Can You Believe in God and Evolution? A Guide for the Perplexed. Ted Peters and Martin Hewlett. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2008. Darwin 200th Anniversary Edition. Pages 145.
The authors seek to make a case for a middle position between Young Earth Creationism and Atheistic Darwinism.This position is know as theistic evolution. The authors contend there are many positions known as theistic evolution. Ted Peters is Professor of Systematic Theology at Pacific Lutheran Seminary and Martinez Hewlett is Professor Emeritus in the departments of Medicine and Moleclar and Cellular Biology at the University of Arizona. The authors seeks to show in this book that evolution is compatible with the Christian faith.
Marty Hewlett has taught biology at the university level for over thirty years. In chapter one Marty tells two stories that cause him concern. The first story is about a student who wanted to be a "wildlife biologist." He was an excellent student. At the end of the semester he told Mart that he would not be taking the next semester of biology even though it was required for his major. The reason being that the next semester covered evolution. The student changed his major because of this.
The second story is about a female student who came to see Marty in his office after class. She came to school to prepare to be a doctor. She, however, was afraid to take science courses because she was afraid to lose her faith. Marty was able to mentor this student through her courses. She eventually became a doctor.
The concern the authors have is that the fear of science by Christians will keep them from pursuing science as a vocation. Therefore, a major theme of this book is the compatibility of Christian faith and science. The authors state, "We fear that a misunderstanding about our faith might create an unnecessary deafness to a divine call to study God's creation through the eyes of the microscope and telescope" (4). The authors want to educate the reader over the controversy on the teaching of evolution. They think the public arguments generate more heat than light. The authors evaluate the different positions fairly: Creationism, Intelligent Design, and Theistic Evolution.
There is even an interesting chapter on interpreting scripture or hermeneutics. In this chapter the authors discuss mediated versus unmediated interpretation. The authors assert, "What is distinctive about the history of American evangelical and fundamentalist branches on the Christian tree is the tradition of unmediated Bible reading. That is, for this tradition, one simply picks up the Bible, reads it, and then proceeds to form patterns for one's daily life, write hymns, construct theology, and comment on government and politics---science too" (96). One typically hears one say I do not interpret scripture, I just say what God says.
Can You Believe in God and Evolution does a good job of presenting the different views of evolution and the Christian faith. They fairly evaluate the anti-Darwinian views. Though they believe in theistic of evolution, they do not treat other views with disdain. They also do a good job in presenting the controversy over the teaching of evolution in public schools. The authors present a valid concern about young people fearing science because they think it might cause them to lose their faith. Peters and Hewlett successfully show that evolution and Christian faith are compatible.