Nature's Witness: How Evolution Can Inspire Faith
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Against these options, Daniel Harrell asserts that the evidence for evolution accurately describes the world we see, but insists that this description does not adequately serve as an explanation for the world. Rather than seeing science and faith as diametrically opposed, Harrell suggests that evolutionary data actually opens the door for deeper theological reflection on God's creation.
Writing out of a pastoral concern for those struggling to negotiate faith and evolution, Harrell argues that being reliable witnesses to creation helps people of faith be reliable witnesses to its creator. Whether they are pastors wondering how to talk about these issues with their congregations, or students asking whether their biology classes make their faith irrelevant, Harrell's readers are winsomely led on a journey of exploration in which a robust biblical faith can be held along with affirmation of the scientific data for evolution.
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"Daniel Harrell has interesting friends. To argue for Darwinism among evangelicals and for God among empirical scientists takes courage. And unlike many science-and-religion books, which range from dull to daunting, Harrell's gracious opening up of those conversations to the rest of us is not only informative but entertaining. Where's this book been?!" -Jason Byassee, Assistant Editor, Christian Century, and affiliate professor of theology, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
"Harrell argues that for the thinking Christian, science matters. His personable style invites us to journey along with him as he learns some of modern science's recent revelations and then asks what these revelations reveal about the nature of God. At times a friendly stroll through genomes and quarks, at others a wrestling match to reconcile science and theology as two valid and valuable sources of knowledge, this book shows how one can be a firm believer in both." -Anne E. Carpenter, Ph.D., Director, Imaging Platform, Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT
"With his peerless ability to turn the familiar inside out and upside down, and to make even the most unfamiliar ideas from both science and theology accessible, Daniel Harrell has given us a gift of a book. It will make you laugh, think, and pray---and it is very possible that when you finish it you will believe more deeply in both evolution and creation than ever before." -Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making, and editorial director, The Christian Vision Project
"For those who fear that either theology or science might become the ventriloquist controlling the voice of the other, this is a most welcome book. Affirming that both Scripture and scientific discovery must be heard, Harrell playfully and profoundly engages our most serious questions about lifes beginnings and life's future. Youll want to pull up a chair and join him, his friend Dave, and Aunt Bernice, in this important conversation." -Joel B. Green, Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Fuller Theological Seminary
"If youre a Christian who believes that evolutionary science provides an accurate account of the history and development of life on earth, you probably have some hard questions about what this means for Christian faith. I have these questions, too. How do we talk of a loving Creator while referring to random mutations? What does orthodox Christian faith say about the hundreds of millions of years of death and failure that preceded humanitys arrival on earth? How do extant hominids, descended from bacteria and fish, partake in the image of God and talk of everlasting life? We need a friend who understands these questions and who has the ability to address them knowledgeably while affirming our faith: someone smart and knowledgeable, but humble and faithful, maybe even funny. We need someone who knows whats at stake, but who also knows that our faith has nothing to fear in the face of the facts of Gods world. And now, happily, we have Daniel Harrells book. Full of wisdom, humility, patience and good humor, its a book I never dared to hope for. Enjoy it, and give thanks." -Stephen Matheson, associate professor of biology, Calvin College
"Some Christians are fighting the wrong battle. Evolution is not the enemy, as Daniel Harrell argues persuasively in Natures Witness. With wry, self-deprecating humor, he introduces the basics of evolution and asks big questions about God and God's creation. Harrell is not trying to develop an apologetic for the Christian faith in a scientific world. What he has done is much more demanding. He has written an honest, thoughtful, doubt-filled, faith-filled, searching exploration of foundational reality. This is an important book." -Richard Peace, Robert Boyd Munger Professor of Evangelism and Spiritual Formation, Fuller Theological Seminary
Located in: Boston, MA
Submitted: May 13, 2008
Tell us a little about yourself. For the past 22 years I have served as a minister at Park Street Church in Boston. I also hold a PhD in developmental psychology and am interested in the interplay between faith and psychology and faith and science in general.
What was your motivation behind this project? Theological integrity demands that whatever we think about faith and life correspond to the way things actually are as opposed to how we want or wish things to be. God is the God of reality. If evolution is real, then to reject it presents difficulties for Christian faith and theology. A proposed alternative is to assume that ultimate truth resides in the heart and mind of God and to assume evolution to be part of that truth (all truth is Gods truth). Based upon confirmed scientific data, a flourishing, robust Christianity stays faithful to the Biblical narrative as its source for theological reflection, while at the same time heralding scientific discovery as an accurate description of the universe on which theology reflects.
What do you hope folks will gain from this project? Written as a pastor and practitioner, the intent is to provide scientific information and theological reflection making a connection between faith and evolution reliable, comprehensible, authentic and less fearful.
How were you personally impacted by working on this project? Delving deeper into the sciences caused me to marvel at the creativity and competency of God. At the same time, some of my ideas about God were rightly challenged, causing me to rethink and relearn theology in ways that focused on the cross and the sacrificial identity of God.
Who are your influences, sources of inspiration or favorite authors / artists? For this project, Kenneth Miller's "Finding Darwin's God" was particularly inspirational. I also appreciate the work of scholars from Calvin College, led by physicist Howard Van Til, as well as astute theological work done by Alister McGrath.
Anything else you'd like readers / listeners to know: Do not be afraid of science. If the earth shows forth God's handiwork, science, through the lens of Scripture, can provide an accurate lens to see God's hand.
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