Alan J. F. Fraser, writing in The Monthly Record of the Free Church of Scotland

"Gerald Rau has, I believe, done a great service by producing a lucid introduction to the subject by 'mapping' the arguments from all sides, summarising the data in such a way that we can get a handle on what different people believe and why they believe it."

 

Fraser's main critique (which I have to agree with) is:

This book has been published in the USA. The bibliography contains literature that would be familiar to students of the subject in North America. For UK readers there are notable omissions, such as John Lennox, Alastair McGrath, John Polkinghorne and others. This is a clear indication of the intended audience. It by no means makes it unsuitable for a Scottish reader, but it is always wise to be alert for the cultural influences that can condition what is said and how it is said.

His final conclusion (which I also agree with) is:

I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who wants to think through the issues. It's not for those who want to be told what to believe without having to think.

The review was published in The Record, September 2013, page 20.
Since the review is not readily available online (the site for the Monthly Record is out of date), I have reproduced the text below:

Many have grown weary of the endless debates over the subject of origins, debates that generally produce more heat than light. Yet this is a subject that will not go away and must be wisely and sensitively dealt with if we are not to leave our young folk to the mercy of the wolves on both sides of the debate. Gerald Rau has, I believe, done a great service by producing a lucid introduction to the subject by 'mapping' the arguments from all sides, summarising the data in such a way that we can get a handle on what different people believe and why they believe it. His own experience growing up with the issue and his background of research in applied genetics, followed by many years teaching every branch of science in the middle and high school curriculum, has well equipped him to write this book aimed at high school and college students. His gift of communication and ability to marshal the evidence is clear to any reader.

Rau divides the spectrum of views on origins into six models: 1. Naturalistic Evolution; 2 . Nonteleological Evolution ; 3.Planned Evolution; 4. Directed Evolution; 5 . Old-Earth Creation; 6. Young-Earth Creation. What is meant by 'model' and how that is distinguished from 'hypothesis', 'theory' and 'law' is explained early on. A useful table summarises what each model proposes with respect to six questions: a) Does the supernatural exist? b) Is there a purpose? c) Does God intervene after the origin of the universe? d) Are species descended from previous life forms? e) How old is the universe? f) How has the universe unfolded through time? Inevitably there will be those who feel they don't fit neatly into any of these models, especially those who promote Intelligent Design . A twelve-page table in appendix 1 summarises the whole content of the book under the headings of the six models, and some may well wish to start there . I did and found it useful and an incentive to read the rest of the book . I was not disappointed.

A very useful part of the introductory chapter is a consideration of how people approach evidence. The author focusses on the important role philosophical underpinnings play on the way we select the evidence, prioritise it and interpret it . He quotes Hugh Gauch, who contends : 'Every conclusion of science, once fully disclosed, involves components of three kinds: presuppositions, evidence and logic .' He adds that this applies to all ways of knowing . In chapter seven there is another useful reminder of the existence of 'blinkers' we all have to be wary of in our thinking, not only our personal philosophies but also our inclination to focus on the worst arguments of the opposition, our tendency to read more of the books that we agree with, and the influence of social factors on everyone.

The core of the book looks at the evidence each model marshals for its view on four origins that dominate the debate in North America. Firstly, the origin of the universe. How does anything at all come to exist? Secondly, the origin of life. How do we explain living cells and especially the information-rich DNA molecules? Thirdly, the origin of species, the problem Darwin grappled with. How do we account for diversity and similarity among the life forms that make up the biosphere? Fourthly, the origin of man. What is man and how did he come into existence? The first two and the last are clearly of significance for anyone, but especially for the Christian who believes in God as the Creator of all things and in his Word as the final authority for all matters. The origin of species is not such an obvious topic for absorbing our time and energies if we go by the biblical data alone. It becomes a necessary issue to engage with, given the intensity of the debate on this very issue in many parts of the church today, especially in the North American continent, and the considerable amount of angst it generates among our young .

The aim of the author is to attempt to give the evidence for each model as fairly as he can, without promoting his own view . He frankly acknowledges that this is difficult and does not claim perfection in carrying out his aim. Such candour is to his credit. In looking at the evidence he asterisks all technical terms and provides a definition for them in a full glossary, a necessary feature if college students are indeed going to understand the evidence presented .

This book has been published in the USA. The bibliography contains literature that would be familiar to students of the subject in North America. For UK readers there are notable omissions, such as John Lennox, Alastair McGrath, John Polkinghorne and others. This is a clear indication of the intended audience. It by no means makes it unsuitable for a Scottish reader, but it is always wise to be alert for the cultural influences that can condition what is said and how it is said .

I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who wants to think through the issues. It's not for those who want to be told what to believe without having to think.

Alan J. F. Fraser