Cover Story

Books of the Year

"Books of the Year" Continued...

Issue: "2011 Books of the Year," July 2, 2011

The problem, though, is that many theistic evolutionists should rightly be called deistic evolutionists, since they believe that God created the first life-form and then left the rest to standard Darwinian processes. Theoretically a theistic evolutionist could also believe in God's creation of each of the trillions and quadrillions of mutations that led to today's world, but that would also be rewriting the Bible-and we're still left with the issue of Adam and Eve's direct creation. In any event, mathematician Bill Dembski sums up well the standard TE position: "Theistic evolution takes the Darwinian picture of the biological world and baptizes it."

And so we come to our co-Books of the Year-one American, one British, because the push for Darwin is strong on both sides of the Atlantic. (Britain's Bible Society distributed copies of the TE tome Rescuing Darwin to 20,000 church leaders, and the Anglican Church published an official apology to Darwin for challenging his theory 150 years ago.)

Should Christians Embrace Evolution? (published first in England, republished in the United States by P&R in May, and edited by British medical geneticist Norman Nevin) contains excellent theological essays-but given the influence of Francis Collins, the more influential essays may be those that undermine the contention that genome mapping shows irrefutably that man and great apes had common ancestors.

In one of the essays, scientist Geoff Barnard notes, "the wide variety of chromosomal variations that clearly exist between the human and chimpanzee, dictate against the thesis that these species have common ancestry." In another, Nevin and Phil Hills show that "the fused chromosome is unique to the human and is not found in the great apes . . . the numerous chromosomal variations between the human and chimpanzee suggest that these species do not have common ancestry."

Barnard takes on what theistic evolutionists like to claim as evidence of evolution, "junk DNA." He notes, "It is becoming increasingly apparent that non-protein coding DNA, including the pseudogenes, may perform important biological roles." Nevin emphasizes from the fossil record what theistic evolutionists tend to skip by, the Cambrian explosion: That's when "many animal forms and body plans (representing new phyla, subphyla and classes) arose in a brief geological period. The evidence points to the appearance of many new animal forms and body plans . . . with no fossil evidence that they branched off from common ancestors."

The irony in the current TE surge, as former Westminster Chapel pastor R.T. Kendall points out, is that "science is always changing. A scientific dictionary nowadays is out of date in ten years, and yet theologians keep running after modern science." Our other co-Book of the Year, God and Evolution (Discovery Institute Press), also notes that Collins' assertions several years ago concerning "junk DNA" have already been shown to be erroneous: This "junk" regulates the timing of DNA replication, tags sites that need their genetic material rearranged, guides RNA splicing and editing, helps chromosomes fold properly, and regulates embryo development.

Collins, since he is the leader of those who recycle concepts of God as divine watchmaker rather than creator, receives ample criticism from God and Evolution editor Jay Richards. When Collins complains of those who portray "the Almighty as a clumsy Creator, having to intervene at regular intervals to fix the inadequacies of His own initial plan," Richards wonders why it would be beneath God's dignity to be involved in the world: "Perhaps He desires a world that is more like a violin than a self-winding watch, an instrument he can play. . . . Maybe He wants a world that exhibits a certain predictable regularity, but is by no means closed to His direct influence. . . . Maybe God is like a hobbyist, who enjoys having a 'work in progress.'"

Molecular biologist Jonathan Wells similarly turns on its head the frequent TE claim that growing scientific knowledge squeezes more and more the position of those who rely on God to explain mysteries. Wells writes, "Instead of supporting Darwinian evolution, the new DNA evidence actually undercuts it. Indeed, the more we learn about our genome, the less tenable Darwin's theory becomes. Collins is clinging to a 'Darwin of the gaps' position that becomes more precarious with each new discovery."

Should Christians Embrace Evolution? and God and Evolution are both worth reading, but are they the very best books published since last June? Hard to be definitive on that, but they are both at the center of the biggest current battle both among Christians and between Christian and anti-Christian thought. As University of Chicago atheist Jerry Coyne declares, "to make evolution palatable to Americans, you must show that it is not only consistent with religion, but also no threat to it." Theistic evolutionists are the pointed end of Darwinians' wedge strategy: By making evolution "theistic" Darwinians hope to divide Christian against Christian.

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