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Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution [Hardcover]

By Karl Giberson (Author)
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Pages   256
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.96" Width: 6.44" Height: 0.91"
Weight:   0.95 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jun 30, 2008
Publisher   HarperOne
ISBN  0061228788  
EAN  9780061228780  

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Hardcover $ 24.95 $ 21.21 94018
Paperback $ 14.99 $ 12.74 2482314 In Stock
Item Description...
Intelligent design, creationism, and evolution have always been hot topics for debate in America. Creationism and intelligent design are usually seen as the province of religious people, while evolution belongs to the scientist. But what about committed Christians who find something lacking in the idea of creationism or intelligent design? Can you still be a Christian and support the idea of evolution? Scientist Karl Giberson believes you can. Raised a fundamentalist who firmly believed in creationism, Giberson abandoned his creationist beliefs while working on his Ph.D., but not his belief in Christianity. Saving Darwin explores the history of the controversy that swirls around evolution and shows why-and how-it is possible to believe in God and evolution at the same time.

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More About Karl Giberson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Karl Giberson teaches science and religion at Stonehill College and is a leading voice in America s creation/evolution controversy. He is the author of ten books, including "Saving Darwin," a "Washington Post" Best Book of 2008, and "The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age," with Randall Stephens. He lives in Hingham, Massachusetts. He lives on the web at"

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Saving Darwin  Mar 6, 2010
We are using Saving Darwin as an adult Sunday school discussion. Members find it informative and stimulating for discussion of the issues. Giberson sets the context for Darwin's work and those who follow him both negatively and positively. His section on Social Darwinism serves as a good reminder of how many misused Darwinism. His discussions of Creationism and Intelligent Design are fair and point out the issues still present in today's news.
Saving Darwin Still Needing A Little Salvation  Jan 16, 2010
In the first edition hardcover version of this book, above the subtitle - "How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution" - one finds a picture of a fish under a picture of a monkey. Perhaps one may deduce that the fish is an explicit reference not merely to the most ancient of animals in an evolutionary sense but to the traditional icthus symbol of Christianity. The monkey of course being the more primal ancestor to the human than the fish. Thus, the book's claim to reconcile the two.

I am conflicted about this book. To be sure, Giberson seems comfortable floating in and out of the worlds of history, science, and religion. Moreover, he is also very fluid in his writing style. He is a gifted writer - almost poetic at times - and is usually enjoyable to read. In addition, his book provides a helpful source of all sorts of information about creationism in America and the ins and outs of evolutionary theory. The two most valuable parts of the book in my opinion are Ch. 3 "Darwin's Dark Companions" and Ch. 7 "How To Be Stupid, Wicked, and Insane." In both sections Giberson, though an advocate of evolution, is honest about the ways in which evolution - as the organizing principle of biology - has, in fact, been hijacked at times by those across a wide spectrum of sinister ideological objectives, from Hitler's holocaust to Dawkins frontal assault on all things supernatural. Giberson also acknowledges the dangers of scientism whereby the only acceptable lens through which to find meaning in the world is via the scientific method. He writes: "I worry that scientific progress has bewitched us into thinking that there is nothing more to the world that what we can understand. Science is like the fisherman's net that can't catch small fish because the holes in the net are too large. We must be careful not to conclude that the fish we can catch disprove the existence of those we cannot" (210).

All that said, I finished this book somewhat unsettled. I'll mention four areas of concern where I think the book could have been more valuable: 1) I wish the author of this volume, a physicist, had been trained at advanced levels in biology and theology. This is especially the case as often the criticisms made against leaders within Creationism and/or Intelligent Design (ID) movements have to due with their lack of appropriate credentials for the tasks they undertake (e.g. law professor critiquing evolution, former high school science teacher opening a creation science museums, and an engineer talking about the fossil record with authority, etc.). 2) I found the organization of this book at times lacking and redundant. This book just seemed to lack a cohesive overall structure and repeated much of the same material (much as I have just done to make a point!!). All this to say, "Saving Darwin" could have benefited from a bit more "intelligent design" from its editors. 3) As is unfortunately the case in many critiques of Creationism and/or ID, Giberson resorts at times to exaggerated statements (e.g. "someone who believes this or that is ridiculous" with occasional ad hominem attacks sprinkled with a pompous tone. 4) At the end of the day, my greatest concern about this book has to do with the fact that while I found this volume helpful and informative in many ways I find it significantly lacking with respect to its alleged aim of helping someone to really think through being a Christian and believing in evolution. Perhaps - and I speculate - due to the author's own lack of training in theology and biology he never goes into meaningful depth on either front to assist the inquisitive believer how - really - one might understand the ways in which to affirm historic Christian belief in "God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth" with free, open, and honest scientific inquiry. The absence of such substance to this otherwise valuable volume is quite unfortunate.

Perhaps the paperback edition of "Saving Darwin" sufficiently mutated in needed ways to address the areas above. On that question I must remain agnostic. Otherwise, Giberson needs to continue to work out his salvation of Darwin...and perhaps next time with a bit more healthy fear and trembling.
The Kind of Christianity Giberson Preaches  Oct 18, 2009
After a positive anticipation coming from the book's subtitle and from Francis Collins' forward, I expected to read about a true synthesis of orthodox Christianity and orthodox evolution. Yet after finishing the introduction, it was clear that the writer himself was unable to take his readers down that road. The Christianity he describes by way of personal example is actually naturalistic deism rather than historical and orthodox Christianity. This is the only way he can claim that Christianity and evolution can mix: he dilutes Christianity until it fits with his evolutionary worldview.

I don't say this to be sectarian. I'm not insulting Giberson's faith because he's a Catholic, or a Presbyterian, or a pre-tribulationist, or a Pentacostal. All of those categories are firmly rooted within Christianity, as defined by all historical believers who declared Jesus as their Lord, Savior, and King. The Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed are good examples of statements of faith that can bridge the divides between Protestant and Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Armenian. The ties that bind are nearer than those that do not. This is what Luther called "The Church Invisible." However, Giberson's own words describe how he falls outside of the pale of historical Christianity. The Church Invisible still has walls, and Giberson is proud to say he is outside of them.

Only the Introduction was written to a Christian audience, but even it hopelessly fails in its ability to connect with the heart and beliefs of the family of the Redeemed. Below are some of my comments about the kind of "Christianity" that Giberson is evangelizing about:

p. 6 - Giberson recounts how he needed to slip down the slope of 19th century liberalization to get his religion in line. This liberalization was not Christian in nature, but rather secular humanistic.

p. 8 - Giberson calls the Genesis story an "old fashioned fairy tale" that is ridiculous when read literally. He comes to this conclusion because Eden includes a "magical garden" and "talking snakes." He doesn't describe why they sound ridiculous, just that they are. He does this because he is an anti-supernaturalist. Yet he never, not in the whole book, follows the implications of this judgment. Surely his line of reasoning would throw out all of Jesus' miracles and every act of God in physical nature. This would call into doubt both Old and New Testaments. Giberson never addresses the logical outcomes of his presuppositions.

p.10 - Giberson recounts Dennett's "universal acid" and says that it "runs out of steam" after dissolving away the meaning of Genesis. But as explained above, Giberson has no idea how much this acid dissolves all of orthodox Christianity - since he is a heterodox anti-supernaturalist himself.

p.10-11 - While speaking in a totally detached manner, Giberson correctly states that the central fact of Christianity is the divinity of Christ. However, I say "detached" because he then speaks of such an idea as absurdity. Yes, in the naturalistic "ways of this world" sense, the Incarnation was absurd, and every Christian knows that. But to leave the discussion at that is to malign the Christian perspective. Giberson then talks about how evolution does nothing to prove or disprove the Incarnation, which is a correct statement. But he leaves the reader with what amounts to the following argument, which I have summarized: "Christianity, with its series of doctrines like the Incarnation, is already illogical and impossible, so it must be believed on by blind faith alone. Adding evolution to the mix doesn't decrease Christianity's inherent problems." To believe in Christianity, Giberson thinks, one must check his brain at the door.

p. 11-15 - "Dissolving the Fall" and "Dissolving the Uniqueness of Mankind"
To properly reach out to his audience, Giberson should have written 75% of his book about the assertions he makes in these two sections. He correctly identifies that the meaning of the Fall and the uniqueness of mankind must necessarily be thrown out under evolution, but he is clueless as to how this destroys the entire framework of Christianity. Absolutely demolishes it. The "Christianity" that emerges from the ashes of these two fallen doctrines may be something religious, but it definitely isn't the orthodox Christianity that was preached by the apostles and believed in by the church universal. The main thrust of Giberson's argument is that mankind was not responsible for sin and death, and mankind is no different than animals. This is unacceptable, and it is very frustrating that Giberson did not follow through with the implications of these arguments. Based on his argument, I should be encouraged to start a Christian denomination entitled, "Chimpanzees for Christ", in which the Gospel of redemption from sin is preached to our chimpanzee brothers. Since all of our human traits are somehow inherited from other species, we could reasonably expect that chimpanzees have souls, if indeed humans have souls. But from Giberson's naturalistic slant, I think he would deny that even humans have metaphysical, spiritual souls. Giberson even goes so far as to say on p. 14 that the writers of the New Testament were limited in their spiritual understanding of primates because they had not yet entered into the 21st century! What a backward, non-revelatory perspective for a "Christian" to have. He treats the Bible just like any other book, which, of course, he approves of when he speaks positively of the 19th century liberalization of Christianity.

p.47 - Giberson speaks approvingly of Strauss' "The Life of Jesus Critically Examined", thereby throwing out the historicity of the Resurrection and Jesus' miracles. Support for these kinds of heresies is what Giberson meant by going through the liberalization process from the 19th century.

p. 49 - Giberson calls God's wrath against humanity a "divine tantrum." He describes the God of the Israelites as vengeful and tyrannical (p.23). Besides being highly irreverent and distasteful to anyone but Bible-haters, this kind of description of God's actions shows how much Giberson is unacquainted with the God of the Bible. The Christian faith has always correctly taught the balance between God's wrath and grace. Like other mysterious truths about God, he is both 100% just (meaning he is wrathful), and 100% love (meaning he gives grace). To throw out God's wrath as improper or laughable is to define a god that is incompatible with Christianity.

p. 155-156 - Most importantly, Giberson's own admission of faithlessness is the nail in his coffin. One begins reading his book hoping to see the author portray a life-giving, Christ-loving, Christ-preaching, minister of God's truth who just happens to believe in evolution as well. In reality, the author is a man who gives credibility to atheists' arguments against God, insisting that he still believes in God because of "practical" reasons - which amount to approval of parents, approval of wife and children, approval of friends, and approval of colleagues. He "believes" in God because of peer pressure. In reality, his faith is dead. This should not come as any surprise since his faith is not based upon the foundation of God's Word, but rather his own finite intellect.

This book's title and subtitle are completely misleading. Giberson misses his target audience and loses the argument. The crux of his argument is that Christianity and Evolution can be harmonized and synthesized. Sadly, Giberson's example shows that this can only happen at Christianity's expense. The Christianity that results is as lifeless as a corpse.

I would highly suggest all of Francis Schaeffer's books to all who are seeking to understand why Giberson's naturalistic approach to this universe is left wholly wanting in metaphysics, epistemology, and morality.
Resolving the Tension Between Religion and Science  Aug 5, 2009
Like author Karl W. Giberson, I grew up in a strict, fundamentalist home. In retrospect, I had always been a "young-earth creationist", surrounded by those of like belief, with little reason to question the "truth" of a literal translation of Genesis--the description of a six-day Creation and its account of our origins.


Information I gleaned from field trips to the Smithsonian museums didn't really mesh against what I was taught in private school, church, and in my Bob Jones-breed Christian home. Answers from my childhood "experts" seemed flippant, curt, and imminently unsatisfying.

Years later, I met and grew to love my parents-in-law (and before them, my brilliant, well-read, think-outside-the-box husband!). The whole family valued independent thinking and had the utmost respect for science's contributions to our understanding of our existence. They all encouraged me to explore and test different ways of thinking, much to my growth and amazement. Science, and three people who deeply loved me, quietly tugged at my heart.

But, the icing on the cake came when my pastor preached a sermon titled "Isn't Creation Just a Myth?", a clear assault on all that Darwin stood for. You see, my pastor, whom we still greatly respect and study under, called Darwin's theory of evolution "a religious system" that is "full of lies" on that fateful Sunday. Was my husband angry! For weeks afterwards, I listened to his diatribes. Eventually, he went to talk to our pastor one-one one, and eventually came to some kind of resolution in his own heart and mind on this volatile issue. I had only seen that kind of passion in hard-core fundamentalists before!

So when "Christianity Today" ran a review on Giberson's "Saving Darwin", I was chomping at the bit. I longed to resolve the obvious tension playing out in my intellectual and personal life. Besides, the search for Truth should never intimidate us, especially as Christ-followers!

"Saving Darwin" covers a lot of ground. Giberson begins with an honest assessment of Charles Darwin's paradigms and the ultimate break in his faith (which had absolutely nothing to do with his brand of science). He then moves comprehensively to an in-depth look at evolution's dark side, its abuses and extremes (think genocide) and slips easily into an anecdotal recount of the Scopes "Monkey Trial". In the blink of an eye, he leads us though a systematic dismantling of "The Genesis Flood", a fundamentalist's "science" book, co-authored by one my home-town's Biblical heroes, John C. Whitcomb. Giberson clearly demonstrates that the creation/evolution argument is a culture, rather than an academic war, for evolution bears out its scientific validity in a number of disciplines including biology, geology, genetics, and paleontology. On the other hand, young-earth creationists have virtually no support from mainstream scientists and in fact, find themselves a bit isolated (and conveniently academically myopic), with a small, but fiercely dedicated army of anti-evolutionists.

Few books have challenged my faith, my core beliefs, and my intellect more than this one. Many times, I found myself nodding with a clear understanding of Giberson's science, immediately accompanied by stabs of fundamentalist offense and guilt. In the end, however, I could find nothing in this work that contradicted Jesus' story of redemption for His fallen people. (That being said, I don't know that I could find much in this work that disagrees with any of the world's three major religions.) Giberson repeatedly warns both "sides" of the creation/evolution battle that the existing dichotomy between their theories is "wrong" and that the current polarized positions "are not the only two options". He compels his readers to re-work their understanding of God's creativity and our place in the universe to match what can be empirically studied. And he warns against twisting the Bible's ancient wisdom "to speak to a modern issue it never intended to address."

On a minor note, Giberson never fully engages his reader on an emotional level, other than his brushes with wry humor. This man is clearly a scholar, not a salesman. He does take one brief rabbit trail into his own personal belief system. He writes, "As a purely practical matter, I have compelling reasons to believe in God." He then describes his parents as "deeply committed Christians", his wife and children as "believing in God", most of his friends as "believers", and his job that he loves at "a Christian college". His relationship with our Creator never reaches much beyond his summation that "abandoning belief in God would be disruptive, sending my life completely off the rails." That's all? That is the basis for his faith? I wanted more.

In his conclusion, Giberson offers the book's powerful redemption, an admission that won me over: "Perhaps the unfolding of history includes a steady infusion of divine creativity under the scientific radar. Perhaps the meaning we encounter in so many different places and so many different ways is not simply an accident of our biology, but a hint that the universe is more than particles and their interactions." My belief in Jesus' plan for our universe's reconciliation and the wonder and mystery of His methods remain fully in tact, but will be, hereafter, combined with a respect for modern academia and science's advances.

"Saving Darwin" will make a great gift for my dear father-in-law; he will find it brilliant and engaging. I probably won't, however, buy it for my dear pastor. On second thought... it might be just the challenge he needs.
There is a FOURTH way that explains the universe and life!  Jul 14, 2009
Don't be fooled into believing in falsehoods! To those of you out there who are Christians (or who are at least contemplating or are trying to reconcile a belief in God with scientific teachings that hold to the various evolutionary models), DO NOT buy into the false impression, perpetrated by popular media, that there are basically ONLY THREE real choices in explanations of how the universe and life on earth came into being.

Basically, media falsely perpetrates that there are ONLY the following choices:

1) That existence of the universe and how life came into being can only be explained through naturalism's various evolutionary models (or a combination of them).

2) That the only alternative explanations to the evolutionary models (for the existence of our universe and life on earth) are inherit in the Young Earth Creationists (YECs) views (typically called a "Fundamentalist" view in media) that the earth is only 10,000 of so years old and that the earth and universe were created in a literal six days - per a LITERAL reading of Genesis in the Bible.

3) That God made the universe and created life, but that His modes of operation were through various evolutionary mechanisms and pathways (the author of this book's view, which is NOT supported by Scripture).


4) MANY Christians and evangelical leaders (Old Earth Creationists - OECs) DO in fact believe that God created the universe and earth and that they are both VERY ancient - (a 4.5 billion-year-old earth and a 13.73 billion-year-old universe), yet they do not support Darwinian evolution or its offshoots. WHY does the media never report this? Because it is so easy to make those who believe in a 10,000-year-old earth and universe (YECs) look scientifically ignorant as well as ridiculous (and understandably so), and also that by linking this YEC belief to the Bible, they attempt to portray the Bible as being ridiculous as well.

MANY notable evangelical Christian leaders hold to an Old-Earth Creationist (OEC) position of an ancient (many billions-of-years-old) universe ([...]). The precise wording of many Bible Scriptures make the OEC position something that many conservative theologians agree upon. [...].

Old Earth Creationists believe that God created the universe and life through very long periods of creation events that included various periods of new species, extinctions, and subsequent species. This is supported by the scientific and fossil record and is in agreement with an enlightened view of reading Scripture. For a great review of this, go to the Reasons to Believe website ([...]) or read "Creation as Science" by Hugh Ross. Also, to get MANY printable articles as well as audio files supporting the Bible, Christianity, and Old Earth Creationism, go to the Reasons to Believe website ([...]). Reasons to Believe (RTB) believes in much mainstream science and in an ancient universe. RTB believes the Bible is God's word, is accurate, historic and that it points to Christ as the Son of God.


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