For those who would like a summary of standard creationist arguments, John Ashton provides an impressive list: problems with the big bang theory, the fine-tuned conditions for life on earth, the low probabilities for the chance formation of organic molecules, life’s complexity, few beneficial mutations have been observed, the lack of intermediate fossils, mass extinctions, well-preserved fossils including organic material, catastrophic sedimentary deposits, and many others. The book includes chapters about scientists who reject Darwin’s theory and anecdotal evidence for an intervening God. The author also mentions some infrequent creationist arguments: George Dodwell calculating the date for a recent earth catastrophe based on the wobble of the earth’s axis, premonitions of disaster providing evidence for an intervening God, and dreams leading to scientific discoveries.
I have found that Adventist archaeology1 provides lessons in using these arguments: (1) do not claim more than the data warrants or stretch interpretations to explain things away, (2) work within the scientific community, (3) present constructive explanations for data more than just pointing out problems with existing scientific models, (4) do not place on science the burden of proving the Bible, and (5) use science to study God’s ongoing processes in nature without expecting it to explain God’s one-time interventions.2
Some of these lessons suggest cautions for using arguments in this book. For example, it is true that uniformitarian assumptions cannot be used to explain everything about earth’s history (69, 77, 136); but geologists do not necessarily expect uniform conditions and rates.3 Fossils may be out of order in the Canadian Rocky Mountains (104), but evidence there for overthrusting is readily apparent to explain the different order. Fred Hoyle may talk about some superior intelligence (153, 175), but it did not lead him to believe in God. Hoyle did successfully predict a fine-tuned carbon resonance as necessary for the existence of carbon and thus life (148), but the prediction was based on the assumption that earth’s carbon came from long ages of stellar evolution. The creationist argument that radiometric age isochrons are really mixing lines (137, 138) is an interesting suggestion, but considerable study is needed to determine whether it can be used as a general scientific explanation.
The evidence and logic of science are important in understanding our universe, but more than that is needed to draw people to Christ. The best argument is a consistent Christlike “life of disinterested love”4 that treats even the bitterest opponents with respect,5 provides a welcoming and caring community, and makes the world a better place using science in service. The Adventist understanding of origins provides a picture of a good and powerful Creator even in the face of evil: (1) Evil is not God’s fault, for He made a good creation. (2) Evil resulted from our God-given free will to choose love or rebellion, thus the Fall. (3) God is fair and just and Noah’s flood provides an example. (4) Evil is felt by the Creator along with us as most prominently displayed at the Incarnation. (5) Evil is limited to a short time in both the past and the future, as alluded to in our name Seventh-day and Adventist.
The author is to be commended for drawing both the religious and secular mind to our good and powerful Creator—trustworthy in the face of evil and able to do so much more than humans can explain. The foreword of the book presents ideal goals to continue striving for: “look at all the evidence,” “have open minds,” and “find the truth.”
Reviewed by Ben Clausen, PhD, senior research scientist, Geoscience Research Institute, Loma Linda, California, United States.
1 Randall W. Younker, “Integrating Faith, the Bible, and Archaeology: A Review of the ‘Andrews University Way’of Doing Archaeology,” in The Future of Biblical Archaeology: Reassessing Methodologies and Assumptions, eds. James K. Hoffmeier and Alan Millard (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004), 52.
2 Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1890), 113.
3 Stephen Jay Gould, “Is Uniformitarianism Necessary?” American Journal of Science 263 (March 1965): 223–228.
4 White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898), 142.
5 White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1901), 6:120–123.