Book Review: The Selfless Gene – Living With God & Darwin

_225_350_Book.123.cover Author: Charles Foster
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

The term ‘Christian evolutionist’ is an oxymoron.

It is a compromising term suggesting the possibility, if not the very existence, of the compatibility of two previously interpreted opposing worldviews.

The Selfless Gene by Charles Foster attempts to reconcile neo-Darwinism with the Biblical account of creation found in Genesis, aka creationism, or intelligent design.

‘Neo-Darwinism’ is defined as a fusion between the original thesis of Charles Darwin with the more modern science of genetics. While valuing that and appraising the science of young earth creationists, Foster attempts to reconcile orthodox Christianity with evolutionary biology and what they both declare about our world, why it is here, the ethical implications of natural selection, and what such a system – based on selfishness, waste, pain and death – might say about the loving creator God of the Christian faith.

If I may respond in modern, youthful vernacular, it’s a ‘fail’, and so much more.

It is an intellectually stimulating read. It is academic in the truest sense of the word, and I doubt not it will find it’s way into many seminaries, as promoted. But it is a sardonic, bemocking and sarcastic attack on the authority of Scripture, and the Creator Himself.

The Good

This book is, indeed, highly readable. I, like many others, found it hard to put down, albeit my reasons were probably different. I’ll mention those later. The Selfless Gene is entertaining. It’s an easy read in spite of the flaunting of paleontological terms and examples with their redundant point being made ad infinitum. There is enough clean, dry humor to satisfy even the most bored, self-deprecating seminary student. And, I admittedly enjoyed, in Christian compassion of course, watching Richard Dawkins get the occasional almost-spanking.

I found it strangely gratifying watching a man attempt to sit on the proverbial theological fence between Truth and Error, attempting to please both sides – admittedly to make both sides angry – all the while throwing rocks at God for His claim on Sovereignty and His omnipotent attributes, charging God to be miscreant, frustrated and throwing His hands up in despondency. All in all, his arguments and philosophical meanderings reaffirmed the scriptural truth of the depravity of man and his enmity towards God. I applaud that truth getting out, so ‘Bravo’ Mr. Foster, for confirming Romans 1…by way of your Oxford education.

The Bad

As mentioned earlier, this book is an attack on Scripture, and our Creator. It is an all out, frontal assault on the authority of Scripture.

A Few Examples:

1. The biblical account of the fall of man

Long before there was any human Adam around to fall, there was death and pain in the world.” (p. 81)

2. Denies The Genesis account of creation

Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are wholly distinct but complimentary accounts. There are some barn-door discrepancies between them which indicate, if nothing else does, that the accounts are not intended to be taken literally.” (p.126)

“We have seen not only that the book is neither history nor science, but that it goes out of it’s way to remind us that it is not.” (p. 133)

3. Foster denies creation “ex-nihilo” (out of nothing) (p.133)

4. Foster suggest creation was formed out of pre-existent matter (p.134)

The subsequent act of ‘creation’ is not the spontaneous generation of matter from nothing – not the production of cosmological rabbits from a divine hat – but a process of remodeling, dividing, ordering, and calling things forth from what already exist.” (p. 135)

5. Foster claims since man was formed ‘from the dust’, there is inherency, and thus, evolution. (p.135)

6. Foster insist creation was disobedient to God’s creation commands (p.139)

“God orders that light and darkness should separate completely. But they do not obey. In the very next verse, we read, “And there was evening and there was morning…” There was dawn and there was twilight. Illegitimately, light and dark were already mingling.”

Right at the very beginning – if not before the beginning spoken of in Genesis – there are the seeds of rebellion, Or perhaps a pre-existing rebellion has not been completely quelled.”

7. Foster denies that evil, sin and death came through Adam. (p. 146)

Evil was not injected into a morally pristine world by anything that Adam or Eve did or did not do. There was already a snake in the garden. whispering wicked things.”

8. Foster denies Adam, and therefore man, was cursed by God. (p. 169)

Concerning God’s curse in Genesis 3, Foster declares:

Does this contain a sentence of death? Does it strip man of immortality? It seems not.”

I have not even given half of the examples of this author’s theological absurdities.


I was really looking forward to reading this book. Yet I am greatly disappointed. This man’s explanation for pain, suffering and death in the world is unabashedly humanistic, Darwinian. It is a denial of the authority and truth of Scripture. It is a manifesto against God and His attributes as found in Scripture. The Selfless Gene may be better than Richard Dawkins ‘The Selfish Gene’, but this book is still a worldview without the Gospel. It is an explanation of things from a worldly, unregenerate view.

True science is based on the truths of Scripture. If modern biology and genetics were based on scripture, there would be no need for reconciliation with Christianity, because they would both begin with God.

Not Recommended

This book was provided for review, without cost, from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program.

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