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Can a Darwinian be a Christian?: The…

Can a Darwinian be a Christian?: The Relationship between Science and…

by Michael Ruse

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Despite such gymnastics, Ruse’s attempt at a reconciliation ultimately fails – not surprisingly, given that it requires us to accept a version of Darwinism so extreme that it has practically no adherents, and a form of Christianity that would appal most theologians and churchgoers.

He begins by defining his terms. A ‘Darwinian’ is someone who believes that life had a natural origin, that existing species evolved from earlier forms and are related by descent from common ancestors, and that the main engine of evolution is natural selection. Ruse makes no bones about accepting Darwinism: ‘I think that evolution is a fact and that Darwinism rules triumphant.’ The brand of Christianity that must be merged with it is fairly conservative, and includes the view that humans, made in God’s image, were ‘the focus and purpose of creation’. Subsequently tainted by original sin, they were brought to salvation by the crucifixion of Jesus, the son of God, who was born to a virgin. Ruse sticks to the New Testament view of God as ‘an all-powerful creator who acts out of pure love’. Such a faith entails accepting miracles, though they obviously cause him some discomfort.

Christians have good reason to feel uncomfortable about Darwinism. The fossil record shows that the Genesis version of creation is manifestly wrong if read literally, and one is left either questioning the authority of the Bible or recognising that it is a prolonged exercise in metaphor – and as such open to endless interpretation. Moreover, it is difficult for a committed Darwinist to view humans, who form one side branch of the primate lineage, as the principal object of creation.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0521631440, Hardcover)

You'll have to look hard to find a better explanation of the relationship between basic Christian tenets and the Darwinian theory of evolution than Can a Darwinian Be a Christian? by Michael Ruse. The author, a professor of philosophy and zoology at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, writes with bracing candor ("Let me be open," he begins. "I think that evolution is a fact and that Darwinism rules triumphant.") and sophisticated sympathy to Christian doctrine ("if one's understanding of Darwinism does include a natural evolution of life from nonlife, there is no reason to think that this now makes Christian belief impossible."). Writing this book, he also clearly had a hell of a lot of fun (disarming skeptical Christian readers at the beginning, he asks, "Why should the devil have all the good tunes?"). Can a Darwinian Be a Christian? answers its title question with heady confidence--"Absolutely!"--but the book journeys towards that answer with circumspect integrity. Covering territory from the Scopes "Monkey Trial" to contemporary theories of social Darwinism to the question of extraterrestrial life, Ruse applies an impressive wealth of knowledge that encompasses many disciplines. Readers may or may not be swayed, but they can't help but be challenged and edified by this excellent book. --Michael Joseph Gross

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:21 -0400)

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