Then, the modern scientific picture comes across as much more deistic than the biblical story does. So I had to think about how to handle that. We don't understand creation today as involving all kinds of divine interventions to do things, but as Christians we affirm that God's creative work is unfolding throughout history.
So those all involve making artistic decisions. I hope it will be read on those terms.
Is this book an effort to convince people who don't believe in evolution that it is, in fact, compatible with faith?
I used to be more idealistic and think all we needed to do is to get good arguments in circulation. But, I'm a lot more pessimistic now. I think that the people who oppose contemporary science are going to oppose it no matter what.
So this is really more of a book written for the faithful to let them enjoy their "liberal apostasy" in a way they couldn't before.
That said, it has the potential to be very convincing, especially for evangelicals who don't feel the need to be biblical literalists. They can buy into this and see that this is a grand story; there are a lot of people who think the secular origin story is quite wonderful. There's no reason why people can't be drawn to that position.
But I don't feel like you're going to get that many people to change their minds. I think we're at a cultural moment where people believe what they want and become immune to information. And they can always find some credentialed expert to tell them that they're right.
Paraclete is not one of the big evangelical publishers in the same way as some of the others you've worked with. How was that experience different?
The book is a reflection of my own spiritual journey. Like so many mid-career academics I share the feeling that evangelicalism has abandoned us, in a sense. It went somewhere over the course of our adult life and adopted a public face which is anti-intellectual and anti-science. It became very political and obsessed with a few social issues at the expense of the broader gospel. So I'm quite happy to say that I want to speak to audiences that have evolved past evangelicalism or were never in that community to begin with.
This is a book that an evangelical press might feel uneasy about because of the way it handles scripture. But a more Catholic-oriented press is a better place for it.
Though, I should say, Paraclete isn't really a Catholic press. I would describe them as a broadly Christian press. However, many of the emails I receive do come from sister this or sister that. I mean, my publicist is a nun.
So, I know you're teaching at Stonehill College and working on your tenth book. What's next for you?
I'm loving my position at Stonehill. I'm a professor of writing, which is the career transformation I've wanted and have been looking for for many years. I'm teaching writing intensive science and religion classes there.
Also, the American Scientific Affiliation is trying to launch a dramatically upgraded version of their magazine God and Nature, and they've asked me to be senior editor on that project.
And the Adam book. The working title is Saving Adam. Of course, I already have a book called Saving Darwin. I guess if I write a memoir it will probably be called Saving Karl.
Anyway, it's going to be a book that will try to illuminate the current controversy over whether Adam has to be understood as a historical figure or not. I'm going to look at how we got our ideas about Adam—when certain views became very important, and how the church has responded as evidence began to mount that Adam might not have been the first man.
Great. Thanks for your time. Anything else you want to mention?
Well, the book is out and people should buy it.
Jonathan D. Fitzgerald is the managing editor of, and writes on the various manifestations of Christianity in culture. Follow him on Twitter or at his website,
Fitzgerald's column, "In Progress," is published every Wednesday on the Progressive Christian Portal. Subscribe via email or RSS.