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Some really heady stuff – no doubt why many seek the most simplistic of answers. This is not meant to be a slight against anyone, but we do, as a species, like to seek more simple answers. Theologians and Scientists, however… well, maybe they are a meta-species are something.
I am covering two chapters for this reflection. Chapter 6 deals with the controversy which surrounded and still surrounds Darwin’s theories while chapter 7 deals with something which I find uniquely interesting – the ability for this universe to support life.
What is interesting is the history of the reaction to science, especially in this country. It wasn’t really until the 1960′s that we found the extreme reaction to evolution that we see today. As the authors show, even the pioneers of Fundamentalism (this is something that I struggle with – separating fundamentalists from the early Fundamentalism, especially on this topic). The authors, though, know their history – and they are able to show that like other events in American history, the rise of YE-Creationism needs to be examined as a-historically as possible. You see, even before Darwin, there were extreme scientific introspections, even among Christians, as to the dating of the earth and thus the interpretation of Genesis 1. There was also freedom in this arena, unlike what we see now.
The response to Darwin’s theory was over all, muted. There were religious leaders which support Darwin’s theory, even against the theology of the Fall. As the authors explain it, evolution presents a bottom up picture of life, where as some Christian theology presents a steady rate of decay. (p152)
Here, I have to wonder how entropy might play into theological speculations… Also, I have to wonder how evolution might play into the theology of progression… We see this progression of God’s interaction with humanity throughout the Text until Christ. The relationship grows, matures, and is renewed. Further, we are told that we are progressing towards the realized New Creation.
Again, let me stress that the authors are not riding down hard on Young Earth Creationism. They are mindful to present the sides factually correct. But, they are also hard pressed not to call YE-Creationists (and later IDs) out on their inconsistencies, pitfalls, and problems. They are also not shy about their history, as I stated early. See the documented reaction to Darwin on 156-157 as well as their interpolation into our story of another fruit from 7th Day Adventism. For those who remember, it was the Adventists who gave the world King James Onlyism. They have also given the world much of the theological support behind the ‘science’ of YE-Creationism (compare Warfield, the Baptist, and White’s reactions to science (158 – 160)).
After much of this history, they move on to tackle several of the pseudo-scientific claims against evolution, such as the often misapplied second law of thermodynamics. They end this chapter by discussing the scientific origins of Life, to which they admit that no one can provide an insightful answer to just yet.
I think we need to understand, in this debate, first what life is and second how unusual it is, how fragile it is.
It is chapter seven in which they discuss with exciting detail just how unique the conditions of life are in this universe. I say this universe because as those who have read Dawkins knows that he advocates a multi-verse. What is important is that, as the authors show, each theory against the uniqueness of this universe needs more evidences to support it. Further, as our authors state, rather explicitly, a scientist needs objective data. The multi-verse does not meet these requirements (p189).
These natural laws which make it possible to support life supports the idea of a fine tuning of these laws, and thus a fine tuner. It is important that you take this chapter as equally theological. They note how unsettling these laws are to naturalists and the such – and I can see that – especially with the detail which they provide. There is no reason why Life should exist, why the planets should exist, why anything should exist as it does in this universe of ours – except that it does.Everything has to be magnificently perfect.
This isn’t the God of the Gaps there, and it is something which they make clear. This is where they are able, more than the other chapters, the theologian’s duty to take science and show how it points to God. They are careful to never say affirm, but always that these natural laws point to God.
With two chapters left, I urge you to buy this book. It is an important piece in any theological library and a must for those grappling with the old heresy that if Science is true, God isn’t.