Evolving out of Eden

The reality of evolution and human origins is now beyond any scientific dispute. We are first cousins to the chimpanzees, descendants not of any biblical Adam but of lumbering hairy ancestors who were making fires and hand axes in Africa hundreds of thousands of years ago. This challenges many foundational doctrines of Christianity.

Concerned believers are walking a troubled middle path between Genesis and genetics, threatened with the loss of a cherished faith on the one hand or their intellectual integrity on the other. To escort the faithful through the hostile territory outside Eden’s comforting fairyland, a whole cottage industry of science-savvy theologians has emerged. But do they manage to get anywhere?

Writing with the combination of high criticism and low humor that fans have come to love from Robert M. Price, he and co-author Edwin A. Suominen survey the apologetic landscape and offer their own frank reckoning of evolution’s significance for Christian belief.

Their collaboration on the subject began while Bob was advising Ed, then a believing but troubled Christian, about his “dark night of the soul” with a fundamentalist sect of Lutheranism. Ed realized there was a grave conflict between evolution and his inherited faith.

Having both accepted the reality of evolution, the two friends–one a longtime atheist, the other still wanting to hold onto at least some form of Deism–agreed to research its theological implications and the various ways that Christian writers have tried to smooth things over. They came away from the project delighted to have done the work together but disappointed with the tendency of the concerned faithful to gag on scientific gnats while swallowing theological camels.

Reviews

Currently rated at 4.3 stars on Amazon, with 40 reader reviews.

In addition, luminaries like John Loftus and the late Vic Stenger have given the book high praise:

A sympathetic, comprehensive, and unique study of the so-far unsuccessful but serious attempts by science-savvy theologians to reconcile science with Christianity.
—Victor J. Stenger, author of the New York Times bestseller God: The Failed Hypothesis.
This book is an exceptionally well-written, informed and witty smack down of Christian attempts to deny the fact of evolution or incorporate it into their faith. The authors show us in this masterful book, the likes of which I have never seen before, that the implications of evolution are devastating for the Bible and the doctrines based on it. Absolutely brilliant!
—John W. Loftus, author of Why I Became an Atheist and The Outsider Test for Faith
If I ever have to teach another workshop on how to debate creationists, this volume will be my textbook. Everything is there: comprehensive deconstruction of the Christian bible and its several myths of creation, comparative mythology and folklore, and all the relevant science from astronomy and quantum physics to molecular genetics and population biology. It clearly exposes the fatal flaws of biblical creationism, scientific creationism, creation science, intelligent design, and, yes, theistic evolution.
—Frank R. Zindler, editor of American Atheist Press, author of The Jesus the Jews Never Knew and Through Atheist Eyes
Evolving out of Eden offers something unprecedented–a joint effort by a theologian and a highly accomplished engineer, both former Christian believers, to explicate the theology and the science behind more than a century of Christian responses to the challenge posed by Darwinian evolution. This bidisciplinary approach is hugely important, since in their struggle to blunt the naturalistic import of evolutionary theory Christian apologists have often combined audacious theological maneuvers with sometimes innocent, sometimes willful mis­representations of science. Between them, Price and Suominen possess all the tools to track this quarry wherever it might dodge. Highly recommended!
—Tom Flynn, editor of Free Inquiry Magazine
In a brief but perceptive account of memetics, Evolving out of Eden gives one of the best descriptions I’ve seen of how the memes of religion work. They grab the attention of millions of minds, spreading themselves as viruses of the mind, not for our benefit but for their own. With vivid analogies it explains why the Jesus story is such an “amazing memetic success”–despite being false.
—Susan Blackmore, author of The Meme Machine
A rigorous (and humorous) examination of the questionable hypotheses offered by today’s Christian apologists for jamming square pegs into round holes or trying to keep oil and water mixed when in fact doctrinal Christianity and evolution are at best on a blind date with one another. Marriage does not seem to be an option, not after reading this book! I especially loved the section entitled, “Damage Control.”
—Edward T. Babinski, editor of Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists
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Fellow feline fan Jerry Coyne offered a recommendation of his own when posting a picture of Ed’s cat on his website (don’t you dare call it a “blog”):

Reader Ed Suominen, an ex-Christian, is co-author with Robert Price of the lovely book Evolving out of Eden: Christian Responses to Evolution. I highly recommend it. But he also has a cat (a big ‘un), and sent me a picture of it with a short note...

Said cat is curled up behind Ed’s monitor, purring loudly, as these words are being written. Here’s the photo that Dr. Coyne posted along with his kind words about the book:

Evolving out of Eden Spokescat Frisky II [Flickr page]

In his March 2013 posting “God of the gaps–still with us,” Dr. Coyne also noted the draft copy we sent him,

of a very nice new book by two former Christians, Robert M. Price and Edwin A. Suominen, called Evolving out of Eden: Christian Responses to Evolution. No longer believers, but deeply acquainted with theology and apologetics, Price and Suominen simultaneously dismantle creationism, theistic evolution, and other apologetics. And they don’t pull any punches by making nice with faith. They also make the point that “God of the gaps” arguments are still with us, despite the insistence of the faithful that they no longer use that strategy.

You can imagine how it felt for a couple of evolution amateurs to receive such feedback from an intellectual giant in the field! Dr. Coyne is perhaps the world’s foremost expert on the intersection between evolutionary science and religious dogma, with a new book Faith versus Fact coming out in May 2015.

Evolving out of Eden Co-author Dr. Price is course no amateur regarding the Bible and theology. Ed, a retired electrical engineer, patent agent, and inventor, uses and embraces the term as a fitting description of himself when it comes to evolutionary science. His pursuit of that field, as with Bob, arises solely from “the love of it,” amatorem.

It’s been immensely rewarding for both of them to interact with a few gracious non-amateurs like Dr. Coyne along the way. And the dedication they agreed upon for the book reads as follows:

To the fossil hunters—scientists and assistants alike—who have dedicated so many patient hours to finding the evidence that so many choose to ignore.

Those are the intellectual giants, among others, on whose shoulders Ed and Bob humbly crouched rather than stood when writing about evolution.

Digging Deeper

Available in print and for Kindle on Amazon.com. If you’ve bought the paperback from Amazon, you can use their MatchBook program to get the Kindle version for just $0.99.

Also available for the Nook at Barnes & Noble.

Take a look at our overview of the book, an excerpt, or some favorite quotes. As with all our titles, Amazon offers a free sample for the Kindle version that amounts to the first 10% or so of the book.

Seth Andrews interviewed the co-authors on his The Thinking Atheist podcast in April 2014. You can listen to the interview here or on YouTube, or download it from iTunes.