Review: Dictionary of Christianity and Science

30649305Dictionary of Christianity and Science is the collective work of over 140 international scholars brought together under the editorial oversight of Paul Copan, Tremper Longman III, Christopher L. Reese, and Michael Strauss. Dictionary of Christianity and Science contains some of the highest standards of research and review, and presents a fair-minded assessment of nearly every corner of the intersection between the Christian worldview and modern science. Together with over 450 articles written on key terms, theories, individuals, debates, and more, by leading scholars and experts in the field, Dictionary of Christianity and Science has rightly positioned itself as the definitive on science and Christian belief.

The organization and format of the Dictionary of Christianity and Science is superb and unlike any other dictionary I’ve seen or used. First, the entries are well-balanced and the contributors are top-tier in the field of the topics they addressed. This is of course of first importance when it comes to any dictionary of this caliber, but this is especially the case for one that boasts itself as a definitive work. Second, the format and organization of Dictionary of Christianity and Science is easy to use and ideal for a resource of this scope. Apart from standard articles on key terms, theories, individuals, and such, the editors have also included multi-view essays on a number of controversial topics—most of which pertain to various aspects of the creation/evolution debate. Additionally, there are introductory articles that function differently than a standard essay and focus on the central facts of a topic in a shorter and more concise form. Third, as one would expect coming to a dictionary, Dictionary of Christianity and Science provides solid, succinct answers to somewhat complex and challenging topics. This provides a clear basis for both understanding and further investigation, which can be explored in the curated bibliography that follows each essay. Lastly, the ground covered in Dictionary of Christianity and Science is simply amazing for its size. To be fair, it is small print crammed into tight double columns, but the riches of information that can be harvested from its pages is simply incredible. Readers will find something new and exciting, or at least interesting, on every page of this dictionary.

While the praises for Dictionary of Christianity and Science certainly outweigh its failed opportunities, there are at least two areas I found difficult or unsatisfying as I interacted with its content over the last few months. First, although there is a decent cross-reference system (using bold text throughout), I found that the navigation between the articles was not as easy as it could have because of some of the sub-titles within articles (e.g. Age of the Universe and Earth [Billions-of-Years View]; p. 28). Also, when I first began reading through the dictionary, I found the bolded text to be distracting and overused in some cases. This turned out to be only a momentary discomfort as I continued to use the resource. Second, I found the “References and Recommended Reading” section to be lacking in many cases, and even a bit unbalanced at times. While I’m neither a scientist nor a student of science, I am familiar with much of the literature and names from that side of the discussion, and would have liked to have seen maybe a bit more representation in the bibliography. That said, what is listed, as far as I could tell during my use of the resource, is well-positioned to point the reader in the right direction.

Apart from a few minor (possible) shortcomings, Dictionary of Christianity and Science edited by Paul Copan, Tremper Longman III, Christopher L. Reese, and Michael Strauss is a fantastic resource that will be unlike anything else on your shelf. The contributors to this volume are to be commended and the editors are to be praised for their work in bringing this phenomenal dictionary into publication. If you are interested in the intersection between the Christian worldview and modern science, then Dictionary of Christianity and Science should be at the top of your wish list and kept within an arm’s reach. It will be used often and unsurpassed for the foreseeable future, and it comes highly recommended!

Review: The Grand Canyon

26635509The Grand Canyon: Monument to an Ancient Earth: Can Noah’s Flood Explain the Grand Canyon? edited by Carol Hill, Gregg Davidson, Wayne Ranney, and Tim Helble is a scientific tour de force through the geological landscape of the world famous chasm—the Grand Canyon. As the title and subtitle of the book suggest, the contributors to this volume sought to reevaluate the biblical criticism lofted by Young Earth Creationist concerning the Grand Canyon (i.e. Flood Geology) and have provided a scientific exploration of the iconic landmark without arguing against the fact that God created the Earth (p. 23).

The Grand Canyon is divided into five major sections. The initial four chapters of the book are primarily concerned with constructing a framework for the conversation within the Christian worldview. These are an excellent introduction to the ongoing debate. The remainder of the book is essentially an introductory geology textbook that uses the Grand Canyon to illustrate along the way. The reader is introduced to various aspects of geology, including sedimentary rocks, the nature of time and the issues surrounding dating, plate tectonics and the structure of the Earth, etc. There are also a number of chapters dedicated to fossils, the formation of the Canyon, as well as the conclusion of the geological evidence upon the claims of Flood Geology.

As one with minimal exposure and academic interest in the study of geology, I was hesitant to approach this book for fear that I would lack the appropriate vocabulary and understanding to follow along with the arguments being made. That said, once I got into the book, I was pleasantly surprised by the attention to detail of the editors to make this book something for everyone to read and enjoy. The book is littered with helpful illustrations and charts to explain otherwise complex geological terminology and concepts, and the pictures throughout made it more enjoyable with the turn of each page. Of course, I think this same experience may be slightly different for the reader who is unable to reconcile the biblical account with an Old Earth.

The Grand Canyon: Monument to an Ancient Earth: Can Noah’s Flood Explain the Grand Canyon? edited by Carol Hill, Gregg Davidson, Wayne Ranney, and Tim Helble is a helpful and user-friendly exploration into the nature of science and faith that should be read by many. It is uncommon that one comes across a work which aims to remain faithful to both Special and General Revelation. This is one of those rare occasions, and I believe that it should be read, challenged, and discussed with intellectual integrity. It comes highly recommended!

 

I received a review copy of this books in exchange for and honest review. 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.

Review: How I Changed My Mind About Evolution

26598233How I Changed My Mind About Evolution: Evangelicals Reflect on Faith and Science edited by Kathryn Applegate and J. B. Stump brings together the interdisciplinary voice of twenty-five respected scholars to discuss their collective change of heart on one of the most controversial issues of modern times—evolution. The contributors include scientists such as Francis Collins and Denis Lamoureux, pastors such as Kin Fong and John Ortberg, biblical scholars such as N. T. Wright, Tremper Longman III, and Scot McKnight, and theologians and philosophers such as Oliver Crisp and Amos Yong.

As the inaugural volume in the BioLogos Books on Science and Christianity series, this volume appropriately opens the conversation with a chance for the reader to listen and engage with familiar faces. Each essay is a brief and well-written account of the author’s personal journey to understanding evolutionary creation as the best scientific explanation of how God brought about diversity of life on earth. Not all readers are going to find the conclusions of these essays convincing. But the challenge shouldn’t be to simply align with the author’s conviction.  Rather, the challenge should be to listen and engage with the author regardless of their conviction. That is how a conversation works and that is how this book will function.

As an Old Earth Creationist, my personal contention with the book isn’t where most readers will find their disagreement. Unlike the majority of evangelicals, I have no issue with the age of the earth associated with evolutionary creation. The real difficulty for me is in the countless attempts to reconcile the evolutionary process with the authoritative witness of Scripture. It is a big hurdle and I have yet to find an adequate answer to make the jump. While I did find these essays to be both enlightening and helpful to my overall understanding of the conversation, I remained unpersuaded and unmoved in my convictions. But, then again, the book is not designed to move convictions. It is designed to open the conversation and move the dialogue, and that it does with both grace and excellence!

How I Changed My Mind About Evolution: Evangelicals Reflect on Faith and Science edited by Kathryn Applegate and J.B. Stump is a book well-worth the reader’s time and reflection. The reader will encounter many familiar faces, and their worlds will be open to a conversation that they may have once neglected. This likely isn’t a book that will change your thinking, but it is a book that will orient your head and heart towards a journey that many respected scholars have taken with both caution and carefulness. For those interested in the intersection between faith and science, and those who are able to think independently and critically about the subject matter, this book comes highly recommended!

 

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 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.