Nature’s Witness: How Evolution Can Inspire Faith—Daniel Harrell
People of faith insist that God is the God of the world around us. Yet scientific evidence supporting evolution seems to offer an explanation of reality different from the biblical one. In light of this apparent conflict, some choose either to deny the scientific data or separate science and faith from each other, giving the appearance that faith is disconnected from reality. Others accommodate faith to science, but run the risk of watering down faith to “fill in the blanks” left by science.
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.
“Some Christians are fighting the wrong battle. Evolution is not the enemy, as Daniel Harrell argues persuasively. 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
“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
“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
“Many Christians steer clear of the evolution debate, fearing an adverse impact on their faith; others dismiss the scientific facts outright. But what if evolution is true? Venture into the maze of science, scripture, theology, and faith with Daniel Harrell, and you will not be disappointed. It is a challenging and bumpy ride, but your faith will be informed, strengthened, and even inspired by the journey.” —Eileen Boye, Ph.D., Instructor in Developmental Biology, Harvard School of Dental Medicine
“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
“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 lifeÂ’s beginnings and life’s future. YouÂ’ll 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 you’re 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 humanity’s 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 whatÂ’s at stake, but who also knows that our faith has nothing to fear in the face of the facts of God’s world. And now, happily, we have Daniel Harrell’s book. Full of wisdom, humility, patience and good humor, it’s a book I never dared to hope for. Enjoy it, and give thanks.” —Stephen Matheson, associate professor of biology, Calvin College