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Jay Richard's 'God and Evolution' Review

Brett Nichols

Posted on May 25, 2020 01:35

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A review of the 2010 award-winning book edited by Jay Richards that delves into the question if orthodox theism and the mainstream theory of evolution can coexist without conflict. The presented anthology of essays provides a unique voice on the subject of theism and evolution, incorporating philosophy, science, and theology to reveal that a synthesis between all of these fields can be achieved but only through their parting with natural selection.

 

Jay Richards, editor, and contributor to the book is an analytical philosopher and assistant research professor at The Catholic University of America’s school of business and economics. Richards has been featured in documentaries like The Case for a Creator, and The Privileged Planet – as well as co-authoring the book format of the latter with Guillermo Gonzalez. Richards, in addition to several contributors, including mathematician and philosopher William Dembski, biologist Jonathan Wells, John G. West, and several others from different theistic persuasions, come together to share their thoughts on the relationship between the theistic understanding of God and the mechanistic nature of Darwinism.

Structurally, each chapter contends against the position of a prominent author both from inside and outside a religious faith that claims Darwinism and theism can coexist. The first section of the book particularly discusses the general issues found within a Darwinian synthesis within theism, particularly in light of many academic circles pushing the idea that a theist can maintain consistent theology while believing in Neo-Darwinism. Some perspectives challenged in the section are those of the Geneticist Francis Collins, Evolutionary creationist Dennis Lamoureux, and philosopher of science Michael Ruse.

The other sections each focus on a particular theistic religion in light of Darwinism, beginning with Protestantism, then Catholicism, and ending lastly with Judaism. While all the sections typically agree that evolution (common descent, change to survive) does not necessarily conflict with theistic religion, they all ultimately protest that Darwinism’s primary mechanism of natural selection is strenuous to reconcile with the traditional theistic belief of an intentional existence; humanity being made in the "image of God", and "the fall" of humankind due to a wilfulness to do wrong.

While many other books focus on purely theological aspects when discussing a believed conflict between theism and evolution, God and Evolution also set its lens as well on the science and the philosophy of the theory of non-guided evolution in an attempt to show the veracity of intelligent design. Topics included exhibit the analysis of semantic data found within DNA, the fine-tuning of the universe, to the evolution (no pun intended) of the philosophy and methodology of science. This is all to show that Darwinism, while having great explanatory power, doesn't completely fulfill its central goal of accurately explaining all phenomena within a reductionist framework.

God and Evolution’s intended audience is for those that are stuck in the middle as to whether an orthodox interpretation of theistic doctrine and Darwinism can contrast or correlate. However, those either for or against the position (wherever their religious or non-religious background may reside) will find this book to have unique insights on both modern scientific culture and historical orthodox religion as well.

Overall, while some of its more scientific and philosophical discussion may fly over some reader’s heads. In addition to a very lofty goal, this book presents an interesting middle-ground within the science and religion debate.

Brett Nichols

Posted on May 25, 2020 01:35

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I am embarrassed by the Utah Board of Education’s efforts to put pseudoscience in high school curricula. Anyone who doesn’t...

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