The one who first states a case seems right,
until the other comes and cross-examines.
I don’t know how often it happens that a person reads something which actually changes their mind on an issue, but I will say that reading CREATION OR EVOLUTION: DO WE HAVE TO CHOOSE? clarified enough issues in my mind regarding creation and evolution to put me more firmly in one camp in this debate.
A dozen years or so ago I began teaching an Introduction to Religion course at the University of Dayton which had as one of its required readings Genesis 1-3. The students in my class held to a wide range of views on the issues related to creation versus evolution, and their questions and attitudes caused me to constantly reflect on my own beliefs regarding these issues. I previously wrote about my own evolution in thinking on these issues in my blog Christianity and Science.
I held some vague ideas that Genesis 1-3 was true, and that evolution was true, and that these two sets of truth were somehow compatible, though I hadn’t thought out clearly what that meant or even if that was possible. Years of teaching the Introduction to Religion course forced me to investigate more about the claims of evolution, of creationists, of intelligent design advocates, and of what truth meant when applied to Genesis 1-3. I read books defending evolution and others advocating intelligent design. I read more into how the Church has understood and used Genesis 1-3 in its own theology, Christology and soteriology. The reading in Genesis, theology and hermeneutics caused me to realize Genesis 1-3 was not written to be science but was really geared to speak to the question, “For a theist, what does it mean to be human?” Doing a detailed study of the text showed me that reading it absolutely literally was not the best way to understand the text (see my book QUESTIONING GOD).
While I became more informed on the issues, the polemics and the polarization which pervade the creation versus evolution topic, I was willing to live with the ambiguities of how to live with the contradictions which the various points of view represented. The contradictions did not seem to have any real resolution since each author would dismiss the claims of his or her antagonists and no one seemed capable of considering the merits of other points of view.
In CREATION OR EVOLUTION: DO WE HAVE TO CHOOSE, Denis Alexander does a wonderful job of looking at the issues of evolution and creation both from the point of view of science and that of Christianity. Alexander is unabashedly Christian and unapologetically a scientist. He does in his book what I had looked for the longest time to find: he considers both issues, evolution and creation from the two different perspectives of science and Christianity. I found his writings balanced, informative and illuminating. His book is endorsed by the Evangelical great J.I. Packer and by Dr. Francis Collins, Head of the Human Genome Project, USA. He lays out the argument for evolution, and explains the theology of creation and Genesis, and makes an effort to weave the two together. He points the serious scientific shortcomings of intelligent design and shows it to be more a culture war proposition than a scientific one. The evidence for evolution is there, and Alexander makes a strong case for why evolution is not and need not be opposed to Christian thinking on creation, despite the attempts of a few atheists and creation scientists to declare them as incompatible. For me the book removed from my mind notions that there is of necessity an incompatibility between evolution and Christianity. The issues no longer seem ambiguous to me, nor do I feel ambivalent toward them. Truth is truth – scientific truth reveals to us what God is doing just as much as biblical truth does. The antagonism between Christianity and evolution does not need to be there and Denis Alexander shows us why.