➶ [Reading] ➸ Should Christians Embrace Evolution By Norman C. Nevin ➫ – Horse-zine.co.uk

  • Paperback
  • 192 pages
  • Should Christians Embrace Evolution
  • Norman C. Nevin
  • English
  • 03 March 2018
  • 9781596382305

10 thoughts on “Should Christians Embrace Evolution

  1. says:

    I had hoped and expected this book to be a serious discussion of the relationship between science and religion, and how when approached seriously and openly, each can inform and enlighten the other Instead, this collection of essays is an apologia for Young Earth Creationism and Intelligent Design, with the voices of believing Christians who are engaged with science nowhere permitted to speak for themselves.Raised as a Catholic in the 1960s, I was taught from diocesan approved textbooks that said the physical world is what God did, and that the Bible, whose purpose is to lead us to understanding of our relationship with God, could not validly be interpreted in ways that contradicted proven scientific fact Several essays in this book make the point that scientific truth can change, sometimes rapidly An example not offered by the essayists is the previous scientific case for gradualism vs catastrophism that all geological change takes place slowly, rather than as the result of sudden, dramatic events This assumption changed and was abandoned in the face of mounting evidence that sometimes catastrophic sudden change does happen, Floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and meteor strikes can have dramatic effects, and even some of the slow processes involve things the gradualists had difficult imagining, such as the movement of continents Thus one scientific truth was replaced by another.It s a fair point However, it overlooks the fact that every way in which we look at the age of the Earth the geology of Earth itself, decay rates of radioactive elements, what astrophysics tells us about the size and age of the universe, etc gives us a planet over four billion years old, a sun about five billion years old, and a universe significantly older than that In the face of that, it s not enough to point to genealogies in the Bible and say that Earth is obviously only about six thousand years old Argue that Genesis 1 3 is literal and not a simplified version intended to help pre literate pastoralists and farmers understand their relationship to the world and God, and you re stuck with explaining away God putting all this evidence of great age all around us.Likewise, there is ample evidence of evolution from multiple lines of research, archeology, paleontology, and genetics among them The argument is offered that the genetic evidence of evolution is based in fossil DNA, the junk DNA that appears to serve no function, but that in fact we are gradually finding that this junk DNA isn t inactive and meaningless, is not merely fossil DNA In reality, though, the strongest genetic evidence of evolution is mitochondrial DNA, passed on from mother to offspring, which has never been considered fossil DNA To a lesser extent, Y chromosome DNA, passed from father to male offspring, plays a significant role and is also anything but junk or fossil DNA.This leads us to the argument that, if Adam and Eve were two Neolithic farmers who were blessed with the friendship of God, then we can t all be descended from them, and the inheritance of Adam s Fall becomes highly problematic that in such a case, Adam is not the Head of the human family, we are not his children, and visiting the curse of the Fall upon us all is arbitrary But this is confused and backwards.If Adam and Eve were created ex nihilo, and were the sole ancestors of the entire human race, then we must immediately ask who Cain, as well as his siblings, married Lower animals could happily mate with their siblings with no awareness of guilt, but it s a real problem if you have just one human family with fully developed moral sense Despite repeated insistence on the importance of Adam as the direct ancestor of all subsequent humanity, the problem of who his children married is never mentioned by the essayists.Evolution, on the other hand, does offer both mates for the offspring of Adam and Eve, and a clear path for all living humans to be descendants of Adam In fact, the genetic evidence that the essayists dismiss so easily tells us that we are all descended from a genetic Adam, as well as a genetic Eve How does this work when evolution also says there was never just one man or just one woman Because their descendants were successful More of their offspring survived, and of their offspring survived, and intermarried with other lines, and without any necessity for incest, over millennia all human beings are descended from these two early humans.The Fall is also present in this understanding Animals, even our closest relatives, the bonobos and common chimps, and our closest companions, dogs, do not have a moral sense They feel emotions, they understand social rules, they are complex and intelligent creatures but they don t have a sense of morality, of Right and Wrong Humans do Chimps kill other chimps, dogs sometimes kill other dogs but the first human being who possessed the ability to grasp that some things are not just inconvenient or inappropriate for social or pragmatic reasons, but wrong, was the first human being able to commit theft, or infidelity, or murder, in the sense that we understand these words And as the first species to understand mortality, that we will die, we are also the only species for whom death is a part of our lives.At some point humans, genetically just a third species of chimpanzee, made the breakthrough, or was gifted with, or was tempted into, the knowledge of Good and Evil and chose to commit evil There is the Fall, right there, the thing that makes us unable to make of Earth the Paradise it could be, the thing for which we need Redemption I do not understand why this is less tragic, less hopeful, or less illuminated by the Grace of God, than reading Genesis 1 3 literally.Where this book is weakest is in the essays in the latter part of the book, which attempt to grapple most directly with the science of evolution Unfortunately, only one evolutionary scientist, Denis Alexander of the Faraday Institute at Cambridge University, is quoted than once or twice, or in than isolated single sentences shorn of all context Alexander is himself an evangelical Christian, and is perhaps therefore a greater threat for Young Earth Creationists than Catholic, Jewish, or mainstream Protestant scientists Unfortunately, quoting and arguing with only one party amongst the many who disagree, combined with the ability to choose what you quote and to represent its larger context, makes for a weaker argument, not a stronger one.In addition, the various essayists, especially in the latter part of the book, which has all the form and structure of building towards a crushing conclusion, make statements about scientific fact that are just bizarre For instance, on page 188, John C Walton tells us that the principle features characteristic of living things are organization, metabolism, adaptation, response to stimuli and, particularly, reproduction Viruses, which are intricate assemblages of proteins and DNA, are clearly excluded by these criteria, leaving single cell micro organisms, lacking nuclei i.e., bacteria and archaea as the simplest forms of life.There you have it viruses are not life, a statement no biologist would agree with, but which is vital to the argument that life is too complex to have arisen by chemical means.And on page 192, we find the following interesting statement For amino acids to form, the early atmosphere must have been without oxygen but this seems improbable because oxygen is the most abundant element 47% in the earth s crust and is overwhelmingly abundant in teh hydrosphere.What s wrong with this is that oxygen is highly chemically reactive, and free O2 in the atmosphere is a product of life specifically, the product of plant life taking in CO2 from the air and releasing O2 as a biological by product No life yet, no free oxygen in the atmosphere to prevent the formation of amino acids With simple and obvious mistakes like this, it s hard to take the rest of the science in these essays seriously.It s weakened further by the fact that all the essayists come back to asserting that evolutionary theory is wrong because Genesis says something different, and we need to read Genesis literally because, well, we just do It s briefly mentioned, at page 118, that the Catholic Church has never favored Biblical literalism or regarded the Bible as the sole source of divine revelation and that study of the natural world is regarded as another source of revelation It s also noted elsewhere that the Fundamentals, the documents on which modern Biblical literalism is based, are documents of recent composition, not ancient Sacred Scripture.Nor do I understand why our ancient, immense, complex and beautiful universe, with a slow unfolding of life towards the Image and Likeness of God, is less divine, less inspiring, less Awesome than creation ex nihilo in six days The Bible was revealed initially to pre literate farmers and herders, people who needed Divine Truth but had, in plain fact, no use for a science textbook laying out in detail a process of Creation taking billions of years, a textbook on genetics and paleontology and evolution We have large and complex brains for a reason we re supposed to use them Rejecting our ability to study, investigate, and gradually increase our understanding of the beauty, wonder, and complexity of God s Creation is, at best, the ungrateful rejection of a marvelous gift And on page 119 we find this breathtaking statement Of course, the Catholic policy promotes considerable intellectual humility and interpretive generosity but at a high cost namely, the loss of a unified sense of the truth that we might approximate through our own efforts as blessed by divine grace.In other words, being comfortable that you have a unified sense of the truth based on your own personal reading of the Bible is important than remembering human fallibility, limitations, and susceptibility to error in understanding the Divine I am seriously not persuaded that we should be tossing out intellectual humility in favor of a unified sense of the truth that we create for ourselves.For the most part, this is an intelligent, thoughtful, well written book I don t agree with the arguments, the reasoning, or the conclusions, but if you want a well written defense of Young Earth Creationism and rejection of evolution, this is an excellent place to start.I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

  2. says:

    This book is a really two brief books in one comprised of essays from various authors The first half deals with biblical arguments against evolution and therefore theistic evolution The second half deals with scientific issues in relation to evolution The concluding chapter and summary of book answers the question of the title this way Our answer is a resounding no absolutely not Theistic evolutionists have failed to demonstrate a theology consistent with the supremacy of Scripture 210.Reasons to read this book 1 Helpful introduction into the theological reasons to reject a Christianized evolution 2 Helpful and up to date discussions over current scientific challenges to the theory of evolution Don t turn to this book first if1 You want a book that will explicitly argue for a young earth 6 day literal creation view The focus is against theistic evolution Most of the authors are interacting against Denis Alexander as a representative of that position 2 You don t want to wade through scientific details that are challenging for someone without a science background It was good for me to read through it, but I did feel that it was not written to be very accessible to those who don t have an up to date science background or interest One major concern I had when reading through the book was chapter 8 by Steve Fuller who seemed less than evangelical at times He seemed to fall into the category of those who argue for intelligent design with no real moorings in a high view of Scripture My concerns where explicitly justified when I read this in the concluding chapter Steve Fuller has no commitment to the Bible motivated by personal faith 219 This knowledge would have been helpful to me as I read the chapter initially If you are reading several books on the topic of creation vs evolution this is a good book to read among others There are two situations that I would not recommend reading this book First, if you are just starting to get into this topic Second, if you plan to only read one book on the topic at this point.

  3. says:

    The theology portions were decent in this work they had some real good pushback against theistic evolution although they only really responded to Denis Alexander Some of it came off as fighting a culture war The science portions were way too sciency for me to follow.

  4. says:

    I m sure this book would be of interest for those who pay attention to the intersection of Christianity and science, but for the average reader this is both too technical and too specific in responding to one view of evolution.

  5. says:

    Good, comprehensive collection of arguments as to why those who embrace Christianity should reject the theory of evolution Written by both Christian and non Christian experts, this collection of essays approaches the discussion from the biblical, philosophical, and scientific perspective My only critique is that while the refactor claims the work is accessible, many chapters require quite a bit of background knowledge in genetics I often found myself looking up terms in order to follow the argument.

  6. says:

    The middling rating could be that I had higher expectations for this book I expected an entry level look into Biblical and scientific reasons to cast a skeptical look at the theory of evolution However, the book was primarily a response to Denis Alexander s book on theistic evolution Most of the authors did not interact, specifically with the theory of evolution but with the model of theistic evolution that Alexander brought forth The theology section was, in my opinion, better than the scientific because it was much reader friendly It fleshed out many of the implications that theistic evolution brings and how the two cannot be complementary In so many cases, it has to be one or the other The scientific section was Very scientific with very little layman s explanation It was refreshing, however, to hear respected scientists speak out against evolution.

  7. says:

    While some of the scientific articles can be complex and technical, despite the obviousness that they tried to dumb it down to a lay level, there are still some helpful scientific chapters in here The theological chapters are for the most part well done Overall, this is a helpful book, but I m not sure if it would help the average lay church person I think it would have to be further distilled by the pastor elder to help the congregation better understand it Apparently this book was written with a specific book in mind by a British evangelical Denis who argues that Christians should accept evolution He is mentioned throughout several different essays and many essays seem geared to rebut his specific theological and scientific arguments.

  8. says:

    I enjoyed the book It was not an easy read The chapters on the science problems, were technical I am not strong in science The writers and editors handled this subject carefully and thoroughly They examine the theological issues of Theistic Evolution and the scientific issues with Neo Darwinism.The book challenges the ability to bring together Biblical teaching of Creation, Death, Adam and soteriology with Neo Darwinian Evolution as God s tool of creating the universe It also addresses the oft heard statement, I don t believe in Evolution I looked at the facts and accept it It is not the facts that drive a person to accept Evolution, it is the interpretation of those facts Interpretations of facts are always based on a belief or a system of belief.

  9. says:

    Definitely geared toward Christians and those who like to dig into some of the theological issues around evolution It could definitely seem a little technical sometimes Most of the book focuses on the theological difficulties of believing in evolution Adam and Eve not the first humans which makes some of Paul s arguments less weighty, there was no real Fall as there was death in the world for a long time before the Fall even though the Bible calls it the last enemy , etc The scientific essays against evolution answered one of main questions I had the presence of retroviruses or similar chromosomal structures in all primates.

  10. says:

    This was required reading for a course I took from a different seminary than the one I go to It is a bit myopic and tends to straw man alternate positions The titular question is obviously rhetorical and the answer is negative The responses come from some respectable scholars, but I thought the tone of the book was negative, the content unhelpful, and the conclusions unconvincing I would not recommend this to most Christians and certainly hope a non Christian wouldn t stumble across this.

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About the Author: Norman C. Nevin

Professor Emeritus of Medical Genetics, Queen s University, Belfast