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Notable Books | Four books that examine origins reviewed by Marvin Olasky

Issue: "After the revolution," Feb. 26, 2011

The Grand Design

Since the fine-tuning of earth for human life is astoundingly improbable within one universe, the very bright authors run with the current theory that there are not only billions of solar systems but billions of universes: "The multiverse concept can explain the fine-tuning of physical law without the need for a benevolent creator who made the universe for our benefit." Never mind that the far-fetched notion has not even a pinch of evidence: Since even Darwinians recognize the staggering odds against evolution leading to man if only one universe exists, "multiverse" is the way out for those with true atheistic faith.

Oracles of Science: Celebrity Scientists Versus God and Religion

Some think a genius like Hawking must have wisdom, but the authors' profiles of six "celebrity scientists" (Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, Carl Sagan, Steven Weinberg, and Edward O. Wilson) show how atheism twists their thinking. For example, Giberson and Artigas quote Weinberg's famous statement that "the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless." They then note that he means "the progress of science has not revealed a Creator with a cosmic plan for our lives." They then ask the logical questions: "Would this have been a reasonable expectation? Why should we expect to uncover a meaning or a plan for our lives in the laws of science?" The profiles are understandable by those without technical training.

Am I a Monkey? Six Big Questions About Evolution

The Templeton Foundation gave Ayala its $1.4 million top prize last year, but this seventh celebrity scientist, an ex-priest, offers only conventional answers that skip past what should be the central question for Bible-believing Christians: What does the Bible say? Ayala argues that the Bible only informs us about abstract theology; in particular, its account of creation can be discarded "because the Bible contains mutually incompatible statements." Exhibit No. 1 for that statement: "The very beginning of the book of Genesis presents two different creation narratives." C. John Collins undermines that reading.

Genesis 1-4

Covenant Theological Seminary professor C. John Collins contends that Genesis 1 and 2 form one creation narrative, not two. Collins explains how Genesis 1:1 describes the initial creation of all things, and the rest of the chapter narrates God's workdays (that are not necessarily the same length as man's). Genesis 2:5-8 shows that "in some land, at the end of the dry season, when the 'mist' (or rain cloud) was rising to begin the rains, God formed the first man; he then planted a garden in Eden and moved the man there. Some time after that he made the woman." Collins' exegesis is scholarly and careful.

Spotlight

Pro-life and pro-biblical-creation positions bulwark each other. David in Psalm 139 tells God, "You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother's womb. . . . Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well." Those whose souls do not know it well will often have little concern about abortion: What does it matter, one human more or less? But those who see each human's inward parts as intelligently designed are loath to destroy them.

Books on creation and evolution continue to appear because the debate is central to the issue of who we are-and it's too bad that young-earth and old-earth creationists sometimes fight each other. Gorman Gray's The Age of the Universe (Morningstar) could bring together some of those on the two sides. Gray argues for a universe that could be up to 16 billion years old but an earthly biosphere formed in six 24-hour days 6,000-8,000 years ago.

Some seminaries are also using their regular periodicals to explore the intensifying debate. The Winter 2011 issue of Southern Seminary Magazine has "Ex Nihilo" on the cover and, inside, incisive articles by Al Mohler, Russell Moore, Mark Coppenger, and Gregory Wills.

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