Book review: The Adam Quest

by Tim Stafford

★★★★★

Best book I’ve read this year! Tim Stafford is the Senior Writer for Christianity Today, and I can see why. His writing is a pleasure to read.

The Adam Quest is a personal glimpse into the lives of eleven scientists who feel science and faith should be allies. Stafford interviews young earth creationists, intelligent design creationists, and evolutionary creationists, all of whom are firm believers and all of whom have a high regard for the Bible as a source of truth. Each tells his or her story of being led to faith. Stafford doesn’t try to separate right from wrong, he just gets out of the way and lets each person tell their own story, so we can get to know them.

It’s a dilemma. Young earth creationists have a clear understanding of Genesis, but struggle to fit science into the mold. In particular, new biochemical and genomic information hugely strengthens the evolutionary case that all life is related. But evolutionary creationists struggle with the other side of the equation: their understanding of Genesis is very much a work in progress.

I’m probably showing my bias, but the young earth creationists leave me feeling sad as they plug along, driven by an intense trust in a literal interpretation of Genesis but largely ignored by their scientific peers, working so far to the fringe of science that funding is unavailable. They have no expensive labs, no scientific exploration, just an air of desperation as they try to uphold the Word of God.

The Intelligent Design (ID) proponents (including Michael Behe, the first to propose the idea of irreducible complexity) never lack for confidence, yet fit in no better with their peers, as ID just doesn’t qualify as “science.” The ID arguments may have merit, but it doesn’t matter; they present no verifiable model to replace evolution. It’s not enough to say “God did it” … science studies how. ID, therefore, will never gain a place in the science class until IDers tackle the problem of how God did it, so that predictions can be made and tested. IDers claim scientific exploration into their views can be done, but as yet no one is doing it.

But believers in evolutionary creation have their own struggles. They are habitually charged with destroying the faith of fellow Christians. Christianity is supposed to distrust science, it’s supposed to oppose the heresy of Darwinism. This is drilled into evangelicals at a young age, and since most evangelicals are not trained in science, it’s very difficult for them to understand just how solid the scientific evidence for evolutionary biology really is.

Here I must give a special plug to Simon Conway Morris, whose views about directed evolution are absolutely fascinating. He believes if we were to rewind and replay the tape of evolution, it would surely travel a different path, but would ultimately converge much the same way it did this time around. Humans are inevitable. I have already ordered his 2003 book Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe, so fascinating is his theory of convergence.

Stafford then wraps up by presenting his own opinion on the matter, yet humbly admitting there is still much to learn, if only science and faith will understand that they are allies.

Thomas Nelson, Inc., © 2013, 232 pages

ISBN: 978-0-5291-0271-3

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2 Comments

  1. Being a strong believer in Christ and the Bible and also in science I have no problem also believing that science & faith are allies. I am not saying that I have all the answers. I am not even saying I have 1/4 of the answers, but I do have faith that they are there are scientists and great thinkers that do have the answers. I think and I think hard but I do not think I am a great thinker. JJeezzz. That was hard! Being a Mormon, I have to believe that G-d did create the world, as scriptures say, but being a hard thinker, I believe He could have created the world and man as the laws of the universe dictate, or as evolution show it happen. We know evolution occurred, right? I believe the answer we don’t have, is why? Correct me if I am not right. Believing in G-d is not always a matter of science but a matter of faith. At times, I think we are kind of “hard-wired” to believe in something more than ourselves. In our modern age we have new things to worry about, like atheism, which seems almost silly in thought, the belief that nothing exist. Still appears like a hard-wired thought. I am not so worried about where G-d came from , or where Adam came from, but I do concern myself with the understanding of science & faith. The greatest understanding of our time will be the co-joining of these two great “sciences”.

    • Lee Harmon

      Yeah, I probably wouldn’t have said faith and science are allies, but more like spirituality and science are allies–Faith seems to inhibit scientific discovery in my experience–but I understand exactly what you are saying.

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