I’ve been promoting the creation book set from my company, Energion Publications. The authors of this set of books all support the theory of evolution. In fact, the contribution made by these books, I think, is that they are talking about how we should live in light of a belief that the “how” of creation, at least with respect to life, is by means of biological evolution. (This could have been a post over on the Energion company site, but since it’s also so much about my own beliefs, I thought I’d post it here.)
Here’s a clip:
Herold Weiss is a biblical scholar and is talking about creation and creationism from the biblical and theological point of view. It was his book Creation in Scripture that got the book set started.
“For creationism I have no use.” I publish that. I’m also a known advocate of excluding creationism from the public school classroom. I’m a board member of Florida Citizens for Science. So we know where I stand on the issue. I’m a theistic evolutionist, though I don’t like that term.
So would I publish a creationist book?
Short answer: Yes.
Now for the longer answer.
I’m often asked this question by people who wonder just how far to the liberal side of the spectrum I’ll go in terms of publishing. In this case, considering how strongly I’m identified with one side of the issue, we have the opposite question.
The easy way to figure out the general answer to this question is to read the company’s short doctrinal statement. As you read that statement, remember several things:
- Energion Publications is not a church. Nobody is asked to sign or affirm this statement
- We judge manuscripts, not authors. I have been asked about things an author said on his web site and whether they “fit.” That’s not my concern.
- There are many issues of definition in even that short doctrinal statement. For example, amongst our authors we have quite a number of definitions of what the word “inspired” means with relation to scripture.
- It does provide a general guide to let us focus on an audience
Having said that, if a book falls within that statement, we’ll consider it. Does creationism fall within those parameters? Absolutely.
So the longer answer is again, yes. But remember that this openness to publish covers a large number of other issues as well.
Why are all our books on creation written by those who accept theistic evolution? Again, a simple answer. Those are the ones that were submitted and accepted.
Aha! A snag! What our hypothetical questioner would probably like to know is whether this manuscript, the one he or she has in hand, expending from days to decades, would be considered for publication and what its chances would be. Would the fact that I have a firm position on the issue prejudice me against that manuscript?
Without doubt my beliefs influence what I do. But one of my beliefs is that the best thing to do with theological disagreements is to discuss them, entering into genuine dialogue. I consider creationism to be a very live theological debate and one on which we should be having dialogue in the church. I think actual dialogue on this subject is rather rare, but I’m ready to promote it.
In fact, I see myself as a publisher in the role of an advocate for advocacy. So if I publish a book on creationism I will also put every effort into marketing it.
That doesn’t mean that I will bend over backwards to accept the first manuscript on the topic that I get. I have been studying this subject since I first learned to read, and so I have a very good feel for the literature.
Let me provide an example. Dr. Kurt Wise, who earned his PhD under Stephen Jay Gould at Harvard, is a creationist. He wrote the book Faith, Form, and Time. The link provided is to my review. It’s a good book. I disagree with practically every word in it. I don’t see those two statements as contradictory. I consider it the best statement of a Christian creationism as is available for a popular audience. Wise starts from the premise that Genesis teaches a young earth and a literal creation week, so we must follow from that point and discover the science that proves God right. I disagree with that premise.
If you can send me a manuscript that is as good as that one (good luck!) I’m bound to publish it. And there are lots of other manuscripts that would be good. For example, looked at from the point of systematic theology, how does a young earth or a literal creation week (or both) fit into a doctrinal pattern? What other pillars of the faith lean on those concepts? One could write some excellent systematic theology in that area, and consequently argue with our existing volume, Creation: The Christian Doctrine, which argues that those are not important. It happens I agree with the latter book, but that won’t prevent me publishing a rebuttal!
Now if I had a category for science, which I don’t, I would require that material in it be reviewed by qualified scientists. That would be another matter. I don’t think modern creationism has yet earned a place at the scientific table, and I’m not the one to offer that place. It must be offered by scientists who are active in their disciplines. I’d have a team of them as readers if I were a science publisher. But the biblical, religious, and theological debate is very relevant and active.
For those who are interested, I didn’t become convinced that the earth wasn’t young or that the creation week wasn’t literal by studying biology. In fact, I never took a college course in biology. I’m not going to judge one’s biological pretensions. Well, unless they violate elementary principles, that is. It was through study of the scriptural material that I became convinced it was not possible that God was intended to provide either the “how” of creation or the timeline of earth’s history.
There’s a great deal of open territory for studying biblical studies and theology involved in that!
I can’t help but finish with some pictures that illustrate how thoroughly indoctrinated a creationist I was. These are pictures of the “Eden to Eden Timeline.” You can see in the second image that we were taught that the date of creation was 3957 BC, a correction of the more common 4004 BC. Students added pictures and colored maps as we worked our way through the Bible, entirely guided by this timeline.