help bring food and drinks for next week. People hung around and chatted afterwards about life and all the in-between stuff. People were open, even if it made them a little but uncomfortable.

This is really what I love about teaching. Take all the fancy lectures and intelligent words and just throw into the ocean for all I care. Church gets real when people fellowship with one another.

So while I had some thoughts I wanted to post about Creation and Evolution, I’m not going to. Instead, I’m just going to say, man we had a good time this week.