Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: Evolution and Christian Faith: Reflections of an Evolutionary Biologist

Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: Evolution and Christian Faith: Reflections of an Evolutionary Biologist

Article excerpt

Review: Evolution and Christian Faith: Reflections of an Evolutionary Biologist By Joan Roughgarden Reviewed by Byron Anderson Northern Illinois University, USA Joan Roughgarden. Evolution and Christian Faith: Reflections of an Evolutionary Biologist. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2006. 155 pp. ISBN: 1-59726-098-3 (hardcover); US$15.95. Printed on recycled, acidfree paper.

Evolution and Christian Faith is about plants, animals, humans and the Bible existing coherently on one planet. It bridges the gap in understanding between evolutionary biology and Christian beliefs. Roughgarden, professor of biological sciences and geophysics (Stanford), believes that evolutionary biology has been poorly presented to the public and that the Bible is often misrepresented in matters of creation. The book is premised on two facts of evolutionary biology, first, all of life is related, symbolically called the one family tree, and second, species change. These do not conflict with the literal text of the Bible.

Roughgarden engages the reader through a first-person account of a Christian teaching evolutionary biology. She insists that "evolutionary science is limited to studying the origin of the body, not the soul or the basis for human dignity" (p. 55), and that "the Bible does not have a scientific end but a religious end" (p. 63). Through DNA, we know that we inherit our bodies from ancestors, including ancestors of other species; we do not inherit our souls from ancestors. She believes humanity's evolution is a willful act of God rather than a by-product of evolutionary processes.

Roughgarden analyzes Christian thinking on evolution, particularly the Catholic Church's statements on the evolutionary process, including the influences of Cardinal Schýnborn and his criticism of atheistic materialism as a dominant philosophy in secular societies. …

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