THE ORIGINS OF LIFE: Evolution as Creation by Hoimar von Ditfurth

THE ORIGINS OF LIFE: Evolution as Creation

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KIRKUS REVIEW

As the voices of American evolutionists and creationists rise, it is good to report that at least one European scientist is striving to achieve a reconciliation. In von Ditfurth's view, evolution removes deity from the constraints and literalism of a static world, as Fundamentalists construe it, and enobles religious belief. God becomes a God of the cosmos, a universe that is itself evolving and may, in some Beyond at the end of time, reach a transcendent state. At the outset, von Ditfurth dons his scientific mantle to cite various proofs of evolution, such as the minor differences in the makeup of cytochrome C, an enzyme found in all living cells. Molecular analysis enables the enzyme's structure to be mapped, amino acid by amino acid; changes in these subunits indicate the degree of genetic separation between any two species and the time that has passed since they shared a common ancestor. Successive chapters deal with the origin of the universe, Darwinism, the nature of the genetic code, the randomness of mutations--in each case, offering a nice summary of present knowledge, plus some speculation, all on the side of science. As von Ditfurth the believer emerges, we encounter arguments for transcendence. He does hot regard the nature of consciousness, or of mind, as subjects amenable to scientific analysis. The very dualism that exists in atomic physics, as well as classic Cartesian mind-body dualism, is evidence of a transcendent realm. In certain categories of knowledge, von Ditfurth's reconciliation amounts to an existential leap of faith. No doubt many Christian believers who are also experimental biologists subconsciously make this leap, while Godless scientists simply don't concern themselves. For believing non-scientists, then, von Ditfurth provides some aid and spiritual comfort: evolution to the Greater Glory of God.

Pub Date: Nov. 24th, 1982
Publisher: Harper & Row