Thursday, February 4, 2010

Book Review: The Selfless Gene

The Selfless Gene betrays its aim in the sub-title: Living with God and Darwin. However, Charles Foster tells us more about living with Darwin than he does about living with God. I was curious as to how Foster would attempt to reconcile competing world views. I was not hopeful it could be done. In fact, little reconciliation was attempted. Foster seems to demand a capitulation to Darwin’s basic premise.

I expected this, but would have appreciated a more balanced tone. Foster aimed his significant scholarly guns squarely at the enemy: young earth creationists and theistic evolutionists. While he describes the young earth creationists as “fundamentalist” and “fearful,” he doe not define what he means by a theistic evolutionist.

He is right on target when he claims that many Bible interpreters miss the intent of Genesis. It is not a book that means to explain the problem of origins. Nonetheless, Foster must play fancy with the biblical text when it does speak about creation.

Foster’s biblical exegesis is shoddy. He draws from the well of the documentary hypothesis when he speaks of Genesis. His problem with “fundamentalists” (or young earth creationists) is that they read the Bible much differently than did Paul. The great apostle was not the biblical literalist that unsophisticated fundamentalists believe him to be.

I recently read Michael Dowd’s Thank God for Evolution. My impression is that Dowd would think Foster too far to the right in his attempts to explain the interaction of religion and evolution. Nonetheless, Dowd comes across as much more respectful of the entire concept of religious belief.

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