Fossils and Faith: Understanding Torah and Science
Harbin, Michael A., Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Fossils and Faith: Understanding Torah and Science. By Nathan Aviezer. Hoboken: KTAV, 2001, 270 pp., $24.95.
Although it seems to be just another entry in the burgeoning science-and-religion genre, Aviezer's book has an interesting twist. It is written by an observant Jew, as indicated by the sub-title: "Understanding Torah and Science." Although not well known in evangelical circles, Aviezer (formerly Wiser) had a previous work In the Beginning, a best-seller which has been translated into 9 languages. At the same time, it is interesting that Aviezer seems unfamiliar with evangelical works in this area. He notes Ian Barbour, Arthur Peacocke, and John Polkinghorne, but does not mention writers like Hugh Ross. Yet in many respects, I find somewhat of a similarity. Both have clear writing styles and are easy to follow. Both address complex issues in a straightforward manner. Both stress the importance of faith in God as a means of comprehending the physical universe.
While the book addresses science and faith, the emphasis is on the question of biological origins, especially of man. It is divided into three major sections entitled: "Faith," "On Science and the Bible" (i.e. our OT), and "Fossils." In the process, he addresses a variety of issues, including "The Anthropic Principle," "Proofs for the Existence of God," "Chaos, Rain, and the Bible," "The Spread of Languages and the Tower of Babel," and "Life on Mars?"
For those who have read a lot on the topic, there is little new, as might be expected in a basic overview. Still, there are several areas of interest.
In the chapter "The Age of the Universe," Aviezer points out that the age of the universe, the age of the earth, and the age of humanity are separate questions. he repudiates any attempt to correlate a 6000-year-old universe (based on the Jewish calendar) with the scientific data. He opts for a metaphorical understanding of Genesis 1, dismissing any other possibility. I was surprised that he never addresses the work of Gerald Schroeder (Genesis and the Big Bang  and The Science of God , a Jewish physicist who argues that the dates can be reconciled without opting for a metaphorical understanding of Genesis. Interestingly, Aviezer argues for a "creation" of man about 10,000 years ago. He argues that the creation of "man" is not the making of a new species, but a result of "sudden and radical changes in human behavior" (p. 41), i.e. the Neolithic Revolution.
In the chapter "Miracles: Natural and Supernatural," Aviezer argues for miracles, stating that one "may not believe . …