Book Reviews of Evolution: By Chance or by Design?.

1. "The theory of evolution is a topic that seems to prompt endless discussion, especially since Darwin's discoveries and the constant advance of science. So many have tried and are still trying to use it to show an antagonism between science and faith despite the teaching of Leo XIII (1891): 'the Church and its Pastors are not opposed to true and solid science, whether human or divine, but that they embrace it, encourage it and promote it with the fullest possible dedication.'

"Thirteenth century St. Thomas Aquinas, who so long before the disclosure of this modern debate, realized that the diversity of creation manifests God's goodness and beauty. He noted that 'God produced many and diverse creatures so that what is wanting to one in the representation of the divine goodness might be supplied by another....Hence the whole universe together participates in the divine goodness more perfectly, and represents it better than any single creature whatever' (Summa Theologica). God may be simple, but He is represented by the diversity we discover in the universe as Christopher J. Corbally, vice-director of the Vatican Observatory, explains.

"This study  [Evolution: By Chance or by Design?] stresses the point that the scientific view of evolution is fundamentally correct, but errs in not acknowledging God as the motivating force behind it all, and in not understanding fully, correctly the divine act of creation. The author carefully and clearly proves his point by citing numerous examples in nature--from the single-celled diatom to the complexity of humankind, in such a manner that future scientific discoveries can in no way endanger his basic principle that God, the changeless Creator, is the primary motivator of all change.

"If we could figure out how to make a stone transform itself into an automatic dishwasher, perhaps we would have some clues into the mysteries of the living cell. Scientists know that the cell takes instructions from encoded strands of DNA, but knowing this does not in any way explain how the cell actually becomes whatever it needs to be in the early stages of embryonic development. Where the needs of the body differ, the embryonic cell changes, for example, to become a blood cell, a bone cell, or a brain cell.

"Burk explains that if acquired skills cannot be inherited: 'How did such skills first develop in the robin? Nest-building and other puzzling characteristics have been described in this book,' all with one purpose in mind, to help the reader draw his or her own conclusions as to the real power behind the evolution of species. Then he quotes Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the great Jesuit scientist, who died in 1955: 'I am convinced that an honest interpretation of the new achievements of scientific thought justifiably leads not to a materialistic but to a spiritualistic interpretation of evolution: the world we know is not developing by chance, but is structurally controlled by a personal Center of universal convergence.'

"Presently, our government is attempting to build a computerized anti-ballistic missile defense system that will be able to destroy many different incoming missiles. The human body, however, has for untold ages had its own defense against enemy invaders. Without a brain of their own, antibodies are programmed to analyze and remember the nature of all harmful invaders. Furthermore, they are equipped to design the kind of cell that can destroy such foreign bodies. 'Evolution, it appears, is not the cold, mechanistic thing that it is made out to be. Instead, it is the outcome of a mysterious force, a wondrous power' --the Creator. Burk traces this wondrous power from 'micro-organisms' to creatures of reason (humankind) in seven well-organized chapters filled with timely illustrations and written as simply as the subject allows. This little book deserves a warm welcome from a large readership--from high school graduates on up. It strengthens faith without ever slighting science." (Hugh J. Nolan, PhD, The Catholic Standard & Times, August 25, 1994)

2. "Annette Adams, in 'A Transformational Journey' in our March-April 1994 issue, ponders in happy wonderment the monarch butterfly. In one of thirty brief essays in Evolution: By Chance of by Design?, Frank Dixon Burk does so, too. He similarly contemplates pollen and leaves, spider webs, salmon, alligators, bats, bees, and beavers, and music, and stars. He finds an amazing altruism in wild dogs of Africa. Amid intricate detail (like nest structures), he finds rounded simplicities (like eggs). He finds it obvious for God's hand to be in evolution; therein, simply, he finds hope and spreads it before our eyes in graceful words and drawings." (Philip C. Eischer, Review for Religions, Sept.-Oct. 1994, p. 795)