The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Book Review – Dictionary of Christianity and Science

DictionaryMy ignorance will always exceed my knowledge. This is true even in subjects in which I have a considerable level of expertise. I have been studying various science-faith topics for more than three decades, and have substantial depth of knowledge in some areas. Over the years, I have focused most intensely on the relationship between geology and Christianity (including the arguments of the young-Earth creationists), somewhat on the topics of biological evolution and environmental ethics, and hardly at all on some other important science-faith issues. I would not, for instance, be able to write authoritatively about how cognitive science, string theory, or recent advances in human genetics relate to Christian apologetics. I have a few hundred books in my personal library, but don’t have a collection—and am not sure I would even want one—that covers all of the issues that are raised in the dialog between Christianity and Science.

As a science writer and science apologist, however, I need to at least be conversant in a range of topics outside of my core areas. A new, useful resource is Dictionary of Christianity and Science, published by Zondervan. This 691-page volume has over 400 articles of various lengths, written by over 100 contributors.

Christians do not always agree, of course, on how science and Christianity properly relate. The Dictionary has a number of multiple-view discussions, with separate articles written by authors from diverging perspectives. For instance, the two “Adam and Eve” articles are written from a “First-Couple View” (by young-Earth Bible scholar Todd Beale) and a “Representative-Couple View” (by old-Earth theologian Trempor Longman III). Some examples of topics that have multiple articles are:

  • Adam and Eve
  • Age of the Universe and Earth
  • Climate Change
  • Days of Creation
  • Fossil Record
  • Genesis Flood (four articles)
  • Genesis, Interpretations of Chapters 1 and 2
  • Hominid Fossils
  • Human Evolution

Some controversial topics are covered by only one article. When the subject relates to the age of the Earth or universe, these single articles are written from an old-Earth perspective. Examples include the articles on dinosaurs (Stephen Moshier), the Cambrian explosion (Darrel Falk), the big bang (Hugh Ross), and radiometric dating (Ken Wolgemuth). This approach is consistent with the fact that most leading Christian apologists do not use young-Earth arguments in defense of the faith. Articles written about controversial Christian individuals or organizations are generally written by a “friendly” author, such as the articles on Answers in Genesis and Ken Ham written by Marcus Ross, himself a young-Earth creationist, and the article on The Biologos Foundation penned by Deborah Haarsma, who is the president of Biologos.

I will never be an expert on string theory, the Chinese room argument, or Bayes’ theorem, but as one who writes about science and Christian faith, I should at least know the basics on a breadth of issues. I recommend Dictionary of Christianity and Science for students who are new to the controversies that surround the relationship between Christian faith and science, as well as to science-faith veterans who need to keep abreast on a wide range of science-faith topics.

I would like to thank Zondervan for providing me with a preprint of the first 130 pages, and then a complimentary copy of the complete book. Dictionary of Christianity and Science will be available for sale on April 25th.

April 22, 2017 Posted by | Age of the Earth, Apologetics, Books, Christianity, Creation in the Bible, Creationism, Old-Earth creationism, Origins, Theistic evolution, Young-Earth creationism | Leave a comment

Book recommendations

I’m doing a little house cleaning on The GeoChristian. I’ve updated the “Book Recommendations” section on the sidebar, and here they are:

book_esvsb The ESV Study Bible is the most comprehensive, theologically conservative study Bible on the market. Whether you are looking for historical backgrounds, maps, various viewpoints, commentary, or help with difficult passages, the ESV Study Bible is an excellent tool.

The ESV Study Bible offers a balanced view on origins issues, such as the age of the Earth or the extent of Noah’s flood. As such, this would be an excellent gift to give to your young-Earth creationist friend or family member. More than any other book, this one might help them to see that one can be a faithful Christian without being committed to the bad science and questionable Biblical interpretations of the young-Earth creationist movement.

Amazon — available in many editions, ranging from a paperback for $19, to various leather-bound editions costing as much as $230.

Crossway — buy direct from the publisher and they get a larger slice of the pie.

 book_reasonforgod  The Reason for God by Timothy Keller is the best book on apologetics (defense of the Christian faith) available for a general audience today. Some have said that The Reason for God is the 21st century’s equivalent of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. That might be true.

Like most leading Christian apologists, whether at the popular or higher levels, Keller does not include young-Earth creationism as part of his message. Why not? Because Keller recognizes that YEC is neither Biblically necessary nor scientifically feasible.

Amazon

 book_genesis1-4  Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, and Theological Commentary, by C. John Collins.An excellent commentary on the opening chapters of Genesis by a respected Old Testament scholar who holds to Biblical inerrancy. Collins is a leading advocate of the “analogical days” interpretation of Genesis 1. This book might be a difficult read for some, but most should be able to grasp the concepts with some work. Knowledge of Hebrew is not required.

I wish he would write a commentary extending this work through Genesis 11.

Amazon

 book_7days  Seven Days That Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science, by John Lennox, is a short book but is packed with good stuff. This is the book I would give to someone who wants an overview of origins issues and how they relate to the Bible.

Amazon

 book_rocks  The Bible, Rocks and Time, by Davis Young and Ralph Stearley, gives an overview of the historical development of Christian views on geology and time, and an in depth look at why geologists (including most Christian geologists) believe the Earth is billions of years old.

Amazon

 book_pollution Pollution and the Death of Man may be Francis Schaeffer’s most neglected work. Evangelicals love his other books, but have ignored Schaeffer’s warning that the ecological problems facing our society are real, and that Christians have been and continue to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution. But he also makes a strong case that Christian theology can provide a stronger foundation for care for our environment than either pantheism or secularism.

If you read only one book on why Christians should care about nature, this should be it. I have written a review here.

Amazon

 book_beauty1 For the Beauty of the Earth by Steven Prediger-Bouma provides a comprehensive “Christian vision for creation care.” Rather than being a book on “how to be green,” this book faces a number of Biblical and theological problems head on, laying a strong Biblical foundation for creation care.

I have written a summary of the first edition of the book here.

Amazon

 book_generousjustice I’ve read a number of books on “social justice” (because I want a world where the poor, widows, orphans, and immigrants matter), but Generous Justice by Timothy Keller is the best by far. It calls us to serve, but doesn’t confuse serving with the gospel. It has plenty to make both political conservatives and liberals uncomfortable.

Amazon

Grace and Peace

May 19, 2013 Posted by | Books, Christianity | Leave a comment