Vox Reformata, published by the Reformed Theological College, Australia

"The author has the ability to explain complex scientific models in a way that makes them understandable to those who, like myself, have had only minimal scientific training."


Vox Reformata is described as the Australasian Journal for Christian Scholarship, published by Reformed Theological College in Australia. The review, written by "BB," was published in volume 78 (2013), p. 126-127.

Since the text is not readily available online, the whole article is reproduced below, with my interspersed comments:

Gerald Rau, Mapping the Origins Debate; Six Models of the Beginning of Everything. Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2012. 236 pp.

The author seeks to clarify the evolution versus creation debate by introducing a classification of models meant to give an exhaustive coverage of all possibilities. The six categories are defined on the basis of whether people believe in the supernatural, in design, in divine intervention, in the common ancestry of all life forms, in an old universe, or in a young creation occurring within one literal week. Here the author takes it for granted that each successive category also embraces the views of the preceding categories, but this is something that may well be questioned. For example, I do not think we can simple presume that all those who deny the design of creation thereby also deny the possibility of a divinity, or that all those who believe in a divinity necessarily identify him or her as the Creator.

Therefor while the categories can be helpful in pointing to some distinctions, I doubt they are nuanced enough for everyone to feel comfortable using one of his categories in identifying their own position. I certainly do not see myself represented.

Comment: I believe the reviewer has misconstrued my intent. If I had to state it in one word, I would prefer to call the second category 'divinity' or 'the supernatural' rather than design. The first category (NE) does not believe in the supernatural. I believe that would eliminate the reviewer's two concerns. NTE (admittedly a broad category) includes those who believe in some sort of divinity, whether that divinity is identified as the creator or involved in design or not. Not nuanced enough? – certainly not. Those in that category are not the main audience of a book published by IVP.

A second reason why I feel uncomfortable with Rau's approach is that he states that before he looked into the matter of evolution versus creation he "intuitively knew there must be a middle position that reconciled the two" (p. 12). This is a very Hegelian approach, which fails to recognise that sometimes there can be no synthesis, as between truth and falsehood. However, Rau never advances a particular middle position for others, but points out that no matter what position one adopts, it is ultimately based on faith. He concludes that the truth is far more complex than any of the theories and beyond our comprehension (p. 190). He closes with the advices that readers be charitable to other positions and examine whether, in the light of what they have learned, they might not themselves be more comfortable with a new perspective (p. 192).

Comment: I agree that there are times when no synthesis is possible, but my philosophy rests on the assumption that all truth is God's truth, since God is truth, therefore there must be a position that reconciles what we can learn from science and the Bible.
Having voiced my misgivings, let me also add that I learned a lot from the book about current scientific findings and theories. The author has the ability to explain complex scientific models in a way that makes them understandable to those who, like myself, have had only minimal scientific training. I can therefore recommend this book for its discussions on the issues, but not for its classifications or conclusions.