Deploring both the atheistic and “intelligent-design” camps that have polarized recent debates over Darwin, this smart, well-informed but conflicted treatise insists that Christianity and evolution are entirely compatible.
Centering the author’s treatment of this contentious subject is a lucid, engaging defense of evolution against creationist obfuscations. Glass delivers a superb exposition of Darwinian theory and a meticulous, sharply reasoned discussion of the evidence—fossils, DNA analysis, vestigial or oddly engineered organs that suggest descent from distant species, direct observations of evolutionary change—that supports it. He supplements his discussion with a brief, engrossing history of life, taking readers from the earliest microbes through the emergence of the major categories of flora and fauna—birds, he contends, are essentially flying dinosaurs—to a detailed account of the evolution of man. Glass is uncompromising and persuasive in his dismissal of “creation science,” but his efforts to conjoin evolution to robust Christian faith are less compelling. Rejecting literalist readings of the Bible, he argues that the fundamentalist view of a God who instigates every event, or of a “God of the gaps” who lurks in every natural phenomenon that science can’t yet explain, misunderstands a supernatural God who stands outside time and space but can choose to work through physical laws and random happenstance. Steeped in Aquinas and St. Augustine, Glass is no mealymouthed agnostic—he believes in an unerringly good, omniscient God and serves up involved discussions of Christ’s divinity and the Trinitarian mystery. However, his full-blooded Christianity sits a bit awkwardly beside his scientific rationalism. His logic is impeccable when he insists that evolutionary theory does not rule out the existence of God, but he offers no positive evidence for a deity. (That, he contends, would be the error of looking to nature for proof of a God who transcends it.) Glass makes a stronger case for evolution than for Christianity, but readers of all persuasions will find his attempt to reconcile the two illuminating.
A fine introduction to evolutionary science that leaves room for religion.