Who is Evolving Faith for?

10.16.2015 | Blair Hodges

11 I loved working with Steve on Evolving Faith: Wanderings of a Mormon Biologist. Not only because I’ve been personally fascinated, entertained, and challenged by his work over the past few years, and not only because I consider him a mentor and a personal friend, but also because the Living Faith book series which I edit is, itself, an evolving work in progress which his book helped shape. The Living Faith series is for Latter-day Saints who hunger as much for intellectual as spiritual nourishment. Each book comes from an author who exemplifies what Saint Anselm called fides quaerens intellectum, or faith seeking understanding. Adam Miller’s Letters to a Young Mormon reflects the thinking and style of a Latter-day Saint trained in philosophy. Sam Brown’s First Principles and Ordinances bears the hallmarks of a physician, theologian, and historian rolled into one. That’s the pattern here. Each book is an outgrowth of its author’s professional (academic) and religious life. Unlike Letters and First Principles with their natural narrative arcs, Evolving Faith is an essay collection in two parts, the first containing more technical, scientific, philosophical pieces and part two containing more personal, sometimes humorous, pieces. Perhaps there’s a bit of the 2 Nephi conundrum here where readers confront dense landscape before things ease up. (There were actually a few even more technical essays that didn’t make the final cut and one piece that sneaked its way back in to part two.) Each essay stands alone, but perceptive readers will discern fascinating overlap. As a scientist and a believer, Steve discovered that this division is imprecise. Collectively, the essays model and invite deeper engagement with one’s faith and scientific ideas, as he describes in the introduction:
This book is not a systematic reconciliation of the claims and methods of science with religious faith. Instead, I offer my various writings as food for thought in order to invite other Latter-day Saints to faithfully explore the canyons of science and faith as I have done. Questioning is an important element of lifelong religious faith…Certainly some of the meditations and wanderings included here will become outdated as scientists—as they always do—update and refine current scientific findings. Soon enough they will view the world from even grander vistas than the one on which I currently stand. Yet, what I hope endures from this collection is the perspective that one can embrace both good science and the truths of the gospel without compromising either one. Both science and faith are important and valid lenses through which we come to understand the world and our place in it. While each essay in this book stands alone, together they represent my own evolving approach to dealing with questions of science and faith.”
So who is this collection for? Not every reader will enjoy or benefit from each piece, but I believe many Latter-day Saints aren’t merely ready but eager to stretch their intellectual and spiritual faculties, to wonder while they wander alongside fellow Latter-day Saints like Steven Peck, Mormon biologist. Evolving Faith is for you.