on September 2, 2008
Margaret Gray Towne, a collegel-level biology teacher and biblically devoted Christian, has produced a very readable contribution to the creation-evolution debate. Her purpose in writing the book was to justify the position of theistic evolution (better known as evolutionary creation). She is successful in doing so. Modern evolutionary theory is presented, and the means of integrating its data with the Bible are explained.
Rather than focusing on the similarities between the Biblical creation accounts and modern science (as Hugh Ross and other Biblical concordists attempt to do), she enumerates 25 differences in order to demonstrate that the inspired biblical writers did not base their views of creation or other aspects of the universe on empirical, scientific data, but that God accommodated his inspiration of the Bible to the understanding of the intended audience of the time. She also gives many examples throughout her book of why the Bible cannot be taken literally, including the inconsistencies between the Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 creation accounts.
Margaret Gray Towne presents a number of interesting insights along the way, such as "Creationists see truth as something already possessed, while scientists see truth as something to be pursued . . . Creationists' research consists of conforming data to the answer. What appears to falsify their belief is ignored."
In Chapter 9 (Creationism and the Evolutionary Response), she gives the Creationist and Theistic Evolutionist perspectives on 34 issues, including Scriptural Authority, Noah's Flood, Dinosaurs Contemporary with Humans, Catastrophism Rather than Uniformitarianism, Dating Methods, the Fossil Record, etc.
In Chapter 10 (Questions addressed to Young Earth Creationists), she argues against YEC in the form of 50 questions that can't be answered in a reasonable way in the context of a recent global flood. This is followed by 46 other questions that the creationism model cannot answer.
"In summary, "the Christian community does not need to fear that evolutionary belief renders Jesus' death unnecessary or that it can say anything about sin. This is a totally inaccurate understanding of what evolutionary theory means from a scientific perspective. It means change over time. It says nothing about purpose, sin, a creator or a savior. It is not philosophy or religion . . ."
There are no footnotes and, unfortunately, no index, but there is an extensive "Additional Reading" list after each of the first nine chapters.
I recommend this book for anyone interested in the compatibility of biological evolution and the Bible. It is available from PublishAmerica and can be ordered from any bookstore.
on December 14, 2009
While I agree with the main thesis of the author, it seems that she sets up a straw-men in several places that most YEC do not adhere to.( ex: "Creationists affirm fixity of species, p216). This will certainly "close-off" any further reading for them. Further , I wish she spent more space on the central issue of how Genesis SHOULD be read by giving detailed exegesis etc. As she says..if Genesis is " read right" there will be no problem ( maybe she will do a sequel on this topic!)
On the positive side, she does a excellent job of showing why YEC Flood Geology is totally wrong. Her critique of YEC's "evidence" is very good. And I like the way she extracts areas of agreement that really show what the Bible is about in the first place. So , I give it a "B" on content. The "minus" comes from lack of footnotes etc.
It is a rare find to have such an all-encompassing understanding of both the theology and science of this contentious issue. Margaret Towne is uniquely qualified to address both sides of the debate, and she does it thoroughly. If you are a biologist or theologian, you may find some of this to be pedantic- but this book is not written for you. Dr. Towne is attempting to assist the general public who have a limited understanding of science and biology and theology, to understand the real meaning of Genesis.
To do this, she details the histories of science, the Bible, and theology, and where these fields of study are today. She discusses the overwhelming evidence for evolution, and how to do correct exegesis, historical and literary criticism. She takes us through the very human development of the Old Testament Canon, and all of the primary beliefs of the Literal Creationists. As someone who was once a Literal Creationist before God revealed the Light of evolution, I found her arguments gentle and convincing for the person I once was.
Dr. Towne's focus could be tweaked at times. A discussion of the canonization of the New Testament would have been helpful. Likewise, though she mentions Old Earth Creationism and spends some time on Intelligent Design, too often her arguments seem to assume an exclusivity of Young Earth Creationism. But these minimal failings are outweighed by both the breadth and depth of this work. I have read many books in the genre of Theistic Evolution, and this is one of the best, if not the best, in explaining for the uninformed all of the nuances of both the biology and theology. Were it possible to convince a Literal Creationist, this book would do so.
on October 2, 2013
If you want a balanced overview written by someone who has been trained both as a biologist and a theologian, this is the book for you. The viewpoint presented is that evolution is a fact, even if we are not yet certain of all the mechanisms involved; and that acceptance of evolution can be perfectly compatible with a religious faith, provided that one does not insist on a literal interpretation of religious texts. The book covers both the scientific and religious perspectives.