“Increasing our understanding of truth constitutes a large part of our assignment here on Earth…. As scientists discover more and more about the realm of nature and everything within it, including ourselves and our beginnings, we can be certain that the evidence for its divine design as well as for the divine inspiration of Scripture will grow in quantity and quality. The basis for such certainty lies in the pattern observed over the centuries, decades, years, and days right up to the writing of this book: advancing research, both biblical and scientific brings an ever-increasing accumulation of evidence buttressing reasons to believe. Let’s keep on learning.” — Dr. Hugh Ross, Navigating Genesis, p.222
Sometimes, I am asked to give reading recommendations (and sometimes I just volunteer them) about apologetics, often about Old-Earth Creationism (OEC) in particular. The individual might be someone relatively new to the OEC camp who needs a better handle on the various issues & positions, or s/he might be a non-OEC who earnestly wants to understand the view better. (As I have noted before, many people are unaware that a distinctly OEC school of thought exists. For others, it gets blurred with Theistic Evolution (TE) or the modern Intelligent Design (ID) Theory.) Either way, I first recommend that they access the free materials (i.e., articles and podcasts) at the websites of “Reasons to Believe” (RTB; Hugh Ross et al.) and “Evidence for God from Science” (Richard Deem). Imho, those are the best, solidly & specifically OEC resources online.
But, when it comes to books, sometimes my advice differs, based on what the person’s particular background and concerns are. I’ve mentioned a few of these in other posts, but I have been doing some more thinking about this lately and decided to lay out some recommendations for my readers. Of course, I am limited to those which I have read and/or am familiar with as of this writing. Also, in full disclosure, I hold to a concordist/Day-Age view, so my recommendations lean in that direction. I can’t help it. That is what I believe to be the best approach/position, so that is primarily what I want others to learn. In fact, the reason I don’t usually recommend other OEC(?) websites is because they tend to be non-concordist and/or lean towards Theistic Evolution, though I don’t mind mentioning them to others that are already solidly OEC. (For more books, written by those who hold to different positions, both within and outside of the broadly OEC camp, see parts 3a and 3b of my “Primer on Origins Views for Christians”.)
For any Christian, central to the issue of any discussion on what view to take on creation/evolution/ID is how one is to interpret and understand the first few chapters of Genesis. Thus, the first book I usually recommend someone read is Navigating Genesis: A Scientist’s Journey through Genesis 1-11 (2014) by Hugh Ross. In this book Ross lays out how one can read the accounts of Creation, the Fall, Noah & the Flood, the Tower of Babel, etc., faithfully integrating the message of both the Bible and nature (through scientific investigation) without compromise or hermeneutical gymnastics. The book that was most instrumental in my becoming an OEC was this book’s predecessor, The Genesis Question (1998/2001). So, a cheap copy of that one might hold you over. But, Navigating Genesis is more up-to-date and contains a lot more information.
I would follow that up with Hugh Ross’ More Than a Theory: Revealing a Testable Model for Creation (2009), which gives an overview of the various aspects of the RTB Creation Model developed by Ross with Fuz Rana and the rest of the “scholar team” at RTB. Importantly, it points out testable features of the model and explains what predictions it makes in contrast to nontheistic naturalist models, Theistic Evolutionist models, and Young-Earth Creationist models. If a copy is not available, one might alternatively consider Creation as Science (2006), Ross’ initial effort to produce such an overview with predictive tests. (It was published under Navpress, before RTB switched over to Baker Books.)
Now, if one is a Young-Earth Creationist or was at one time and/or deals with YEC believers a lot (family, church, work, online), then there are two more books I highly recommend. First, A Matter of Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy, 2nd ed. (2015) by Hugh Ross. The 2004 edition is fine, too, and was itself a replacement for Ross’ Creation and Time (1994). But, the new edition of A Matter of Days has over 50 pages of new content and is worth the higher price. Second, Mark S. Whorton’s Peril in Paradise: Theology, Science, and the Age of the Earth (2005) is a much needed supplement, as it addresses the hot-button issue of suffering, death, and the Fall. To that end, Whorton identifies and examines two creation paradigms: the Perfect Paradise Paradigm (held primarily by YECs) and the Perfect Purpose Paradigm (held by many non-YECs).
The next few books I recommend depend upon the individual’s particular interests and concerns. For example, if s/he has an affinity for (or at least an interest in) the physical sciences, I suggest reading The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Latest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God, 3rd ed. (2001) and/or Why the Universe Is the Way It Is (2008), both by Hugh Ross. As an astrophysicist by training, Ross is truly in his element here, but he also incorporates biblical/theological insights. I have had people tell me that one of these was their favorite Ross book or even the one that convinced them of the OEC position.
On the other hand, if one’s preference is the life sciences, maybe with a particular interest in theories about how & when the first life originated on Earth, then I recommend Origins of Life: Biblical and Evolutionary Models Face Off (2004) by Fuz Rana and Hugh Ross and The Cell’s Design: How Chemistry Reveals the Creator’s Artistry (2008) by Fuz Rana. As you can well imagine, biochemist Rana (and the ever-impressive Ross) present tons of information and multiple reasons why materialistic explanations for biochemistry and the emergence of life just don’t work and why the God of the Bible is the best explanation there is.
Finally, for those who are especially curious about the origins of humanity and where the various apes and hominids fit in from an OEC perspective, the obvious recommendation is Who Was Adam? A Creation Model Approach to the Origin of Humanity, 2nd ed. (2015) by Fuz Rana with Hugh Ross. The first edition in 2005 was great, but the recently-released “10-year update” contains an additional 120 pages (plus notes), wherein Rana (with Ross) revisits his earlier discussion (with predictions) along with the latest research on the fossil record, genomics, and other studies. Not surprisingly, the conclusion is that the idea of a historical, biblical Adam and Eve is well-supported by the scientific data.
The above recommendations should give you a solid grounding in the biblical and scientific arguments for an Old-Earth Creationist take on origins. (Specifically, a Day-Age concordist one, when it comes to many of the details.) But, there are several other books that can be of great assistance in understanding the various issues and positions taken. While it is an older text and therefore a bit dated in its science, I would be remiss if I did not begin by advocating Bernard Ramm’s 1954 classic, The Christian View of Science and Scripture. In emphasizing the need for a harmony of science with Scripture, Ramm addresses several issues of theology, disciplines of science, and differing views on the interpretation of the Creation Days.
If you are looking for something a bit more introductory in nature, I enjoyed Bruce and Stan’s Guide to How It All Began (2001) by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz, which was later re-released as Creation and Evolution 101: A Guide to Science and the Bible in Plain Language (Christianity 101®) (2004). It’s a fun read that presents many of the basics. I believe both authors are OECs, but there isn’t a push for the old-earth position. I believe the same can be said for the Holman QuickSource Guide to Understanding Creation (2008) by Mark S. Whorton & Hill Roberts. John C. Lennox has authored a number of apologetics-oriented books in recent years, and perhaps the most popular is Seven Days That Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science (2011). It is small but informative, thought-provoking, and well-written. Everyone I know of who has read Lennox’s books (or heard him speak) love them & him.
As many of you know, there are two or three Christian publishers who put out a series of books that pit different views on a particular topic, with different contributors representing each view (e.g., Zondervan’s “Counterpoints” series). So, naturally, there are a few that are pertinent to the “origins debate”, and I’ll suggest a couple now. One of the first books I read when I was trying to figure out all this stuff was Three Views on Creation and Evolution (Counterpoints) (1999) ed. by J.P. Moreland & John Mark Reynolds. As with all such “X Views” books I’ve read, it was a bit disappointing in some respects, but overall it was a good and helpful read. Same can be said for The Genesis Debate: Three Views on the Days of Creation (2001) ed. by David G. Hagopian, which I also recommend. (Note: Hugh Ross and the late Gleason Archer represented the Day-Age position in the latter book.)
Sometimes it is hard to grasp all the (sub)issues involved, and sometimes it is helpful to get a more fully-orbed view of the “debate”. One way is to look into the history of the subject, so you really should at some point read The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design, Expanded Edition (1992/2006) by Ronald L. Numbers. I read the original (~440 pages, including end notes), which was a fascinating and comprehensive account of the various people and organizations involved in anti-evolutionism and the creationist movement. The expanded edition contains another ~180 pages and delves into the recent Intelligent Design Movement, as well. Similarly, Science and Faith: Friends or Foes? (2003) by C. John “Jack” Collins is a great resource for getting that “big picture”. As per J.I. Packer, “Collins maps the entire interface between faithful biblical interpretation and questions of all sorts posed in the name of the sciences. Interesting, fair-minded, shrewd, and clear from start to finish….”
The more you get into this whole discussion/debate about “origins”, the more confusing it can be to keep straight the various approaches to the issue(s) in general: young-earth vs. old-earth vs. theistic evolution vs. evolutionary creation vs. ??? It would be nice if there was a way to identify the different camps writ broad and the major areas in which they differ. Several people have tried to do something like that, but I recommend Gerald Rau’s Mapping the Origins Debate: Six Models of the Beginning of Everything (2012). It isn’t OEC-specific, since that is only one of the six models Rau identifies, but it is a must-read. For the “short version”, check out Part 2 of my Primer.
If you have an interest in geology (or feel a need to learn something about it as relates to “origins”), then I recommend two books by Davis A. Young: Creation and the flood: An alternative to flood geology and theistic evolution (1977) and Christianity and the Age of the Earth (1982/1988). They are packed with great info. More recently, Young co-wrote a larger volume with Ralph F. Stearley entitled The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth (2008), which I hear is excellent. (Young has another book that expands on the Flood, but I don’t know enough about it to recommend. Also, in later years, Young abandoned the OEC position in favor of some form of Theistic Evolution.) Daniel Wonderly has a couple books on geology, too, but I haven’t read them.
Oh, yes. I must not neglect to mention A Biblical Case for an Old Earth (2006) by David Snoke. I started the book a few months ago but got sidetracked and have only recently resumed reading it. It is great to get another take on the OEC case from Scripture (though he tackles some science early on), and Snoke does a wonderful job. Other comments/reviews I have read about it were also positive.
For those who have a particular curiosity about UFOs and extraterrestrial lifeforms, you need to read Lights in the Sky & Little Green Men: A Rational Christian Look at UFOs and Extraterrestrials (2002) by Hugh Ross, Kenneth Samples, & Mark Clark. The authors discuss the requirements for advanced life (as also addressed in more depth in other books mentioned), the dangers of space travel (especially at or near lightspeed), the problems with large-scale conspiracies, and the RUFO Hypothesis.
If you are wondering why I haven’t recommended any Intelligent Design books, it is because I see that as a separate topic, which I will address in one or more future posts. But, for a brief commentary on what modern ID Theory is and where it fits into the creation/evolution debates, I refer you to the aforementioned Part 2 of my Primer.
So, that’s my recommended list. I am sure that many of my OEC friends would suggest something similar, though with their own prioritization and favorites. Others would be quite different, especially if coming from an accommodationist perspective. But, I honestly think that, if you begin with “The Core” and work your way down, you will get a solid foundation in a popular approach to Old-Earth Creationist thought on matters of Scripture, science, and theology, as well as become much more informed on the “debate” in general.
P.S. I have also briefly addressed several issues from an OEC and/or ID perspective on this blog. A handy list of them can be found here.