18 Recommended Resources for Learning About Creation and Evolution Views

18 Recommended Resources for Learning About Creation and Evolution ViewsAfter my last post, 4 Key Points Christian Kids Need to Understand About Evolution, I had many requests for resources to help parents learn more about the varied views of origins.

Ask and you shall receive! This post is my answer to those requests.

The problem with most resource lists is that they become a dumping ground for links that leave you feeling as directionless as you were before you bookmarked them. My goal with this post is to not just give you resources, but a plan of attack for really getting your arms around this critical subject. There are five things you need to know before diving in to the rest of the post:

1. None of this implies my promotion of a particular view. I intentionally do not advocate one view on my blog (or in my book) because I feel it would be distracting to my more central purpose: to help Christian parents understand 1) why Bible-believing, Jesus-loving people have varied views on origins and 2) what the scriptural and scientific implications of those views are. I believe every Christian parent should be equipped to discuss these hot-button issues with their kids, and I’m here to help you navigate them as objectively as I can. That means I’m recommending books that I don’t necessarily agree with, but that represent, in my opinion, the best opportunity to learn about a particular view (see number 3 below for more on this).

2. The reading plan I’m recommending here is book-based rather than article-based. Online articles can be helpful for tailored research on a topic, but books are really your best bet for systematically learning about complex subjects like these.

3. In this reading plan, I outline five core books—one dedicated to each view (see the chart below for what the views are). I’ve labeled one book my “top pick” in each category. The books I’ve selected are those I feel most accurately, thoroughly, and concisely present the case for their view for a broad audience. I’ve read a boatload of books on all these views, and to be honest, some of them have really bothered me. They misrepresent other views, oversimplify the issues, leave out important facts or criticisms of their own view, or speak condescendingly of other Christians. This is not specific to those writing from any one viewpoint; these issues arise across the spectrum. The books I’m recommending aren’t necessarily free from these problems (this is a complex topic and it’s impossible to address all necessary points in popular-level works), but I do feel they are the best in their category.

4. Since some readers may have already read the basics, I’ve also included recommendations for going deeper. If you’re just getting started, ignore the “going deeper” recommendations for now. Bookmark the page for later.

And with that, here you go!

 

Step 1. Get the big picture.

I’m going to make step 1 very easy. Here’s a diagram I created of the relationship between the major views you should understand (this is from my book, which has eight chapters devoted to explaining these topics for Christian parents).

 

Views of Creation and Evolution

 

Step 2. Learn about young-Earth creationism.

Young-Earth creationism is the view that God created the world in seven 24-hour days, about 6,000-10,000 years ago.

My top pick for understanding young-Earth creationism is Old Earth Creationism on Trial: The Verdict Is In by Tim Chaffey and Jason Lisle.

This book simultaneously presents a case for young-Earth creationism and a defense against old-Earth creationism. I found it to be the most thorough yet concise look at the core case made by young-Earth creationists. While this book is less well-known than some others, I chose it because I felt it most directly and thoroughly addressed the key issues.

Going deeper:

The Bible and the Age of the Earth is a free PDF from Apologetics Press. It’s a much more detailed analysis of the scriptural case for the young-Earth view with rebuttals against other views. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it as a beginner’s resource, but if you want an in-depth reference guide for the scriptural issues involved (from a young-Earth perspective), this is the best I’ve seen.

 

Step 3. Learn about old-Earth creationism.

Old-Earth creationists accept the mainstream scientific consensus on the age of the Earth (4.5 billion years old), but, like young-Earth creationists, reject evolution as God’s (sole) method of creation. Note that theistic evolutionists also accept the mainstream scientific consensus on the age of the Earth, so they are technically “old-Earth creationists,” but the term old-Earth creationist is almost always used specifically to mean someone who accepts the ancient Earth but not evolution. (You may need to read that sentence again! Part of the problem in these conversations is that words can mean many different things in different contexts, so I just want to be absolutely clear what I’m talking about here.)

My top pick for understanding old-Earth creationism is A Biblical Case for an Old Earth by David Snoke.

Snoke’s book is the best overall guide to the old-Earth creationism view that I’ve read. Other, more well-known books, are focused on promoting a specific biblical interpretation within old-Earth creationism (old-Earth creationists are united in accepting a 4.5 billion-year-old Earth, but differ on how they reconcile that with their interpretation of the Bible—for example, there is a Gap Theory, Day-Age Theory, Framework Theory, and Temple Inauguration Theory). I chose this book because it focuses on the more general case for old-Earth creationism and addresses scripture in depth.

Going (much, much) deeper:

The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth by Davis Young and Ralph Stearley is an extremely detailed, academically-oriented book written by two (Christian) geologists to present the geological case for an old Earth. If you’re wondering why mainstream scientists are so convinced that the Earth is way more than 10,000 years old, this is a comprehensive resource on geology written by Christians for Christians.

 

Step 4. Learn about theistic evolution.

Theistic evolution is the view that accepts the mainstream scientific consensus on the age of the Earth (about 4.5 billion years old) and on evolution (that all life on Earth descends from a single species that lived 3.5 billion years ago) while affirming the existence of God. There is no single view amongst theistic evolutionists on how to reconcile evolution with the Bible, so theistic evolutionists have varied theological beliefs. 

My top pick for learning about theistic evolution is I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution by Denis Lamoureux.

This is a humbly written and easy-to-understand book written by a scientist who “loves Jesus and accepts evolution.” I say “humbly” written because, throughout the book, Lamoureux is careful to acknowledge the biblical challenges of his view while clearly explaining why he believes what he does…all with a very charitable tone. (This is something I hugely appreciate because many books treat other views with considerable condescension.) This was the first book I read on theistic evolution and, in my opinion, it remained the best of the bunch.

Going (much, much) deeper:

Biologos, the major organization promoting theistic evolution, has a full course on evolution basics for Christians on their website (free). It’s mostly about the science of evolution, but since parts of the course address Christians specifically, I’m including it as a resource here rather than under naturalistic evolution. I’ve read through the whole thing and found it very accessible. If you’re looking for a resource for understanding the science of evolution, this is an excellent place to start (read Lamoureux’s book first, however, in order to get the broader view of both the science and theology involved).

 

Step 5. Learn about naturalistic evolution.

Naturalistic evolution is the view that all life on Earth descends from a single species via blind, purposeless processes (most frequently associated with the “neo-Darwinian” mechanisms of natural selection acting on genetic mutations). This is an atheistic view. 

My top pick for learning about naturalistic evolution is Why Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne.

It’s pretty much impossible to find a book written about naturalistic evolution that doesn’t simultaneously and explicitly disparage any notion of a creator. My pick in this category is no different. However, I recommend it because 1) it provides a well-written, easy-to-understand overview of evolutionary theory for non-scientists, and 2) it’s very representative of the atheistic view of origins that your kids will hear (it’s good to hear something as they will hear it).

 

Step 6. Learn about intelligent design.

Intelligent design is the theory that some features of the universe and of living things are better explained by an intelligent cause than by the undirected natural process of evolution. Intelligent design theory is based solely on scientific evidence. It’s therefore compatible with a Christian view, but is not a Christian view itself.

My top pick on this topic is Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design, by Stephen C. Meyer.

Stephen C. Meyer is a leading proponent of the intelligent design movement. In this book, he explains the significance of the “Cambrian explosion,” a time period in which many animals suddenly appear in the fossil record without apparent ancestors in earlier layers of rock. The Cambrian explosion is one of the biggest challenges to evolution that intelligent design theorists write about. This is a detailed book, and if you’re not scientifically-inclined you may not enjoy certain parts, but it’s a very important work that I have to recommend as the top pick.

Just for fun, here is a totally random, grainy cell phone-taken picture of me with Dr. Meyer. I attended a local panel he was on last year. Like a total nerd, I was actually nervous to meet him, but he was incredibly nice.

20140828_215438

Going deeper:

If you’re already aware of basic intelligent design theory and want to learn specifically about the complexity of the genetic code (and how intelligent design theorists say it points to an intelligent agent), you need Meyer’s earlier book, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design. This one is even more scientifically detailed than Darwin’s Doubt, but it’s the go-to book if you want to really understand this topic. And, since I have the above totally awesome picture with the author, I felt it warranted a second recommendation for his work.

Going much deeper:

I’m going to add one more in this category, specifically for those atheists/agnostics who may be reading this post and ferociously oppose intelligent design theory. It’s remarkable just how much people can mischaracterize what it says. If you think intelligent design theory is all about “God of the gaps,” please get The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design by William Dembski, which addresses this and other common misunderstandings in great detail. You don’t have to agree with intelligent design, but at least understand its claims accurately.

 

Bonus Pick: One Overall Great Book

There’s a book that came out somewhat recently that I have heard absolutely no one talk about. It was recommended to me by Amazon based on my past purchases and I took the bait. This turned out to be an EXCELLENT find that I recommend whole-heartedly. 40 Questions About Creation and Evolution, by Kenneth Keathley and Mark Rooker, didn’t fall neatly into one of my categories above, but I had to tell you about it.

Here’s why it’s so great. One of the authors “leans” toward young-Earth creationism and the other “leans” toward old-Earth creationism. They wrote this together and do a wonderful job of objectively and systematically looking at the key issues in a balanced way. The book is organized by subject rather than by young-Earth or old-Earth view, which is also refreshing. I thought the answers were very scripturally and scientifically “responsible,” thoroughly addressing all key facts and criticisms. In terms of giving a fair view of all the pertinent subjects, this book wins hands-down.

I still wouldn’t recommend it as a replacement for reading the case for each view, but it would serve as a PERFECT capstone book after doing the other reading, to solidify your understanding of all the topics together. And, if you absolutely can’t handle the thought of reading more than one book on all of these topics, this would be the one I would give you.

 

Websites for Endless Reading on Creation and Evolution Views

Now that I’ve hopefully provided a good framework for systematic reading, I’ll give you a quick rundown of links to the major sites with (often endless) articles on these views. There are countless smaller sites and blogs with related articles, but these are the major hubs of information.

 

Young-Earth Creationism

Answers in Genesis

Apologetics Press (They write on more than views of origins, but have many resources on young-Earth creationism specifically.)

Institute for Creation Research

 

Old-Earth Creationism

Reasons to Believe

Evidence for God from Science (I have to say, this site looks very messy and out of date. However, it has a wealth of resources on the old-Earth view.)

 

Theistic Evolution 

Biologos

 

Intelligent Design

Discovery Institute

 

Any questions on resources or books? Let me know in the comments. And for those of you who have already read a lot on this, go ahead and suggest your top picks in the various categories. You know want to. 🙂

(This post includes affiliate links. Click here for legal disclosures.)

17 Comments

  1. […] 18 Recommended Resources for Learning About Creation and Evolution Views […]



  2. Lindsay Harold on June 24, 2015 at 6:00 AM

    One of the strongest scientific evidences for a young earth is the findings of the RATE Project. It was a multidisciplinary collaboration by several scientists who happen to believe in a young earth over a period of several years. They published two books. The first RATE volume is all of the theory behind radioactive dating and the creationist predictions and the methods of the study. It was published BEFORE the data were collected. The second volume, published 5 years later, contains the results and conclusions.

    In short, the project shows that there is very good scientific evidence that millions of years worth of radioactive decay has happened on earth, but also that it did not actually take millions of years to occur. There are conflicting “clocks” that give discordant dates. The best explanation for the data is that there has been at least one period of accelerated radioactive decay on earth. This throws off conventional radioactive dating methods, which don’t account for accelerated decay.

    The two volumes of the RATE Project and a number of scholarly articles from the project are available for FREE here: http://www.icr.org/RATE/

    For people who want to dig into the science that supports a young earth, you really have to read this. Answers in Genesis is fine for lay-level articles and theology, but they don’t usually dig into the science this deeply.

    Another good young earth creation resource is http://www.creation.com (the website of Creation Ministries International) and is much like Answers in Genesis, except that I tend to find articles I like better there. They seem to have a little less emphasis on presuppositionalism (an idea I don’t particularly like).

    Also worth noting is the Creation Research Society, an academic society for young earth creation scientists. They publish the best peer-reviewed scientific journal in the YEC field, the Creation Research Society Quarterly, and have a yearly conference with presentations from degreed scientists on some of the most cutting edge science being done in the field. Some of their peer-reviewed articles are available on their website for free. http://www.creationresearch.org



    • Tim Helble on June 24, 2015 at 8:11 AM

      As a counter balance to the RATE Project results mentioned above, you can access the following articles which were written by Christians:

      Isaac, R., 2007, Assessing the RATE Project. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, Vol. 59, No. 2, p. 143-146. http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2007/PSCF6-07Isaac.pdf

      Bertsche, K., 2008, Radiocarbon: Intrinsic or Contamination? http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/origins/carbon-kb.htm



      • Dan on July 1, 2015 at 8:16 AM

        There have also been some communications back and forth between RATE authors and the authors of the critiques mentioned, so these links don’t necessarily have the latest words on the topics. Searching creation.com and answersingenesis.com can find some of the newer discussion. (BTW, I agree with those suggesting to add creation.com as a relatively major resource.)



    • Paul Short on June 24, 2015 at 1:44 PM

      Is the RATE project one of those places that says the reason we can see galaxies that are millions of light years away is because the speed of light was faster when god created the universe?



      • Lindsay Harold on June 24, 2015 at 3:25 PM

        No. That’s one hypothesis that has been thrown about in the past, but has never been very popular among young earth scientists. The scientific evidence doesn’t support light speed decay. There are much better creation theories that involve time dilation and use the same equations as the Big Bang model, but different initial and boundary conditions. Since no one knows what the initial and boundary conditions are, the numbers you plug in are rather arbitrary. But if you use certain ones, you get a universe with time dilation.



        • Paul Short on June 24, 2015 at 3:37 PM

          Heh.. that kind of thinking reminds me of the old cat adage, “If I fits, I sits”



  3. Doug Beaumont on June 24, 2015 at 8:00 AM

    Excellent list, sharing this with the world!



  4. Nadine on June 24, 2015 at 8:16 AM

    Thanks for this great list! I also much prefer to read books that comprehensively tackle a subject rather than a brief article which can only touch the surface.



  5. Kimberly on June 24, 2015 at 10:20 AM

    Thank you so very much for your time and consideration to do the very thing about which I appealed to you on this important matter. I plan to have my daughter – well, all of my children and myself – read these books for senior year science studies.
    God Bless –

    Kimberly



  6. M. VanOpstal on June 24, 2015 at 2:19 PM

    Thanks for a great list! I’ve read in “40 Questions About Creation and Evolution” as well and it’s a fantastic resource overall. It falls a bit short in the one area I hoped to get their particular thoughts on, however, about theistic evolution. Early in the section on on theistic evolution they do a great job of differentiating between “Darwinism” and “evolution,” pointing out that one can believe in evolution without believing that the process is random or meaninglessness. They rightly give Darwinism the criticism it deserves before moving on Question 38 to discuss theistic evolution — but then, even though they’d spilled a good bit of ink differentiating between the two, they inexplicably treat theistic evolution as if it were the same as Darwinism, and obviously therefore find it incompatible with Christian belief. It’s very bizarre. I wish they’d given “theistic evolution proper” a clear analysis. I can only guess these chapters were written by separate authors, and the editor didn’t force them to hash out the crucial difficulties. Still, otherwise, it’s a very valuable book.



  7. David Booth on June 24, 2015 at 6:11 PM

    Hi Natasha, thank you for this helpful resource list. I was just wondering about your chart. Where might you place someone like John Walton who basically argues the the ‘question of how’ is a hermeneutical misstep as the genre and intention of Genesis 1-3 is not addressing that question at all. It is more about the affirmation that God is the creator of all things and the passage is concerned with functional Temple imagery?
    Cheers,
    David



  8. M.D. Taylor on June 24, 2015 at 6:26 PM

    CMI is the largest and most jounal-published ‘YEC’ org, with the highest number of PhD biblical creationists on staff. The creation.com site contains a plethora of peer-reviewed lay and technical papers, adapted to online articles. There are science-evidential, historical, theology-focused, and axiomatic/philosophical papers, all with helpful citations and ‘related articles.’

    Dr. Jonathan Sarfati (physical chemistry), who is associated with the site, authored ‘Refuting Evolution’ and its sequel ‘Refuting Evolution 2’, ‘Refuting Compromise’ (refutation of Hugh Ross, OEC), ‘The Greatest Hoax on Earth?’ (Refutation of Dawkins, atheopathy), recently ‘The Genesis Account,’ and others Natasha might put in her ‘deeper look’ category to closely examine ‘YEC.’



  9. […] at Christian Mom Thoughts has provided a very helpful blog on excellent resources for issues covering: creation, evolution, theistic evolution, intelligent […]



  10. Chris Harris on September 15, 2015 at 4:57 PM

    Great advice and resource suggestions, Natasha! I am fairly well-versed on the subject and have my own preferences, but I added a couple of your recommendations to my list to investigate. As great as *Darwin’s Doubt* is, I would suggest something a bit less daunting for an initial foray into ID — e.g., *Signs of Intelligence (ed. by Dembski & Kushiner) or *Understanding Intelligent Design* (by Dembski & S. McDowell), each being a little over 200 pages.

    If I may, I’d also like to recommend something I recently put together and published on my own site which your readers may find helpful:
    http://aviewfromtheright.com/2015/08/09/primer-on-origins-views-for-christians-part-1-of-3/

    Take care!



  11. Brandon on December 1, 2015 at 7:01 AM

    Thank so much for providing a good place to start on such an enduring topic of dispute within Christianity. I was pleased to see that you had listed “The Bible, Rocks and Time” as a reference for Christian belief in an old earth – not necessarily OEC. If it weren’t for the chapters that require an academic understanding of Geology, I would rate this book as the #1 source. However, the reader could easily skip some of the strictly science chapters and still come away with a wealth of information on why many Christians believe the earth is much older YEC allows.



  12. Greg on April 20, 2017 at 2:34 AM

    Thank you for this list! I wanted to let you know that I have a lot of resources at GreenSlugg.com including a thorough response to Jerry Coyne, and a refutation to each of his arguments. I really appreciate that you are urging parents to teach their kids to critically think about the other side, and I think my resources will add to that.

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_AR3vvFLy-ikm9ZXDFnUTuWb4SbLg3ka