Review: I Love Jesus and I Accept Evolution
I Love Jesus and I Accept Evolution, by Denis O. Lamoureux. Wifp & Stock, Eugene, Oregon, 2009. Paperback, 203 pages.
Denis Lamoureux, a dentist with PhDs in theology and biology, presents his case for the compatibility of the Christian faith and evolution. He interweaves his own spiritual, intellectual, and emotional development with an extended discussion of the various ways one might relate God and the world. Following his conversion from a wild, atheistic life to personal faith in Jesus Christ, he first held to the Young-Earth viewpoint (a literal reading of Genesis 1-3) and a defensive anti-evolutionary stance. In time, after much research and reflection, he accepted the Old-Earth position (a critical interpretation of Genesis 1-3) and the theory of evolution.
An Associate Professor of Science and Religion at St. Joseph’s College at the University of Alberta, Canada, Lamoureux wrote this book to popularize his lengthy study of the issue of Christian faith and evolution: Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach of Evolution, 2008. In the shorter volume reviewed here, he provides almost 50 charts, comparative columns, and figures to help readers understand the many meanings and options involved. Lamoureux understands the complexity and the provocative nature of this material for churches and for public education.
The main body of his book is divided into seven chapters: Terms and Definitions; The Spectrum of Origins Positions; Ancient Science in the Bible; The Biblical Accounts of Origins; Evidence for an Old Earth and Evolution; Human Evolution; Putting Origins in Perspective. He suggests that readers become familiar with the glossary in the back of the book before starting Chapter 1.
His thesis is that there are two important areas for people to consider, integrate, and celebrate – God’s word in scripture and God’s works in nature. These two “divine books” complement each other in revealing the glory and character of the Creator. “I…propose an intimate and fruitful
relationship between Biblical faith and evolutionary science. Scripture discloses the spiritual character of the world, while science reveals the divine method of creation” (p. xvii). Lamoureux challenges scientific concordism, the conservative Christian viewpoint which holds that modern science exists in the Biblical text, that God miraculously recorded years ahead what future scientists were someday going to discover. In his view, the messages of faith are inspired, but the ancient scientific perspectives into which they are embedded are incidental and time-bound. God accommodated the original recipients of God’s Word by using their existing ancient ways of describing the earth, God’s works. The Lord meets us wherever we happen to be. That principle of accommodation operates also today as the Bible is translated many different ways to make the eternal messages of faith relevant for people. God’s word can and should be embedded into modern scientific perspectives like the “Big Bang,” evolution, millions-of-years thinking, and so on. “And should a better scientific theory than evolution be discovered in the future, the inerrant message of Genesis 1:1-5 will be easily re-accommodated to this new understanding of origins” (p. 67).
Lamoureux’s own way of connecting Christian faith with modern science is called “Evolutionary Creation.” This phrase he finds superior to “Theistic Evolution” because of the nouns used. He desires to center on creation, which absolutely depends for its very existence and life on God. The qualifying adjective indicates the method through which God made the earth. Lamoureux also has a problem with the meaning of the term “theistic.” In his last chapter, he deals with various questions people pose to him after his lectures. Responding to these questions, he virtually develops a Christian Weltanschauung in which he relates evolutionary creation to the problem of evil, time, and eternity.
What to say about this book? Anyone who has struggled to relate faith to science, as I have from my youth, will find it helpful. You come to know something about Lamoureux’s own personal faith struggles as you read. His hermeneutic is impressive – he clearly distinguishes the situation of the ancient original recipients of the Bible from ours today. He even clarifies the often-asked question of why dinosaurs are not mentioned in the Bible! Evidences for some of the findings that support biological evolution are presented and illustrated. As Pietist “readers” think and study along with him, I suspect they will learn new ways of understanding God’s unchanging, redeeming love as experienced within God’s beautiful, amazing, evolving creation. I recommend this autobiographical, scholarly, devotional book.