Quick Quiz. How many books do you think possess all of the following characteristics?
- Promotes the compatibility between biological evolution and an Evangelical expression of the Christian faith
- Is a non-academic work targeted at a popular reading level
- Was published in North America prior to 2003
The Ten Books
1. Richard Colling, Random Designer (2004)
2. Darrel Falk, Coming to Peace with Science (2004)
3. David Wilcox, God and Evolution (2004)
4. Stephen Godfrey and Christopher Smith, Paradigms on Pilgrimage (2005)
5. Owen Gingerich, God’s Universe (2006)
6. Francis Collins, The Language of God (2007)
7. Gordon Glover, Beyond the Firmament (2007)
8. Deborah and Loren Haarsma, Origins (2007)
9. Karl Giberson, Saving Darwin (2008)
10. Denis Lamoureux, Evolutionary Creation (2008)
Why did Evangelicals have to wait so long to receive this type of book? Why did this mini-explosion of books occur now? Why is the author profile for all these books nearly identical (they are almost all scientists)? Allow me to provide my own speculations.
What this Tells Me
1. Evolutionary Creationism (EC) is no longer a radical fringe position within the Evangelical community. We have a dozen well-educated Evangelicals who defend both Christian and scientific orthodoxy, and who have invested the time and energy to communicate science/faith compatibility to the typical Evangelical in the pew. The scholarly dialogue phase regarding the scientific merits of biological evolution within the mainstream evangelical scientific community may be practically complete; we are now in a phase where this community is communicating their (majority?) consensus to their Christian brothers and sisters who are less comfortable with scientific discussions.
2. This communication to the masses is however, very, very recent. Even 10 years ago, North American Evangelicals would have had a tough time finding any popular level discussion that was even sympathetic to an EC view, let alone one that actively promoted it. Now Evangelicals can pick and choose among several options. So, to those EC’s that are frustrated with the pace of the acceptance of EC ideas I say: “Please be patient, we have only started to get this message out.”
3. Notwithstanding this consensus among Evangelical scientists, there is a huge gap within the Evangelical academic community. (See also the historical perspective & future directions post by Ted Davis). Whereas the discussion among evangelical scientists is relatively mature, the discussion among biblical scholars is just beginning. As to Evangelical theologians, do they even realize that there is a discussion?
What we need to do
1. The time is past for lamenting the lack of sound scientific resources on the topic of biological evolution from a distinctly Evangelical perspective. We probably have all that we really need. What we should be doing is promoting the resources that are already available.
2. Given that this reconciliation within the Evangelical community is so recent, and that the past conflict was so harsh, those of us that are comfortable with an EC perspective need to exhibit a spirit of understanding, patience and love when discussing these issues with other Evangelicals (see also particularly Richard Colling’s recent post on this topic).
3. Finally, we need to do something to wake up the Evangelical theological community. As I have said in the past, it is not sufficient for theologians to explain historic theological approaches that may have been appropriate for Christians in ages past. For the good of our faith we also need approaches that make sense of our modern and post-modern world. And the relationship between science and faith (and evolution & faith in particular) is one of the most salient issues causing angst among modern & post-modern Evangelicals.