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Karl W. Giberson and Francis S. Collins, The Language of Science and Faith

Language of Science and FaithKarl W. Giberson and Francis S. Collins, The Language of Science and Faith (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2011), 250 pages, ISBN 9780830838295.

The “conflict” between science and faith within North American evangelicalism continues to rage, unfortunately. This book will no doubt further fan the flames, even if it is intended to shed some light on these matters, largely because it sets out a position defending “theistic evolution” as compatible with evangelical commitments, and detractors of this view are resolutely resistant and aggressively opposed to it. My hunch is that readers of The Pneuma Review who have already made up their minds that evolution is anti-Christian will not find much of value here, and they might even be upset that the editors of this periodical have agreed to review this book. My hope, though, is that those who are genuinely looking to understand the issues will give this very accessible book a fair read. I do not necessarily agree with all of what is in here, but I do think that books like this do raise the literacy of the broader public, and we certainly need more, rather than less, literacy. Pentecostal pastors and church leaders who are concerned about their students and the next generation of pentecostal faith in our thoroughly scientific world need to be equipped to help their church members navigate these waters.

Francis Collins is the world-renowned geneticist who spearheaded the human genome project and Karl Giberson teaches physics at Eastern Nazarene University in Quincy, Massachusetts. Both have written other books on science and faith that have been well received by the wider public. Most important for our purposes is that few, I think, can doubt their evangelical commitments. Yet they are probably among a minority of evangelicals who publicly advocate embracing the consensus of mainstream science, including the neo-Darwinian synthesis, as being consistent with a robust Christian faith. Collins founded The BioLogos Forum (http://biologos.org) in large part to provide a vision for how Christians can not only be at peace with but also support the contemporary scientific enterprise.

Pentecostal pastors and church leaders who are concerned about their students and the next generation of pentecostal faith need to be equipped to help their church members navigate these waters.

This book under review derives from the BioLogos website FAQs (“Frequently-Asked-Questions”) that has been operating for the last few years. Readers pose questions and BioLogos fellows (usually scientists, biblical scholars, or theologians) provide some responses or suggestions to think about the issues. Thus the nine chapter titles, while suggestive of the content of the volume, still do not fully signal all of the topics discussed in the book. Questions about evolution and faith, the age of the earth, the relationship between the Bible and scientific claims, the existence of God, the fine-tuning of the universe, the origins of life, the emergence of human beings—these and many other topics are covered in the volume. All in all, readers interested in what the BioLogos Forum is about and how it recommends the reconciliation of mainstream science and Christian faith will probably not find a more succinct and accessible introduction than this book.

Of course, since much of the book emerged from the FAQs on the BioLogos website, the treatments are short, perhaps in some cases, a bit too short for some readers who may be ready for more. Further, I can imagine that some readers will wonder what all the fuss is about within the evangelical world. In many cases, the volume compares and contrast the BioLogos model with alternative positions held by evangelicals, including young earth creationism, old earth creationism, and intelligent design. Those looking for a sort of “four views” point-and-counterpoint will need to keep waiting.

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Category: In Depth, Pneuma Review, Summer 2012

About the Author: Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degrees in theology, history, and religious studies from Western Evangelical Seminary and Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, and Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, and an undergraduate degree from Bethany University of the Assemblies of God. He is the author of numerous papers and over 30 books. fuller.edu/faculty/ayong/ amosyong@fuller.edu Facebook

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