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The Prism and the Rainbow

, 192 pages
May 2010



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The Prism and the Rainbow

A Christian Explains Why Evolution Is Not a Threat

God or Darwin? It is one of the most contentious conflicts of our time. It is also completely unnecessary, according to Joel W. Martin, an evolutionary biologist and ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church USA. In this slim but powerful book, Martin argues that it is not contradictory to be a practicing, faithful Christian who accepts the science of evolution.

Martin finds that much of the controversy in the United States over evolution is manufactured and predicated on a complete—and sometimes willful—misapprehension of basic science. Science and religion, he says, serve different purposes and each seeks to answer questions that the other need never address. He believes that many of the polarizing debates about evolution distract from the deeper lessons of Christianity and that literal, fundamentalist readings of the Bible require the faithful to reject not just evolution but many of science's greatest discoveries.

Just as the scientific explanation of rainbows is not meant to refute the biblical "rainbow" story of God’s promise, evolutionary theory is not a ploy to disavow the divine. Indeed, Martin shows that the majority of Christians worldwide accept the theory of evolution. He urges his fellow Christians to refuse to participate in the intellectually stifling debate over evolution and creationism/intelligent design.

An ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church USA, Joel W. Martin is the chief of the Division of Invertebrate Studies and curator of Crustacea at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. He is a youth advisor at a Presbyterian Church in Southern California and currently teaches Sunday school and confirmation classes.

"Dr. Martin has written an accessible and interesting introduction to evolution for teenagers who are afraid that the basic theories of modern biological science are incompatible with their Christian faith. Martin shows why this is not so and why their commitment to the belief that God is creator should stimulate rather than discourage their study of natural science. The book meets a real need in Christian education."

"A concise yet comprehensive exposition of the fundamental issues in the current debates between (and among) Christians and evolutionary biologists on creationism, intelligent design, and theistic evolution. It addresses all the key issues, both biological and theological, in a form and language easily accessible to Christian laity, including teens, and evaluates them fairly and with erudition. I would recommend this book without hesitation for use in both parish and university settings."

"Professor Martin has a very good understanding of the relationship of science to religion. He applies that understanding effectively in this sensitive and sensible discussion of evolution and Christian faith."

"A wonderful introduction to the evolution-creation debate... I think it would be a wonderful book to use in discussions both at school and at church. I could see it having a wide readership and doing much good in the direction of reconciling those who want to run with the hare of science and hunt with the hounds of religion."

"A concise and clear explanation of how science and faith are not at war with each other but instead can complement our understanding of the world that God created."

"Teenagers need a place where they can get straight talk and reputable answers about evolution, all the more so if they come from religious backgrounds that prepare them to mistrust what they might be told. Joel Martin provides a safe place for them. He is a first-class, accomplished scientist and a dedicated Christian, and his is a perspective well worth listening to."

"In this balanced and accessible discussion of evolutionary theory and Christianity, Joel Martin offers his readers a thoughtful way beyond the usual rhetoric of 'conflict' between Darwinism and religious belief. Martin’s critique of creationism and Intelligent Design is sharply focused without being strident, while his own constructive synthesis is imaginative and insightful. This brief book provides a splendid example of how a respectful dialogue between science and spirituality can enrich both perspectives."

"Joel Martin's marvelous book echoes the sentiments of Charles Darwin himself, who reminded readers of The Origin that one cannot be too learned ‘in the book of God's word, or in the book of God's work.’ It is a powerful testament to the compatibility of faith and reason, and demonstrates with remarkable clarity that the conflict between religion and evolution is a false and contrived choice that does justice to neither science nor religion."

"Dr. Martin explains why Christians should have confidence in their faith while accepting the science of evolutionary biology. There is no conflict between Christianity and evolution, and Dr. Martin explains why with extraordinary clarity. This book should be required reading for all Christian teens."

" The Prism and the Rainbow provides a very effective introduction to arguments—some good, some bad—swirling around evolution and its critics in contemporary churches and their social context. A careful, critical reading of it could help young people get off to a good start in dealing with issues that trouble many people today."

"Covers the Christian debate over Darwin—and finds that much of the controversy in the U.S. over evolution is manufactured on a complete, often willful miss-appreciation of basic science. Chapters serve to erase these errors, offering insights into robots of debates about evolution and supporting Christianity and a less literal interpretation of Biblical ideas. Christian collections need this!"

"If you are a young person who has been looking for a way both to retain your personal faith and appreciate the wonders of modern science, you cannot find a better book than this one. If you are the parent of a young person who has raised the question of the relationship between science and religion, you owe it to that young person to help prevent what could be a totally unnecessary dilemma as your child encounters the massive, compelling evidence for evolution in college biology classes."

"This is a book that would be well worth including in the library of any school or college that educates students over the age of 16."

"Martin offers a book to an audience of students and parents (and presumably to other nontheological experts). Its purpose is to make a case supporting the thesis that evolutionary biology is consistent with Christian theology, and further, that evolution supports major biblical themes. Martin also wants to inform his readers of the nature of science, some areas of past conflict (and eventual resolution) between science and faith, and some cautionary advice for Christian laity in their Bible reading as they attempt to discern the Bible’s message to us today. In our opinion, Martin does all of this effectively in a concise package."

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