Two Views, One Reality

By Rosenhouse, Jason | Skeptic (Altadena, CA), Winter 2008 | Go to article overview

Two Views, One Reality

Rosenhouse, Jason, Skeptic (Altadena, CA)

Darwin and intelligent Design by Francisco Ayala, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2006. 116 pp., 87. ISBN-10: 0800638026

Living With Darwin: Evolution, Design and the Future of Faith by Philip Kitcher. Oxford University Press, New York, 2007. 192 pp., 820. ISBN-10:0195314441


MODERN BIOLOGY TELLS A STORY of human beings emerging as the highly contingent result of four billion years of evolution by natural selection. Christianity teaches that the Earth was created by an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God specifically for humans. Francisco Ayala argues that it is reasonable to see in this dichotomy two sides of the same coin. Phillip Kitcher demurs.

A glut of recent books has addressed the perennial question of the proper relationship between evolution and Christianity. Whether written by scientists such as Ken Miller, Francis Collins and Joan Roughgarden, or theologians such as Alister McGrath and John Haught, the conclusion is invariably the same. No conflict is found. Several gambits are offered to attain this reconciliation: perhaps evolution is God's means of creation, the creation story in Genesis is intended allegorically, or science and religion address different questions. Representative of this genre is Ayala's short book. He opens as follows:

   The message that this little book seeks
   to convey is that science and religious
   beliefs need not be in contradiction.
   This message has a long Christian tradition
   that extends since the time of
   Augustine in the fourth century, and even
   earlier, to Pope John Paul II and other
   religious authorities of the
   present. There are many believers in the
   United States and elsewhere who think
   that science, particularly the theory of evolution,
   is contrary to the teachings of the
   Bible and to religious beliefs, such as
   Creation by God. Science has demonstrated
   again and again, beyond reasonable
   doubt, that living organisms evolve and
   diversify over time, and that their features
   have come about by natural
   selection, a process that accounts for their
   "design." I will seek to convince you,
   dear reader, that we may accept the scientific
   knowledge without denying the
   existence of God or God's presence in
   the universe and all natural phenomena.

After such an opening, you might be surprised to learn that fully 89 of the book's 104 pages say almost nothing about the reconciliation of science with faith. Instead we are treated to a brief historical introduction to Darwin and his work, a lucid explanation of the most basic elements of evolutionary theory and the evidence supporting it, and a brief discussion of the scientific and theological difficulties of intelligent design and creationism. This portion of the book is certainly competent and worthwhile, but it contains very little that is Dew.

It is the book's final chapter that addresses the faith question. Ayala opens with this bit of bravado:

   I want to make in this final chapter two
   main points, which to me seem obvious
   or at least beyond reasonable doubt. One
   point is that the theory of evolution is not
   incompatible with belief in the existence
   of God and God's presence in the workings
   of the universe. The second point is
   that science is a powerful and successful
   way of acquiring knowledge about the
   universe, but it is not the only way: other
   valid ways of acquiring knowledge about
   the universe include imaginative literature
   and other forms of art, common sense,
   philosophy and religion.

Obvious? Beyond reasonable doubt? How does the author back up his claim?

Ayala first addresses the conflict between evolution and Genesis. He argues that numerous religious scholars reject the idea of a literal interpretation of Genesis.

   Many Bible scholars and theologians
   have long rejected a literal interpretation
   as untenable, however, because the
   Bible contains incompatible statements. … 

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Two Views, One Reality


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.