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Books on Evolution

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years ago

Books on Evolution

There are innumerable books and pamphlets on this subject. Below are a few that I have run across but not necessarily read.

 


 

Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science

This publication is referenced in the USD 446 (Independence, KS) curriculum for use by teachers when presenting the topic of evolution to the students. Amazon offers 6 reviews on it,5 of which indicate it has a through bias for evolution. I recommend reading the reviews then take a look at the two web articles below.

 

Analysis of Teaching About Evolution & the Nature of Science

The article below states that the publication is very biased towards macro-evolution. Ms. Hahn provides a side-by-side comparision of text in the publication with her response to them. I have included a few of these to give you a flavor, but you should read the essay on the web to gain the full context.

 

Publication: Teaching evolution is essential for explaining some of the most fundamental concepts of science.

Ms. Hahn: The evolution theory is NOT essential for explaining fundamental concepts of science. Furthermore, none of these fundamental concepts are named. In fact, some of the fundamental concepts defeat the concept of evolution (1st and 2nd Law of Thermodynamics; Information Theory, etc.).

Publication: Like ALL scientific theories, evolution explains natural phenomena by building logically on observations that can be tested and analyzed.

Ms. Hahn: AND, ultimately NOT verified. By the way, observations are not "tested," hypotheses are. If the hypothesis is not falsified, over many replications, it is then called a theory.

Publication: The book: summarizes the massive amount of scientific evidence in support of evolution...

Ms. Hahn: However, it does not discuss any of the evidence against evolution, and how that evidence is part and parcel to the nature of science. The evidence is the same for both sides; it is the interpretation that differs.

Publication: This Guidebook does not attempt to refute the ideas of those who oppose the teaching of evolution.

Ms. Hahn: Everyone who has heard of the Guidebook knows it has been written exactly for that reason. The entire Guidebook contains blatant references to the "inaccuracies" promulgated by creationists, as well as poking fun at creation "science."

Publication: Theories are explanations based on a large body of establish facts.

Ms. Hahn: Interesting re-definition

Publication: The teaching of science in ... public schools...is marred by a serious omission...the most important concept in modern biology...biological evolution

Ms. Hahn: Biological evolution IS taught in government schools. It is inconceivable that a student would not be taught biological evolution if his textbooks have a whole section (usually three or more chapters) devoted to the topic. That quote is fraudulent.

Publication: One source of resistance to the teaching of evolution is the belief that evolution conflicts with religious principles. But accepting evolution as an accurate description of the history of life on Earth does not mean rejecting religion.

Ms. Hahn: If one accepts evolution (which rejects the a creator or intelligent designer) as fact, then one has to reject the religious teaching of the Bible, the Koran, and the Talmud, thereby rejecting religion. The only religion NOT rejected by evolutionism is humanism (which the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled as religion).

Publication: The courts have held that it is unconstitutional to present creation science as legitimate scholarship.

Ms. Hahn: A unique choice of words. The courts have held that the teaching of creation is allowed. And the ruling actually says that it is illegal to require the teaching of creation science. Require and permit are two different terms. Unfortunately the school districts rely on the news media to know what they are permitted and not permitted to do, and when threatened with a lawsuit succumb to the threat rather than search out what their options are.

Publication: The U.S. Constitution states that schools must be religiously neutral, so legally a teacher could not present any particular creationist view as being more "true" than others.

Ms. Hahn: Blatant misinformation! Please tell me where in the U.S. Constitution one finds the words "schools must be religiously neutral." Most state constitutions require that religion be part of education.

Publication: If a child does not understand the basic ideas of evolution, a grade could and should reflect that lack of understanding, because it is quite possible to comprehend things that are not believed.

Ms. Hahn: In other words, lower the grade of a child that has a belief that Creator God made all things. I have documentation that this event, in fact, has occurred, over and over throughout this country. Unless and until a child admits that evolution is the only way the origin of life occurred, s/he fails. After all, evolution is true science (observable and repeatable in the present). (Discussed on page 25.)

Publication: Statements about creation...should not be regarded as reasonable alternatives to scientific explanations for the origin and evolution of life.

Ms. Hahn: In other words, a believer in creation is unreasonable and irrational. Is this a "religiously neutral" statement?

 

I hope you get the picture. So this document, recommended by USD446 to assist teachers in reassuring students that "they may accept or reject the scientific concepts presented" in fact reinforces macroevolution and demeans both intelligent design and creationism. So what is going on here? I think Ms. Hahn has provided a most wonderful critique of this publication!

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National Academy's New Booklet Is Intended to Support Educators in Repelling Creationists' Attacks

This is another review of the booklet Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science. It is recommended in the USD446 curriculum for Life Science teachers when presenting evolution to their students. Unlike the web analysis immediately above, this "review" takes a much different tact.

On the home page of this website is the following quote: "The Web site of The Textbook League is a resource for middle-school and high-school educators. It provides commentaries on some 200 items, including textbooks, curriculum manuals, videos and reference books. The Textbook League was established in 1989 to support the creation and acceptance of sound schoolbooks."

Read a bit, if you want more (its worse!)go to the web link.

 

Editor's Introduction -- Creationism is a fundamentalist political movement. The creationists seek to impose onto our entire population, by political means, a religion that revolves around a literal reading of the King James Version of the Holy Bible. The name creationism reflects the special emphasis that this movement's adherents give to the creation myths in the Bible's first section, the Book of Genesis. The creationists believe that the Genesis myths are accurate historical accounts of real events, and they ardently denounce all the scientific findings that have discredited that belief -- indeed, they ardently denounce science itself. They want ultimately to abolish science and to replace it with a system of religious pseudoscience that furnishes bogus "evidences" to affirm biblical narratives.

 

In working toward the eradication of science, the creationists try to corrupt the public's understanding of what science is, how science works, and what science has learned. Their most conspicuous efforts are aimed at eroding the teaching of science in public schools. They promote curricula that misrepresent science, they demand that teachers present scientific constructs and biblical tales as equivalent alternatives, they try to prevent the teaching of any science that contravenes biblical lore, and they try to force the schools to disseminate Bible stories that have been cloaked in "scientific" disguises. They are especially vigorous in their attempts to undermine or stifle the teaching of scientific information about organic evolution and the history of life on Earth. (See, for example: "Alabama Will Use Schoolbooks to Spread Lies and Foster Creationism" in The Textbook Letter for November-December 1995; and "Combating Creationism in a Louisiana School System" in The Textbook Letter for July-August 1997.)

 

In response to the creationists' continuing attacks on science education, the National Academy of Sciences has issued a 140-page booklet that seeks to provide "information and resources that teachers and administrators can use to inform themselves, their students, parents, and others about evolution and the role of science in human affairs." Titled Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science, the booklet was released on 9 April.

OK, I am grossed out, better move on!

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Christianity and the Age of the Earth

  • Written by Davis A. Young
  • Published by Artisan Publishers in August, 1988

An Amazon review noted that Mr. Young is a Christian Scientist who provides argument that the earth is much older than biblical literalists believe. Looks like an interesting read.

 

The Evolution - Creation Struggle

  • Written by Michael Ruse
  • Published by Harvard University Press in May, 2005

I am reading this book and it is interesting, so far not too complex as it is reviewing the slow introduction of evolution over time into our western civilization. Michael Ruse is a Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. The reviews at Amazon indicate that Mr. Ruse attempts to clarify the nature of the adversaries in the evolutionary disputes and seeks to find common solution. In the process, it becomes evident that no side can make a complete case based on physical facts.

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A Case for the Creator

  • Written by Lee Strobel
  • Published by Zondervan in April, 2004)

I found this to be a marvelous book in providing valid arguments for Intelligent Design. Lee Strobel is a former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune who converted to Christianity. The reasons why and his investigations provide fertile soil for those who refuse to completely buy into evolution.

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The Evolution Handbook

  • Written by Vance Ferrell
  • Published by Evolution Facts, Inc., Copyright 2001

This almost 1000 page book refutes just about every aspect of macroevolution: the origins of man and material, life and matter. It has an exhaustive chapter on dating techniques today and why they cannot be accurate. It is filled with references for further inquiry including a website named Evolution Facts touted to contain much, much more information.

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The Revised and Expanded Answers Book

The reviews at Amazon indicate great controversy about the book. Evolutionists debunk it and creationists support it. The book provides answers to a number of questions, several which are of concern with the issues of evolution:

   Does God exist?

   Did God really take six days to create everything?

   What about the gap theory?

   What about carbon-14 dating?

   How can we see distant stars in a young universe?

Todd Hudnall, pastor of San Diego First Assembly wrote a review and here is his first paragraph:

The revised and expanded "Answers Book" takes on twenty of the most asked questions about creation, evolution, and the book of Genesis. It is written by examining the Bible using a literal hermeneutic and with a mind for scientific explanation. Strongly contending for a "young earth" model, most of the material centers on the Genesis creation account and on the flood of Noah. The book challenges some of the older scientific theories, based on new research. The authors also do a good job of separating theories and assumptions from clear Biblical declarations. The book typically gives the reader the simple answer to the questions and then digs in deeper to give more information to students desiring details. For those who believe the Scripture is the infallible Word of God, the text will confirm the reliability of the Biblical account. Skeptics are given ample reason to be challenged in their assumptions and to reconsider what the Bible says about origins.

I have not read this book.

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Darwin on Trial

This book was recommended by William H. Harris, who spoke for the Minority Report at the May 5th hearings by the State Board of Education on the Science Standards. Amazon's reviews indicate this to be very controversal between the two sides. The author is a lawyer and according to one reviewer "first, that absence of evidence is evidence is absence, and second, that the fossil record truly has an appalling absence of evidence for evolution". I have not read this.

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Darwin's Black Box : The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution

 

I have not read this book. But the following review on Amazon is delightful!

Reviewer: D. Roberts "Hadrian12" (Battle Creek, Michigan United States) - See all my reviews

 

"I am not a biologist, but I have a degree in philosophy and am a fairly well read guy. I found this book quite invigorating and accessible to non-scientists such as myself. One of the most striking things I have discovered about the vehement critiques of this book both at the Amazon website as well as other Behe websites is the alarming degree of hatred and resentment that has been displayed by Behe's fellow scientists. Now, whether Behe is right or wrong is beside the point when one just considers how his attackers have chosen to respond to his book; using mere ad hominum tactics does not instill in me a sense of confidence in Behe's adversaries' actually knowing what they are talking about. After all, when one feels compelled to do nothing more than hurl insults at the author of a book instead of actually taking the time to engage the argument of the book, that tells me that the critic has an insecurity complex. And that is precisely what the majority of Behe's peers have done; they have basically said "How DARE he challenge Darwinian natural selection? " As the late Carl Sagan said so vociferously so many times, science is SUPPOSED to be an open forum for discussion. No matter how smart a person is or what his or her credentials are, no one view is supposed to be categorically accepted or categorically rejected without due process. Categorically rejecting Behe's theory of IC and trying to attack him personally tells me just how little so many of these "professional"scientists actually know about science.

 

"Now, I would like to answer all of the reviewers who complained that Behe did not present his case to his scientific colleagues but instead wrote a book for the general public & thereby bypassed his colleagues. Well, I have a question for you: how many of you Darwinists have heard of the Wistar Institute? I would imagine very few, unless you read about it in Behe's book. I have read about it elsewhere in other books & have always found it curious that so few people are aware of this discussion from the late 1960s. What Wistar was was a forum that put together many of the world's best biologists together with the world's best mathmaticians. It was designed to prove the mathmatcial validity of Darwinian natural selection. It was, however, a complete distaster. The odds proved so enormous that Darwinism seemed to be mathmatically impossible. Wistar was thereby shoved into the closet & hidden because it was an embarrasment to the Darwinists. Now, I ask the question: was Wistar bad science(like so many evolutionists have called Behe's book?). If so, WHY? One thing is for certain; nobody can accuse the scientists involved in Wistar to be Creationists - they were atheists to a last man, for heaven's sake. It was most definetly not a conspiracy in which the outcome was jury-rigged. Now, for all I know, some reason may preclude mathmatics from being a reliable tool to use in discussions of Darwinian natural selection. But if so, it must be PROVED thus. To date, all I have read of this critique of Darwinism have been strawman arguments that state that: well, just because it is highly improbable does not mean it can't happen by chance. After all, what are the odds of getting a winning hand in a poker game? Arguments like these (most famously instituted by pro-Darwinians such as Doolittle) grossly miss the point. The point is not that it is highly improbable but rather that the odds are so astronomical as to make the plausibility impossible. Now, to give an example: according to the laws of quantum mechanics, if all of the atoms on the moon had exactly the same spin at exactly the same second, the moon COULD leave it's orbit from the earth. This is a probabalistic fact. However, the point is, it WON'T. Even though it is mathmatically possible, it is realistically impossible because the moon has too many atoms to make this feat plausible. The same goes for the odds of Darwinian evolution happening just so in the mere 4 & a half billion years (or so) that the earth has been around. Now, I ask the question, yea hardcore Darwinists: why is it that the Wistar Institute does not warrant even so much as a footnote on any collegiate or high school biology text in the world? After all, if it had shown so much as a shred of evidence that Darwinism was mathmatically acceptable, I GUARANTEE you that it would be in EVERY student's biological textbook and would be as familiar to the layman's vocabulary as Einstein's theory of Relativity. Is this not a double-standard? If the scientists at Wistar were wrong (they could have been) then they must be PROVEN wrong. However, after 30 years, as MIT theoretical physicist Gerald Schoeder has attested, the odds have if anything gone UP. I find it rather fascinating that the same neo-Darwinists who find their paradigm so mathematically credible do not stay up at night with dark thoughts about the moon leaving the orbit of the Earth. So, where am I going with this, you ask? Well, this is my point: if the scientific community is and was unwilling to accept the findings of it's own old-boy-club happy-as-can-be atheists, how in the world do you expect them to pay attention to a molecular biologist who dares to mention the dirty G word? I think that Behe deserves some slack on this one. That is, unless you believe in the double-standards that Sagan so vehemently wanted to jettison from the realm of science...."

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God & Philosophy

 

I ran across Dr. Flew in my web searches and became interested in him because he was touted to be perhaps the most famous atheistic scientist and that recently he has compromised that position into a sort of deism. He is in his eighties now, if still alive. The Amazon review below gives some insight about the gentleman's current viewpoints. I don't think I'd read the book however. It has been indicated that this printing has a new introduction but not much else has changed since it was first published.

Reviewer: Titus Rivas (Netherlands)

   Lately, there has been quite a lot of commotion about the supposed 'conversion' of a well-known atheist, the analytical philosopher Antony Flew, to a moderate position about the existence of a divinity. Supposedly, his position would now be deism, the theory that reality was indeed created by a God, but that the creator would have withdrawn from this world right after his creative act, never to interfere again.

   The publisher of Flew's treatise in favour of atheism, God & Philosophy, made a clever move by issuing a new version of the book with an updated introduction by the author himself. Anyone who was following the debate in the media, would have expected that the main text would also have been adapted to Flew's newest ideas, but in this respect the reader should be ready for a disappointment.

   To be honest, my main conclusion about the supposed revolution in the philosopher's thought is that Flew does not succeed in presenting a clear formulation of his latest convictions.

   He really seems to take the so called argument from order to design seriously, namely that there would be so much 'integrated complexity' in nature that we simply have to assume some kind of intelligence behind it. However, he still has great difficulty in accepting the notion of an non-physical, purely spiritual creator. His assumption that an entity could never be wholely spiritual is also the reason why Flew rejects the reality of an afterlife. He is even well known for this assumption within the philosophy of parapsychology.

   What's outright bizarre about Flew's supposed new position is that in this very book he gives important reasons (especially in Chapter 3) why the Intelligent Design-argumentation so hotly debated today would be philosophically untenable. It is very odd that in this new edition, he does not explicitly reconsider his previous arguments so that the reader is left with a feeling of intellectual dissatisfaction.

   For me, even in its original structure, God & Philosophy is not really the clearest philosophical book I've ever read. The way Flew treats arguments and counter-arguments concerning the existence of a theist creator could certainly have been a bit more systematic. Nonetheless, Flew is certainly an interesting and on the whole consistent thinker and he has produced a number of important arguments against traditional Christian doctrine. Thus, the notion of eternal damnation is characterised as disproportional, because no human crime, however abonimable, could ever legitimize endless suffering. Also, the macabre thought that God gets pleasure from the pain and despair of sinners in Hell is not easy to reconcile with the concept of a loving divinity.

   In several respects, the treatise is also revelant for the implications of Near-Death Experiences. First, there is the question of theodicy: How can we harmonise the idea of a perfectly good divinity with the existence of pain and misery in reality? Also, Flew asks himself to what extent spiritual and religious experiences could contribute to the philosophical debate about the existence of a god.

   Despite all the recent turmoil about the person of Antony Flew, God & Philosophy mainly remains an interesting book because of his concise discussion of theist proofs and arguments from the perspective of an erudite atheist.

 

Titus Rivas

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