Biology Through The Eyes of Faith. By Richard T. Wright. HarperCollins. $10.53 on Kindle.
Length: 269 pages
Published: April, 1989
There is an enormous amount of writing out there about different Christian perspectives about how to approach biological evolution, but this book has some useful perspective to give on that matter and more. Wright offers an unusual point of view as a Christian and evolutionary ecologist who was an active researcher at the time of writing.
At first glance I thought this may be just another book on how to reconcile Biology (specifically Evolution) and Christian faith. Really, the book is more about the broad focus of explaining what the world looks like “through the eyes” of a Christian and Biologist. I really appreciate that Wright takes the time to explain the basics of philosophy of science, the major components of scientific thinking (hypotheses, theories, levels of confidence, etc.), and he even offers a practical example of how research works with a case of his own research on a salt marsh ecosystem. The world of working in science is surprisingly foreign to the general public, so covering these subjects is important. I think his explanations could have been somewhat simplified for a popular audience, but he makes sure to cover all the important bases.
The book’s treatment of Christian disagreement over Evolution is honest and charitable. Wright is quick to point out that, “these are differences between believers–people who are sincerely trying to be obedient to biblical teaching. However strongly we support a given view, we must not be tempted to judge opposing viewpoints as being non-Christian” (71). Important words for all sides of the disagreement. While Wright is properly charitable, he is also honest about the science: “No one should accept evolutionary reasoning without examining the evidence, but be warned: The evidence is strong, and it is convincing” (137). A little unfortunately, the evidence for biological evolution and common descent presented in the book itself is extremely brief, and (at least in the 1989 edition) missed out much of the exciting molecular genetic evidence that we have today. There are plenty of other sources for that sort of information, though.
The book’s real focus is Christianity, Biology, and how they complement each other rather than clash. The entire latter half is devoted to talking about the implications of Christian values on topics like protecting our environment, and modern genetic and biomedical technologies that can drastically affect how we live. Christianity certainly has some important things to say about these topics. Science is great at informing us how to do things, but cannot tell us what to do. “In the moral wasteland that marks the end of the twentieth century, ethical principles and moral judgements are desperately needed” (4). I really appreciate how much this book focuses on how Christianity can be a source of those ethical principles.
So if you’re looking for a peek into the world of Biology from a Christian perspective, this is a great starting place with a broad view.