Evolution: A Reflection on Faith and Science
Evolution. Many followers of Christ cringe at the sound of that word. Generally speaking within Evangelical circles, this word is shrouded with images of all things atheistic. According to Christians who accept the science of evolution (e.g., the contributors in this volume), this is most often accompanied by inaccurate understandings of evolutionary biology. In addition to that, there is a general fear among Evangelicals of venturing into tough questions that have the potential of causing us to rethink faith-related topics on a large scale.
Nonetheless, there are many Christians who have far less trouble accepting Scripture’s authority and the findings of science. How I Changed My Mind About Evolution: Evangelicals Reflect on Faith and Science is a collection of 25 essays by scientists, biblical scholars, pastors, and theologians/philosophers who all love and follow Jesus Christ, accept the authority of Scripture, and accept the findings of evolutionary biology. (Many refer to this as “evolutionary creationism”–i.e., God created everything through an evolutionary process, which he was, indeed, sovereign over.)
A benefit of this volume is the broad spectrum of contributors (scientists, pastors, etc.), as well as the length of the essays. It is rare for an essay to exceed 5-7 pages. Additionally, although How I Changed My Mind About Evolution comes from the academic imprint of IVP, it is not a typical “academic” book (with hundreds of footnotes and detailed arguments about evolutionary creation). That is another great attribute of this volume–the contributors are simply telling the reader about their journey, which certainly adds a personal touch. Like all edited volumes, some essays are great, some are mediocre, and some are subpar.
Most of these essays were written specifically for this volume, with the exception of the essays by Francis Collins and N. T. Wright, which come from previously published works. Additionally, John Ortberg’s essay was adapted from one of his sermons. N. T. Wright’s essay was an especially valuable inclusion within this volume, putting into perspective (through a discussion of the Scopes Trial) the idea that Christians outside of American Evangelical influence have a far easier time accepting scientific findings as well as Scriptural authority.
Another benefit of this volume is the variety of the backgrounds of the contributors. Some grew up with openness to evolutionary biology, some grew up as young-earth creationists; some were (or became) atheists for a period of their life, some grew up as Christians and never left their faith. Despite the variety, there are some common themes throughout these essays. Many of the contributors had to go through tough times trying to figure out how they could reconcile their faith with their growing understanding of the natural world.
Other common themes throughout are:
- God is the author of both Scripture and the natural world, thus the truths of both ought to be compatible;
- all truth–regardless of where it is found and how we, as imperfect humans, come upon it–is God’s truth;
- differing views of human origins by Christians, although coming from different interpretations of (primarily) the early chapters of Genesis, do not change the core of the Christian faith (God is still creator of everything; Scripture is still authoritative; Christ still came through the incarnation, died on the cross, resurrected, and remains the One who was, and is, and is to come).
For Christians who are “closet” evolutionary creationists, this volume can be an encouragement to you. For Christians who accept young-earth creationism, this volume can give you a glimpse into the experiences and thought processes of brothers and sisters in Christ who think differently than you. For Christians who are on the journey of trying to understand how Christian faith and natural science mesh, this volume can be a helpful resource for you.
I don’t expect evolutionary biology to escape the shadow of atheism anytime soon. However, as we grow in our knowledge of the ancient Near Eastern environment in which portions of Scripture were written, and meanwhile grow in our knowledge of the natural world, we are seeing much more openness among Christians to the possibility that God may have, indeed, created through a lengthy process (perhaps an evolutionary process, as these contributors contend). Volumes like How I Changed My Mind About Evolution, and organizations like BioLogos are certainly a step in facilitating that discussion. Every one of the 25 contributors would agree that Christians need not fear the science of the natural world. God is, as we can all agree on, the author of the natural world, as well as Scripture.
*Note: How I Changed My Mind About Evolution is the first volume in IVP’s new “BioLogos Books on Science and Christianity” series.
Application of the Book
- A well-thought out book for leaders to better understand the discussions around evolution and faith.
Common themes throughout the 25 essays:
- God is the author of BOTH Scripture AND the natural world.
- All truth–regardless of where it is found and how we, as imperfect humans, come upon it–is God’s truth.
- Differing views of human origins by Christians, although implementing different interpretations of (primarily) the early chapters of Genesis, does not change the core of the Christian faith–God is still creator of everything; Scripture is still authoritative; Christ still became flesh through the incarnation, died on the cross, resurrected, and remains the One who was, and is, and is to come.
Official Product Description
Perhaps no topic appears as potentially threatening to evangelicals as evolution. The very idea seems to exclude God from the creation the book of Genesis celebrates.
Yet many evangelicals have come to accept the conclusions of science while still holding to a vigorous belief in God and the Bible. How did they make this journey? How did they come to embrace both evolution and faith?
Here are stories from a community of people who love Jesus and honor the authority of the Bible, but who also agree with what science says about the cosmos, our planet and the life that so abundantly fills it.
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