Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Essence of Darwinism: Book Review

Matthias Media and The Good Book Company have been producing excellent books on current issues from a Christian perspective for a long time now. Dr Kirsten Birkett in particular has been advancing her series on 'The Essence of ...'. Given the hype about this 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, this book, on the Essence of Darwinism, is very useful reading.

Birkett presents complex arguments in fairly straightforward ways, and reveals the surprising fact that 'Darwinism' or evolutionary biology is not as unified as it can sometimes appear to the outsider. Indeed, to call it Darwinism at all is unusual, given that Darwin's original theory has been modified and rejected such that Darwin now wouldn't even recognise the modern evolutionary biology which bears his name.

Similarly helpful is her reminder that Darwinism cannot help us to answer the questions of the purpose of life, or reveal the living God through its observations and experiments. Simply put, evolution by natural selection is the best theory we have now, but it may be superseded some day by another theory which better accounts for the evidence.

As Birkett says: If evolutionary theory (whatever becomes of it) describes a physical process that truly happened, then we have learned something about the natural world, and that is a good thing. But we have not learned anything about who we really are as people. We have not learned anything particularly special about God, for we already knew that he uses physical processes when he wants to. We have not learned how to relate to God or how to understand our own perceptions of value and morality and evil. Even if what evolutionary theory tells us is true, it does not tell us what is really important.

The Essence of Darwinism is available from the Good Book Company Website. Well worth a read.

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