Posted by: paulgarner | August 13, 2010

Origins reviews The New Creationism

My book, The New Creationism, has been reviewed in the latest edition of Origins magazine (July 2010, Number 53, p.23) published by the Biblical Creation Society (BCS). The reviewer is Professor Colin Reeves. You can find out more about BCS, including how to become a member, here.

There is certainly no shortage of books on creation and evolution, but most are sadly rather predictable, contenting themselves with a tour through the manifest flaws of Darwinism. In some cases this may be coupled with an analysis of Genesis 1-11, leading to conclusions that reflect the writer’s stance on the meaning of the word ‘day’ (Hebrew: yôm) in Genesis one, the status of Adam and Eve, the purpose of the genealogies etc.

Paul Garner’s book does all this, extremely competently and very readably, but it also does something more. He sets out his case for a 6 (24-hour) day creation week and for reading the genealogies as actual history, so that he stands unequivocally for a ‘young earth’ position. But thereafter he does not leave matters at the level of a critique. Rather he is concerned to build scientific models on the basis that the early chapters of Genesis are true history. In this he is not alone, of course, and much of the work he reports has been done by others. (Not all, I hasten to add, since Garner is a scientist who is prepared to get his hands dirty – literally so in the case of his geological research). What is impressive, though, is the way he has been able to synthesize and explain some of this technical work with great clarity and lucidity.

The areas of science covered in this work concentrate on cosmology, biology and geology. The degree to which progress in scientific model-building has been made by creationists varies quite substantially, but Garner describes several cases where it is nevertheless significant. Indeed, scientific models have been developed to such an extent that it is impossible to give more than a flavour of what are quite specialized theories, requiring graduate-level physics, biology, geology etc. But whether it is Humphreys’ time-dilation model of cosmology, the implications of the RATE1 project’s work on radiometric dating, Oard’s ice-age model or the relevance of catastrophic plate tectonics, Garner manages to help the reader understand the principles of some advanced technical ideas. There is also a handy glossary of most of the necessary technical terms in case readers get lost. Other topics covered include the origins of life, language and culture, some novel ideas on speciation and understanding the fossil record in the context of the Genesis Cataclysm. Where scientists differ in their theories, he gives a fair and balanced account of their reasons for this.

There is very little to criticise here; some might complain that the title is not very informative – but the subtitle deals with that problem. It is questionable whether biblical quotations should have uniformly been taken from the King James Version, since this slightly obscures the argument for universal animal vegetarianism before the Fall (p.158), for example. A more comprehensive bibliography would also have been useful – it is limited to major works – as it can be hard work tracking down the complete reference for a citation that has been made more than once (e.g., try finding the original citation for note 4 on p.212). And some of the references are rather cryptic – does everyone understand what TJ means, for example?

Despite these slight – and mainly editorial – blemishes, they cannot hide the fact that this book is a tremendous achievement. It is very accessible to non-scientists, and it should encourage the Christian layman that it is possible to do origins science on the basis of a creation model, rather than trying to accommodate the assumptions of neo-Darwinism in some form of ‘theistic evolution’. For those readers who are scientists (and especially students who plan to follow a scientific career), it should arouse an interest in scientific research that operates on the assumption that Genesis is valid history. There is clearly much more to be inferred and revised, as Garner is also concerned to acknowledge that scientific models cannot have the status of the Bible. They are always provisional, and open to correction or even complete overthrow, even when they are built on biblical foundations. So this book manages to be both a satisfying survey of current creationist research, and a stimulus towards future developments. It is highly recommended.

Footnotes

1. RATE stands for Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth.

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