Subtitled “Finding Our Way Through the Creation Controversy,” this excellent educational resource does a fair-minded, even-handed, and educationally helpful job of dealing with the issues raised by evolution and other sciences. The theological stance is thoroughly Reformed, and the science is presented as the scientists know it to be. This is a breath of fresh air in what is often a contentious battleground, and neatly sidesteps the minefields to get a broader perspective. The four lessons in this unit may take 4-8 class periods.
The Evolution Dialogues, Catherine Baker and James B. Miller (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2006). Order from www.aaas.org/ spp/dser/publications.shtml, or www.amazon.com. (Reviewed by D.L.P.)
Target: Senior High and College.
This is a plain language treatment of both scientific and religious issues, especially as related to evolution. Each chapter is introduced by a fictional episode in which a college freshman dialogues with her biology academic advisor and a campus minister about her struggles to integrate her Christian faith with what she learns in biology classes. In alternating chapters, the main body of the text deals in an evenhanded manner both with the science of evolution and with religious responses, treating both from a historical perspective. A free study guide may be downloaded from www.aaas.org/spp/ dser/images_Doser/Publications/evol_dialogue_study_guide.pdf
Religion and Science: Pathways to Truth (Wesley Ministry Network, 2008). Order from www.WesleyMinistryNetwork.com. (Suggested by C.E.R., reviewed by D.L.P.)
Target: College age, adults.
The format of this well-produced series of nine lessons will be familiar to anyone who has used the “Disciple” series of Bible studies. Each lesson is introduced by a video on DVD, and leader and participants guides include suggested discussion questions. The series, and each speaker, is introduced by the noted scientist Francis Collins. Although each lesson is designed to last 90 minutes, an option allows each session to be split into two, 45-minute segments. The presenters speak from a variety of theological backgrounds, but all affirm the essential compatibility of science and Christian faith. The package also includes a bonus DVD with additional material. This series would make an excellent church adult study.
The Thoughtful Christian, catalog and ordering information at www.thethoughtfulchristian.com/New Site/Main/Category.asp? (Reviewed by S.J.M.)
Target: Units available for both youth and adults
The Thoughtful Christian provides units that supply the necessary scientific and theological background for almost anyone to lead a class on issues involving science and Christian faith. The format includes a leader’s guide and handouts for the class. The catalog includes many topics related to environmental concerns, ranging from an overview of “Global Climate Change” to “What’s in Your Water Bottle.” There are also topics related to medical ethics, health care reform, the use of technology, mental illness, and creation and evolution. Most of the units related to science and technology are listed under Contemporary Issues: Social and Ethical Issues. Churches can pay for an annual subscription that allows multiple members to download the course materials or individuals can pay for individual lessons.
George Murphy is a Lutheran pastor who holds a Ph.D. in quantum physics. This book deals with 15 topics for study, starting with “What are the Questions?” and concluding with “The Church’s Mission.” In between, Murphy touches on many of the issues involving faith and science. Although (as the title suggests) Murphy approaches his subject from a committed Christian perspective, his presentation is honest to science as well as to Christian faith. Each chapter ends with suggested topics for discussion.
Can you believe in God and Evolution? Ted Peters and Martinez Hewlett (Abingdon Press, 2006). Order from www.cokesbury.com. (Reviewed by B.A.P.)
Target: Adults, clergy, teachers, college.
The subtitle “A guide for the perplexed” accurately describes the purpose and scope of this book. The authors deal constructively with the misconceptions about evolution and Christian faith that have been the source of much conflict between some Christians and some scientists. The authors treat all sides of the controversies with sensitivity, while concluding firmly that we can believe in both God and evolution. A free discussion guide can be downloaded from www.cokesbury.com/ PDF/TeachableBooks/EvolutionBookteachablebookquestions.pdf.
This contribution from ELCA and UCC members of the Ecumenical Roundtable on Science, Technology and the Church gives pastors/preachers a starting point for preaching the gospel in a world profoundly influenced by science and technology. It comprises commentaries on Biblical texts relating to natural phenomena, miracles, and healing incidents. There are three subsections: (1) texts in the three-year lectionary cycle, (2) texts common to all three years, and (3) “free texts” beyond the other categories. There are also extensive indexes and appendices.
Other books suitable for personal or group study:
The Language of God, Francis Collins (Free Press, 2006). (Reviewed by D.L.P.)
This book is an easy read, describing the journey of noted medical researcher Francis Collins from atheism to Christian belief and commitment.
When Science Meets Religion, Ian Barbour (HarperSanFrancisco, 2000); Science & Religion: from Conflict to Conversation, John F. Haught (Paulist Press, 1995); Science and Theology, John C. Polkinghorne (Fortress Press, 1998). (Reviewed by D.L.P.)
These three books are introductory treatments of the relationships between religious faith and the natural sciences, written by three prominent thinkers in this new field of theology. Barbour held professorships in religion and in physics at Carleton College, retiring in 1986 as Winifred and Atherton Bean Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology and Society. He was awarded the John Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1999. Polkinghorne resigned his professorship of mathematical physics at Cambridge University in order to study for the priesthood in the Church of England. He has written prolifically in issues of science and faith. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1997 and was awarded the Templeton Prize in 2002. Haught is a Catholic systematic theologian, who has specialized in issues of science and faith. He was a professor of theology at Georgetown University for many years, and is now a distinguished research professor at the same institution.