Darrel Falk's new book

Darrel Falk (former president of BioLogos) has written a new book some of you might be interested in: On the (Divine) Origin of Our Species.

From a description he wrote:

Referring to evolution, Alister McGrath wrote recently that Christian theology provides the “theoretical spectacles . . . to rise above the limits of the observable and move into the richer realm of discerned meaning and value” (Darwinism and the Divine, 289). That’s wonderful, but when it comes to the origin of our species, it leaves us with one all-important question: Just what has been observed, and do these observations enable us to move into the richer realm of discerned meaning and value? There are scores of human evolutionary biologists writing about what is observable. But for the most part, I think, Christians have barely begun to put on their “theoretical spectacles " to examine these data: We are still at the early stages of seeking "to rise above the limits of the observable .” The purpose of my new book is to lay out a summary of what we know so far and to begin the process of putting it into a theological context.

I haven’t read it, but it’s been endorsed by Ken Keathley, Jeff Hardin, and Richard Middleton. The afterword is written by human evolutionary biologist Cara Wall-Sheffler and her father, the biblical scholar, Rob Wall.

I know many people on these boards are interested in more detailed discussion of the whole idea of God’s “guidance” of evolutionary processes and how we can think about truth claims about divine action within the framework of what we know from science.

Here is Darrel’s summary of what his book is trying to examine:

Advances in genetics and paleontology over the past few decades have made it pretty clear that the origin of our species was brought about through the evolutionary process. Even many Christians accept this. They use terms like “evolutionary creation,” or “theistic evolution,” and they sometimes refer to the process that brought Homo sapiens into existence as having been guided by God. Others might be uncomfortable with the word “guided” and would prefer to say that the overall process by which our species came into existence was set up and governed by God. The word, ‘governed,’ however is a vague term, especially given the long and seemingly drawn-out process by which humanity has come into being. After all, Scripture tells us that the most defining characteristic of God is love (see I John 4:16, for example). God desires relationship, which is illustrated poignantly by the father who rejoices at the return of his prodigal son to fellowship. In contrast, the metaphor of God as governor implies the Creator is distant and largely uninvolved in the emergence of our species.

Paul tells the unbelieving skeptics in Greece that the God of Christianity is the one in whom they live and move and have their being. This constant nearness of God is noteworthy, especially given that Paul was speaking to a group of unbelievers. Indeed, Paul personalizes it even further by telling them, “we are [all] his offspring” (see Acts 17:28). Knowing nothing of evolution of course, it is nonetheless intriguing that John Wesley believed that “there is no human being who has ever existed who was not deeply loved…Thus no human being lives without the Spirit wooing to live compassionately and justly with (all) others.” (quote from Lodahl, Matthew Matters, 82).

Fifty years ago, the Anglican theologian, John V. Taylor wrote about human evolution as follows: “With the appearance of human reason, choice consciously takes over from chance the direction of the evolutionary process. The Creator Spirit works from the inside of the processes . . . by startling his creatures into awareness and recognition and luring them towards even higher degrees of consciousness and personhood” (The Go-Between God, 33). About ten years later, the Lutheran theologian Robert Jenson expressed a similar thought when he wrote, “The God of the Bible is a storm, blowing us like leaves from what we are to what we will be. . … God is transforming and faithful liveliness; God is Spirit” (Church Dogmatics I:173).

These statements were made long ago, however. They were made decades before we came to know very much about the genetic changes associated with the origin of our species. Even paleoanthropology and archeology were (comparatively) in their infancy 50 years ago. To this point, at the beginning of 2024, we Christians have largely left open the matter of how the rapidly emerging genetic and paleontological data relate to how the divine activity has been at work in bringing our species into existence.

If you have questions or want to discuss these ideas further, you can try tagging @DarrelFalk in your posts and see if he has time to pop in.


I call false dichotomy – this requires a very narrow definition of “governor”, one that is mechanistic rather than personal.

A governor puts forth policy but doesn’t seem to be involved with people personally on an intimate level day to day. I think God certainly decided on policy and the underlying physics of the universe but to refer to God as a governor can be misleading because God is so much more than nature’s distant rule writer. All analogies break down eventually though.


Except the context wasn’t “definitions” it was metaphors. It draws on most people’s experiences with governors and fathers. Hardly anyone has a personal relationship with the governor of their state or is governed in a personal way. Most people have personal relationships with their fathers and are parented in a personal way.


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