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And God said, "Let there be evolution!": Reconciling the Book of Genesis, the Qur'an, and the Theory of Evolution Paperback – May 21, 2011
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About the Author
Arthur W. Wiggins is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Physics.
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From my conservative Christian perspective, a pleasant surprise was the writings from Rabbi David Kay. His Jewish perspective was refreshing, informative, and a surprisingly easy and enjoyable read. Even from my perspective as a scientist with an interest in philosophy, evolution and the Christian faith, the writings were invigorating.
The writings of Howard Van Till in this book should be read with caution by those not knowledgeable with Christian apologetics. I say this as a great fan of his earlier writings and recognizing that this man has oftentimes been unfairly criticized by Christians not fully understanding the science and philosophy behind his Christian writings. In fact, I believe his 1996 article on the Doctrine of Creation's Functional Integrity published in `Science and Christian Belief' to be a must-read for any Christian interested in science or evolution. I also commend Mr. Van Till for his well written and honest perspectives written in this effort. With this said, my caution is that Christians should not be misled by his liberal Christian perspective into believing that one cannot be an intellectually fulfilled scientist from a conservative Christian perspective and believe in evolution. While Mr. Van Till does briefly describe a conservative view within his "Fully Gifted Creation Perspective", he then provides arguments why this cannot be...that are not persuasive. In the section, Evolution: A Thought-Provoking Concept, he asks, "So did God know that we, the species called Homo sapiens, were coming? That seems unlikely to me." As many students of Physics would retort: How could a God that resides outside of our universe and outside of time not know we were coming? How could the almighty Christian God, who spoke the universe into existence and made his word flesh not have known were coming? I sincerely hope that Howard Van Till still believes in the Gospel and the unseen, since his writings and online debates have been a blessing to my walk.
With all this said, a worthy effort by noble men; both the editors and the authors. I recommend this book for reading by those well grounded in their faith.
The first half of the book, which discusses the evidence for planetary and biological evolution, is interesting but not as strong. All readers will presumably be interested in religion, but not all will be interested in science, and I think this section could have been summed up more succinctly. Ten pages for each of the three writers would have been sufficient.
The second half, however, is superb. Let me give you a sampling of each writer.
Christian scientist Howard Van Till: Howard has learned to respect scripture in a new way. Claims of divine inspiration and infallibility are unwarranted. Many people, he surmises, will find this disappointing. But for him, it "feels like a load has been taken off my shoulders." He now recognizes the Bible as "storied theology," creatively crafted stories shaped by a deeply theological agenda.
Trying to reconcile Genesis with what we now know about our origins is "wrong, wrong, wrong. This wonderful bit of dramatized theology should never be mistaken for some primitive version of Big Bang cosmology." Concordism, says Howard, is a failed strategy.
Jewish scientist David Kay: We are wrong to dismiss our ancient ancestors as primitives. These guys knew the rains came (or didn't) regardless of the faithfulness of their fellow Hebrews. Readers of the Torah back in the day knew better than to take it literally, but rather sought in its pages a deeper lesson.
"If reality doesn't conform to Scripture, don't assume either is wrong: the problem isn't reality or Scripture; the problem is your own understanding of one, the other, or most likely both." Rabbinic interpretation finds ways to understand sacred text that are both reverent and relevant.
Muslim scientist T. O. Shanavas: Thankfully for more conservative readers, they may find more of a kindred spirit in Shanavas, who definitely believes in the Genesis story. Not that Shanavas disagrees with evolution; on the contrary, he argues convincingly that the Qur'an describes our evolutionary beginnings much more directly than the Hebrew Bible. Genesis is accurate, but Adam and Eve should be understood not as a story of biological origin. Adam was the first spiritual man.
Prepare to be astounded as Shanavas digs up ancient Muslim thinker after thinker who describes natural selection and the creation of man in evolutionary terms. These guys pre-dated Darwin by as much as a thousand years! Yikes, while we Christians were fumbling around in the dark ages, were the Muslims beating us to the punch? Many of us still remain in the dark, and it's time we realized that, in a number of ways, we can remain Muslims/Christians/Jews without rejecting the scientific discoveries which should leave us in awe of our world.