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4 Stars Out Of 5
A good conversation starter
March 5, 2014
Tim Stafford is a freelance writer and Senior Writer for Christianity Today Magazine. He's written more than twenty books, both fiction and non-fiction. His latest is just out: The Adam Quest: Eleven scientists who held on to a strong faith while wrestling with the mystery of human origins.
This book is for anyone who has ever said that science and faith are opposites. Each chapter of this book tells the story of a different research scientist who attempts to address all of the "hot topics" of young earth vs old earth, geology, paleontology, creation, evolution, intelligent design and more!
In each chapter Stafford uses his skills as an interviewer to bring out the personal stories and questions each of these scientists has in an informative and open discussion.
However, I don't know that this book tries to "answer any questions" or "settle any debates," I think this book better serves as a conversation starter and an opener for anyone who is interested in this field or who has questions.
All that to say is the book might not appeal to "scientists" or people who have already devoted a lot of time and study to this field. I think this book better serves as a discussion starter and begins the process of bringing faith and science together.
Thank you to Thomas Nelson for this preview copy in exchange for a fair and honest review
Stafford has interviewed and tells the stories of scientists who are also Bible-believing Christians. They love the Bible and they love science. The scientists fall into three categories: young earth creationists, intelligent design creationists, evolutionary creationists. Stafford has a final chapter where he identifies what he considers to be the strengths and weaknesses of each position.
Stafford writes much about on the life stories of the scientists than he does on their understanding of the relationship between the Bible and the findings of science, particularly evolution. Some say evolution really isn't science since it is not observable, repeatable and testable. Some compartmentalize their lives. Some "think belief in God is congruent with what evolution reveals." (180) Many comment that there are unanswered questions and we are still learning.
"My goal," Stafford writes, "was for readers to get to know them and to understand their points of view." (199) The idea being, I think, that if we know some of the story of these people we are more likely to be understanding of their positions. Stafford hopes that the dialog around the issue of origins will one of being faithful to Scripture yet seeing science as a gift from God, all realizing that there is so much more yet to learn. (211-212)
I was disappointed in the book. I had hoped to read much more about how these scientists "held on to a strong faith while wrestling with the mystery of human origins" (subtitle). Having read the book, I know each scientist's life story but generally do not know how they reconcile their faith in God with the findings of science.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
I would recommend this book to anyone wondering how to reconcile the findings of science with faith. Science is not to be tossed aside by the religious community. This author uses different scientists ( all Christians) who explain their ideas on the origin of man. He uses young earth creationists, ID supporters, and those who agree with theistic evolution. These scientists do not try to bash those with differing ideas, but realize science is a very important tool to discover HOW things have arisen. You can be a follower of Christ and still agree with evolution. It is not right that these individuals get put down because they try to follow where the evidence leads them. God is the creator of the universe and we try to put him into a nice neat little box too much. It's time we realize God is greater than we ever immagined! Let's not put those down with different ideas than our own. No matter what you believe about evolution, this is a fantastic read! Thanks to the author and those interviewed!
"The real problem is that the church doesn't have a place for evangelical scholars to devote their lives to a very complicated subject, think about it, test it with other scholars, and eventually come to some kind of consensus."-Ard Louis, pages 150-151 of The Adam Quest.
The Adam Quest (2013) by Tim Stafford is a unique book. Born out of his own experiences with his son getting "burned by the fight over Genesis" (p.2), Stafford set out to interview scientists who "held on to a strong Christian faith while wrestling with the mystery of human origins" (from the cover). In approaching the topic, Stafford intentionally sought well trained scientists who held strong opinions, but were not quick to condemn others (p. 7). In doing so, he presented compelling biological sketches of eleven scientists representing a variety of viewpoints.
This book has many strengths to its credit. Stafford as a senior writer for Christianity Today is a gifted communicator. He was able to craft excellent stories. In fact, I found it very difficult to set this book down. I had to lead a group last night, but I would have been thankful to stay home and keep devouring this volume.
Stafford is also intentionally careful not to show his hand too early. For the most part, he seemed to fairly present the positions held by young earth creationists, intelligent design advocates, and evolutionary creationists. For anyone who reads about how to interpret Genesis 1 to 11, this is an amazingly difficult task as opinions are routinely strong. There were certainly some strong opinions from the scientists here as well, but humility was a common thread in this book, which I appreciated because it is so often missing from our dialog.
Another thing that I appreciated was that Stafford not only represented a variety of viewpoints on creationism, but that the people he included represented a variety of denominational backgrounds--Anglican, Catholic, Nazarene, and Baptist to name a few. I wonder how often we make assumptions about which denominations will appropriately support scientists. Stafford interviewed a variety.
I did have concerns about this book as well. Stafford anticipates this argument, but for some who read it, they will be concerned that their positions are underrepresented or unfairly characterized. I would have appreciated it if he would have recruited an equal number of scientists from each of the main traditions, but evolutionary creationism is the most strongly represented among the scientists interviewed.
I also think it would have been beneficial for Stafford to explore the underlying worldview assumptions of the authors in greater depth. For example, many of the proponents of evolution see no problem with a "levels-of-explanation" point of view. Essentially, there are multiple ways of getting at truth and they need not integrate to any significant degree. I would like to explore this further, but unfortunately it is beyond the scope of this review. We all approach issues with basic assumptions about the way the world works and failure to account for those assumptions is detrimental, I believe.
There is much wisdom from the scientists presented. Though I essentially agree with Stafford's delineation of each positions strengths and weaknesses, I disagree with Stafford's final conclusions, yet I cannot fault his approach. This is a well written book written with humility. I suspect that Tim Stafford, all of the scientists presented, and I would agree on this: we hold to those things of first importance, that Jesus was crucified for our transgressions and that he rose again on the third day and that those who believed will be saved.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.comÂ® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."