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Book Reviews, Christianity and Science, Old Earth Creationism, Science

Book Review: “Who Was Adam?” – 10-Year Update by Fazale Rana with Hugh Ross

who-was-adam-ranaross

Who Was Adam? by Fazale Rana with Hugh Ross is a major work on human origins from the group Reasons to Believe, an Old-Earth Creationist think-tank. This edition, the 10-Year Update, features over 100 pages of additional material analyzing recent discoveries.

The book is organized in such a way that the first two parts are the original book, while the third part is all new material and analysis. Rana and Ross do an admirable job surveying an immense amount of scientific material related to human origins. They present what they argue is a scientific, creationist model (called the Reasons to Believe model [hereafter referred to as the RTB model]) on human origins. This model includes predictions and testable hypotheses. For example, one of the main predictions is that humans–homo sapiens sapiens–are utterly unique and that their cultural capacity will turn out to be unmatched. Thus, any alleged ancestors of humans will not demonstrate continuity of culture and the like.

They take as confirmation of this prediction the notion that biologists have not managed to put together a solid order in which to place the fossils that are alleged to be human ancestors. Without any such family tree that can be confirmed, the notion that humans evolved, Rana and Ross argue, remains a theory and the question of human evolution is not a fact. They conclude this after having looked at a number of major fossil finds while identifying difficulties with dating them, difficulties with taxonomy and identification, and more.

The updated portion of the book is significant. Those wondering if it is worth getting for this update should know the answer is in the affirmative. There are over 100 additional pages filled with analysis of more recent discoveries and how they impact the RTB model of human origins. To their credit, the authors frankly admit areas in which their predictions were mistaken or their model is challenged. Perhaps the most interesting section is that in which Rana and Ross analyze various behaviors thought to be evidence of early culture among hominids and the like (chapter 23). They show that these behaviors might be anthropomorphism of animal behavior. The chapter on junk DNA shows how scientific discovery has confirmed one of the predictions of the RTB model, and the concluding pair of chapters analyze arguments for and against the RTB model and its viability.

One critique I have is particularly evident in the original work (not in the expanded materials, though), is the occasional use of pure rhetoric to try to make a point. For example, in discussing hominid and homo fossils, Rana and Ross argue that the connections between these fossils has not been established. They therefore conclude that “Without these connections, human evolution cannot be declared a fact but remains a theory” (42). I find this type of wording unfortunate.

Some of the other reasoning behind the RTB model seems possible to go either way (i.e. towards evolutionary theory or the RTB model). For example, Chapter 6 outlines a number of conditions which are to demonstrate humans arrived at the just-right timing for human civilization to flourish–something the RTB model would predict. On the other hand, the authors state the evolutionary model would not necessarily predict this. However, it seems that–from my admittedly limited understanding of biology–the evolutionary model would also predict something similar because life adapts so well that if there was a “just right” circumstance for a type of life, that life would be selected for. Whether this is accurate or not is a different question (and whether I have it right), but it doesn’t seem like this is necessarily evidence for RTB over and against evolution.

The difficulty of evidence that could go either way is one of the biggest difficulties throughout the book. Arguments are often made that because the RTB model allows for a specific piece of evidence, that means that the RTB model is still viable. But there is a difference between confirmation of a model and lack of disconfirmation. It would be more reassuring to have more specific scientific evidence in favor of the model rather than simply being able to be subsumed into it.

At times I also wondered whether certain aspects of the RTB model were necessary for them to defend. For example, the insistence on reading the ages of early humans in the Bible as literal periods in which humans lived for 900+ years. They acknowledge in the expanded section that there has yet to be confirmation of this and that findings so far challenge this idea, yet they continue to hold it as part of the model. I can’t help but think it is a superfluous part that doesn’t actually contribute much to the overall workings of their model.

Who Was Adam? is a significant work worthy of a careful reading by any interested in Christian perspectives on human origins. It provides Christians insight into an Old Earth Creationist perspective on human origins, while also providing enough raw information for readers to draw their own conclusions and formulate their own ideas. It will challenge Christians on their thinking and perhaps force people to re-evaluate their own theories. It is a valuable resource despite having what I see as some difficulties throughout. It is recommended.

The Good

+Frank evaluation of own model after 10 years
+Offers much insight into research of hominids
+Plenty of data means readers can form their own conclusions
+Genuinely valuable update with much new material

The Bad

-Some unfortunate reliance on rhetoric
-Methodological concerns

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book for review from the publisher. I was not required to give any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.

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Source

Fazale Rana with Hugh Ross, Who Was Adam? (Covina, CA: Reasons to Believe Press, 2015).

SDG.

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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Discussion

12 thoughts on “Book Review: “Who Was Adam?” – 10-Year Update by Fazale Rana with Hugh Ross

  1. On the basis of the theory of evolution it was predicted that humans would be found to have pairs of chromosomes fused that are not fused in apes. The analysis of the human genome confirmed this prediction. That’s testability for you!
    There’s no reason to believe in either old earth or young earth creationism unless one is committed to the notion that God is teaching about science in Genesis. Either we evolved from apes or God has gone to great lengths to make it look as though we did.

    Posted by Giles | November 16, 2015, 1:09 PM
    • Rana and Ross would file that finding under being compatible with their model. That’s why I listed that as one of my concerns: merely having compatibility with a certain explanation does not show that a model is superior over another.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | November 16, 2015, 1:30 PM
      • Thank you. You are correct. It is compatible, but would they have predicted it? The evolutionists did. As a layman that impresses me.

        Posted by Giles | November 16, 2015, 1:36 PM
      • Right- I think that is a valid question. Is mere compatibility enough to say that one theory is on par with another when the other is not just compatible with the evidence but also predicted the evidence? It seems to me having the addition of prediction would suggest a higher probability for the theory which did the predicting.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | November 16, 2015, 1:51 PM
      • We seem to agree often. Though to be fair your review points out that at least one prediction derivable from the RTB model (re junk DNA) has been confirmed. Do you happen to know if this prediction was made in advance of the confirmation and whether any similar prediction was advanced by evolutionists?

        Posted by Giles | November 16, 2015, 2:02 PM
      • I am not familiar enough with evolutionary literature to say one way or another whether any predicted it. However, RTB’s model did predict the findings about Junk DNA before general consensus about it was reached. So that does provide some evidence for the model.
        Frankly, I think the RTB model is probably the best concordist position to take. The question left unanswered, however, is one that I didn’t address in this book review (because it would be inappropriate to do so): do we need to hold to a concordist position about the Bible and science? I’m not sure if you saw my recent post, but I outlined a number of positions for Christians to take regarding science. Ultimately, each has facets which are unsatisfactory to me. I’d love to read your own thoughts.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | November 16, 2015, 2:06 PM
  2. Thank you. My view relates to my view of inerrancy. I ascribe didactic magisterium to the Bible. It’s an infallible guide to faith and practice, not history and science. Not quite the non overlapping magisteria model though. There is an overlap. Jesus resurrection is a matter of faith but also a historical claim.
    It gets complicated when it comes to the fall if one embraces evolution, one could go with CS. Lewis’ collective fall, or a fall from another world. The fact that the geography of Eden doesn’t map onto the geography of this world could be argued to favour the latter. The NOMA model oversimplifies as clearly there is rethinking to be done if the human race is not descended from a single pair. Best Wishes.

    Posted by Giles | November 16, 2015, 2:24 PM
  3. Wish I could read the book. However, I am a Young Earth Creationist, and I wonder, if Dr. Ross and his colleague ever read what happened to Robert Gentry, when he offered his findings for falsification during the Arkansas Creation Trial in 1980 (?). He was unceremoniously dumped as a scientist from Oak Ridge, after pressure was brought to bear by the evolutionary scientists. The establishment is behind our present leviathan of evolutionary knowledge and its impartation to students. I can remember one of my church members having a professor at the University of Missouri who was asked to teach a course in evolutionary genetics. He told the administration: “You don’t want me to teach it. I don’t believe it, and I will demolish it.” They told him to go ahead, and he did exactly that. My member who was studying to be a veterinarian said it was one of the most interesting classes he ever had.

    A friend of some years ago who taught nuclear physics at Virginia Tech told me and then sent me the information” “They don’t tell you that the rocks from which the fossils come are always about 10,000 years old. And then there is the circular arguments, dating the rocks by the fossils and the fossils by the rocks.

    And, of course, there is the problem of older rock overlying younger rock conformably and separated by a thin layer of water laid sediment. Of course, there is such a thing as fracturing and faulting, but 100,000 square miles? For crying out loud, if such evidence can be found, what happens to the arguments for evolution. Again, God stretched out the heavens, the starry heavens, I would think, and with the coming of warp drive some fifty years ago, contrary to present day ideas, the way has been opened for the fulfillment of Matt.24:31 where the Lord gathers His elect from one end of THE (definite article in the Greek) heaven to the other which suggests at the very least that mankind has gone to the stars and in no small numbers. Also seems to me that I have heard of an Quantum Algebraic Theory that was set forth by some scientist in the old USSR which proved the earth to be about 6000 years old, and he came to the USA and taught at one of our universities (Texas A & M?).

    Intellectually and practically our present day scientific method is wanting as it seems unable to handle a case where both the hypothesis and the null hypothesis turn out to be true. An old theory, going back, so I understand, to Petrus Ramus of the University of the Sorbonne in the 1500s is that when the rule is true and the exceptions are true, then the truth is the rule and the exceptions. Such a principle calls for a revised method that can encompass seeming opposites.

    Posted by dr. james willingham | November 30, 2015, 7:42 AM

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  1. Pingback: The Incompatibility of Evolution and the Bible | Thought Synergy - January 17, 2017

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