Books

Over the last several years, I have read many books that have influenced my beliefs concerning God's ongoing relationship with the universe. The brief list below includes a few of my favorites.

I encourage you to consider reading these books yourself. Though you may not completely agree with the viewpoints expressed in each, I hope you can at least appreciate the authors' respectful attempts to express their personal beliefs in an evolving Creation.

Finding Darwin's God:
A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution
by Kenneth R. Miller

The popularity of this book means that it is likely you have already heard about it if you are exploring this website. I first read this book during the summer of 2000 when my home state of Kansas was in the middle of its well-known science standards controversy.  I got to meet Ken Miller after a talk he gave that was sponsored by Kansas Citizens for Science. I even got him to sign my personal copy of his book!

The book has two purposes. The first purpose is to soundly repudiate all forms of "Scientific Creationism," including the most recent version known as "Intelligent Design."  The second purpose is to present Miller's personal viewpoint concerning an evolving Creation.  The book appeals to a wide audience because it addresses all "Western religious traditions" in general rather than Christianity in particular.

Overall, I thought Finding Darwin's God was a great introduction to the subject, but it lacked the theological depth that I desired. However, if you're looking for a coherent, no-holds-barred discussion of the scientific and theological problems with the various forms of "Scientific Creationism," this is a great book.

Perspectives on an Evolving Creation
Edited by Keith B. Miller

Keith Miller is a geology professor at Kansas State University. As a graduate of the University of Kansas, I hesitate to commend anyone or anything associated with KSU, but this book is just too good to let that get in the way. I got to meet Keith Miller in 2000 at a science education conference during the time of the 1999 Kansas Science Standards controversy. Little did I know that he would go on to edit a book of such significance.

The book is composed of three sections. The first section provides Biblical, historical, and scientific background information that is meant to prepare the reader for the subsequent discussions. The second section of the book presents the scientific evidence for an evolving Creation. Christian scientists from a wide variety of backgrounds summarize how the current evolutionary view of cosmic, geological, and biological history was developed. The final section focuses on various philosophical and theological issues related to evolution. Interspersed throughout the book are short meditations meant to help the reader to worship the God of this "Evolving Creation."

Perspectives on an Evolving Creation is a tremendous book. I am so grateful to Keith Miller for spearheading this project. The presentation of the scientific evidence of evolution from a distinctly Christian viewpoint was like a breath of fresh air for me. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever undergone the kind of arduous thinking involved in analyzing the relationships between science and the Christian faith.

Random Designer
Created from Chaos to Connect with Creator
by Richard G. Colling

Richard Colling is the Chair of the Biological Sciences Department at Olivet Nazarene University. He earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Kansas, so that means he must be a pretty cool guy.  Random Designer presents a unique vision of Godís creation. Utilizing easy-to-read personal narratives, Colling explains that the random processes that play such fundamental roles in the physical universe are actually tools of creation. God, the "Random Designer", harnesses these chaotic physical processes to bring about a Divine plan. 

The book is divided into three sections. Section I is devoted to describing and explaining the biological and chemical processes of life.  Section II presents God as the powerful force behind the natural laws we observe. Colling suggests that instead of trying to stuff God into the traditional boxes of "Scientific Creationism" or "Intelligent Design," Christians should strive to understand scientific realities because the evidence will always be in God's favor. Section III concludes with the theme that mankind was "created for connection" with God.  According to Colling, with this new understanding, humans are compelled to maximize our physical and spiritual potential.  By doing so, we can hope to realize what it means to be made in God's image, to feel God's presence in our lives, and to experience an intimate, meaningful relationship with our Creator.

I highly recommend this book because it presents some very deep theological concepts in a simple and easy to grasp way. Colling has written something with the potential to reach a lot of thinking Christians who would like to see an end to the "science vs. religion" aspect of the Creation/Evolution debate. In the very least, this book will challenge the reader to reconsider some critical issues related to the idea of God as Creator of all things.

God After Darwin:
A Theology of Evolution
by John F. Haught

Okay, so I've never met John Haught, but I'm sure he's a great guy.  Anyway, his book sounded interesting, especially the subtitle, "A Theology of Evolution." I got this book for my birthday a few years ago and still feel like I haven't uncovered everything there is to learn from it.

If it's theological depth you're looking for, this book has it. It's maybe too deep. I found myself having to read entire sections of the book two or three times in order to make sense out of it all.

Despite the complexity, this book exposed me to quite a few ideas that I have since incorporated into my own "theology of evolution." In God After Darwin, Haught describes God as the dynamic, loving power of the future. God, out of genuine, boundless love, longs that Creation emerge on its own. According to Haught, the God of evolution allows the world to have a part in shaping its own future and influences this future by being the creative source of all the possible paths the world could take.

What Evolution Is
by Ernst Mayr

Ernst Mayr is widely recognized as the biologist most responsible for shaping the modern synthesis of genetic and evolutionary theory. What Evolution Is provides an invaluable primer for anyone who is interested in understanding the modern theory of biological evolution. In the preface, Mayr says he wrote this book for three kinds of readers: those who want to know more about evolution, those who accept evolution, but are not sure whether the Darwinian explanation is the correct one, and those "creationists who want to know more about the current paradigm of evolutionary science, if for no other reason than to be able to better argue against it" (p. xiii).

Throughout the book, the reader is presented with clear descriptions of the basic principles of biological evolution, backed up with a solid collection of facts that should fascinate even the most hardened veteran of the evolution/creation controversy.  The writing is clear, elegant, and comprehensive. The book even includes a glossary that defines some of the most commonly used terms relating to evolution!

The best thing I can say about Ernst Mayr's What Evolution Is is that it does not waste the reader's time by attempting to provide an exhaustive list of proofs of evolution. That evolution happens is already so well established that such a detailed presentation of the evidence is not necessary. Besides, as Mayr correctly points out, such a list would likely not convince those who do not wish to be persuaded.

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