Knowing Creation:
Perspectives from Theology, Philosophy, and Science

Thomas H. McCall,

Andrew Torrance

Zondervan Academic

It is hard to think of an area of Christian theology that provides more scope for interdisciplinary conversation than the doctrine of creation. This doctrine not only invites reflection on an intellectual concept: it calls for contemplation of the endlessly complex, dynamic, and fascinating world that human being inhabit. But the possibilities for wide-ranging discussion are such that scholars sometimes end up talking past one another. Productive conversation requires mutual understanding of insights across disciplinary boundaries. Knowing Creation offers an essential resource for helping scholars from a range of fields to appreciate one another’s concerns and perspectives. In so doing, it offers an important step forward in establishing a mutually-enriching dialogue that addresses, amongst others, the following key questions:

  • Who is the God who creates?
  • Why does God create?
  • What is “creation”?
  • What does it mean to recognize that a theology of creation speaks of a natural world that is subject to the observation of the natural sciences? What does it mean to talk about both a “natural” order and a “created” order?
  • What are the major tensions that have arisen between the natural sciences and Christian thinking historically, and why? How can we move beyond such tensions to a positive and constructive conversation, while also avoiding facile notions such as a “god of the gaps”?
  • Is it feasible for a natural scientist to maintain a belief in God’s continuing creative activity?
  • In what ways might a naturalistic understanding of the natural world be said to be limited?
  • How can biblical studies, theology, philosophy, history, and science talk better together about these questions?

At a time when the doctrine of creation – and even a mention of “creation” – has been disparaged due to its supposed associations with anti-scientific dogma, and theological offerings sometimes risk appearing a little more than reactionary exercises in naive apologetics, ill-informed by science or distinctly wary of engagement with it, it is more important than ever to offer a cross-disciplinary resource that can voice a positive account of a Christian theology of creation, and do so as a genuinely broad-ranging conversation about science and faith.

Contributors to Knowing Creation include Marilyn McCord Adams, Denis Alexander, Susan Eastman, C. Stephen Evans, Peter van Inwagen, Christoph Schwobel, John H. Walton, Francis Watson, and more.


Thomas H. McCall

Thomas H. McCall (PhD Calvin Theological Seminary) is Professor of Theology and Scholar-in-Residence at Asbury University. His recent publications include An Invitation to Analytic Christian Theology (IVP Academic, 2015), and Against God and Nature: The Doctrine of Sin (Crossway, 2019). He was the Director of the Henry Center from 2012–2020.


Andrew Torrance

Andrew B. Torrance (PhD University of Otago) is a Senior Lecturer in Theology at the University of St Andrews, and a part of the new Logos Institute for Analytic and Exegetical Theology. He is the author of The Freedom to Become a Christian: A Kierkegaardian Account of Human Transformation in Relationship with God (T&T Clark, 2016). Andrew is also co-editor with Thomas McCall of the forthcoming two volume Knowing Creation and Christ and the Created Order: Perspectives from Theology, Philosophy, and Science (Zondervan, 2018).


Editors Torrance and McCall have assembled a first-rate cast of authors writing with unusually sharp insight about God, science, and the created realm. The great achievement of their book is to demonstrate how productive--rather than how contentious--classical Christianity and contemporary scientific investigation can be. The book is accessible, but deeply considered chapters make a stellar contribution.

Mark Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History Emeritus, University of Notre Dame

Andrew Torrance and Thomas McCall have brought together an outstanding group of philosophers, theologians, biblical scholars, and scientists to reflect on the notion of creation. The result is a deep examination from diverse points of view on the relation of religion and science that ought to be required reading for anyone interested in this important topic.

Eleonore Stump, Robert J. Henle Professor of Philosophy, Saint Louis University

Knowing Creation brings together leading Christian thinkers to enrich our understanding of the relationship between Christianity and science. I found myself enlightened and encouraged in my faith and my thinking. I recommend this book with great enthusiasm to a broad readership.

Tremper Longman III, Distinguished Scholar and Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies, Westmont College

This volume includes chapters that exemplify awareness of relevant areas of contemporary science and biblical scholarship. Other contributors set the topic firmly within an historical context. The uses of the concept of creation are carefully scrutinised by philosophers determined to identify and expose muddled thinking wherever it occurs. The result is a challenging book which will fully reward careful and critical reading.

Malcolm Jeeves, Emeritus Professor, School of Psychology and Neuroscience, St. Andrews University

Knowing Creation is a rich collection of theologically informed essays. The authors engage an impressive array of conversations partners from Job and Moses, to Plato and Aristotle, from Luther and Calvin, to Derrida and Dawkins. This is a valuable contribution to the science and religion dialogue.

Karl Giberson, Professor of Science and Religion, Stonehill College

Knowing Creation moves beyond jaded conflict narratives to innovative, substantive dialogue about creation. By assembling a team of scientifically savvy theologians, philosophers, and biblical scholars in conversation with theologically informed scientists, Knowing Creation breaks new ground in thinking deeply about the astonishing richness of God's creation.

Jeff Hardin, Raymond E. Keller Professor of Integrative Biology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Knowing Creation is a wide-ranging resource for those who want to think more deeply about the complexity and wonder of the created world. We are indebted to the authors of these essays for their stimulating--and often challenging--reflections about our knowledge of God's creation.

J. Richard Middleton, Professor of Biblical Worldview and Exegesis, Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan College

Book Reviews

As one skims the introduction, it seems the volume might be just another opinionated survey of the stale debates over "creation, science, and intelligent design." But in reading through each chapter, it quickly becomes apparent that the book is far broader. In fact, readers generally interested in and familiar with this intersection of disciplines might find it a simple pleasure to read (as I did), without worrying about locating arguments within a contemporary context and making judgments. At any rate, the book fulfills its purpose: to give a microphone to the multiplicity of dimensions in this arena, all without reducing or overemphasizing one aspect over another... Given the wide range and quality of writing in these contributions, one looks forward to the second volume with much anticipation. Knowing Creation is an excellent book for anyone interested in getting their feet wet with this complex subject.

Jamin Andreas Hubner

Research Fellow, LCC International University

Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 71, no 2 (2019): 129-130.

By bringing together scholars from several areas of expertise, they overcome the problem of compartmentalization that plagues academia, while providing a more balanced understanding of creation which is mutually beneficial and edifying for both Christian theology and science. Their approach in focusing on points of harmony between Christian theology and science is refreshing in contrast to the conflict narrative that has dominated the conversation, even among Christians... Overall, Knowing Creation is a challenging and important book. Many of the essays require careful thought, if not a little homework, but the relationship between science and religion concerning creation is an important topic in modern culture worth the time and effort. Christian theologians and pastors, as leaders, should be informed concerning modern scholarship on this relevant topic. This does not mean that the reader must agree with every conclusion but at least be informed enough to be a part of the conversation. Torrance and McCall have made a significant contribution to the dialogue between science and faith, which deserves to be read and considered with an open mind.

Tyler Dean

Journal of Baptist Theology & Ministry 16, no 2 (2019): 98-100.

All in all, this two-volume work is an excellent introduction for Christians involved in the fields of philosophy, science, and theology who want to refine their understanding of creation and the place Christ occupies in it. Readers can be assured of a readable, organized, and academic work that brings together authors from many different perspectives but who are all committed to the same core truths of faith.

Jean Francesco A. L. Gomes

Calvin Theological Journal 55, no 1 (2020): 190-194.

If (like me) you’ve thought that much of the writing on creation care and environmental stewardship was theologically thin, and if (like me) it’s bothered you that many Christians writing about the created world appear to feel it necessary to jettison their religious convictions in order to be permitted to have a conversation with real scientists, you need to read these two books. Each volume brings together leading Christian theologians, biblical scholars, philosophers, and scientists to offer a sustained, complex, and quite wonderful conversation about God, science, and the created realm... I finished these volumes not only full of elation for having made it through some deep, thick theology in conversation with some demanding scientific theory--I've never recovered from that B I got in high school chemistry class--but also with thanksgiving for the gift that is classical Christology. No one who cares about the future of Christian theology or the possibility of mutually edifying conversation between Christianity and science can afford to ignore these excellent books.

William H. Willimon

Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry, Duke Divinity School

The Christian Century 136, no 4 (2019): 40-41.

Andrew Torrance and Thomas McCall have brought together a worldclass writing line-up in a bold venture at an inter-disciplinary study of creation... This volume contains many learned essays, that will most likely be suited to an academic readership. Readers would do well to consider these interdisciplinary studies thoughtfully and critically. Not everything will be agreed with, but the reader is sure to be stimulated in this much-needed area of study. And, with an interdisciplinary approach, this volume is certain to stretch and grow the reader beyond their typical area of interest or expertise on this crucial matter of our existence as creatures.

Chase R. Kuhn

Director of The Centre for Christian Living, Moore Theological College

Global Anglican 135, no 1 (2021): 72-73.