The Counterpoints series produced by Zondervan Publishing “provides a forum for the comparison and critique of different views on issues important to Christians.”1 Notable theologian Stanley Gundry is the series editor. The format for each book in the series is for three or four Christian leaders or scholars who are divided on an important Christian issue to each write an essay where they explain their position and briefly describe what they believe to be the best evidences for their position. Each essay is followed by responses from the other essayists and a brief rejoinder.
The Counterpoints series has featured books on creation, evolution, the early chapters of Genesis, and biblical inerrancy before. In these previous books the Reasons to Believe perspective was not presented. Consequently, over the past three decades we have had to continually deal with misunderstandings and misrepresentations of our positions and missions. Therefore, I jumped at the offer to participate in the latest book in the series, Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design.2 I saw my contribution as an opportunity to set the record straight on our mission and vision and on what we believe at Reasons to Believe and why we believe it.
The four authors for the book were the presidents of Answers in Genesis (Ken Ham), BioLogos (Deborah Haarsma), Discovery Institute (Stephen Meyer), and Reasons to Believe (Hugh Ross). Ken Ham (bachelor of applied science in environmental biology and diploma in education) defended young-earth creationism, Deborah Haarsma (PhD, astrophysics) defended evolutionary creationism, Stephen Meyer (PhD, history and philosophy of science) defended intelligent design, and I (PhD, astronomy) defended old-earth creationism.
The general editor for the book, James Stump (PhD, philosophy), is the senior editor for BioLogos—thus, he obviously favors the evolutionary creationism position. I was impressed, however, by how impartially Stump fulfilled his role as the book’s editor and how fairly and charitably he treated each author.
Originally, the four authors were to describe and defend their positions on creation, evolution, and the early chapters of Genesis. This assignment proved difficult for Meyer since the Discovery Institute and the intelligent design movement as a matter of policy “does not offer an interpretation of the book of Genesis, nor does it posit a theory about the length of the biblical days of creation or the age of the earth.”3 Thus, the book morphed into four views on creation, evolution, and intelligent design. Nevertheless, the other three authors did engage one another on their respective interpretations of Genesis 1–11.
I applaud Stump for requiring each of us authors to close our opening essays with what we considered to be the most significant biblical and scientific challenges to our respective positions. The subject of creation, evolution, and Genesis for the past two centuries has been typified by Christian leaders holding rigidly to their positions and refusing to consider any possible modifications or adjustments. By admitting and addressing both possible biblical and scientific challenges, we were all encouraged to go where the evidence goes.
I also applaud Stump for doing everything in his power to encourage a charitable dialogue among the authors. Readers will probably note that Stump’s objective was only partially achieved. However, as an insider I can attest that whatever lack of charity remains in the book is of no fault of Stump.
As for my own hopes for the book, I am grateful that the all-too-typical false dichotomy of young-earth creationism versus theistic evolution was countered. I was encouraged that I had the opportunity to correct the misunderstandings the other authors had about my views and motives. I was encouraged, too, that for the first time in print the four predominant positions on the science-faith spectrum were accurately and fairly presented. In particular, I was pleased that each author stated where they stood on the issue of biblical inspiration and inerrancy, especially the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy affirmations and denials, and why. While space prohibited laying out all the evidences for the respective positions, each of the authors had written several other books and articles where that had been done. We cited these other works in our contributions to enable any reader who wants to dig deeper to do so.
At 235 pages, the book is short enough to quickly provide both Christian and non-Christian readers an understanding of the scope and the passions of the science-faith debate within the Christian community. At the same time, it is long enough to be a useful textbook for Christian seminaries and colleges and for youth and adult classes in churches and Bible studies.
- James B. Stump, ed., Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design, Stanley Gundry, series ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017), back cover.
- Stump, Four Views.
- Stump, Four Views, 179.