“A person has an interest and
ability to know how all the created
universe fits together but cannot
know this through human efforts.
Instead, it is necessary to know God
the Creator, who made humanity in
the divine image (Gen. 1: 26–28).
Only then does a person have the
capacity to understand oneself, and
what is the true value of things,
beginning with life itself” (p. 483).
Chronology is a concern for those
studying the Old Testament. In particular, some judges overlapped with
each other, and it is necessary to
assume some co-regencies of the
kings to make sense of the Bible’s
statements about how Judah’s and
Israel’s kings related to each other.
His chronology here is generally in
line with evangelical views, though
there is always room to debate the
finer details. He proposes a thirteenth,
not fifteenth, century BC date for the
Exodus, so many will take issue with
that (p. 70).
A solid Old Testament
Overall, The Old Testament: A
historical, theological, and critical
introduction does well what it aims
to do. Students or interested laypeople
will find an overview of each Old
Testament book along with the most
important related archaeological
finds, the most pressing interpretive
questions, and conservative enough for
most evangelicals. While no one will
agree with everything Hess advocates,
it does serve as a useful introduction
to the Old Testament. And while
creationists may take issue with some
of his statements, it is refreshing to see
a mainstream work that is not overtly
hostile to creation.
This book is unusual in some respects. Itcombinesevolutionary
biology, psychology, anthropology,
and other disciplines. The author,
Dominic Johnson, has advanced
degrees in evolutionary biology and
in political science. The author parts
ways with the likes of militant atheist
Richard Dawkins, who has portrayed
religion as something maladaptive.
Instead, Johnson tries to explain
supernaturalism, religion, morality,
etc., in terms of human evolution. He
says little about theology, but much of
what he writes, when divested of its
evolutionistic baggage, has much relevance to the biblical worldview. For
this reason, I go beyond the immediate
contents of this book in order to
elaborate on these implications.
Supernaturalism is deep-seated
Author Johnson rejects the com-
The alleged evolution of belief
mon humanist supposition that super-
naturalism in general, and religion
in particular, are mere products
of culture, moreover borne of pre-
scientific ignorance, and are fated to
disappear with human advancement.
“Clearly, human beings have a natural
tendency to perceive supernatural
agency, of which religion is only
one example. Human brains are
wired to believe that events happen
for a reason, and that our actions
have consequences. This feeling is
pervasive and powerful, churning
away even when we are alone and
even among atheists trained in stat-
istics and skeptical of coincidences.
All of us—believers, agnostics, and
atheists alike—worry about unseen
eyes observing and judging our ac-
tions, even our motives and thoughts.
Humans are guided by an inner sense
of duty to some kind of Big Brother.
It’s not just a religious belief. It’s
bigger than that. It’s human nature”
in the supernatural
The author, first of all, thinks
that belief in supernatural beings
arose as an extension of the mind-body dualism: Just as humans think
of their minds as entities that exist
independent of their brains, so also
they imagine that sentient beings can
exist even though they have no bodies.
Supernaturalism is innate to
natural moral law
God is Watching You: How the fear
of God makes us human
Oxford University Press, New York, 2016