What Hath Darwin to Do with Scripture?: Comparing Conceptual Worlds of the Bible and Evolution, By Dru Johnson
What Hath Darwin to Do with Scripture?
  • Length: 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: December 19, 2023
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A0361
  • ISBN: 9781514003619

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Believe it or not, the book of Genesis might have been the most Darwinian text in the ancient world. And throughout the opening books of Scripture, we find ideas that would also become prominent insights of the biologist Charles Darwin interlaced with the Bible's one-of-a-kind origin story. Key plot markers come to the surface again and again, driving the history of Israel and the Jesus movement forward to its cosmic completion.

Biblical scholar Dru Johnson calls us beyond typical creation-versus-evolution debates to explore the conceptual worlds underlying both Scripture and evolutionary science. He points toward remarkable continuities and discontinuities between the Bible's central concerns and those of Darwin and modern science—ideas so fundamental that they can easily escape our notice.

The Hebrew creation accounts, Johnson argues, weave together three key themes on the origins and development of humans and animals, themes that are also essentially Darwinian:

  • the connection among scarcity, cooperation, and violence
  • the fitness of creatures to their environments
  • the genealogical aims of sexual reproduction

Can the ideas of Scripture and evolutionary science be mutually illuminating? When we enter deeply into the metaphysical imagination of the biblical authors, we discover surprising ways in which the two accounts converge—and conflict.

"In this highly readable and fascinating book, Dru Johnson offers readers an intriguing, imaginative, and eye-opening account that offers a window into two disparate worlds—a world of evolutionary science and a world of (some of) the biblical authors—while also showing them to be, in many ways, complementary to one another. What is especially laudable is Johnson's balanced approach that succeeds in being at once both cautious and creative."

Andrew Torrance, University of St. Andrews

"Johnson raises distinctly relevant considerations about the historical and future nature of reality and the distinctions leaving biblical and evolutionary narratives in tension. I will be pondering much of what Johnson has to say for years to come and look forward to conversations his contributions invite others to. I revel in the idea of understanding some things anew and pondering deeper things still in tension, and I appreciate Johnson's faithful scriptural exegesis to aid me in my considerations. Can evolutionary and biblical narratives converge, as Christians who embrace evolution's explanations of origins claim? Or are persistent, irreconcilable tensions inevitable as one metaphysical position clings to an embedded and inescapable narrative of exclusion, competition, scarcity, and existential insecurity?"

Anjeanette "AJ" Roberts, molecular biologist, author, and chaplain

"What hath Eden to do with the Galápagos Islands? As Dru Johnson explains, more than one might expect. We who live in a culture of affluence have difficulty grasping how powerful the message of Edenic flourishing would have been to the original audience, a culture threatened constantly by scarcity and violence. Johnson demonstrates that Moses and Darwin dealt with many of the same subjects but came to very different conclusions."

Kenneth Keathley, senior professor of theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

"In this book, Dru Johnson offers readers a brilliant thought experiment: suppose we compare Darwin and the authors of Scripture on the intersection of scarcity, sex, and environmental fit—topics that were clearly important for Darwin's understanding of the evolutionary process. It turns out that these topics are central also to the way Scripture portrays Eden, life after the fall, and the new heavens and new earth. Although this book does not (by a long shot) 'harmonize' Scripture and science, the thematic comparison generates many exegetical insights and sheds significant light on the Bible's vision of God's intent for creation."

J. Richard Middleton, professor of biblical worldview and exegesis at Northeastern Seminary, Roberts Wesleyan University

Read an Excerpt



Part 1: Two Conceptual Worlds
1. This Is Not the Creation-Evolution Debate You're Looking For
2. What Hath Darwin to Do with Scripture?

Part 2: Scarcity
3. Darwin's Scarcity and the Struggle for Life
4. Scripture's Intellectual World
5. Scarcity Across Genesis
6. Scarcity Beyond Genesis
7. Between Evolutionary Scarcity and Scripture's Provision

Part 3: Fit
8. Evolutionary Fit and Location
9. Fit and Dislocation from Garden to New Earth

Part 4: Generation
10. Evolutionary Sex and Extinction
11. Sex and Generation Across Genesis
12. Generation Across the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament

Conclusion: Through Two Glasses, Darkly

Scripture Index


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Dru Johnson

Dru Johnson (PhD, University of St. Andrews) directs the Center for Hebraic Thought and has been a research fellow at the Herzl Institute (Jerusalem), Logos Institute (St. Andrews), and Henry Center (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School). He is the author or editor of numerous books, including Biblical Philosophy, Human Rites, and Knowledge by Ritual. He is ordained as an EPC minister and is cohost of the OnScript podcast.