Laying Down Arms to Heal the Creation-Evolution Divide.
This book calls on conservative evangelical Christians to take seriously the well-supported scientific understanding that all living things are the result of an evolutionary process continuing over millions of years, never disrupted by a relatively recent global flood. The scientific community is also called on to be sensitive to people's spirituality when science is being taught. The author has excellent qualifications for this task: he is emeritus professor of biology at Butte College, Oroville, CA, with over thirty years of award-winning experience teaching biology, earned his PhD in ornithology at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and is active in his congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.
After the foreword by Darrel R. Falk, former President of the BioLogos Foundation, which expresses the book's intent, Fugle opens with his testimony. Having lost interest in church as a youth, he came to faith in adulthood and is now convinced that both creation and evolution are true. Fugle affirms evolutionary creation and rejects spontaneous creation happening in either a young or old earth, as well as intelligent design, arguing that these concepts can turn people away from faith or prevent believers from understanding science.
Part II argues that an earth created recently but appearing old is deceptive. Fugle also argues that pain and physical death were not absent from the original very good creation. Spiritual death, not physical death, resulted from the fall of humankind. He uses a variety of writings from Augustine through the Reformers to nineteenth- and twentieth-century evangelicals to support his position. Part III focuses on scientists and science education, arguing that methodological naturalism does not exclude God from life, as philosophical naturalism does. Furthermore, science and faith cannot be nonoverlapping magisteria, because the natural world is a subset of all reality over which God is sovereign. Fugle explains why young earth creationism (YEC) and intelligent design (ID) must not be taught as science. However, he asks for religious sensitivity from science educators. Unfortunately, educators outside the church are unlikely to pick up this book and get that message.
Having prepared readers to understand why evolution is important, Fugle describes how homology, fossils, biogeography, molecular genetics, and evolutionary mechanisms are explained by evolutionary theory in Part IV. He argues that YEC lacks this explanatory power. To help those with little background in science, Fugle uses well-known animals--especially whales--as examples. Part V addresses how the scriptural accounts of creation, the fall, and Noah's flood can be understood so that Christians can avoid being misled by advocates of YEC or ID. He offers as a precedent the way teachings on the heavenly bodies were reinterpreted after science showed that the solar system is centered on the sun. While the early chapters of Genesis can be seen as entirely figurative or symbolic, Fugle believes it is better to consider that historical people and events underlie them, and he favors the option "that Adam was singly taken aside by God from physically evolved humans and the image of God was divinely imparted to him." Later, humans abused the creation, and its "bondage to decay" (Romans 8:21) relates to their sinful, corrupt actions, rather than to the normal mechanisms of nature, which should not be regarded as dysfunctional. He suggests that the account of Noah's flood may have its basis in an inundation of the floodplain around the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and that Sunday school lessons picturing pairs of animals coming from all over the world to the ark are inaccurate and can lead either to mistrust of science or to questioning the foundations of Christian faith. Finally, Fugle closes with a brief Part VI as a summary. He uses three hundred references (nine from ASA sources), and over one hundred scriptural passages are cited. The book includes a six-page index.
Laying Down Arms to Heal the Creation-Evolution Divide is good medicine to apply to a sore area in the church. Among books advocating evolutionary creation, it has particular strengths: a strong concern for evangelism and pastoral care, practical advice for education both Christian and secular, and a lovingly respectful but firm attitude to readers who may be skeptical. Sensible solutions to difficulties with certain passages in the New Testament are offered. The book focuses on central issues, so that some topics, such as longevity of the patriarchs, are not discussed. Sharing his excitement and joy in knowing God better by understanding the wonders of evolution, Fugle succeeds in showing why evolutionary creation is a "wholly accurate, encompassing and positive view." ASA members should get this book into their church libraries, and encourage their pastors to read it.
Reviewed by Charles E. Chaffey, Professor Emeritus, Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 3E5.
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|Author:||Chaffey, Charles E.|
|Publication:||Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2015|
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