A Good Example of Civil Discussion on A Controversial Topic
Book Review by Dr. David P. Craig
As a pastor who tries to keep current with the latest discoveries and teachings in science and how they mesh with the Bible I found this book immensely helpful from a Christian perspective. The author’s do several things really well in this book:
(1) They give a good overview of the history of the interplay between science and biblical interpretation with a very interesting analysis of The Copernican Conflict; The Advent of Darwinian Evolution; The Scopes Trial and its results; and the more recent controversy over the age of the earth.
(2) They present a consistent hermeneutic learned from Galileo that assumes biblical inerrancy, not inerrant interpretation and the objective truth that nature and and biblical revelation cannot be in conflict/disagree. There must be a striving for both theologians and scientists to pursue truth in special (biblical revelation) and nature (general revelation).
(3) They give a very interesting discussion of evolution and how it was received by both scientists and theologians within a short time following his completing his Origin of the Species. They discuss some of the main issues of conflict brought on by the acceptance of Darwin’s theory from its inauguration until modern times between theologians and scientists of note.
(4) They demonstrate that the resulting world view of Darwinian Evolution has resulted in many liberal theologians and scientists buying into “metaphysical naturalism, that everything interesting about the world reveals there is no God;” as well as how, “human experience rather than the Bible has become the ground of Christian knowledge.”
(5) Throughout the book the author’s give a helpful analysis of the three main views among Theologians and Scientists today as exemplified by Young Earth Creationists (as propounded by Henry Morris, Ken Ham, and Andrew Snelling) and their largest organization: Answers In Genesis; by Old Earth Creationists (as propounded in particular by Hugh Ross and those in his ilk), and its primary organization; Reasons To Believe; and lastly, the most recent organization that sings the praises of Evolution: BioLogos – with its influential proponents like C. Francis Collins.
(6) There is a fascinating discussion of flood theories, fossils, and dating mechanisms in dating the earth – pro and con for both old and young.
(7) One of the most helpful aspects of this book is its discussion of first, second, and third level doctrines that are essential to Christianity. The author’s refer to Albert Mohler’s “Theological Triage of three levels to ascertain theological urgencies.” For example, first level or essential doctrines to Christianity would include “doctrines such as the Trinity, the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, justification by faith, and the authority of Scripture.” Second order or level doctrines would include issues that often separate congregations and denominations like the mode and method of baptism and whether women can serve as pastors. Third level doctrines would include the eschatological unfolding of the plan of God (e.g. pre-millennialism, post-millennialism, a-millennialism) and issues like the one the authors are addressing. The authors apply the principle of theological triage to the three main views today with reference to science and theology. It is a very interesting and enlightening discussion of the relative unimportance of “age” with reference to the essentials related to the gospel and what makes one a Christian.
Cabal and Rasor have written a very civil book on the interplay of the various issues and views in regard to scientific and biblical interpretation. I think they have written a book that helps lay people like me understand the complexity of the issues and yet puts the “cookies on the shelf” so that one can see that though these issues are important – they are not essential to the gospel, but are nevertheless important and demand that extremists be balanced and listen to one another as everyone seeks to interpret all of God’s revelation (the written Word and the natural world) in a gracious manner that is always and ever in pursuit of God’s truth.