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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whew!!! What a workout!, July 8, 2008
Paul R. Bruggink (Clarington, PA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution (Paperback)
I naively thought that this book was going to be an expansion of the author's paper "Evolutionary Creation" (available on the Internet), but it turned out to be much more than that.

Denis Lamoureux is Associate Professor of Science and Religion at St. Joseph's College, University of Alberta, has doctoral degrees in dentistry, theology and biology, and is an evangelical Christian.

He has written one of the best (and probably the most provocative) books yet on the compatibility of science and the Bible. He starts by clearly, completely and biblically demolishing scientific and historical concordism as a viable approach to interpreting Genesis 1-11 by making a very strong biblical case for God having accommodated His message to His chosen people in the science of the time (a flat, circular, immovable earth with ends, foundations, an underside, a solid firmament overhead with the sun, moon, and stars set in it, and a sea of water held up by the firmament) and in the approach to history of the time (stylistic). We now know from archaeology, etc. that this was the status of science and history in the Ancient Near East but is not an accurate description of the cosmos and human history as we currently understand it. Therefore, it is clear that the creation story in Genesis should not be taken literally. "In the same way that [God] took on fallible human flesh in the person of Jesus to reveal His love for us, the Creator employed imperfect human ideas about nature to disclose in Scripture that He ordained and sustains the world" (p. 175). Lamoureux summarizes the points he has made in two tables of the failures of scientific and historical concordism (pp. 150 & 242).

He then builds on this foundation to make the case that "most of the events in Genesis 1-11 never literally happened, but that this is not a problem whatsoever to the Christian faith if believers recognize that the attribution of divine and human action is accommodated through ancient categories in order to reveal, as effectively as possible, Holy Spirit messages of faith" (p. 312). "Just as sin was never literally taken away through animal sacrifice, one could argue that sin never literally entered into the world through the first man mentioned in Scripture" (p. 313). "The Church is built upon no one other than Jesus Christ. Adam never died for our sins, but the Lord did. Believers are Christ-ians and not Adam-ites. The Cross should never be conflated with the historicity of Adam, his sin, and judgment" (p. 331).

New Testament references to Adam and Noah are shown to be the same accommodation to the understanding of science and history of the time. In addition, Lamoureux points out that the New Testament references were making theological, not historical, points. Having said that, he clearly defends the historicity of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. No slippery slope for him!

Lamoureux's approach paves the way for acceptance of biological evolution by evangelical Christians by solving a lot of biblical interpretation problems, but it creates some theological problems. In order for his view of evolutionary creation to become accepted in the Christian churches, theologians and pastors are going to be very busy for a long time.

Throughout the book, Lamoureux compares and contrasts five basic positions on origins: Young Earth Creationism (Creation Science), Progressive (Old Earth, Day-Age) Creationism, Evolutionary Creationism (Theistic Evolution), Deistic Evolution, and Dysteleological (Atheistic) Evolution. He also discusses divine action, intelligent design, and the anthropic principle.

The penultimate chapter is the author's very detailed account of his personal struggle in coming to terms with evolution, from childhood Catholicism to atheism to Young Earth Creationism to Evolutionary Creationism, a struggle which formed the common thread throughout his professional career.

The book has ten appendices, including Sumarian King Lists, Jahwish and Priestly Sources of the Biblical Flood Account (Genesis 6-9), Fossil Pattern Predictions of the Christian Origins Positions, Age of Earth, Carbon-14 Dating and the Archaeological Record, and Human Evolution. It also includes extensive Notes, a brief Glossary, a Subject Index, and a Scripture Index.

I highly recommend this book to any Christian interested in the compatibility of modern science and the Bible, and to any agnostic or atheist interested in an approach to Christianity that does not conflict with modern science.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing work! Had to be written! Has to be read!, July 30, 2008
This review is from: Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution (Paperback)
This is an amazing work by Denis Lamoureux. With a resume which includes having been an atheist, a young-earth creationist, a dentist, and now a biologist, theologian, and North American evangelical, Dr. Lamoureux is uniquely qualified to address this important Christian topic. This book had to be written, and Dr. Lamoureux was up to the task.

As a parent, I can say this work is vital for the faith of our children. One of my children has already asked the question - when scripture and science disagree, which one is right? Much of the North American evangelical community seems to be setting our children up for a great faith collapse when they begin to explore the scientific evidence for the emergent nature of the cosmos, the earth, animals, and humans. Scientific evidence is presented so overwhelmingly by the scientific community that we risk making Scripture irrelevant in the minds of our children if we continue to keep the false dichotomy between science and faith, between creation and evolution. We must teach our children that evolution does not equal atheism. Dr Lamoureux firmly establishes a basis on which to do this.

Others have described the content of the book very well. I will only add that in addition to being a text on Evolutionary Creation, it is also a great reference on "How to read the Bible". Dr. Lamoureux describes the "message-incident" principal, which states that God delivered theological messages of faith encapsulated within the scientific and historical beliefs that were common to the ancient people who received His revelation. Their inspired writings are laced with their views of the world and written using ancient literary styles. As 21st century Christians, we should seek to separate the spiritual messages from the ancient wrapper in which they were originally delivered. He very astutely demonstrates how to make this separation, with thorough exploration of ancient cosmology, geology, biology, history, and literary practices.

For example, how many Bible readers know that Gen 1-11 is a combination of two ancient sources in a single piece of literature? Dr Lamoureux not only makes this statement, but demonstrates how the two sources were redacted by the ancient writer to create a message of faith which separated the God of Israel from her ancient near eastern neighbors.

Has anyone ever considered that in Jesus' parable of the mustard seed, the living word of God states that this seed is the smallest of any seed in the world? In the 21st century we recognize that there are indeed smaller seeds than the mustard seed. Dr. Lamoureux demonstrates how Jesus Himself accommodated to the ancient scientific understanding, further making his case that ancient perspectives on science and history weren't the point of God's revelation.

Finally, as other reviewers have mentioned, Dr. Lamoureux tackles the sin-death problem and natural suffering. These are some of the fundamental issues with resolving biological science and Christian faith. First, suffering and death preceded humans, therefore humans are not the cause of suffering and death. Second, while recognizing that in an evolutionary context, the emergence of the image of God and our sinful nature is a mystery, he softens this mystery through the analogy of embryology and child development. When exactly does do developing children become accountable for their actions, and therefore become responsible for their sin? As a parent, I can appreciate this mystery. There isn't a single point in time, and the emergent process is different for each of my children. This is a very good analogy for the evolutionary emergence of humans and sin. As humans became more "human" and more instilled with God's image - better understanding how God would have them live - they became more and more responsible for their actions and sin gradually became an option. This analogy by Dr. Lamoureux was quite revealing, and quite freeing.

By all means, take the time to read this book. It is not a quick read, so be patient. It will change the way you read Scripture, and change the way you understand God's grace - directed not only at our hearts, but at our minds as well. It will allow you to teach your children that God is the creator, regardless of the process by which he created. It will allow North American evangelicals to preserve our belief in the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture, while accepting that the "Book of God's Works" can also be understood via the scientific method.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Your understanding of genesis will never be the same again!, September 4, 2008
This review is from: Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution (Paperback)
Please excuse my English, I'm just a French guy who tries to express himself in this marvellous language!
What a pertinent and fascinating book! I got clear answers for questions I had for many years!
Even if we don't have all the answers, such a book makes me believe we are not far from understanding the main part of it, and also what we will never be able to understand!
Looking for information about evolution and Christian faith, it's by "chance" I found Denis O. Lamoureux website. Reading his articles, I already had the feeling there was something particularly accurate in his way of reconciling Christian faith and modern evolutionary science. When I read a book written by a scientist on such a subject, it's mostly pertinent on the scientific part, and the reverse with a theological study of Genesis. But such a synthetic book had to be written by someone absolutely aware of the evidence about evolution and the theological problems that are raised for conservative Christians like me. I mostly recommend it for the reader who is already convinced by this evidence, who is not ready to become a "liberal" but who is open minded and who is not afraid to walk where not many have walked before! This book made me realize it is possible to believe in the inspiration of Scripture and not to take the first chapters of Genesis historically. Before reading the book, I admit I thought it was just impossible.
The way Denis O. Lamoureux analyses ancient science in the Bible is really convincing, and his comments with New Testament passages dealing with Genesis 1-11 put a new light on these chapters. This is a book I highly recommend for people who are still looking for arguments reconciling modern science and conservative evangelical faith!
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a brilliant and unforgettable journey into evolutionary creation, July 29, 2008
This review is from: Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution (Paperback)
What an amazing book! Contemplating evolutionary creation truly is quite the spiritual intellectual adventure, giving a glimpse into how little we are and how big God is, and how limited our knowledge is of His purposes. With terms and categories that are remarkably well defined, the book provides an excellent baseline for those fascinated with exploring issues in the relationship between science and Christian faith. The vital reflection on the foundations of Christianity and scrupulous discussion on the challenges in evolutionary creation also contribute to making this a must read for those seeking answers about our origins and the idea/implications of God creating through an ordained and sustained evolutionary process.

Lamoureux has quite a gift for helping people to get beyond "evolution versus creation" in the origins debate. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to take his course on Christian perspectives on the relationship between science and religion, during completion of my biology degree in 1999. I entered as a committed atheist, thinking my choices on origins were either evolution or God, but I wanted to hear what someone with PhDs in both theology and evolutionary biology might have to say. My mind was opened to a new world. I was challenged to examine my own assumptions and how I explained the part of me that seemed so sure "there was something more" to this life. I realized there was faith involved in my atheism, and I could not convince myself that Lamoureux was crazy. Both his love for Jesus and acceptance of evolution were so strong, genuine, engaging. I started a new journey, of conversion to Christ, resulting in a much needed clarification of values and complete change of career path, and the beginning of personal study in science and Christianity that continues to this day.

Lamoureux presents much substance in his Christian theology and evolutionary science. The number and depth of ideas invites a "swallow whole and give time to digest" approach to reading this book. Some chapters, like the one on human evolution, are very challenging and require time for rereading and reflection. Hermeneutics, the rules by which we interpret the Bible, are a keystone in the book--they play a central role in the recognition that how God created is incidental to the fact that He created. Unfortunately Christians create significant stumbling blocks for each other and non Christians when they confuse incidental issues with foundational messages of faith.

The most controversial idea in the book surely is that a literal Adam is not foundational to Christian faith. Lamoureux states that the purpose of Adam is to remind us that we are created by God in His Image, we have all fallen into sin, and God judges us for this sin. So sin did not enter the world through Adam and pain and death are not Divine judgement for sin. Lamoureux sees evolutionary creation's greatest challenge in this "sin-death problem", or in explaining the passages in the Bible that see Adam as the onetime event for the entrance of sin into the world. He presents much food for thought in concepts of eternal life, the meaning of Jesus dying on the Cross, and how Jesus actually develops a disconnection between sin and death. Though Lamoureux suggests viewing humans more as "works in progress" than of a "fallen world" or original perfect creation, he affirms that sin is real, thus humans are in need of redemption.

No matter what you believe when you begin reading this book, you will have the chance to exercise your critical thinking skills and reflect deeply on your views about Jesus, science, and origins, and how you put all the evidence together. This evidence (or divine revelation) comes from two sources, says Lamoureux, the Book of God's Words (the Bible) and the Book of God's Works (the physical world, as understood through the methods of science). This is known as a two books model of the relationship between science and Scripture, or a "two scrolls theology". It is foundational to Lamoureux's work and powerful in developing one's own worldview. He also describes a sense of freedom that comes with appreciating both of God's Books, a freedom I have been blessed to experience and hope I can experience more fully as I continue in my own spiritual journey. Thank you so much for this book, Denis Lamoureux!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I was looking for, July 27, 2010
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This book answered many of the questions I had about Evolutionary Creation. Some of the conclusions he comes to made me uncomfortable. After looking though what he said I feel much better and feel like I have learned a lot. I'm not sure if I buy into everything he says quite yet but he does make some very good points and has some great insights.

For the most part I have accepted evolutionary creation but I'm not sure about the how this effects my interpretation of scripture. The interpretation that he suggests seems good but makes me slightly uncomfortable. Before I accept it I'm going to study it for myself and check out what other evolutionary creationists think.

If you want to learn more about evolutionary creation this is a great resources. I wouldn't suggest it as the only book to get but it is definitely one you should check out. Expect to be challenged, expected to feel slightly uncomfortable, and expect to learn a lot.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, November 20, 2010
A disclaimer in that I know Denis a bit. This is a sensitive exposition of how one might reconcile evolution with theologically conservative Christianity. Denis is thorough in making clear that the question is precisely how one interprets the Bible. He doesn't go into the evidence for evolution as much as he might, but there are plenty of other books on that. This is primarily a book on theology.

Whether or not you ultimately agree with him, you have to deal with the arguments Denis puts forth here.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Book, July 25, 2014
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This review is from: Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution (Paperback)
Truly an amazing book. Lamoureux does a fantastic job of tackling the origins debate. He's faithful to both Scripture and the natural world. Worth every penny. He defends and outlines the beliefs of evolutionary creation beautifully. The book is laced with helpful graphics or "figures" as the book calls them that helps readers follow along. This is a heavy read. There's a lot of content to wrap your mind around and I found myself re-reading certain sections over and over again in order to fully comprehend what Lamoureux was stating. Be warned that the book can be quite repetitive at times, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing as it helped cement what Lamoreux was saying. The section on the Anthropic Principle was worth the price of the book alone. The Appendix is chock full of helpful sketches and is a great resource to accompany the reading. I now have such an overwhelming peace when it comes to Origins and the Science v. Religion debate. I feel like my belief in Christ is no longer under siege by the discoveries of science.

The package shipped on time, but I have a few minor gripes about the physical book. First, it rarely opens flat, so I had to use a paper weight in order to read it on a desk. I order the paperback. I recommend future buyers spend the extra 10 bucks and get the hardcover. Second, the book had a watermark/smudge at the edge of the pages. But this really didn't bother me too much.

Bottom line: If you've struggled with Religion v. Science get this book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You must read this book, December 7, 2010
Anyone who wants to actually learn something about science and religion must read this book. I took his course on this topic at the University of Alberta and learned more in 13 weeks than I ever knew before about the interplay of science and religion. If you don't want to simply fight the same old battles over creation read it. Even if you don't believe a word he says he says it in an intelligent manner.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A welcome step beyond the "evolution vs. creation" debate, July 27, 2008
This review is from: Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution (Paperback)
Like Denis Lamoureux, the author of this book, I'm an Evangelical Christian and a student of palaeontology and evolution.
At one time, such an admission would have incited whispers and invited accusations of congnitive dissonance. Many see the act of trying to marry evolutionary science with Christian theology as futile, like trying fit a square peg in a round hole. And for many years I felt the same way. I felt as though there was some piece of the puzzle missing that would help me to make sense of the book God inspired and the world He created.
Lamoureux's latest contribution is that missing puzzle piece.
Having been born and raised in a conservative Lutheran church, I was taught to believe in young earth creationism and was told that evolution is a tool of the devil. Probably the most common objection to evolution was that it contradicted the sin-death connection presented in the Bible. After all, if there was death before Adam, how could Adam's sin have introduced death into the world, as Paul repeats in the New Testament? In his book, Lamoureux attempts to answer the "sin-death problem". His solution is simple: There is no sin-death problem.
We reach this conclusion by first recognizing two important categories in the evolution/creation dialogue: concordism and accomodationism. Concordism is the belief that the Bible's statements about science and history are always accurate, and that any scientific theory that contradicts the Bible must be wrong. Accomodationism is the understanding that God accomodated His message of faith, love, and redemption to the first Hebrew people using language and motifs they were familiar with (e.g., solid firmament in the sky, preformatism, numerology, etc.), and that any attempt to milk scientific insight from the Bible is missing the forest for the trees. Citing the example of Jesus' incarnation, Lamoureux sees the latter position as most in-line with God's nature, and defends this view using an inductive Bible study method, pointing to one example after another of the primitive science and history found in the Scriptures. Lamoureux is careful to defend biblical inerrancy, however, stating "... the Bible is the inerrant and infallible eternal Word of God transcending time and incarnated in the incidental imperfect words of humans within history" (p. 174).
Once we accept that the Bible does not necessarily contain accurate science, we are free to accept the conclusions of evolutionary science, regardless of whether or not they accord with the Genesis creation account. Using the analogy of human development in the womb (Psalm 139:13-14), Lamoureux presents evolution as just another natural process, ordained and sustained by God, by which the Lord achieves His good will and creates human life. In fact, Lamoureux sees evolution as the perfect creative process by which God both reveals Himself to us in the design reflected in that process (Deus Revelatus), and by which He hides Himself from us in the non-miraculous nature of that process (Deus Absconditus), thereby allowing us as His children the opportunity to truly exemplify our faith in Him. This was a key point that really struck a chord with me. After all, we wouldn't need faith if we could use science to prove God's handiwork in the world.
But how can Jesus, the Prince of Peace, make use of evolution, which involves suffering and death, to achieve His good will? Lamoureux offers a robust theodicy in answer to this question, noting that Jesus himself declared that suffering and death exist to bring glory to God (e.g., John 11:4). Strangely, this contrasts with Paul's understanding of the origin of death through Adam, as revealed by Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15. Returning to the concept of accomodationism, Lamoureux completes this puzzle by noting that the origin of human suffering and death in Genesis 3 is itself an accomodation of God to the ancient motifs of the first Hebrew people. Death isn't a result of sin, as Genesis 3 states and Paul repeats. Death exists to bring glory to God, as Jesus himself tells us.
Some of these claims will no doubt leave many Christians uncomfortable. Lamoureux's suggestions are well removed from traditional church thinking (though perhaps not as far removed as some might think). I am still not sure how to feel about some aspects of the book, but that's part of the beauty of works like this one: It forces us to engage our Evangelical minds and to actually THINK about what we believe and why we believe it. Lamoureux admits to not having all the answers, but this is something he has learned to live with. What remains clear is the author's undying committment to Christ and to understanding the world and the Word He has given us. And for that reason alone, I think Lamoureux deserves to be heard.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tour de force!, September 9, 2010
Amazon Customer "jazzman2222" (Manassas, VA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution (Paperback)
This is an INCREDIBLE work. He provides a framework to analyse Gen 1-11 for what these texts are, ancient origins accounts. He gives Biblical evidences why young earth creationists and old earth creationists are not reading Scripture as an original reader would have.

I have some quibbles with some of his science and some of his Bible interpretations in that he refers to commonly held but mistaken understandings in both areas in a few cases, but one can ignore these minor quibbles as they do not damage the overarching framework he explains.

Be sure to read John Walton's "The Lost World of Genesis One" also.

P.S. Denis has French Canadian heritage, this is not a translation from a book written in French, as I thought might be the case at first.
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Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution
Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution by Denis O. Lamoureux (Paperback - June 15, 2008)
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