Nick Spencer and Denis Alexander
£10.00 Pb 63pp, ISBN 0955445353
Reviewed by Mark Pickering, a Yorkshire prison GP
Rescuing Darwin. A noble thought. But from whom, and to what purpose? The authors attempt to dispel notions of Darwin being anti-religious, by charting his painful journey into agnosticism. They then try to rescue him from the science versus religion debate; first by showing that evolution is compatible with Christianity, and was widely accepted by many Christians in the early days, then by challenging scientific creationism on the grounds that it sets the Bible out as a rival to the Origin of Species.
They lament the way that atheist fundamentalists such as Richard Dawkins have portrayed Darwin and Darwinism as inherently anti-religious, thus provoking a fierce reaction from scientific creationists, and in the process polarising and confusing the general public about the true merits of Darwinism. They hope to rescue Darwin to be seen simply as 'an exceptional natural scientist', without the metaphysical overtones his work is often given. There is much to commend in this short book, with its helpful treatment of the history and contemporary issues. I felt the treatment of the Intelligent Design movement was predictably caricatured, but overall it is a helpful summary of the theistic evolutionary perspective and is well worth a read, although the price tag is high for a small paperback.