Interesting questions arise when science advances theories that conflict with traditional understandings of creation, the age of the Earth, and the first humans. Sterling B. Talmage (1889-1956), a faithful Latter-day Saint scientist and son of Apostle James E. Talmage, tackled these issues and others as he sought to bring opposing views into harmony. In 1934-36, he produced thirty-two short essays on various aspects of faith and science; he also wrote to and received replies from four Church leaders on these topics. Can Science Be Faith-Promoting? brings Talmage’s insights to light and adds information that makes the discussion relevant in our time.
The logical arguments presented in the book are generally clear and cogent, and they are made more readable by the inclusion of Sterling Talmage’s letters, stories, and personal observations. I especially enjoyed the story in essay 25, “The Principle of Evolution,” in which he describes the reaction of a mother hen who has successfully incubated a brood of duck eggs. His narrative begins when the hen and the ducklings come close to the bank of a pond.