Paul Garner, researcher and lecturer with Biblical Creation Ministries

"I have been disappointed with so many Christian books on the origins debate that I was prepared not to like this one either, but the author managed to completely confound my expectations."

 

Garner, speaking from a YEC perspective, has many positive comments about Mapping.

The review appeared in Evangelicals Now, October 2013, page 26.
Since the webpage it was on (http://e-n.org.uk/p-6431-Mapping-the-Origins-Debate.htm) is no longer available, I have reproduced the entire text below:

Creation cartography

MAPPING. THE ORIGINS DEBATE
Six Models of the Beginning of Everything
By Gerald Rau
IVP Academic . 236 pages. £12.99
ISBN 978 1 844 746 163

I have been disappointed with so many Christian books on the origins debate that I was prepared not to like this one either, but the author managed to completely confound my expectations. Gerald Rau sets out to present in as objective a manner as possible the full spectrum of models - from naturalistic evolution to young-earth creationism - and to demonstrate in each case how our religious and philosophical presuppositions affect the way in which we interpret the scientific evidence.

Rau contends that any successful model of origins must provide a consistent explanation for four things: the origin of the universe, life, species and humans. He devotes a chapter to each topic, laying out the evidence that must be explained, how each model interprets the evidence and why it matters. It is clear from these chapters how hard it is to even describe the evidence in a neutral manner. Terminology is often model-driven (e .g. labelling a fossil 'transitional' already implies a certain conclusion). Generally, though, the author does a good job and makes the important point that 'data that may appear inconsequential from one vantage point may appear very important from another' (p .102).

Painting with a broad brush

I could quibble about the way in which Rau presents the position that I personally identify with (young-earth creationism). YEC is perhaps not so monolithic in its approach to the evidence as some of Rau's discussion might imply. And he is perhaps more downbeat about the scientific contributions of YEC than I would be. However, such nitpicking would be unfair since Rau is painting with broad brushstrokes and anticipates at the outset that specialists might find his book 'too simplistic' or 'missing vital nuances' (p .13). Rau undoubtedly presents some cogent criticisms that YECs ought to take on board, such as when he questions the validity of the often-drawn distinction between experimental and historical science (p .178). More positively he points out that 'there is now a generation of Christians who are getting advanced degrees in appropriate fields of science who are seeking to develop evangelicals now scientifically rigorous alternate explanations from a YEC position' (p .173).

Urging respect

In fact, Rau makes many excellent points throughout this book. He urges us all to listen to one another carefully, since implicit in this is respect for others (p .155). He points out that we are all working on the same puzzle and must eventually work together if it is to be completed (p.154). And in order to work together we must be willing to examine 'the best evidence, examples and arguments used by the opposition, not the weakest' (p .173). He also demonstrates that the way in which we interpret the scientific data not only reflects our theology, but also influences our theology: 'If Adam was not a single individual, this would affect our doctrine of sin and therefore redemption from sin' (p .150). Christians on all sides of the debate will find much to ponder here.

Honest communication

Most of all, though, I appreciated Rau's tone and winsomeness. He says: 'I have attempted to map out the various positions in a way that will promote mutual understanding and thus honest communication about the underlying issues with less animosity' (p .190). This comes across very clearly to the reader and is to be greatly commended. I hope that all who read this book will be encouraged to follow its admirable example.

Paul Garner, researcher and lecturer with Biblical Creation Ministries and a Fellow of the Geological Society; he and his wife are members of Cambridge Presbyterian Church