Book Review of Design and Catastrophe: 51 Scientists Explore Evidence in Nature

Book Review March 13, 2023

L. James Gibson, Ronny Nalin, and Humberto M. Rasi, eds. Design and Catastrophe: 51 Scientists Explore Evidence in Nature (Berrien Springs, Mich.: Andrews University Press, 2021). ISBN: 9781940980305 (Print). 240 pages (Hardback), US$24.99.

*This book review is a condensed version. Access original and full version

Design and Catastrophe: 51 Scientists Explore Evidence in Nature is an easy, not too technical, read of 51 short essays, each three to four pages in length. The book does not claim to definitively prove earth’s origins by a designer or Noah’s flood as described in Genesis. Instead, the authors provide insights into how they personally see evidence of design and catastrophe through the lens of their specialties as scientific researchers. As the introduction states, “The scientists who have contributed to this book have found in their experience that the biblical perspective illuminates what we see in nature” (xi). Together, these 51 essays illustrate that some of the data from science challenge some aspects of a completely naturalistic interpretation of origins, and that the same data set can be reasonably interpreted as evidence of the biblical account of design and catastrophe and restoration.

The text, divided into nine parts, is not arranged by discipline but by roughly following the historical accounts of the early portion of Genesis. For this review, these nine parts are categorized into three groups. The first group of essays encompasses the physics and chemistry of origins. In most of these essays, the topics that the authors encounter in their research lead them to a designer, and how through strictly naturalistic laws, the relations and complexities are far too improbable to have occurred by chance. The authors usually provide counterarguments from naturalistic perspectives followed with why the fundamental laws of physics and chemistry support their conviction of the existence of a designer.

The second group of essays deals with biological topics such as the origin of life and the diversity and complexity of life, including aspects of human life and emotion. These are slightly different from the first group and are very personal. They describe the complexity of the systems with which the authors work and describe their admiration of their beauty and complexity. 

The last group of essays deals with geology and paleontology. The authors share their interest in geological phenomena, which they feel are not easily explained by traditional long-age uniformitarian processes. They provide compelling questions about widespread turbidity currents, sedimentary layers, and mega breccias, to name a few. Each author concludes that a biblical interpretation of a major catastrophe outlined in Genesis seems more consistent with many of these findings. 

Who can benefit from reading this book? Teachers at all levels can quickly gain insights from these topical essays and include them in their lessons and lectures. This book should be added to college students’ required reading list. Many of the chapters can easily be adapted as a worship thought for personal contemplation or for sharing in the classroom. 


Gordon Atkins

Atkins, PhD, is Nature Director at Camp Au Sable (Grayling, Michigan, U.S.A.) where he manages the Nature Center, develops outdoor-education programs for Seventh-day Adventist schools in Michigan, and also mentors teachers, organizes summer camp, and leads tours for the camp. Atkins holds a doctorate in Biology from McGill University (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), and is also an Adjunct Professor in the Biology Department at Andrews University (Berrien Springs, Michigan) where he teaches courses in Foundations of Biology, Ornithology, Neurobiology, and Animal Behavior.

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