Some New Books on Science, Religion, Creation, and the Soul

Some New Books on Science, Religion, Creation, and the Soul September 22, 2018

I’m reading a bunch of books on science, religion, creation, the fall, the soul, and neurobiology.

First, Thomas M. Crisp, Steve L. Porter, and Gregg A. Ten Elshof (eds.), Neuroscience and the Soul: The Human Person in Philosophy, Science, and Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016).

An up-to-date discussion on mind/body dualism, Christian monism, the soul as real or metaphor, and a mixture of philosophy and neurobiology. I really liked the essay by William Hasker on “Do My Quarks Enjoy Beethoven?” And a good summary of the state of the debate is given by Kevin Corcoran and Kevin Sharpe: “We frankly admit that there is now no adequate physical theory that explains just how consciousness arises from the complicated network of wet-ware that is the human brain. Consciousness is a veritable mystery. The problem is that we fail to see how dualism takes the mystery out of consciousness. If anything, it seems to multiply the mystery by adding to the mystery of consciousness the mystery of a non-physical substance that enjoys consciousness.”

Second, Scot McKnight and Dennis R. Venema, Adam and the  Genome: Reading Scripture After Genetic Science (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2017).

Genetic science suggests that humans did descend not from an individual pair but from a large population of approximately 10, 000 homosapiens. What does this mean for the story of Adam and Eve and Christian theology, original sin, imputed righteousness, etc.

 

Third, William T. Cavanaugh & James K. A. Smith (eds.), Evolution and the Fall (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2017).

Evolution and the Fall brings together a multidisciplinary, ecumenical team of philosophers, scientists, and theologians to address questions like: What does it mean for the Christian doctrine of the Fall if there was no historical Adam and Eve? If humanity emerged from nonhuman primates—as genetic, biological, and archaeological evidence seems to suggest—then what are the implications for a Christian understanding of human origins, including the origin of sin? Some great essays here, Darrel Falk on where science is at in regards to human origins, Jamie Smith on a philosophical and evolutionary account of the fall, and then a great juxtaposition of Joel Green and Aaron Riches on original sin.

Fourth, Lester L. Grabbe, Faith and Fossils: The Bible, Creation, and Evolution (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2018).

This book is partly a biography of how Grabbe went from anti-science Bible belt to scientist to biblical scholar and still kept his faith intact. Grabbe discusses ancient near eastern accounts of creation and parallels to the flood story. He urges us to consider the possibility that God created the laws of genetics and used them to unfold the inherent potential of our DNA  climaxing in sentient life, human life no less. Grabbe grapples with who we are and where we came from. Both the Bible and the fossil record raise significant questions about what it means to be human. Written in uncomplicated language and featuring spectacular full-color photographs, Faith and Fossils brings science and faith into a creative conversation. Also, a final chapteter on the reflections of a biblical scholar.

Fifth, Craig A. Allert, Early Christian Readings of Genesis One: Patristic Exegesis and Literal Interpretation (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2018).

I loved Allert’s earlier book A High View of Scripture? and in this volume Allert demonstrates the value and danger of misusing the Church Father’s in creation debates. He has a good discussion of what does “literal” even mean and then he looks at how literal or otherwise many of the Church Fathers were when it comes to the days of creation and the whole narrative of creation. Allert’s study urges us to consider whether contemporary evangelicals, laudably seeking to be faithful to Scripture, may in fact be more bound to modernity in their reading of Genesis 1 than they realize. Here is a book that resets our understanding of early Christian interpretation and the contemporary conversation about Genesis 1.

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