On Origins: A Book Review

I became aware of this book on the Biologos blog and website. Although I had not encountered either author from my numerous readings, I decided to give it a chance.

OriginsBookOrigins: A Christian Perspective on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design by Deborah Haarsma and Loren Haarsma is a good introduction into the science-religion interface for a study group. The authors provide questions to stimulate thinking and discussion, while also providing point-counterpoint in the form of ranging and diverse perspectives about various topics – which will promote more thinking and discussion.

A website tailored to the topic and this book provides a collection of over forty articles for elaboration. Each chapter end with a good set of questions for “Reflection and Discussion” while listing additional resources.

Three things haunted me in this book. First, I was leery of the inclusion of Intelligent Design in the title. My apprehension caused me to be cautious from the start. Second, an early statement of humans evolving from apes ruffled my feathers, but the authors addressed it later. Third, the survival of the fittest reference continues to bother me because I believe it to be inaccurate.

The authors targeted this text to help Christians navigate the seemingly “dangerous waters” of origins. As I have stated on this blog, the “danger” is due to a lack of or poor quality of education regarding evolution by schools and the avoidance of the topic by numerous Christian denominations.

Nonetheless, the text follows a logical sequence as it examines God, science, Genesis, the universe, evolution, Intelligent Design, origin issues, and Adam and Eve. Although each of these topics can be book of their own, Origins sets the stage for future readers to seek additional information.

In the end, this is a good resource for anyone early in their study of the interface between science and religion. I say early because it provides good introductory information serving as the foundation diving deeper into the subject and it stimulates thinking.



30 thoughts on “On Origins: A Book Review

  1. Point(s) well said and taken….
    After listening to the weather news tonight, aFA, and the predicted one to five inches of snow downtown Portland is supposed to get tomorrow….I’ll not even whisper a complaint especially after the prediction of snow and ice in your area and surrounding states….with no end in sight. My thoughts are with you and yours….


  2. I enjoy taking the books you associate with the topic of faith and science and slowly moving through them. I emphasize “slowly” because they take me a while to digest. But I’ll probably look into this one, too. Thank you!


    • Debra,
      I think (but not sure) this one was on the list I gave you. The topic isn’t easy, and sometimes I came across texts that were extra deep – but I don’t think I gave you any of those. 😉 This one was easier reading that many, thus a good one early in the journey.


  3. In dependence of the religious “belief”, of your own culture in which you grew up… as well as other exogenous factors, that’s the man looks in the mirror of the Truth (or manyTruth). Which is what comforts me most? The one that give a greater sense of my presence? Frankly, Frank 😀 your every reader will have his subjective and personalized response…
    How says “Three well beings” everything must be taken slowly, wisely, with humility.
    I love reading these topics, intriguing, sometimes a bit quirky… I see if I can find a translation in my mother tongue. Have a lovely (freezing I guess) day 🙂 claudine


    • Claudine,
      The topic is a deep one, and one that too many know too little about … thus why I have posted so much about this. I assure you that I have taken my studies in this area wisely and with humility – yet realized that all will not agree. Meanwhile, yes … it continues to be colder than normal here!


  4. “Origins: A Christian Perspective on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design” by Deborah Haarsma and Loren Haarsma, sounds interesting. Am I correct that it’s not among those you’ve recommended to me in the past on the subject of evolution?


  5. Debates on evolution and spirituality are interesting but ultimately unresolvable. Despite rhetorical reference to evolution as a “theory”, something almost always offered, it is scientific fact and only peripheral issues are still unresolved. Heliocentricity is a theory too. Spirituality and science are opposites. Faith starts with an intention to believe and derives foundations to support that belief. Science starts with observable facts and derives conclusions from them based on predictability and testing.

    I too would be bothered by a reference to “humans evolving from apes”, but the fact is that both apes and humans evolved from a common ancestor and that’s not the same thing. This also apparently applies to dogs and wolves, by the way. The latest findings (DNA evidence) indicate that dogs did not evolve from wolves but that the two did have a common ancestor.

    There’s no doubt that “survival of the fittest” is an important element of evolution, but of course it is more complicated than that. Mutation, the persistence of alleles across species, and variability within species are all vital elements. Organic chemistry continues to reveal that evolution’s workings are logical and understandable.


    • Jim,
      Thanks for our thoughtful comment that makes many good point. Last Friday I stated something like this event was about making a false choice, … thus no chance for a winner. I understand that they were quite civil, so maybe a few people actually learned something.

      BTW … Did you know that “survival of the fittest” is not a Darwin line, but from Herbert Spencer.


    • Yes, I think I did know that “survival of the fittest” was not Darwin’s phrasing. However, that concept is firmly embedded in his work as “natural selection”. Your comment prompted me (thanks for that) to do some review. From a USC Berkeley web site:

      In this struggle for existence, survival and reproduction do not come down to pure chance. Darwin and Wallace both realized that if an animal has some trait that helps it to withstand the elements or to breed more successfully, it may leave more offspring behind than others. On average, the trait will become more common in the following generation, and the generation after that.
      As Darwin wrestled with natural selection he spent a great deal of time with pigeon breeders, learning their methods. He found their work to be an analogy for evolution. A pigeon breeder selected individual birds to reproduce in order to produce a neck ruffle. Similarly, nature unconsciously “selects” individuals better suited to surviving their local conditions. Given enough time, Darwin and Wallace argued, natural selection might produce new types of body parts, from wings to eyes.


  6. Good review, sounds like an interesting book. I will put it on my list but whether I’ll get round to reading it is another thing. Since the “interweb” came along I tend to read a lot more but less books.
    Btw I’m working on a post that is extremely relevant to one of the other comments above!


  7. Well, I am one of those who don’t agree with your approach to certain matters in dispute, and I would mention to Jim Wheeler that science has corrected itself more than once, to put it mildly… and that the measure of religious predisposition can be found in the research of scientists no less than in religion. But it is good to discuss such issues. And I suppose it’s all right for you to present yourself as objective, even when you do find yourself identifying more with one side of the argument. All the same, you show respect for all sides, and that is very important.


    • Shimon,
      Jim unquestionably knows that science is self-correcting.

      As for me, I don’t claim to be open on the issue because my thoughts are set. My approach has always been to inform Christians about a blended viewpoint that they may not know, but have probably thought about. However, I am unsure what your disagreement with me on this issue because I haven’t sensed that in other posts on this topic.


Comment with respect.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.