What does God’s creation of humanity through the process of evolution mean for how we think about human flourishing? The emerging field of evolutionary psychology remains controversial, perhaps especially among Christians. Yet according to Justin Barrett and Pamela Ebstyne King it can be a powerful tool for understanding human nature and our distinctively human purpose.
In Thriving with Stone Age Minds, Barrett and King provide an introduction to evolutionary psychology, explaining the importance of key concepts such as hyper-sociality, information gathering, and self-control. They then combine insights from evolutionary psychology with resources from the Bible and Christian theology, all focused on the question, What is human flourishing? When we understand how humans still bear the marks of our evolutionary past, new light shines on some of the most puzzling features of our minds, relationships, and behaviors.
One key insight of evolutionary psychology is how humans both adapt to and in turn alter our particular environments, or “niches.” In fact, we change our world faster than our minds can adapt—and then gaps in our fitness emerge. In effect, humans are now attempting to thrive in modern contexts with Stone Age minds. By integrating scientific evidence with wisdom from theological anthropology, Barrett and King argue, we can learn to close up nature-niche gaps and thrive, becoming more what God has created us to be.
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There are many books that discuss why faith and science need to be related, but there are few that move on to discussing to how to relate them. Thriving with Stone Age Minds is an exciting exception. Justin Barrett and Pamela King are able guides who give us a way to think about evolution in such a way that doesn’t flatten the world but opens us to mystery. Beautifully written and richly argued, this book is a must for anyone who is interested in evolution and faith. For pastors and students in practical theology, this book is a treasure.
—Andrew Root, Carrie Olson Baalson Professor of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary, author of The Congregation in a Secular Age
The nature of the flourishing life has been at the heart of debates for millennia. Competing and often incommensurable traditions describe, articulate, and recommend their vision of the good life. For centuries, the question of what it means to flourish was at the heart of great religions and philosophies, and science took a back seat. No longer. Barrett and King’s goal is to bridge the historically unbridgeable gulf between Christian theology and evolutionarily psychology. Their rapprochement is intellectually engaging, emotionally satisfying, and spiritually illuminating. This book is required reading for the thinking Christians wrestling with the most important human question: What is the true, flourishing life, and how can we live it?
—Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at University of California, Davis, and author of The Psychology of Ultimate Concerns
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