Book ReviewsChange or Purpose? Creation, Evolution, and a Rational Faith

On July 7, 2005 an article by Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna, Austria, appeared in the New York Times entitled “Finding Design in Nature.”  This article on evolution and creationism caused uproar and misunderstanding prompting critics to contact the cardinal regarding their opposition to his stance.  This book, Change or Purpose? is the response to his critics.  The book was translated from the original German by Henry Taylor and edited by Hubert Philip Weber. 


Cardinal Schonborn states that he is not examining the issue of evolution or creation as a scientist – since he is a theologian and philosopher.  He discusses the issues with evolution and creationism from the point of view of a Catholic believer.  He contrasts the belief of God as the one who began creation to the idea that there is no god and that creation just happened without anyone or anything starting it.


As the above two paragraphs show, this book is not an easy read.  Evolution and creationism are hot topics today.  The cardinal reflects on different views of Creationists – some take the Bible too literally when it states that God created the world in seven days.  Cardinal Schonborn and others say that the seven days should not be taken literally - it took a long time for creation to be made


Others may say that God created the universe, but he no longer involved with it.  Schonborn uses Scripture and other sources (reason and philosophy) to prove that God is actively involved with his creation. 


Schonborn discusses the complicated subject of why there is evil in the world and why God allows suffering to exist.  A prime example of this is: why did God allow his Son, Jesus Christ to suffer and to die?  Without faith, Schonborn shows that Christ’s suffering and death was worthless and wasted.  The Easter event, the Resurrection, shows that it was not and that there is more to life and creation than the present life and earth. 


Again this book is not easy to read.  It takes time to ponder the words of Cardinal Schonborn.  He examines evolution, creationism, and intelligent design from a Catholic point of view.  This book is highly recommended to those who are interested in these topics.


Christoph Cardinal Schonborn is a renowned theologian, author, and a student of Pope Benedict XVI.  He served as the primary editor of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and co-authored with the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) the Introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994).  He is the author of Jesus (2008), The Source of Life (2007), With Jesus Every Day (2007), Behold, God’s Son (2007), My Jesus (2005), Loving the Church (1998), From Death to Life (1995), and other books in German and other languages. He has also co-authored other books and has written several articles.


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