Leonard Brand is former department chair and professor of biology and paleontology in the Department of Earth and Biological Sciences at Loma Linda University, California, where he has taught and researched since 1970. He talked with Bookshelf about his long-term interest in the integration of faith and science and the contribution his books make to this project.
Tell us about your personal and professional interest in science and faith.
I have confidence in what the Bible tells us about God as our Creator, as well as our Redeemer. I and some of my friends are sad to see other friends losing confidence in the Bible and even in God because they think science has disproven the Bible. My experience in my career in the sciences of biology and geology convinces me that their loss of faith is not supported by good science, and I wish to communicate this to a variety of audiences.
How do you explain the interplay and overlap of faith and science?
The interplay of faith and science is especially prominent in questions about where we came from—and when. Bible statements about creation, the flood and the timing of these events directly overlap with what science claims, and often give different answers to our questions on these topics. Who understands this history best, the God who inspired the Bible or human scientists who cannot go back in time to see what really happened? All humans have a worldview and assumptions, and the deeply-rooted assumptions that Genesis is wrong have a profound influence on how most scientists interpret the evidence.
What makes your new book for younger readers unique?
For many years, I have given talks to the Junior Sabbath school at my church each month, usually dealing in some way with faith and science. I put much effort into learning how to communicate to young people and the book was the outgrowth of those experiences. It is basically the gospel in stories—everyone loves stories!—with part of it dealing with origins issues. About a third of the book is on topics like geology, evolution, and the original research we do that benefits from insights from the Bible about earth and life history. So this book is an outgrowth of my experience as a geologist and palaeontologist.
Why is it important to address such questions with children?
Our children are constantly bombarded with claims about evolution and geological history that directly contradict the Bible. How will they know how to respond unless persons with expertise in these subjects, and who know that there is a better explanation, help them find these better explanations? We don’t do this by making other scientists look dumb, but by comparing their explanations with Bible-friendly explanations, and showing why God’s explanations are better, even from a scientific perspective.
You also bring in ethical issues, such as care for creation. Why is this important?
At creation, God asked us to be responsible and take care of the earth. Humans have not done a good job of doing this. But it is important for Christians to show that we can each do something to make our environment better, and those little things we can each do can add up to a big thing for the earth, our home.
What do you hope that your work contributes to readers and church members?
I have written a set of books for different audiences, relating to faith and science. These are generally unique in that they approach the topic from the perspective of a practising research scientist, working in evolutionary biology, geology and paleontology, the topics most directly relevant to faith and science. The more deeply we are involved in these studies, the more evident it becomes that secular science is having less and less success in providing valid explanations for geology and biological origins. I hope these books will encourage many to recognise the validity of what the Bible tells us.
God, Science, Friends and other books by Dr Leonard Brand are available from Adventist bookstores in Australia and New Zealand or online.