Explore God’s Two Books: God’s Word and God’s Works – Reflecting on “Evolution: Scripture and Nature Say Yes!”
25% and 23%
These two numbers represent the reason why Denis Lamoureux wrote his new book Evolution: Scripture and Nature Say Yes!
The first is the percentage of young adults who perceive Christianity as anti-science. The second is the percentage of those who have been turned off by debates surrounding evolution and creationism. Lamoureux finds both numbers shocking; he thinks you should, too.
To help mitigate the fallout of these two numbers, Lamoureux has offered readers a framework for understanding the two “Books” of God. He hopes this framework hopes will help Christian students navigate the tension of modern science and the Bible. What are these two books, you ask?
The Book of God’s Words is the Bible. Scripture reveals spiritual truths concerning our Creator, his creation and us. The Book of God’s Works is the physical world. Science is a wonderful gift from the Lord to explore the heavens and the earth and all the wonderful creatures. (15)
We’ve briefly outlined the content of these two Books and how they complement and contrast one another in order to help you develop your view of the relationship between the Christian faith and science, particularly your position on origins.
The Book of God’s Word: Scripture
In opening the Book of God’s Words, Lamoureux introduces us to a concept within the creation accounts called “picture language.” By this view, rather than revealing basic scientific facts in Scripture, creating a so-called “scientific concordism,” God is said to have accommodated to a limited human understanding of science.
One of the first pictures cited is that of the universe itself. As Genesis 1:6–8 reveals, ancient people believed a massive hard blue dome covered the earth (the “firmament” or “vault” of Genesis 1:6 means “a hard dome”). So according to the ancient science of the biblical writers, “to conclude there was a heavenly body of water held by a solid structure made perfect sense.” (29) Lamoureux argues this picture was God’s way of including “ancient science” in the Book of God’s Words.
Another picture of creation comes through ancient poetry, built on the structure of two parallel panels. Lamoureux argues that Genesis 1 utilizes such an ancient poetic scheme in order to showcase the progress of creation:
But Lamoureux says these pictures are not ultimately scientific, citing evidence from the Book of God’s Works.
Though Lamoureux initially found these pictures troubling, “it became clear that Genesis 1 could not be a literal and scientific account of how God actually made the world.” (31) Instead, the Lord came down to the intellectual level of ancient people, using a communication style known as the Principle of Accommodation. “In doing so, God used their understanding of nature (ancient science) and their writing techniques (ancient poetry) as vessels to deliver life-changing spiritual truths.” (31)
The Book of God’s Works: Nature
After earning his PhD in theology and before earning his PhD in biology, Lamoureux realized the Bible was not a book of science. But, as he says, he still had a Grand Plan to destroy the theory of evolution. Since he was a dentist by trade, he focused his scientific studies on what he thought was the best evidence disproving it: teeth and jaws. Instead, what he saw shook him.
He had been taught there were no transitional fossils, “fossils of extinct animals that appear in between two different kinds of extinct animals in the rock layers of the earth” and that “share characteristics with the animals from which they evolved and also have features of the animals into which they evolve.” (33) Such fossils are said to prove the transition from, say, reptiles to mammals. And he had handled a number of such fossils.
I tried my best to explain their existence through an anti-evolutionary view of origins. But I could not deny this scientific evidence in the Book of God’s Works, and eventually I accepted evolution. (33)
Lamoureux provides several examples, complete with informative figures. One such example is the teeth of reptiles and mammals. As he explains:
Most reptiles have simple cone-shaped, single-rooted teeth that are all about the same size. These teeth function well for grasping and killing animals, but they are not useful for chewing…
As reptiles evolved into animals known as “mammal-like reptiles,” a special tooth began to lengthen at the corners of the mouth…[which] eventually became the prominent canine tooth we see in lions today. (36, 37)
After engaging the Book of God’s Works, Lamoureux came to this conclusion: the evidence for evolutionary biology is overwhelming.
“Together, God’s Two Books—Scripture and nature—provide us with a divine revelation of who created the world and how he created it.” (15)
Engage Lamoureux’s book yourself to consider how a strong, God-centered biblical faith can co-exist with an admiration for modern science, including evolution.