REPOST from gregladen.com


“Everyone needs to understand the basic facts of evolution as well as the essentials of the scientific method… When people are deprived of a scientific approach to reality as a whole, they are robbed of both a full appreciation of the beauty and richness of the natural world and the means to understand the dynamics of change not only in nature but in human society as well.”

-Ardea Skybreak, “The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism”

Ardea Skybreak’s new book, “The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: Knowing what’s real and why it matters” is a comprehensive treatment of creationism, in all of its forms, in relation to the practice and teaching of evolution and science in general. This book provides a point by point description of creationist arguments and refutation of those arguments, and a very usable summary of the related evolutionary concepts.

Skybreak describes and summarizes evolutionary theory focusing on the areas usually brought up by creationists (such as speciation, micro- vs. macro evolution, transitional fossils, etc.). She clearly positions anti-evolution arguments in a broader context as an “assault on science in the name of god” and she positions the “science of evolution” as fundamental to science itself. In her treatment of the most recent forms of creationism such as Intelligent Design Creationism, she makes the argument that IDC is largely just more of the same thing, but does not dismiss the specifics of the argument … rather she address them. Then, of course, they are dismissed as the drivel that they are. You can expect this volume to serve as a reference tool in that it describes and carefully treats all the creationist “schools of thought” providing both convincing arguments (for fence sitters) and the tools an educator should have in addressing these issues. At present, this may be the most comprehensive discussion available, and it is certainly up to date.

The book is loaded with dozens of “supplemental” inserts, which you can think of as side-bars, on a variety of topics. For example, “Were We Bound to Evolve? — The Role of Random and Non-Random Factors in Evolution;” “Humans and Dinosaurs?! Another Creationist Absurdity;” and “Rare Variants of the Almost Entirely Universal Genetic Code Are Evidence of Evolution, Not Design.”

The author could possibly be characterized as a nontheist or atheist with Marxist or progressive leanings. Her treatment of the religious aspects of creationism’s attack on evolution is crisp and dismissive. At the same time, her approach is not idealistic, but rather, appropriately materialistic and straight forward. Her philosophical comments are limited to the obvious condensate from the interaction between incredibly stupid ideas and basic science. I don’t think Skybreak’s book requires rejection of religion to accept evolution, but if you are looking for a way to reconcile religious belief with scientific reality, you won’t (thank god) find it here.

I think you could use this book in a college biology class, because it covers the basics of evolution, along with well chosen examples. If you are interested in teaching students evolutionary biology and at the same time giving them the tools to address creationism as it rears it’s ugly head in social, educational, and political contexts, then add this inexpensive and well written volume to your reading list. The book is organized in such a way that various chapters and side-bars (supplementals) can be linked to the usual reading material in any introductory or intermediate course on evolution. One could argue that setting up any straw man is good pedagogy if done correctly. This volume does a good job at teaching evolution by using creationism in its various forms as a kind of Swiss Army Knife of Straw Men.

(Click on the Amazon link to see a table of contents.)

This is the only book I have read that has encomia from both leading experts in the field as well from guys in prison… oh, and from one high school student.

Comments

  1. #1 Nike
    December 15, 2007

    I note that there is an Amazon review citing “hundreds of mistakes” (sic) written by “The Professor”, who claims to “have taught microbiology for 20 years”, although, unlike other scientists writing reviews, does not give a real name or location. Hmm… From all of this person’s other reviews, it is obvious that The (anonymous) Professor is a creationist, which makes this review predictable. Know who it is? I can think of someone it might be…

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    December 15, 2007

    When this book came out, the creationists instantly attacked the book on amazon. They are pretty well organized in this regard. So a few of us went there and did counter-mojo. I’ll need to take a look and see if we need more counter mojo…

  3. #3 Darby M'Graw
    December 15, 2007

    It’s amazing to read in the reviews of a book such as Evolution: A Theory in Crisis by Michael Denton about how wonderful the quality of scientific discussion in the book is.

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