Five Christian college professors have coauthored what they believe is the first college textbook examining mainstream scientific theories “from a biblical and theological perspective.”
The professors team-teach a class the “Theory of Origins” class at Wheaton University, where they examine earth history, the origin of life, the origins of species, evolution, and human origins from a Christian perspective. The professors have backgrounds in the philosophy of science, theology, physics, geology, chemistry, and biology.
The book works to take science, philosophy, theology, and the Bible seriously. John Walton, professor of Old Testament, authors a section outlining principles of biblical interpretation and providing careful readings of texts from Genesis.
He said that the authors, “feel that it’s a unique product compared to all the other kinds of textbooks that are out there.” He continued, “It’s a Christian textbook that presents mainline science as legitimate science. Lots of times, Christian books are more or less using mainline science as a foil or as the enemy. Of course, we don’t do that. We present the mainline science. At the same time, we present the limits of science in some of the ways that philosophy of science needs to understand.”
InterVarsity Press published the book, titled Understanding Scientific Theories of Origins, and the BioLogos Foundation provided funding for the project. BioLogos says its mission is to invite “the church and the world to see the harmony between science and biblical faith as we present an evolutionary understanding of God’s creation.” Former National Institute of Health Director Francis Collins founded the foundation to “highlight the harmony between science and faith.”
Walton, along with Robert Bishop, Larry Funck, Raymond Lewis, and Stephen Mosier, authored the book because they faced a practical problem when they were teaching the theory of origins class–no one had written a textbook showing how the “sciences of origins fit into the story of God’s creative and redemptive action.”
Walton explained how the textbook is different from other science textbooks. “It is not just a science textbook but it also talks about the philosophy and the limits of science.” He continued, “Each of the chapters of the different sciences is integrative as they talk about their science. But we also have integrative chapters to deal with things like Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 and the Genesis flood account. So we have biblical, theological chapters that are in there working the information that has been presented. In that way, we are able to help students think about these big questions in science in connection with the big questions in Bible theology, particularly in Genesis.”
Moshier said a strength of the work is that it “tries to bring the philosophy of science and theology together by looking at ‘God’s two books.’” He added, “God created nature. He also gave us Scripture. So theology is really designed to look at the data of Scripture. And science is designed to listen to the data of nature. Well, nature and the scriptures shouldn’t conflict because they’re both from God.”
The professors hope that everyone who reads the book will have the same experience as those students who have taken the origins course at Wheaton. Moshier said students have appreciated the opportunity to have their preconceived notions about human origins challenged and came away with their faith strengthened. He explained how he views the course in this way, “My job is to educate students so they can make up their own minds. And every student who comes to Wheaton or any other Christian school goes through a process of deciding, ‘OK is this my faith or my parents’ faith?’ Well, every young adult should go through that.”
Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”
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