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Darwin's Forgotten Defenders: The Encounter Between Evangelical Theology and Evolutionary Thought Paperback – September, 1987
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From Library Journal
Tracing the Christian response to evolution from the mid-19th century to the present, Livingstone finds accommodation to have been more common than confrontation. Nineteenth-century theologians concentrated upon reconciling evolutionary thought with the existence of a Divine plan for the universe. It was only with the rise of Fundamentalism, which saw evolutionary theory as an attack upon the authority of scripture and as yet another of the modern forces demolishing society's old values, that a split between religion and science developed. Hence, Livingstone concludes, this split is not necessary. While not as comprehensive as James R. Moore's The Post-Darwinian Controveries ( LJ 7/79), this is an excellent work. D. Stephen Rockwood, Mount Saint Mary's Coll. Lib., Emmitsburg, Md.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
He states in the Preface, "In this book I have tried to re-create some of the facts of the evangelical encounter with Darwinian evolution... My ambition has been to let the characters speak for themselves in the hope of preventing selection from degenerating into distortion." He adds in the Introduction, "The time is ripe to question the assumption that creationists bear the imprimatur of evangelical orthodoxy on the issue of evolution... My claim is that while no evaluation has gone uncontested, there has been a remarkable assimilation of the evolutionary perspective by evangelical scholars."
Concerning the famed Princeton theologian B.B. Warfield (see his The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield (Vols. 1-10)), Livingstone writes, "Warfield certainly lamented the spiritually disruptive effects of the theory of evolution on its chief advocate, and he expressed his annoyance at Darwin's absolutist claims for his natural selection mechanism. But this must not be allowed to conceal the fact that Warfield remained enthusiastic about the theory as a natural law operating under the control of Providence."
Augustus Strong in his Systematic Theology strongly supported evolution, stating that "evolution is but the basis, foundation and background of Christianity, the silent and regular working of him who, in the fulness of time, utters his voice in Christ and the cross."
About James Orr (who contributed several essays to The Fundamentals - A Testimony to the Truth - 4 Volumes (4 Volume Set)), Livingstone writes, "Orr was repeatedly at pains to point out that the theory of evolution ought not to be equated with its specifically Darwinian formulation. He never for a moment doubted that evolution had occurred and that it operated under the universal reign of natural law."
Concerning preeminent "young earth/worldwide flood" creationist Henry Morris's book Men of Science Men of God: Great Scientists of the Past Who Believed the Bible, Livingstone states, "by excluding so many prominent evangelical evolutionists from the work, Morris is giving a distorted picture of their historical significance within the conservative Christian tradition."
Livingstone concludes on the note, "the realization that evangelicals have played an honorable role in the world of science should help undermine the image of a violent death-struggle between science and Christianity and at the same time expose as sheer myth the assumption that reactionary religion has always stood in the way of radical science."
David Livingstone has written an important work because it teaches 3 important lessons relevant to the origins debate: 1. Evangelicals often misunderstand what is and what is not at stake in the evolution debate. 2. The issue of reconciling science and Christianity is far more complex than the either/or categories evangelicals often use. 3. History is full of valuable arguments and insights that remain relevant to the issue today. Evangelicals must look to the past as more than ammo to "disprove" evolution.
The title of this book is a little deceptive. Evangelicals have always (and rightfully) been uncomfortable about evolution. Livingstone does not tell a one-sided history. Instead, he delves into the lively intellectual response to Darwin. Especially intriguing is the reaction to evolution in Princeton. There we discover "the Fundamentals" contributor B.B. Warfield held to both a theistic evolutionary scheme of creation AND inerrancy!
Livinstone is masterful in telling the historical evangelical reaction to Charles Darwin and evolutionary thought. A must-read for anyone who is frustrated by the nonsensical rantings of modern antievolutionism.