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The Fool and the Heretic: How Two Scientists Moved beyond Labels to a Christian Dialogue about Creation and Evolution

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The Fool and the Heretic is a deeply personal story told by two respected scientists who hold opposing views on the topic of origins, share a common faith in Jesus Christ, and began a sometimes-painful journey to explore how they can remain in Christian fellowship when each thinks the other is harming the church. To some in the church, anyone who accepts the theory of evol The Fool and the Heretic is a deeply personal story told by two respected scientists who hold opposing views on the topic of origins, share a common faith in Jesus Christ, and began a sometimes-painful journey to explore how they can remain in Christian fellowship when each thinks the other is harming the church. To some in the church, anyone who accepts the theory of evolution has rejected biblical teaching and is therefore thought of as a heretic. To many outside the church as well as a growing number of evangelicals, anyone who accepts the view that God created the earth in six days a few thousand years ago must be poorly educated and ignorant--a fool. Todd Wood and Darrel Falk know what it's like to be thought of, respectively, as a fool and a heretic. This book shares their pain in wearing those labels, but more important, provides a model for how faithful Christians can hold opposing views on deeply divisive issues yet grow deeper in their relationship to each other and to God.


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The Fool and the Heretic is a deeply personal story told by two respected scientists who hold opposing views on the topic of origins, share a common faith in Jesus Christ, and began a sometimes-painful journey to explore how they can remain in Christian fellowship when each thinks the other is harming the church. To some in the church, anyone who accepts the theory of evol The Fool and the Heretic is a deeply personal story told by two respected scientists who hold opposing views on the topic of origins, share a common faith in Jesus Christ, and began a sometimes-painful journey to explore how they can remain in Christian fellowship when each thinks the other is harming the church. To some in the church, anyone who accepts the theory of evolution has rejected biblical teaching and is therefore thought of as a heretic. To many outside the church as well as a growing number of evangelicals, anyone who accepts the view that God created the earth in six days a few thousand years ago must be poorly educated and ignorant--a fool. Todd Wood and Darrel Falk know what it's like to be thought of, respectively, as a fool and a heretic. This book shares their pain in wearing those labels, but more important, provides a model for how faithful Christians can hold opposing views on deeply divisive issues yet grow deeper in their relationship to each other and to God.

30 review for The Fool and the Heretic: How Two Scientists Moved beyond Labels to a Christian Dialogue about Creation and Evolution

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Gardiner

    I loved this book so much. It's the story of two Christian scientists. Both have PhD's in biology but vehemently disagree on the mechanism that God used to create this world and everything in it. Falk is the past President of Biologos and believes in Theistic Evolution. Wood is a Young Earth Creationist. This book chronicles their meetings together as they learn to dialogue on important topic while still being one in Christ (John 17:21). They each have a chapter explaining why the other person is I loved this book so much. It's the story of two Christian scientists. Both have PhD's in biology but vehemently disagree on the mechanism that God used to create this world and everything in it. Falk is the past President of Biologos and believes in Theistic Evolution. Wood is a Young Earth Creationist. This book chronicles their meetings together as they learn to dialogue on important topic while still being one in Christ (John 17:21). They each have a chapter explaining why the other person is wrong (and why it matters), they talk about the evidence for each position (and critique the other view), but this is not really a debate book. It is a story of their relationship with a focus on how to dialogue honestly and lovingly as Christians. What I loved was that this book didn't sugar coat the issues. Each person believes that each others view hurts the gospel and leads people away from faith. I love such honesty where convictions are strong, yet there is a unity because of their shared faith that overshadows their views. Personally, I hate theistic evolutionism, believing it is an adapting of the Naturalistic worldview to Christianity. Theistic evolutionists say "focus on the message" (of the gospel) not the details (a refrain Falk numerous times in the book). But if I can't trust the details, I don't see why I'd trust the message. Having said that, I have a love for theistic evolutionists. I have had good Christian fellowship with them and I look up to and benefit from their teaching in other areas (like Tim Keller and Bruce Waltke). North American culture has forgotten how to disagree. One group looks at everything tribalistically. If you hold the opposite view from them, you must hate them. The other group won't discuss anything contentious and has a false sense of unity where nothing important is ever discussed. This book bridges that gap in approach, and is a great apologetic for the faith as we get to witness ideological enemies (their words) showcase: "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lucas G.

    This book was written by two people - both Christians with PhDs in biology - who couldn't be further apart on the creationism/evolution divide. Wood is a Young Earth Creationist while Falk is a Theistic Evolutionist. The book started as a series of meetings between the two authors - organized by a ministry called The Colossian Forum - in which they had the opportunity to discuss their differences. Throughout this book, they reflect on those meetings. This book provides a unique and encouraging e This book was written by two people - both Christians with PhDs in biology - who couldn't be further apart on the creationism/evolution divide. Wood is a Young Earth Creationist while Falk is a Theistic Evolutionist. The book started as a series of meetings between the two authors - organized by a ministry called The Colossian Forum - in which they had the opportunity to discuss their differences. Throughout this book, they reflect on those meetings. This book provides a unique and encouraging example of how disagreement ought to look within the Christian community. This isn't a superficial "agree to disagree" type of discussion. Both authors clearly demonstrate why they think the other is wrong. They even take it a step further and argue that the other person's ministry is harmful to the Christian church as a whole - at times referring to each other as "mortal enemies" since their ministries are directly opposed to one another. Despite this significant divide, the friendship and community that exists between Wood and Falk jumps off of every page. Wood doesn't accuse Falk of heresy for accepting evolution. Falk doesn't consider Wood an idiot for defending Young Earth Creationism (in fact, he even admits that Wood is probably more knowledgeable about evolutionary biology than he is). Instead, because they had the opportunity to disagree together with regular meeting and prayer time, they were able to see each other for who they truly were: people trying their best to follow Christ and make Him known. While this book is an excellent example of how to disagree within the Christian church, it doesn't go into too much detail on the disagreement itself. Anyone who is expecting a debate book will surely be disappointed. Nevertheless, it is an important read - one that can be completed in the course of an afternoon or two - that will help shape how we all look at doctrinal disagreements for the better, hopefully allowing us to draw closer together despite our differences. My biggest concern is that I wanted more technical substance to the discussion, and therefore I felt like the book is lacking something important.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Meyers

    I'm grateful this book exists, and it makes for a very quick read. The book is not a deep-dive of scientific evidence for human origins (if you want that, I highly recommend Darrel Falk's Coming to Peace with Science), but is rather a primer on young-earth creationism versus theistic evolution. The book is structured as an ongoing, multi-year conversation between Todd who advocates for young-earth creationism (YEC) and Darrel who advocates for theistic evolution. The book has a very natural flow I'm grateful this book exists, and it makes for a very quick read. The book is not a deep-dive of scientific evidence for human origins (if you want that, I highly recommend Darrel Falk's Coming to Peace with Science), but is rather a primer on young-earth creationism versus theistic evolution. The book is structured as an ongoing, multi-year conversation between Todd who advocates for young-earth creationism (YEC) and Darrel who advocates for theistic evolution. The book has a very natural flow, starting with their initial meeting, allowing each to explain how they became scientists, and then briefly describing their theologies followed by their science. The book gives each scientist space to find the the theological ground that unites them, while allowing each to strongly disagree. Todd thinks Darrel is 100% wrong on origins and that this view is actively harmful to reading and understanding the Bible. Darrel believes the exact opposite, and that the science Todd is doing is not actually science. The two pull no punches and come to no scientific agreement. Yet this book offers so much hope for discussion across battle lines and sympathetic understanding of 'the other.' I think this book is a necessary resource for students, like me, raised in Christian homes and taught YEC. While the majority of Christians believe in YEC, most of the major Christian colleges teach a form of theistic evolution. It is resources like this book (and the excellent Biologos) that will help students reconcile science with faith, appreciate the poetic beauty of the first couple chapters of Genesis, and strengthen their faith.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Lenko

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Christian dialogue... rarely does it truly work to just tack the adjective *Christian* on something other than a person, but the conversation these two had was truly Christian: (1) it was all about how mortal enemies could genuinely love one another and (2) about how their vocations could be a benefit to the body of Christ. The two most valuable things in "The Fool and Heretic" for me were (1) seeing two men recognize Jesus in the other who they believe to be dangerous (2) finding a new kind of Christian dialogue... rarely does it truly work to just tack the adjective *Christian* on something other than a person, but the conversation these two had was truly Christian: (1) it was all about how mortal enemies could genuinely love one another and (2) about how their vocations could be a benefit to the body of Christ. The two most valuable things in "The Fool and Heretic" for me were (1) seeing two men recognize Jesus in the other who they believe to be dangerous (2) finding a new kind of young earth creationist. Todd Charles Wood is an evolutionary biologist. He admits that the evidence for evolution is true science and really quite compelling. He is committed to a literalistic understanding of Genesis 1-11 which motivates him NOT to spread false rhetoric about evolution's scientific weakness but instead to ACTIVELY SEEK scientific evidence for a young earth. By the end of the book, I found myself really respecting him and wishing more of my dogged young earth brothers and sisters thought as clearly as him.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Two sides of the same coin It is refreshing to have a balanced discussion about the origins topic. I was a young earth creation believer for most of my life, some 30 plus years, but after reading "Language of God" by Collins, as well as Faulk's book, "Coming to Leave with Science" and even a book or two from Polkinghorn, I have come to accept evolution as the process by which humans arrived in earth. I still have a lot to learn and understand about how the new to me idea "fits" with the Bible, bu Two sides of the same coin It is refreshing to have a balanced discussion about the origins topic. I was a young earth creation believer for most of my life, some 30 plus years, but after reading "Language of God" by Collins, as well as Faulk's book, "Coming to Leave with Science" and even a book or two from Polkinghorn, I have come to accept evolution as the process by which humans arrived in earth. I still have a lot to learn and understand about how the new to me idea "fits" with the Bible, but all things are possible through Christ. I am impressed with the open honesty of these two scientists as well as their commitment to continue walking in the love of Christ toward each other. All we Christians need to learn how to do this and be more effective in reaching others whose ideas are very different than our own.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bible Gateway

    The topics of creation and evolution can be divisive in today’s church. How can followers of Jesus who worship together but differ in their views on these topics get along with each other? How can they demonstrate the practice of loving one another, friendship, and mutual respect despite arriving at opposite scientific conclusions? Bible Gateway interviewed Todd Charles Wood (@CoreacadInfo) and Darrel R. Falk about their book, The Fool and the Heretic: How Two Scientists Moved Beyond Labels to a The topics of creation and evolution can be divisive in today’s church. How can followers of Jesus who worship together but differ in their views on these topics get along with each other? How can they demonstrate the practice of loving one another, friendship, and mutual respect despite arriving at opposite scientific conclusions? Bible Gateway interviewed Todd Charles Wood (@CoreacadInfo) and Darrel R. Falk about their book, The Fool and the Heretic: How Two Scientists Moved Beyond Labels to a Christian Dialogue About Creation and Evolution (Zondervan, 2019). Read our interview with Todd and Darrel here- https://bit.ly/2DY7Fdh

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jake

    An easy introduction into the ongoing, ever diverse conversation of creationism and evolution. The first half of this book acts as a guide to “Christian conflict resolution”, while the second half barely grazes the the actual topics themselves (which I was disappointed about). Although this book left me wanting, I found it a delightful, easy read that helped me feel more at ease having contrary views to most my friends. This book left me feeling proud while reading about two men who deeply disagr An easy introduction into the ongoing, ever diverse conversation of creationism and evolution. The first half of this book acts as a guide to “Christian conflict resolution”, while the second half barely grazes the the actual topics themselves (which I was disappointed about). Although this book left me wanting, I found it a delightful, easy read that helped me feel more at ease having contrary views to most my friends. This book left me feeling proud while reading about two men who deeply disagree with one another could come together in their disagreement displaying the kind of unity Christ expects of the body.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    Interesting premise: what will happen when you take two eminently educated Christian scientists; one of whom is an evolutionist, the other a young earth creationist, and have them dialogue honestly with each other over a period of several years? Although the book touches on the arguments supporting each view, it is more about loving someone who vehemently disagree with you. Not a bad topic in today's highly polarized culture. Although I did enjoy reading this book it did not quite capture me enou Interesting premise: what will happen when you take two eminently educated Christian scientists; one of whom is an evolutionist, the other a young earth creationist, and have them dialogue honestly with each other over a period of several years? Although the book touches on the arguments supporting each view, it is more about loving someone who vehemently disagree with you. Not a bad topic in today's highly polarized culture. Although I did enjoy reading this book it did not quite capture me enough to award more than three stars.

  9. 5 out of 5

    John Kirkwood

    A wonderful book! Don’t expect a lot of back and forth on the details of the differences, there are really only a couple chapters on that directly, but a splendid example of true civility and Christian generosity. My respect grew for both men and while I side with Darrel Falk I have nothing but good things to say about Todd Wood. Would love to see more of this take place but sadly, much of this conversation is stunted by bullies and brawlers.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I really liked this book. I am kind of on the fence about what I think about Creation, but the thing that really impressed me is how two people who are passionate and strong about their own opposing viewpoints can relate to each other in a Christian manner. I feel like God must be very proud of their behavior. The world could use a lot more human kindness as we disagree with each other. Well done!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Josh Long

    An interesting story of contradictory views in dialogue. I thought the structure & dynamic of the book was particularly entertaining. I wouldn't go here for any deep understanding of either 6 day creation or creation evolution - but a satisfactory introduction. Worth the read if you've never touched the subject! An interesting story of contradictory views in dialogue. I thought the structure & dynamic of the book was particularly entertaining. I wouldn't go here for any deep understanding of either 6 day creation or creation evolution - but a satisfactory introduction. Worth the read if you've never touched the subject!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Astounding. As someone thoroughly convinced of an evolutionary account of human origins who grew up reading young earth creationist literature and convinced of its veracity, I found this dialogue remarkable. May we see more of this charitable engagement that allows our conversations to be grounded in love.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Interesting short book. An easy read but documents a crucial dialogue. How to talk with someone who you call your enemy BUT you acknowledge is a Christian?! The book features chapters by each on a common topic with a moderator from the Colossian Forum providing interludes. Nothing gets resolved but rather demonstrates meaningful dialogue and understanding can build friendships.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. this book has grown my familiarity of creationism, and understanding for potential of evolution in christianity. I was desiring more factual backup and resolution in this debate on origins, but overall understanding the sides and how they interacted with one another [as christians] made it worth the read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Samuel Ferguson

    An interesting and balanced view of a complex issue, looking at evolution and creation from two different perspectives but always bringing the main focus back to Jesus and His unifying love, even among people who disagree

  16. 5 out of 5

    Darren Thornberry

    Fascinating read about two scientists who are Christians on the same side of many theological issues trying to relate beyond the gaping chasm of their divergent beliefs on Earth's origins. Recommended! Fascinating read about two scientists who are Christians on the same side of many theological issues trying to relate beyond the gaping chasm of their divergent beliefs on Earth's origins. Recommended!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Herrmann

    A much-needed example of Christian unity in the face of sincere disagreement.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jewel

    This was a radical book to read, and it gives so much insight on how to have a healthy dialogue with those who hold different, and even controversial ways of thinking.

  19. 5 out of 5

    J.R. Fehr

    One of the best parts of this book is the way that it encourages us to have more understanding and grace for those who hold different views than us.

  20. 5 out of 5

    G. Connor Salter

    Wood and Falk avoid easy answers in this book about how they agreed to meet together and see if they could have open dialogue despite the fact they're Christian scientists who hold opposing views on evolution. Some chapters even discuss why they each believe each other's work is harming the Church. But in the midst of their debates, they discover something interesting about unity and what it really means to be "brothers in Christ." Wood and Falk avoid easy answers in this book about how they agreed to meet together and see if they could have open dialogue despite the fact they're Christian scientists who hold opposing views on evolution. Some chapters even discuss why they each believe each other's work is harming the Church. But in the midst of their debates, they discover something interesting about unity and what it really means to be "brothers in Christ."

  21. 5 out of 5

    Deirdre Lohrmann

  22. 4 out of 5

    Keith reich

  23. 4 out of 5

    David Donley

  24. 5 out of 5

    Scott Wilson

  25. 4 out of 5

    David A.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Katie

  27. 4 out of 5

    Roman

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kim Wheeler

  29. 5 out of 5

    cooptroopcoop

  30. 4 out of 5

    Christine

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