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Showing 1-9 of 9 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 17 reviews
on August 4, 2008
This book is primarily for Christians who are seeking a better understanding of the current creation-evolution debate. The author, who is the Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, St. Edmund's College, Cambridge, begins by assuming that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God.

Dr. Alexander then tackles his subject systematically, starting with biblical interpretation, then the biblical doctrine of creation, then three chapters on "What do we mean by evolution?" His discussion of the supporting evidence for evolution is the best and most up-to-date that I've yet seen in the popular press. He then spends a chapter defending evolution against common objections, such as:
* Evolution is a chance process and this is incompatible with the God of the Bible bringing about his purposeful plan of creation.
* The theory of evolution is not truly scientific because it does not involve repeatable experiments in the laboratory.
* Evolution runs counter to the second law of thermodynamics.
* Perhaps God makes things took old, although in reality they are much younger, in order to test our faith.
* What use is half an eye?
* Surely if evolution were true, God would have simply told us so in his Word so that we don't need to have all this discussion.
* Perhaps God made the original kinds by special acts of creation which then underwent rapid evolution to generate the species diversity that we see today.

In bringing together Adam & Eve and evolution, he presents the same five models (A-E) that he described in his paper at the joint meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation and Christians-in-Science in Edinburgh in 2007. He favors his Model C, in which "God in his grace chose a couple of Neolithic farmers in the near East . . . to whom he chose to reveal himself in a special way, calling them into fellowship with himself - so that they might know him as a personal God." Model C is consistent with the historical and biblical records. So is a local flood saving those who "walked with God." The calling of Adam & Eve to be the recipients of God's specific commands set the pattern for all the other specific people subsequently called by God for God's specific purpose, including Abraham, Moses and Mary.

In his discussion of death before the Fall, he makes the point that "nowhere in the Old Testament is there the slightest suggestion that the physical death of either animals or humans, after a reasonable span of years, is anything other than the normal pattern ordained by God for this earth."

Chapter 14 (Intelligent Design) does as good a demolition of ID as science as I have seen anywhere, and better than most. He also describes Simon Conway Morris's concept of evolutionary convergence ("Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe").

There is a brief discussion of accommodation (God giving his Word in language that his people could understand), with virtually no mention of Ancient Near East cosmology, which is treated very well in Gordon Glover's "Beyond the Firmament," or the problems of scientific concordism (the Bible teaches the facts of science), which is treated very well in Denis Lamoureux's "Evolutionary Creation". It also has a relatively weak discussion of how we know that the earth is very old, but after all, he is a biochemist. Despite these minor shortcomings, this is an excellent book for Christians, especially Young Earth, Day-Age and Progressive Creationists, who have doubts about their current position but greater doubts about the compatibility of the Bible and biological evolution.

A friend of mine used to say that you have to tell someone something three times before they really get it. If you're like that (or if you're over 65 like me and can't remember what you read last week), I highly recommend reading this book plus Gordon Glover's "Beyond the Firmament" and Denis Lamoureux's "Evolutionary Creation" in order to "get it."
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on July 13, 2014
Dr. Alexander, an evangelical Christian, is the Emeritus Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion. He is also a molecular biologist. In this book, Dr. Alexander covers the Biblical doctrine of creation, Adam and Eve, and the Fall with great care, drawing from numerous sections of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. He examines the history of Christian thought on creation, salvation, and how God acts within the world. Turning to science, he examines the evidence for evolution of life over time, and of the common ancestry of life, including the fossil record and DNA evidence, and makes an excellent case for God having used evolution. He also makes a compelling argument why the Intelligent Design movement is making a serious error of category. Throughout this entire book, Dr. Alexander gives heartfelt glory to God for what He reveals in the Bible and within the universe He created.
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on May 29, 2013
Originally I thought that maybe this book was saying that how God created the many species on Earth was not an important thing for many followers of Jesus to decide. Although this is true, Alexander's point is that the evidence is very strong for God being the creator of the universe and being the creator of the evolutionary process.

Much of the book is a discussion of Genesis, Adam and Eve, death, other views of creation which followers of Jesus have, etc.

The book is well written, the ideas are very logical and well presented. There is some science, but not a large percentage of the book. This book can help one who disagrees be more empathetic to the position of evolutionary creationists.

One of the ideas I had not thought of before is on page 330, "...so it is possible that here we have an 'atheism-of-the-gaps' type of argument in which atheists seek to support their disbelief in God based on interpretations of scientific data which appears initially plausible due to lack of knowledge about the data, but appear less believable as our understanding of the process - in this case the evolutionary process - become more complete." (Although some vocal atheists use the argument referred to, it may be that many do no.)
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on July 13, 2012
This book is written by a man well qualified to discuss both sides of the creation-evolution debate. A strong evangelical Christian who is committed to the authority of Scripture as God's Word, he is also a biochemist within the Cambridge University community and brings to the discussion a strong background in genetics. Denis Alexander shows that one can be a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and still accept the discoveries and understandings of modern science, as the two really do not conflict.

Rather than provide a chapter-by-chapter review, I'll instead mention the points that I found most powerful. Dr. Alexander discusses radioactive dating methods and refutes the young-earth creationist contention that they are based on circular reasoning, explaining that radioactive dating is accurate to within about 2%. So, if the age of the earth is estimated at about 4.6 billion years, it may actually be anywhere between about 4.5 billion and 4.7 billion. But it's not 6,000! He points out that more than one type of chemical element can be tested, so when two or more radioactive dating methods yield approximately the same age for a rock, we can be very confident that we have an accurate estimate.

Bringing his scientific training to bear on human evolution, Dr. Alexander discusses at length just what DNA is and how it works. Later on in the book, he draws on this information to show that, far from being a process blindly driven by random chance as creationists claim, evolution is actually very much a constrained and directed process that unfolds along a small number of pathways.

A good part of the book is devoted to dealing with young-earth creationism and "intelligent design." Doubtless many creationists will accuse Dr. Alexander of creating straw men in these sections, but I think he tries to deal fairly with both young-earth creationism and intelligent design. One of his more devastating criticisms regarding the former is that, having argued that evolution could not occur over even billions of years, young-earth creationists are forced to maintain that it occurred in just a few thousand years after the Genesis flood as the various "kinds" branched out across the earth. He points out the inherent moral and theological problem in believing in a God of truth who created the universe only 6,000 years ago, yet made it in such a way as to make us think that it's actually 13.7 billion years old. As regards intelligent design, Dr. Alexander points out that the linchpin of "irreducible complexity" is really not an obstacle because organisms often evolve redundant genes, proteins, organs or whatever. Once enough of the various parts have become available, it's a simple thing to put them together to make an eye, or a bacterial flagellum, or whatever. He points out that intelligent design becomes, in effect, another "God of the gaps" theory in which everything that science can't yet explain somehow becomes irrefutable evidence for creation, intelligent design or whatever. This is dangerous ground for Christians, for all that is needed is for science to discover an answer to any mystery and their position then becomes discredited.

One other point that strongly impressed me was the wide diversity of viewpoints within Church history before Darwin concerning Genesis. Not until Darwin came upon the scene did Christians begin insisting upon the fundamentalist interpretation of Genesis. Augustine argued against dogmatism in this area on the grounds that if new knowledge came to light, it would be foolish for the Church to insist upon converts adhering to an understanding of origins that they knew to be wrong. Origen dismissed the literal "day" theory of Genesis, arguing instead for a spiritual or figurative understanding. Both these men lived long before the time of Darwin, so could not possibly have been influenced by him.

Dr. Alexander lists five different ways of understanding Adam and Eve. Whether one agrees with any of them or not, at least Dr. Alexander makes an attempt to deal with what is obviously a major issue for Christian theology. Perhaps the framework he presents will lead to a great deal of fruitful discussion on this question.

I would like to speak to Christians who may be having trouble with this whole issue. All truth is God's truth; there is nothing that you should be afraid to examine or to grapple with. The Nicene Creed speaks of "God the Father, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things, visible and invisible." There is no reason why God could not have chosen to employ evolution in his creation and designing of the universe. The ancient Hebrews lived in a simple, pre-modern agricultural society in which nuclear physics would have been completely unfathomable (a lot of us don't really understand it, either). For God to have described creation using modern science would have meant going completely over their heads. (Ditto for the Church Fathers, the Protestant Reformers and many others). There are great spiritual truths in Genesis that we completely miss because we're so concerned with whether everything is literally true.

I happen to accept evolution as an accurate explanation of the origin of life, but I also have no problem believing also in the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. If I'm going to argue with an unbeliever about something, I'll gladly cede the point of evolution and focus instead on the Resurrection. Acknowledging the obvious can actually strengthen our credibility with unbelievers and allow us a hearing on the subject of the Gospel.
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on June 28, 2010
Like Drs. Kenneth Miller and Francis Collins, Alexander is a scientist and an avid theistic evolutionist. All three have written about their religious experiences from their respective personal views. Alexander however, also brings an uncommon depth of scholarly religious knowledge to bear on the subject of theistic evolution. As a result, I find his argument the most compelling that I've seen so far.

He has created a well ordered, information-rich exposition that is worthy of reading straight through from the beginning: his comfortable writing style makes it easy to do so. That said, his Chapter 7, "What about Genesis?", really gets to the heart of the matter; namely, should the Genesis creation account be taken literally or figuratively?

As Alexander points out, Bible literalism is a rather recent cultural phenomenon. Regardless, its proponents argue their position passionately, albeit without the support of history - or simple logic. In fact, if only logic were necessary to win over the Bible literalists, Alexander's argument for a figurative reading would be a slam-dunk. But the tenacity with which they cling to their belief strongly suggests a deep emotional basis rather than an intellectual one.

I am a theistic evolutionist, but I would have rejected a literal reading, even if I weren't, based on just this one verse: "And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him." (Gen 2:20, KJV) Read literally, this verse says my omniscient Lord was clueless, thinking some animal might be a suitable help meet for Adam. Simple logic tells me this is not what the writer intended to convey.

Alexander is also - and primarily - arguing the case for theistic evolution, which is doubly hard in this context. First, because evolution theory refutes a literal reading of Genesis, it is anathema to all Bible literalists - whatever their chosen appellation -- creationist, intelligent design proponent, and the like. Second, the understanding of evolution theory that would necessarily precede acceptance is woefully lacking, especially in the US populace.

In short, Alexander has chosen, colloquially, a "tough row to hoe". I laud him for his effort to combat Bible literalism, but I'm afraid that those who could most benefit from his book are the least likely to read it.
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on January 22, 2013
I am really enjoying reading this book. It has given me a lot to think about. The author is very thorough in his discussion of topics and he has answered most of my questions. What I like about the book is that in the sections on DNA he explains things in great detail, but in such a way that a lay person with a good grasp of high school biology can understand. He has really helped me solidify my beliefs. This is a written as a treatise to Christians explaining the evolutionary creationism viewpoint.
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on July 18, 2013
Very refreshing for Christians ( or anyone) who don't have a background in biology or science, but find Creationism suffocating.
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on April 15, 2013
Whilst I certainly don't agree with all of Alexander's conclusions, I think that this book remains a well informed, articulate, wide ranging and sincere contribution to the debate concerning evolution and Christianity. Get your copy today!
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on February 29, 2012
This is a very helpful book, by an experienced scientist and convinced Christian. Fascinating to read, with the clear information about the evidence for evolution and what goes on in living cells etc. Also sound about the nature of the Bible and the centre of its message. Should be more widely known.
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