People keep asking me for books on evolution for their kids, and I have to keep telling them that there is a major gap in the library. We have lots of great books for adults, but most of the books for the younger set reduce evolution to stamp collecting: catalogs of dinosaurs, for instance. I just got a copy of a book that is one small step in filling that gap, titled Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll) by Daniel Loxton. It’s beautifully illustrated, and the organization of the book focuses on concepts (and misconceptions!) of evolution, explaining them in manageable bits of a page or two. The first half covers the basics of evolutionary theory — a little history of Darwin, the evidence for selection and speciation, short summaries of how selection works, that sort of thing. The second half covers common questions, such as how something as complex as an eye could have evolved, or where the transitional fossils are. The book is aimed at 8-13 year olds, and it’s kind of cute to see that most creationists could learn something from a book for 8 year olds.
I recommend it highly, but with one tiny reservation. The author couldn’t resist the common temptation to toss in something about religion at the end, and he gives the wrong answer: it’s the standard pablum, and he claims that “Science as a whole has nothing to say about religion.” Of course it can. We can confidently say that nearly all religions are definitely wrong, if for no other reason than that they contradict each other. We also have a multitude of religions that make claims about the world that are contradicted by the evidence. It’s only two paragraphs, and I sympathize with the sad fact that speaking the truth on this matter — that science says your religion is false — is likely to get the book excluded from school libraries everywhere, but it would have been better to leave it out than to perpetuate this silly myth.
Don’t worry about it, though — take the kids aside and explain to them that that bit of the book is wrong, which is also a good lesson to teach, that you should examine everything critically, even good pro-science books.
Say, did you know that Darwin Day is coming up soon? Maybe you should order a copy fast for the kids in your life!