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Can Christians Evolve? A Review of Thriving with Stone Age Minds


Thriving with Stone Age Minds: Evolutionary Psychology, Christian Faith, and the Quest for Human Flourishing (BioLogos Books on Science and Christianity)

By Justin L. Barrett

  and Pamela Ebstyne King


Reviewed by

  Geoffrey W. Sutton

I’m in the process of writing about irreconcilable differences between Christianity and psychology. Thriving with Stone Age Minds surprised me. Not only does Barrett affirm evolution but he explains evolutionary psychology and how it may relate to Christian theology.


Thriving with Stone Age Minds: Evolutionary Psychology, Christian Faith, and the Quest for Human Flourishing by Justin L. Barrett delves into the intersection of evolutionary psychology, Christian theology, and human flourishing. In this thought-provoking work, Barrett and co-author Pamela Ebstyne King explore how our evolutionary past shapes our present minds, relationships, and behaviors.

The book begins by acknowledging the controversy surrounding evolutionary psychology, especially within Christian circles. However, Barrett and King argue that this field can be a valuable tool for understanding human nature and purpose. They provide an accessible introduction to evolutionary psychology, highlighting three key concepts such as hyper-sociality, information gathering, and self-control.

One central insight from evolutionary psychology is how humans adapt to and alter their environments, or niches. We change our world faster than our minds can keep up, leading to gaps in our fitness. Essentially, we find ourselves attempting to thrive in modern contexts with Stone Age minds. By integrating scientific evidence with theological anthropology, the authors propose ways to close these nature-niche gaps and enhance human flourishing.

The book also emphasizes the importance of understanding our evolutionary heritage. When we recognize that we still bear the marks of our Stone Age past, we gain fresh perspectives on puzzling aspects of our minds and relationships. Barrett and King draw connections between evolutionary psychology and biblical faith, shedding light on questions like: What is human flourishing? How can we align our distinctively human purpose with our evolutionary history?


Overall, the book is a bit of a puzzle. On the one hand, explaining the relationship between evolution and evolutionary psychology requires some effort for readers who may have limited knowledge of both disciplines. Although more and more Christians are accepting evolution as a fact, many remain staunch creationists. Adding psychology to the mix will likely pose a challenge for Christian college students. On the other hand, the authors want to offer us a path to flourishing, which is a topic within positive psychology; however, along the way, Barrett and King make connections with an evangelical approach to Christianity. It’s this attempt to merge two sciences with a conservative theological view of Christianity that needs more work. I wish them well.


Barrett, J. L., & King, P. E. (2021). Thriving with stone age minds: Evolutionary psychology, Christian faith, and the quest for human flourishing. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Cite this review

Sutton, G. W. (2024, March 6). Can Christians evolve? A review of Thriving with Stone Age Minds. Interdisciplinary Book and Film Reviews. Retrieved from

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Geoffrey W. Sutton, PhD is Emeritus Professor of Psychology. He retired from a clinical practice and was credentialed in clinical neuropsychology and psychopharmacology. His website is


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