Everyone's Talking About the BECB!

As part of my one-man media blitz for my new book Among the Creationists: Dispatches From the Anti-Evolutionist Frontline, let me call your attention to a few posts.

P. Z. Myers has posted a nice review.:

What do you do on airplanes? I usually devour a book or two, usually something popcorny and light, sometimes something I need to get read for work. On my trip home from Washington DC, I lucked out: I was handed a book the day I took off, and it turned out to be a damned good read.

Glad you liked it, P.Z! On the other hand, I do feel I must respond to his one criticism:

Jason Rosenhouse is my co-blogger at Scienceblogs -- he's a mathematician, but he's also neck-deep in the evolution/creationism wars. He was in town for the Reason Rally (wait: from the description, he left before my talk. Cancel the review, gotta pan him instead...nah, I guess I'll forgive him this one time), and he gave me his brand new book, Among the Creationists: Dispatches from the Anti-Evolutionist Front Line.

Yes, sadly, I did leave the Rally before P. Z. gave his talk. In my defense, though, I knew I would be seeing him the next day at the American Atheists Convention, so I could afford to be cavalier. (Incidentally, P. Z.'s talk at the conference was excellent. He was the last speaker I saw before I had to leave, and I was smiling about it during the entire drive home.)

Meanwhile, over at Forbes, John Farrell offers some thoughts:

Beyond Biblical Fundamentalism, Rosenhouse also discusses the problems atheists have with the arguments of theology and philosophy on the question of God's existence.

I haven't read all of those sections as yet, but I imagine many of the professional academics in philosophy and theology will find much to disagree with. Some, too, are more interested in other questions than whether the goodness of any deity can be reconciled with the apparent wastefulness and bloody winnowing process of natural selection.

Still, I find Rosenhouse's broader point merits consideration-in that what's been published for the general reader so far in trying to reconcile evolution with a Divine Plan ... has certainly not been very persuasive.

I'm sure the pros will, indeed, find much to disagree with! Regarding the choice of topics, however, I would simply mention that while some philosophers may have moved on from the problem of evil, most creationists have not. The point of the chapter I devote to this question was that I understand why creationists consider it a problem, and why they are unimpressed by the replies served up by theistic evolutionists.

Nor should we overlook this article from The Christian Post. I corresponded with the author, Michael Gryboski, by e-mail. Here's an excerpt:

In an interview with The Christian Post, Rosenhouse, who is an associate professor of mathematics at James Madison University in Virginia, explained his reasons for writing the book.

“In May 2000, having just finished my graduate studies in mathematics, I began a post-doc at Kansas State University. This was when the fracas over their science standards was still in full swing,” said Rosenhouse.

“I found out about a conference for religious homeschoolers to be held in Wichita...It turned out that all of the keynote speakers at the conference were from Answers in Genesis. This led me to become interested in learning more about the science of evolution and what my fellow conference attendees thought about it.”

As to his opinion as to whether or not the conferences on creation science that he attended made convincing arguments, Rosenhouse said that he felt that proponents of creation science made the most valid points regarding “the religious implications of evolution.”

That last line is somewhat misleading. In our e-mail exchange Gryboski asked me if I thought the creationists had any legitimate scientific arguments to make. I won't repost my entire reply, but let's just say that it featured words like “garbage” and “nonsense.” I seem to recall saying their scientific arguments were not even interesting, much less correct. It was against this that I contrasted their arguments regarding the religious significance of evolution, where, as regular readers of this blog are aware, I think they have some decent points to make.

Anyway, the article also trots out a creationist back-bencher named Bob Sorensen to scold me. Oh well. Considering the venue I think it's actually a decent article. So go have a look.

I see there are already three thoughtful (and almost completely positive!) reviews over at Amazon, so go have a look at them as well. I figure it is inevitable that creationist spammers will eventually drive down my ratings by posting negative reviews, but so far they do not seem to have noticed.

Clearly, then, my book is the talk of the nation. Don't be left out of the conversation! Go buy multiple copies, read one of them, and let me know what you think!

More like this

I take if you aren't familiar with Cowboy Bob/Piltdown Superman/Stormbringer/Soldier for Jesus?

Here is his anti-evolution blog
And his personal blog

Warning, he's one of the bitterest angriest Creotards out there. He's hilariously unware of how he comes across.

He tried to spin off his own Question Evolution project (from the failed CMI one) and got about 60 likes on facebook.

By BathTub (Nigel… (not verified) on 13 Apr 2012 #permalink

not that you're counting, but I plan on buying your book as soon as I finish the 1.5 books in my backlog.

By AbnormalWrench (not verified) on 13 Apr 2012 #permalink

I see that Nigel there is continuing his personal crusade of hate and rage. Note the demonstrations of someone that pretends to advocate "reason": Childish name calling, poisoning the well and lack of fact-checking for the sake of lies (FB page has more "Likes" that he indicated). So, "reason" means character assassination and petty rants. That fits in well with Dawkins' advice at the (Un)reason Rally, innit?

My correspondence with Michael Gryboski on this subject is reproduced in full, including my observations that I offered but did not fit in with his article â I was particularly annoyed at the dishonest and slanted "Forbes" article. This is at a Weblog I have that my dear friend Nigel did not bother to mention: http://asoldierforjesus.blogspot.com/2012/04/christians-view-on-atheist…

Quite right about Cowboy Bob's creation science. Garbage and nonsense neatly sums it up although I would probably also add laughable.

By Cornellius (not verified) on 14 Apr 2012 #permalink

Hi Jason

Kindled and finished the BECB last week. I wished it was bigger!

I found it a very honest portrayal of your own experiences of and reactions to creationist culture and quite thought-provoking. There were angles to their beliefs and activities that I hadn't considered (or known about) beforehand, and which gave me what I considered a better illustration of creationist culture and motivation.

Because of that the BECB should be required reading for scientists/science-allies before deciding to debate or argue with a creationist (in any capacity, official, public or otherwise); I myself am in the process of adjusting my style and focus when doing so.

TL;DR: Great book - wish it was longer.


I have it in kindle form on my iPad. I'm trying which book to start next. Yours, Dr. Michael Mann's, or Dr. Bart Ehrman's new book. I recently finished The Christian Delusion.

Heh, hello Stormy.

I note you forgot to mention exactly how many likes you did get...

By BathTub (Nigel… (not verified) on 15 Apr 2012 #permalink

Mandrellian --

Thanks for the kind words about the book. For what it's worth, the first draft was about forty pages longer than the finished version, but my cruel, heartless editor made me shorten it. :(

MartyM --

Well, it sounds like you have pretty good taste in reading, so I don't think you can go too far wrong. What did you think of The Christian Delusion? It's been sitting on my shelf for a while, but I don't know when I'll get around to reading it.

@ elspi #12

Since I was diluted and non alloweded back my conservation with the candian fluoride man also known as The Lurker from Uncertain principles blob...

Just letting NJ know how hilarious it was to get him kicked off of Dr. Pretzel's site, but not to worry. I personally took up the conversation where ole sourpuss Dr. Pretzel kicked us off at on my own site.

Elspi left out a fourth designation of canadian nut.

NJ will from now on be known as The Fluoride Lurker from his comment on Dr. Pretzel's blob about "lurking about".

I guess I will never understand exactly how people can blindly believe in evolution as if it can really happen. Then again if that is your pint of view and your opinion then by decree of freedom of speech you are certainly entitled to it, but regular people are entitled to their viewpoints about creatonism and a young earth as well.

Certainly we can argue back and forth about it, but do you really think either side will change their minds becuase of some paper or book or speech? Possible, but doubtful. The fact is creationism has been around since Genesis was written several thousand years ago. So that being said, and the personal opinion of evolution has only existed for less than 200 years then evolutionists have at least 6300 more years of explaining to do to be caught up with creationism.

By C. N. Jorgensen (not verified) on 25 Apr 2012 #permalink

"NJ" @ 9:

At this point no one really even needs to ask who has borrowed my 'nym for one of his looney screeds.

But it is funny for him to claim I was banned from Uncertain Principles when all Dr. Orzel said to both of us (after disemvoweling an insane comment from Rob) was in effect, "Take it outside". And even funnier is the fact Rob's comment here is actually aimed at a comment on a post over at Greg Laden's!

I'm reasonably certain that our gracious host here will be no more willing to put up with Rob's insanity or my calling out his sockpuppetry anymore than Chad Orzel was, so I don't plan to do so any further. Those curious about the strange references to fluoride and Canadian citizenship can do a little searching of ScienceBlogs for the name Rob Hood to find out more.

"I guess I will never understand exactly how people can blindly believe in evolution as if it can really happen."

I guess, since that is the null set, this isn't something that needs understanding, hmm?

"So that being said, and the personal opinion of evolution has only existed for less than 200 years then evolutionists have at least 6300 more years of explaining to do to be caught up with creationism."

If I may paraphrase: "We creationists were wrong first!"


Evolutionists would change their tune if someone ACTUALLY FOUND an "irreducibly complex" organic element.

What, however, would persuade the god squad they're wrong? Not God turning up and Not saying he Doesn't exist?

At this point one really needs to ask who I am for one of his looney screeds abounds.

But it is funny that I was banned from Uncertain Principles when all Dr. Pretzel said to both of us (after disemvoweling an insane comment from me) was in effect, "Take it outside". And even funnier is the fact my comment here is actually caused fromlast night's bing drinking of sodium fluoride from my lead cup. To spice things up I was dared to down some colloidal aluminum. I accepted the challenge but it was not the same as colloidal lead.

Those curious about the strange references to my Robin Hood fetish and puppeteers can do a little searching of ScienceBlogs for the name NJ to find out more.

The universe is full of complexities. I am not sure how anyone can think that the entire universe and everything that exists within it and all of its vast complexes can be from one single event other than an intelligent designer.

For the entire universe to work in its complex yet perfect harmony and balance this indicates that it was by design and not by accident.

Sorry that you do not beleive. You are entitled to free speech and your opinion, but Christians are entitled to theirs as well. Neither side will ever agree with each other when it comes to creation versus evolution, but we could at least respect each other's right to free speech and our constiutional if not inherent inalienable right to religion. it is a basic human right to think freely.

Take for instance Mr. Rosenhouse. We have never met. I am sure he is a nice guy and a brilliant scientist. However, we just happen to disagree on creationism/religion and science. That does not make us mortal enemies. it only means we are two people who happen to disagree. I do not dislike him for his teachings on evolution. I do not take it personally, I just happen not to believe in evolution. This instance does not mean that Mr. Rosenhouse and I could never be friends or never interact for the common good.

Some people take this stuff way too personally. Just let people be people.

By C.N. Jorgensen (not verified) on 26 Apr 2012 #permalink

I've only made it about halfway through yet, but I am enjoying every word. As an evolutionary biology PhD student and former Southern Baptist-turned-evangelical-turned-heathen from Alabama, it's nice to see the rare atheist with a genuine curiosity about the real people behind the "Creationist" label and media spotlight. Having been fully immersed in that world until I was 23 (four years ago), the majority of my social circle still today are science-hating creationists...but they are also some of the friendliest people I have ever met and remain some of my closest friends.

I also appreciate your book because you reveal beliefs and motivations that are (in my experience) foreign or unknown to non-believers who did not grow up in that world. Not surprisingly, I have yet to come across anything I did not already know, but much of what you describe are things I have been trying to convince my heathen friends for the past several years that, YES, people really DO believe this sort of thing, and they believe it 110% absolutely. I know because that was me!