TMW Book Reviews

Understanding the Christianity–Evolution Relationship


Michael Ruse

“Science and religion come together harmoniously to show that evolution is not true.” This is a line from “Understanding the Christianity–Evolution Relationship” by Michael Ruse, tracing the trajectory of biological thought from antiquity to modern times. It captures the interplay between different belief systems that have shaped our understanding of life’s elaborate processes. From the religious standpoint, many religious doctrines maintain that life in its variety was created by a divine entity instead of having evolved gradually over billions of years from common ancestors, as evolution proposes. From the historical scientific viewpoint, before the theory of evolution was well-established, the gaps in the fossil record and the apparent design in nature (like the intricacies of an eye or the complexity of an ecosystem) were considered indicative of a designer or Creator. Ruse’s objective is not to resolve this debate but rather to effectively shed light on the intellectual exchanges surrounding it.

The book begins by exploring the progression of scientific thought, from ancient Greek philosophers to Charles Darwin and the modern understanding of biology—discussing the use of metaphors in science, the acceptance of final-cause thinking, the revolutionary concept of evolution, the challenges faced by Darwin’s theory of natural selection, the subsequent advancements in genetics, and the discovery of the DNA structure. How does this mechanistic view reconcile with the complexities and nuances of life’s interconnectedness?

And in what ways has the continuous dialogue between religion and science shaped our understanding of life and existence?

In this topic, the author translates scientific theories and philosophical ideas into easy-to-grasp language. He uses metaphors and illustrative examples to bring a fresh outlook and a seamless storytelling style, even when dealing with a heavy subject matter. Another strength is the author’s ability to present the intricacies of historical discussions on science and religion without bias, giving due credit to the contributions and limitations of each perspective.

Revered for his unique approach and profound wisdom, Ruse comprehensively examines the relationship between Christianity and evolution. He reframes the ongoing conversation and offers a balanced view of how the perspectives of mechanism and organicism have influenced both Christianity and science—inviting reflection on the potential harmony between the two.

“Understanding the Christianity–Evolution Relationship” is for anyone interested in the philosophical underpinnings of scientific thought and its development. It is not just a history of biology but a voyage through the evolution of human understanding of the life sciences.

– The Moving Words Review

Official Entry: The Most Moving Book Award, Jan. 3, 2024