Thriving with Stone Age Minds
What does God's creation of humanity through the process of evolution mean for human flourishing? The emerging field of evolutionary psychology remains controversial, perhaps especially among Christians. Yet according to Justin Barrett and Pamela Ebstyne King it can be a powerful tool for understanding human nature and our distinctively human purpose.
Thriving with Stone Age Minds provides an introduction to evolutionary psychology, explaining key concepts like hyper-sociality, information gathering, and self-control. Combining insights from evolutionary psychology with resources from the Bible and Christian theology, Barrett and King focus fresh attention on the question, What is human flourishing? When we understand how humans still bear the marks of our evolutionary past, new light shines on some of the most puzzling features of our minds, relationships, and behaviors.
One key insight of evolutionary psychology is how humans both adapt to and then alter our environments, or "niches." In fact, we change our world faster than our minds can adapt—and then gaps in our "fitness" emerge. In effect, humans are now attempting to thrive in modern contexts with Stone Age minds. By integrating scientific evidence with wisdom from theological anthropology, we can learn to close up nature-niche gaps and thrive, becoming more what God has created us to be.
"There are many books that discuss why faith and science need to be related, but there are few that move on to discussing how to relate them. Thriving with Stone Age Minds is an exciting exception. Justin Barrett and Pamela King are able guides who give us a way to think about evolution in such a way that doesn't flatten the world but opens us to mystery. Beautifully written and richly argued, this book is a must for anyone who is interested in evolution and faith. For pastors and students in practical theology, this book is a treasure."
"The nature of the flourishing life has been at the heart of debates for millennia. Competing and often incommensurable traditions describe, articulate, and recommend their vision of the good life. For centuries, the question of what it means to flourish was at the heart of great religions and philosophies, and science took a back seat. No longer. Barrett and King's goal is to bridge the historically unbridgeable gulf between Christian theology and evolutionarily psychology. Their rapprochement is intellectually engaging, emotionally satisfying, and spiritually illuminating. This book is required reading for the thinking Christians wrestling with the most important human question: What is the true, flourishing life, and how can we live it?"
"The kingdom, church, and world need more writing with this kind of thoughtful critical analysis. Thriving with Stone Age Minds is a welcome addition to the canon of faith and science and provides abundant examples for how to incorporate evolutionary psychology into one's daily Christian life."
"This elegant, engaging, and at times witty book brings evolutionary psychology into constructive dialogue with Christian theology. With exemplary conceptual and logical clarity, it works toward a vision for human thriving that is congruent with both contemporary psychological science and biblical tradition. Full of scholarship but always grounded in the recognizable world of everyday human life, it offers some intriguing possibilities for further reflection and practical action."
"In a world that seems to change at ever-accelerating speed, Justin Barrett and Pamela Ebstyne King help us understand how our evolutionary past gives us particular, ancient tools for negotiating our world and why that's dizzying. At the same time, they demonstrate how our 'Stone Age minds' can be transformed so that we thrive in the telos of the Gospel."
"This book articulates in a fresh way why and how purpose and other virtues are essential to human flourishing. Educators, parents, and others concerned about our public and private thriving need to fully understand these critically important ideas. Barrett and King's account expands the reach of these ideas through a close look at the intersection of three frames of reference: moral psychology, evolutionary biology, and Christian thought. The result is unique and fascinating."
"This book is a model of Christian discernment, considering the latest scientific research in the light of Christian faith to address challenging questions of our day. Barrett and King explain the established findings of evolutionary psychology (EP) while shedding the pop psychology and anti-God baggage that is often added to it. Yet their goal is not merely showing the intellectual compatibility of EP with Christianity but 'placing evolutionary psychology in the service of Christian theology' to address larger questions. By better understanding human nature and the traits that make us unique from animals, we can better fulfill our purpose as God's image bearers and work more effectively to build communities that thrive in the ways God intended. The book's readable style, vivid examples, and helpful study guide make it a great book for students, book clubs, science fans, and pastors."
1. Wrestling with Evolutionary Psychology, Embracing Christian Theology
2. What Is Thriving?
3. Why Aren't We Thriving?: Nature-Niche Gap
4. Social Gaps
5. Getting and Using Information
7. A Summary and a Puzzle
8. What Is Your Telos?
Study Guide by Madeleine Hernandez and Justin Barrett