Stranger Fruit

How to fight the good fight

I’ve been involved in the creation/evolution battle – for such it is – since 1998. Over the years, I have talked to many groups – students, concerned citizens, scientists, lawyers – on this issue and have often been asked to recommend a book that would offer the non-scientist  advice as how to deal with attempts to dilute academically sound science standards. In the past I have recommended books like Pennock’s Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics and Young & Edis’ Why Intelligent Design Fails. Both of these works, excellent though they are, are probably scientifically and philosophically too advanced for many parents, teachers and citizens who want to understand what is happening. I am happy to say that Eugenie Scott & Glenn Branch’s recent volume Not In Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design is Wrong for Our Schools (Beacon Press, 2006) nicely fills the niche for a readable, short, useful primer that one can recommend to non-specialists.

Scott & Branch have put together six short, readable and useful essays which together offer a concise overview of the issues at hand, cut through the spin of the Discovery Institute’s “science by press release,” and provide the reader with sufficient background to begin to tackle works such as Pennock and Young & Edis.

The volume begins with a history of creationism and Intelligent Design (authored by Scott) followed by an examination of the “critical analysis”/”teach the controversy” rhetoric of the Discovery Institute (by Nick Matzke and Paul Gross). Martinez Hewlett & Ted Peters offer an essay which demonstrates once again that theism does not entail support for design, while Jay Wexler outlines the legal history of creationism. Brian Alters – witness for the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller v Dover – follows with a strong argument for the place of evolution in the science classroom. Lastly, the volume is concluded by an essay by Glenn Branch which offers clear, simple, practical advice to students, parents, teachers and scientists who are faced with dealing with ID in their local schools.

There is little to grouse about here. Those of us who care about good K-12 science education should feel no guilt in recommending this book as an excellent starting point for non-specialists who want to take action against ID.