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Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution Paperback – October, 2007
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This book is an absolute must-read book for every young-earth creationist speaker before he steps into the pulpit of another church with non-scientists in the pews. The authors are well-trained scientists, and passionate about their view of the inerrancy of Scripture. --Dr. Ken Wolgenmuth
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Under Interpretations of Genesis, the Haarsmas (professors in the Physics and Astronomy Department at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan) present and discuss Young Earth, Gap, Day-Age, Appearance of Age, Visionary Day, Proclamation Day and Ancient Near East Cosmology interpretations, along with "Creation Poem" and "Kingdom-Covenant" interpretations. The latter two interpretations both seem to be virtually identical to the Framework Interpretation of Meredith Kline et al., yet there is no reference to the Framework Interpretation, either in the text, the table or the bibliography, which I find surprising and unnecssarily confusing.
Under Views on Origins, the Haarsmas present and discuss Young Earth Creation, several flavors of Progressive Creation, and several flavors of Evolutionary Creation, as well as Intelligent Design.
The book has questions for reflection and discussion and a brief bibliography at the end of each chapter, but no index. It contains numerous references to short supplemental articles or additional examples located on a particular web site. Personally, I would have greatly preferred that this material be included as sidebars or additional appendices.
Overall, I found "Origins" to be a good introduction to the wide spectrum of Christian views, although, compared to other books on the same subject, it does have a relatively weak treatment of the implications of original sin on the various views presented.
This book is aimed squarely at that reader, and presents a dialogue on the issues in a very non-confrontational tone. For this reason I can highly recommend it as a "first read" on the topic. That said, I learned a few things, even after having studied science and various theological positions for many years.
I found it especially interesting that the authors are professors at Calvin college and include quotes from John Calvin (the Reformer) throughout the book. Why? Many of the most hard-core six-day creationists today follow the teachings of John MacArthur, himself a Calvinist. So this may be an eye-opener to some of them who aren't actually familiar with Calvin's own writings.
It's short -- you can easily read this in a day or two. It's a good book to pass along to friends or family.
They establish very convincing arguments for an old earth, common ancestry, and (perhaps most controversially) the evolution of humans from primate ancestors. I must admit that I found their case extremely persuasive. As a Christian, I was initially reluctant to entertain the possibility that we humans have descended from apes, since it goes against centuries of theological teaching. But the science that the authors present--including such evidences as hominid fossils and genetic comparisons--is solid enough to make me change my mind.
My one reservation about their position is over how evolutionary creationism would affect natural theology. The Bible teaches that God's existence and power are clearly and inexcusably evident in creation (Rom. 1:20). In other words, on the Day of Judgment, no one can plead ignorance, because there is sufficient evidence for God in the natural world. Evolutionary creation seems to undercut that biblical teaching by presenting a view of creation that looks indistinguishable from an atheistic view. Although the authors address that very question (pp. 234-236), their response is rather unsatisfying. They almost make it sound as if we Christians have no choice but to retreat into fideism.
On the other hand, their critiques of the Intelligent Design theory are valid. We need to be careful not to fall into "god-of-the-gaps" arguments, which try to prove God's existence from everything that science can't yet explain. But I still think that a strong case can be made for ID, if it is framed appropriately. After finishing this book, I find myself mostly in the "progressive creationist with common ancestry" camp.
Christians--especially those in preaching/teaching positions--need to read this book. Science had radically changed our understanding of origins over the past several decades, and theologians need to keep up with these developments, so that we can reach a coherent and integrative understanding of God's Word and God's world.
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The authors' standpoint is clear: God, the Creator of this universe, world and man, reveals himself through his Word as...Read more