We love either/or thinking. Problems are solved either in one way, or in another. When someone comes along and offers a third possibility, it’s like a breath of fresh air in a stuffy room. Karl W. Giberson’s and Francis S. Collins’ The Language of Science and Faith: Straight Answers to Genuine Questions (InterVarsity, 2011) is one such book.
Giberson (a physicist) and Collins (a geneticist) organize their discussion around responses to frequently asked questions. These include:
– Can we really know the earth is billions of years old?
– How does God fine-tune the universe?
– Why is Darwin’s theory so controversial?
Concluding that the term “theistic evolution” now carries too much baggage, the authors substitute BioLogos, but the meaning is the same: God created all that is, and when it comes to life on earth, the means by which God did so was evolution.
Much in the book is to be commended. Giberson and Collins conclude with virtually all scientists that the earth is approximately 4.5 billion years. Before reaching this conclusion, they convincingly respond to creationism’s doubts about the validity of carbon dating. In another section, tackling the second law of thermodynamics, they demonstrate that creationists have misapplied this argument in their attempt to debunk evolution.
On the other hand, The Language of Science and Faith sputters when addressing the deistic tendencies of BioLogos. They admit that theistic evolution may lend itself to a view of God as the creator of the system, but a God whose ongoing involvement is less obvious. Further, the attempt to reconcile Adam and Eve (Genesis 1-3) and the scientific view of origins is tentative at best.
Despite these weaknesses, Giberson and Collins make a good case for seeing revelation as written in two books, not just one. We find clues for God in the book of nature as well as in the Bible. God can work outside of nature’s laws, but more often, God works through them. A Christian need not be threatened by the theory of evolution, but can follow its findings wherever they lead.
The Language of Science and Faith is a well-written contribution to a hotly debated topic. Sunday School classes that want something meatier will be pleased with this level-headed discussion starter.