First off, this book is gorgeous! I’m required to tell you I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, but this was not what I was expecting. I expected a little paperback copy that was marked as a review copy and still brimming with typos.
When I opened the box, my jaw dropped. This is a coffee-table book. A keepsake. The book is large, the cover is beautiful, and the drawings and charts it contains are colorful and well-done. I will display this book for years, both for its cover and its content.
Because, make no mistake, the content is amazing, too. Carol Hill teaches geology at the University of New Mexico, where she can easily study one of her passions, the Grand Canyon. She has a Ph.D. in geology and has been featured on NOVA and National Geographic Naked Science. She is also a committed Christian who loves the Bible.
And her approach to balancing the Bible and science is one I’ve been waiting for. She distances herself from the Christians who come thisclose to rejecting the Bible to accommodate the findings of science, but also those who (to be honest) disregard almost every major finding from almost every branch of science in order to stick to their interpretation of Genesis One.
The idea? The worldview of the writers and original hearers impacted how they viewed creation. Our understanding of their world should strongly impact how we interpret the Bible, especially the parts that potentially intersect with modern science. It’s a subtle distinction from the view of many who appreciate science at (it sometimes seems) the expense of the authority of Scripture.
She establishes her idea in the beginning of the book, then shows how it impacts the way we could/should read the Creation narratives, the Fall, the Flood, and more. The writing is solid. The full-color pictures and charts make it come alive.
One section I especially appreciate is her work on Adam and Eve. It’s always seemed to me that many Christians who appreciate science are a little to quick to jettison the idea of a literal Adam and Eve. I’m glad she thinks it is possible to reconcile Adam and science.
Like I said at the beginning, I will be keeping this book in easy reach for the foreseeable future, both for its beauty, but even more so for its content.
Unfortunately, one of the book’s greatest strengths can also be a weakness. This is a beautiful coffee-table book. It’s not a take-it-to-the-bathroom book, or stick-it-in-your-backpack-to-read-at-the-coffee-shop-or-on-a-plane-book. It’s too big and beautiful for those things. That means it is a difficult book to read cover-to-cover, though I think that would be highly valuable to do so. I personally read the introductory material, then paged through it, picking articles almost at random, enjoying the pictures and graphs. I kind of wish it came with a Kindle version so I could read it where I normally read and finish books–coffee shops, airplanes, my bed, and my bathroom.
It also suffers from an ailment I see in many books by people who were raised in Young-Earth Creationism who are writing for people who are still in the YEC camp. The author no longer understands where she came from.
A major example of this is the way she refers to the “author(s)” of Genesis. She doesn’t say Moses, or even author. It’s “author(s)”. Her reason for doing so is solid. Genesis shows many marks of being a compiled work (like Chronicles and Luke and John admit to being) rather than a book like Galatians which is a one-author, one-writing session composition. Genesis even comes close to admitting such when it both records Moses’ death and calls him the most humble person who ever lived.
But as someone still closely associated with good, sincere YEC Christians, I know that “author(s)” is a strong trigger. Heck, it triggers me. I think it would be much more productive to give a reason for admitting that many of the stories of Genesis were compiled more than composed, then also admit it’s very possible Moses was the primary compiler, then follow Jesus’ lead and just refer to the author as Moses. That would make it much easier to read for people who currently disagree with her but are willing to read dissenting opinions.
All that aside, this is a great book. I am so glad I have it in my library, or rather, on prominent display on a coffee table.