Joel Thomas Chopp

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Book Review: “Science and the Doctrine of Creation: The Approaches of Ten Modern Theologians” edited by Geoffrey H. Fulkerson and Joel Thomas Chopp

The question of how the doctrine of creation interacts with science (and vice versa) has loomed large in the past few hundred years. Many theologians have offered a whole realm of responses to questions about how these two relate. Science and the Doctrine of Creation brings the views of ten theologians to the forefront, highlighting through essays by different authors the way these theologians interacted with science and creation.

The theologians in this collection range from the late 19th century through the early 21st century. They also span a wide range of denominational backgrounds. This gives the volume a robust look at several different strands of theological thought being applied to the doctrine of creation (though see below, on women).

B.B. Warfield has been at the center of several debates regarding Christianity and science because several different sides want to enlist his writings in their defense. Bradley J. Gundlach clarifies that Warfield’s views on evolution–that it’s complicated–while also showing Warfield’s fascinating piloting of a doctrine of creation that navigates several hot button topics in fairly unique ways. Jürgen Moltmann’s doctrine of creation operates seemingly apart from science, though the author of the essay on his theology, Stephen N. Williams, shows that there is more subtlety there that might provide a way forward in science-faith discussions. Abraham Kuyper’s discussion of science and creation is highlighted by aspects that show that one’s approach and intent may matter just as much as their outcomes, argues Craig Bartholomew (my words summarizing some of his content–see esp. 40-41). These and other highlights of the book show just how deep readers can go in thinking in different ways about the doctrine of creation in light of modern science.

I was disappointed by the overall lack of women in this volume. Only one of the ten essays was written by a woman, and not a single woman was selected as a subject of any of the essays. It is remarkable to me that among all modern theologians, not even one woman was selected to give voice to her view on science and creation. This is particularly egregious given that many women are involved in studying the intersection of the doctrine of creation and science. The book would have been improved by diversifying its sample of theologians and authors.

Science and the Doctrine of Creation shows a broad spectrum of views on the titular topics, but doesn’t integrate as many diverse voices as it may have been nice to see. That said, readers interested in Christianity and science will want to check out this book, particularly to see how wide the range of views there are even among just 10 theologians.

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

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