The recent US election campaign confirmed, as if we didn’t already know, that America is deeply fractured. One of these fracture lines lies between those accepting of the general scientific consensus on evolutionary theory and those taking a literalist approach to Genesis. Luke Janssen, somewhat bravely perhaps, steps into this debate with his book Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Genesis and Human Origins. ‘Bravely’ because this is more than a polite debate about competing scientific theories. From the creationist side at least it implies heresy and secular inroads into religious territory, the devilish corruption of the faithful, and such. Or at the very least, creationists are wary that evolutionary theory will undermine respect for the Bible as much more than just another book.
Janssen acknowledges that while Christian faith and evolutionary science can sit comfortably, the science does imply some reconsiderations of some more traditional doctrines (though ‘traditional’ is a qualified term, as it is not simply the case that 2000 years of church history has seen uniform ideas on these matters). And part of his book is an exploration of the implications (in, it must be said, a fairly respectful tone). The rest of the book summarises current science, narrowing down to human origins and the results of recent studies in genetics. Overall, Janssen is keener than many to persuade rather than simply to browbeat.