L. Russ Bush has authored many books and serves as senior professor of Philosophy, and Dean of students at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The work of Dr. Bush, entitled The Advancement: Keeping the Faith in an Evolutionary Age, attempts to challenge the Christian to defend against a worldview that is no longer theistic in nature. Bush states in the preface, “Many Americans and Europeans and others have simply adopted naturalistic philosophy in the place of a theistic worldview, and the consequences are showing up everywhere.”
One can simply look around and see that the author is correct in this assessment. Every fabric of our society is littered with a “me” attitude. The Advancement goes to great lengths to establish that there is still room for a theistic worldview, and that all is not lost to modernism or even post-modernism. Dr. Bush lays out the framework in a philosophical manner that establishes the need for God, and ways that we see Him in our society today. Dr. Bush writes, “The challenge to divine authority is growing, and yet among Christians, a spirit of renewal in also growing.” Christians a no longer the majority in our society, and to be honest, society is trying to push us out. We must stand up for the defense of our faith, and The Advancement lays the groundwork to do just that.
Dr. Bush opens the work with explaining just what the term “advancement” means. Dr. Bush states, “The twenty-first century begs for descriptive name. Modern seems strangely old-fashioned, and Postmodern is surely a temporary name. Perhaps the era through which we are passing could be dubbed the ‘Advancement.” Modernism is still hanging around, though it is becoming less common. With all of our technical advances we all seem to be in a hurry. Traditions, such as eating dinner as a family, are now an afterthought. And with all the technology out there man is flooded with naturalistic thought. Dr, Bush develops this work using concepts from philosophy that have been used by the great philosophers of the past to make a case for the theistic worldview.
The work is broken down into eight short chapters. Chapter two Bush goes over the rise of advancement science. Part of this advancement was the development of Uniformitarian and Evolutionary thought. These thoughts would eventually give way to the disappearance of humanness. Bush states,” It denied the existence of an original divine image and a subsequent fall into sin.” When God no longer exists truth becomes relative and this is described in chapter three. Bush explains that the advancement worldview is not logical because there is no moral standard. That moral standard comes from the creator and the scriptures which teach about him. Dr. Bush goes into the failings of naturalistic evolution and how science has attempted to distort that reality.
In Chapter four Dr. Bush provides alternative methods for the modern theist. Much thought is given to Process theology and Open Theism. Both of these ideas seek to answer theological questions that have arisen from modernism. In the case of Open theism, it seeks to answer the problem of evil. However it fails to understand that God knows all that will happen, and states that God does not know for sure what will happen in the future. In the middle of the chapter Bush states, “Such a scenario does not demonstrate progress and advancement. It might well be a sign of spiritual warfare.”
- Russ Bush goes to great length explaining the fallacies of following these modern theistic alternatives that are found in chapter four. Dr. Bush describes the seven assumptions for evolutionary biology and answers it with “Ten Axioms for Modern Scientific Thought.” These axioms are made up of physics and philosophy and go into great detail in proving natural evolution as false. Bush writes, “As a worldview, however, naturalism speaks to issues beyond those of biological science.” Chapter five is closed by a closer dissection of evolution, and Bush gives five objections to it. He is careful to point out that disproving naturalism false is not enough to prove that God exists, but it is a start.
The Advancement covered a lot of material in a very short amount of time. The book itself is only 105 pages from the introduction to the end of Chapter eight. Though the book was relatively short, it was not short when it came to content. One of the most awakening arguments in the book, in this student’s opinion, was the disappearance of Humanness. The rise of naturalistic evolution gave rise to humanity losing its status of being made in the image of God. Bush States, “This attack was not simply on the ideas about the physical location of the earth in space; it was a direct attack on mankind’s special created nature.” Evolution was proposed in the nineteenth century, and our advanced society is now feeling the effects. Along the way some people in the church tried to justify it by saying it was the soul that was created, and the body was part of evolution. Bush sticks to his beliefs and eloquently defends the biblical account that man was created in God’s image. I was hoping for much more detail in this section as I think this issue is a real problem in today’s culture. The bare necessities for an argument were given, but I would have liked some footnotes in the work for further study. Though this is partially aided by the endnotes in the back of the book.
Chapter four dealt with Modern Theistic alternatives and much was taken away from this chapter especially in regards to open theism. Dr, Bush States, “Another theistic alternative that seeks to preserve freedom within the modern mind set is known as open theism.” This theory is in conflict with the traditional view that God knows the future. It states that God is unable to infallibly know the future. If God does not know the future then He is not God. That is because God is unable to have limitations and if that is the case He would be no different than us. I am in agreement with his thesis on this topic, but some questions came to mind while reading the text. If God’s mind is made up in regard to the future can it be changed at all? What about the role of prayer? In this regard he seems to embrace a Calvinist view of predestination.
In Chapter five Dr. Bush discusses seven assumptions of evolution. He discusses them from a scientific point of view, and proceeds to dissect them using the same method. Later in the chapter he introduces the “Ten Axioms of Modern Scientific Thought” and serves to dismantle them further using philosophy. It is a one two punch that is worth the price of the book alone. The defense of the theistic worldview circles around to stating how precious man is because of his origin. In this chapter I think Dr. Bush makes the theistic case most strongly than other chapters.
My overall evaluation of this book is that it belongs in every apologists, theologian, and Bible student’s library. It is packed with knowledge that can be dissected many different ways, and the study of each argument can take one to deeper depths of understanding. It is a worthwhile investment in helping proclaim the truth of the theistic worldview.
In conclusion there is much to be learned from The Advancement. It is a book that I will keep as a handy resource to help develop arguments against the arguments contained therein. As Christians we are becoming a minority and naturalists are growing at a rapid rate. We would do well to learn these views and how to lovingly argue against them.
Bush, L. Russ. The Advancement:Keeping the Faith in an Evolutionary Age. Nashville, TN: B&h Publishing Group, 2003.