Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Book Notes: Can We Believe Genesis Today? by Ernest Lucas

I believe it was Dr Stumpy Greenisland who recommended this one to me - and he is usually a reliable recommender of good reading material. As he is a scientist by trade and a Christian by conviction, books on the interplay between science and faith are very much his area, so I knew he wouldn't recommend anything unworthy of attention. What I was less sure about is whether I would understand a book (with sciency bits in it) that he suggested!

I was relieved to find though, that Ernest Lucas' two PhD's (one in science, one in theology) have not made him incomprehensible to students schooled in only one of those disciplines - but has made him rather adept at communicating between the two - at a popular level. This book is especially useful because it contains not merely his argument - but a textbook style overview of different problems in theology and science (especially as concerns Genesis) and the range of suggested solutions. He does however go on to state which of those solutions he finds most reasonable and why. I was amazed at how much science I learnt in the course of it!

It strikes me that while most books, be they theology, science, history, sociology, psychology, or whatever, explore a very narrow area of specialist knowledge in highly technical language - more interdisciplinary studies like this are needed, to explore the interfaces between such disciplines and to educate the ordinary reader as to the conclusions.

Lucas, although a molecular biologist in his scientific career, has taken a lot of time to also explore other crucial areas of science, such geology, fossil records, physics and so forth, to present the reader with an introductory guide to the current debates. A biblical critic by theological training he also presents three main ways in which the Genesis texts have been handled over the course of the last 1800 years - and suggests ways that they should be faithfully, yet responsibly read today.

This book will not satisfy the advanced student of either biblical criticism or of the scientific disciplines referred to. However as a starting point in the discussion it is most helpful. The bibliography at the end of each chapter is also helpfully annotated indicating where to go to explore more from the different positions explored there.


His Girl Friday said...

interesting, thanks for the reference.

DSG said...

One does ones best to oblige.....