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Must the debate continue?
on January 21, 2006
As I write this review, I am team teaching with a colleague from the Biology department at Ottawa University in Ottawa, KS. The course we are teaching is one on Intelligent Design. With all the furor over the Kansas State Board of Education's revision of science curriculum, this course is timely, to say the least. As part of our course material, we are attempting to articulate the debate in the broader terms of the science/religion dispute set in the context of differing worldviews. One important area of all of this investigation is the issue of the confrontation between evolutionists and creationists. Must they be opponents, even enemies? Falk say no.
Our author writes from an Evangelical Christian viewpoint. He is clear about his faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and how the first chapters of Genesis are a great hymn celebrating-though not literally- God's creation of the world. He arrives at this conclusion about the creation account from the evidence science has amassed about the age and development of the universe. One of the strengths of this book is Falk's discussion of fossil evidence, geological evidence and genetic theory. These discussions are supplemented by graphs and pictures that are helpful. Since I am trained in theology and not science, I found these parts of the book enlightening without being condescending.
Falk, who has taught biology for over 20 years, supports the idea that species developed gradually, including humans. And he sees no conflict between faith and the naturalist's view of our world. Overall, he appears to attempt to write within the worldview that science should not be depended on to point a person of faith to God and science must realize that it is not equipped to discover the supernatural.
Falk delves into theological issues such as where does death enter in the story, if indeed, animals died before the appearance of humans. Also, he spends 10-15 pages on the question of how humans were created. He shares that there are alternative ways to interpet the picture in Genesis 2-literal and figurative-though he readily admits science cannot answer the `when' or the `how' of the spiritual side of human creation.
Falk is clear to point out that Christianity has been too quick and too harsh to push science away. But he is also intent to bring an end to the war between the opposing camps in Christianity, between those who hold to a literal view of creation as opposed to a gradual creation on the part of God. In some sense his book is a positive addition to the discussion. To see a Christian biologist hold to his faith and to evolution without a crisis developing in his thinking is hopeful. But his book also affirms (at least in my mind) that the two disciplines will never be compatible. Not that they must remain antagonistic toward one another but simply they ask two different sets of questions.
Regardless of my final observation I recommend Falk's book for those interested in the science and religion debate.