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The Nature of Creation: Examining the Bible and Science (Biblical Challenges in the Contemporary World) Paperback – August 10, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

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"Hardly anyone is qualified, as Mark Harris is, to write professionally about both the biblical sources and the science involved in thinking about creation, so this book is a unique contribution to current debates. It is lucid and accessible, and should refresh and illuminate discussions that sometimes seem to have become tired and stale. A major contribution to the study of science and religion." --John Barton, University of Oxford

"Harris carefully examines the thorny theological issues that are raised when biblical creation accounts are read alongside contemporary evolutionary science. Although the idea of God as Creator suffuses the whole Bible, it is best to read the Bible in conjunction with, and not in opposition to, scientific understandings of the world. Harris's book raises the level of discussion far past arguments about the age of the earth and the provability of intelligent design and shows how scientific developments can sharpen our reading of scriptural cosmologies." - Christian Century

"This careful analysis of biblical materials regarding creation in relationship to the view of modern science should be of great interest and value to anyone concerned with this topic. Highly recommended." - Choice

"Harris's engagement with biblical criticism, informed interaction with philosophical and theological issues, and firm grasp of the current scientific consensus allow him to make a seasoned and carefully nuanced argument that will satisfy scientists, theologians, and biblical scholars and make this book stand out from others in the field." - John Walton, Marginalia Review of Books

"For anyone interested in what the Bible can bring to the sometimes bewildering dialogue between science and theology, Harris's study is a must. His discussion is both lively and lucid." - William P. Brown, Columbia Theological Seminary, USA

About the Author

Mark Harris is Lecturer in Science and Religion at the University of Edinburgh.
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Product Details

  • Series: Biblical Challenges in the Contemporary World
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (August 10, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844657256
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844657254
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #671,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Mark Harris begins by noting that the science-religion debate “has tended to take place on scientific grounds, focusing on the interpretation of scientific data and theories rather than the interpretation of Scripture.” His discussion of creation, God and time, the Fall, original sin, suffering and evil, and eschatology very much takes place on theological grounds.

His discussion of creation includes an extensive discussion of God and time, the three-tiered model of the cosmos, and the relationships of the Big Bang model and biological evolution with God’s transcendence and immanence. He describes Genesis 1 as “a theological portrait of God as creator before it is anything else.” (p. 49)

The best part of the book (for me, at least) was the extensive and helpful discussion of historical Adam, the Fall, and the nature of original sin. Chapter 7 on the Fall is an excellent discussion of current views. It begins with a correct explanation of Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam. Harris notes that Neolithic Adam and homo divinus are entirely theological (as opposed to scientific) distinctions.

Citing Henri Blocher, he suggests that the key interpretive question is whether the apostle Paul regarded Adam and the Fall as historical or not, and whether his theology of atonement requires it. The problem is that, contrary to popular belief, Genesis 2-3 does not say that Adam’s sin actually introduced death into the world. He mentions Augustine’s reliance on a faulty Latin translation of Romans 5:12, reading it as “in whom all sinned,” rather than ”because all sinned” as in the original Greek text.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A superb theological treatment of creation in the Bible and its interaction with modern science. Everyone who wants to engage thoughtfully with the biblical material, rather than simply engage in proof-texting, needs to read this. It provides some very constructive ways forward in the discussion of how the Bible, faith, and science intersect, with implications for a Christian understanding of such things as evolution and an old earth. A very fruitful read. See also my review at http://withmeagrepowers.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/nature-of-creation/.
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Format: Paperback
In his book The Nature of Creation: Examining the Bible and Science, Doctor Mark Harris at New College, Edinburgh makes an important statement about the nature of creation in light of both the Bible and science. His arguments and their strength are as following.
First, Harris points out the very real neglect of the Bible by the science-religion field. The Bible has featured very little both in traditional topics in science-religion (e.g. questions about whether science rules out a personal God, whether evolution excludes God’s existence, whether the universe was created, and whether the universe has a purpose), and in recent topics (e.g. questions about whether humans are truly ‘unique’, questions about extra-terrestrial intelligence and how that might affect our theological assessment of humans, questions about human origins, and questions surrounding the Fall, sin, and the growth of human consciousness). Many science-religion scholars have focused on the conversation between science and theological issues, but Harris directly focuses on the knotty questions raised by biblical texts of creation.

Second, where discussion about creation between science and theology has included the Bible, it has tended to focus on the Genesis account of creation. Harris, however, discusses creation holistically by pointing out that statements about creation appear throughout the Bible, and not just in Genesis. According to Harris, the subject of creation is not isolated within one document or Biblical genre, but is rather present throughout the Bible from Genesis to the book of Revelation, where the former concerns the ‘initial creation’ and the latter concerns the ‘new creation’.
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