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Species of Origins: America's Search for a Creation Story (American Intellectual Culture) Paperback – October 9, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

Review

The single most comprehensive examination of the contemporary debate between religion and science about the origins of life and of the universe. Highly recommended. (CHOICE)

All too often, writings on creation and evolution have been marred by special pleading, ignorance, or a lack of civility. Giberson (a scientist) and Yerxa (a historian) have collaborated to produce the most accessible, accurate, and even-handed introduction to the subject that I have read in a long time. (Ronald L. Numbers, author of The Creationists and Darwinism Comes to America)

This book is the most comprehensive analytical survey of the various positions with respect to the evolution-creation issue known to me. It is lucidly written, well balanced, sociologically informed, and humanely aimed at promoting empathetic understanding of the clashing world views of a deeply divided American public. (John C. Greene, University of Connecticut and author of Debating Darwin: Adventures of a Scholar)

An excellent survey of modern religious and anti-religious debates on the origins of the universe. It can be highly commended as providing a balanced, readable and comprehensive account of the debate and its leading proponents. (Keith Ward)

Giberson and Yerxa do an excellent job of reporting on the ongoing debate, and they are admirably fair to all parties. The conversation (or the shouting match) is over origins is not likely to disappear in the near future, and anyone interested in the relation between science and society cannot afford to miss this book. It is not only the best-written and most perceptive of the current accounts available, it would also make an ideal textbook for a course on science and religion or a course in intellectual history. (William R. Shea Archives Internationales D'histoire Des Sciences)

Yerxa and Giberson are to be commended on their superb and highly readable accounts of modern American debates over creation. An essential resource for anyone wanting to understand what is at stake, and how the various options shape up. (Alister McGrath, University of Oxford)

A refreshing book that transcends the stereotypes and caricatures so common to the controversy over biological origins. If you really want to understand America's search for a creation story, read Giberson and Yerxa. (William A. Dembski, author of No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence)

A simply invaluable primer on the subject that should be made compulsory reading for all who have ever taught on science and religion. I can think of no better place to start into the debate about origins—creationism or evolution—than with this book. (Michael Ruse, Florida State University Research News)

Careful and balanced discussion of the various modes of thought concerning creation. (Reports Of The National Center For Science Education)

Species of Origins provides Christian students with a portal into the origins debate that swirls about them in college and church discussion groups. Issues are presented from a perspective that evangelical Protestants can appreciate. By not taking a stand in the end, the book leaves students free to adopt their own reconciliation of science with religion in the light of greater understanding of the alternatives. (Books and Culture)

Karl Giberson and Donald Yerxa provide a thorough and balanced history of creation/evolution debate in America. Anyone interested in understanding the history and current status of the creation/evolution debate in America will find Species of Origins an invaluable addition to their library. (Singing News)

Provides a sensible overview of the debate. (World)

In an engaging and accessible manner Giberson and Yerxa illuminate the standard positions and prominent figures in the debates surrounding evolution and creationism….Though the path forward may be muddied, understanding how we got to this position is invaluable and this book is an asset to this endeavor. (History and Philosophy Of The Life Sciences)

About the Author

Karl W. Giberson is professor of physics at Eastern Nazarene College. Donald A. Yerxa is professor of history at Eastern Nazarene College.
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Product Details

  • Series: American Intellectual Culture
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (October 9, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742507653
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742507654
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,216,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Richard Menninger on December 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
For those interested in a helpful introduction into the conflict between science and religion the book by Giberson and Yerxa is a good place to begin. The authors describe in helpful detail (yet without too much technical jargon) the entire spectrum of America's search for an explanation for the origin of life. This spectrum runs from scientific creationism (a literal 6 day event) to scientific evolution and its conclusion that creation has spanned 5 billions years. In between these two extreme positions are several alternatives, each considered a via media or middle way. In this last category one will find intelligent design.

The book examines in particular the components of evolution, the thinking behind scientific creationism (3 chapters out of a possible 10) and the strategy of intelligent design. While providing a good overview of these competing voices, the book also isolates the main reason for the contention, namely a cultural war which pits naturalistic materialism (including evolution) against a theistic worldview, which holds to some kind of being (divine or superhuman) who has influenced creation in some way. After reading this book, one will come away with the feeling that the conflict may be more about philosophical differences than simply who does the best science.

The book is well written and well documented and includes the major players on all sides. The authors deal directly with an underlying tension: the extreme positions sacrifice clarity for truth and the middle positions hedge toward truth but at the cost of clarity.

This book will not replace reading the major players but it will surely provide an important overview by which one can begin to make sense of a public debate that will, in all likelihood, be around for a long time to come.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is one of the only books in the emotionally charged field of creation-evolution that is fair to everyone. Most books in this field, like those of Richard Dawkins or Phillip Johnson, are nothing more than one-sided arguments for a particular viewpoint. The authors of this book have taken the time to read literally everybody and they summarize a vast sprectrum of ideas with clarity and balance. And they are good writers so the book is a pleasure to read.
The authors actually discuss 6 day creation respectfully and show why so many people like it. Instead of just heaping ridicule on creation, they help the reader understand why most Americans are attracted to it.
The best part though is when they have some fun with the extremist evolutionists. They call them "The Council of Despair" and quote their most nihilistic comments.
This is a good "first book" to read as it helps you see the whole controversy and then you can read further with their suggestions (they have a huge bibliography.) Or you can get the other books that Amazon always lists with it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ben on July 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is an incredible introduction into the "evolution-creation" debate, literally covering almost every position. Widely hailed as the most comprehensive intro book on the subject, this is how I would have gone about writing a book about the subject to be fair.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By WideAwake Inventor on December 16, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a must-read in its field. The authors thoroughly present each viewpoint as seen by its adherents, making it possible for the reader to imagine what it might be like to know of no alternatives. This includes the simplistic extremes of scientific creationism, in which the earth is created in 6 days with an initial "appearance of history" in an Eden complete with belly buttons and tree rings, and naturalistic materialism, in which miracles, meaning events not merely novel but inexplicable in principle, never occur. And then there is "the muddle in the middle," the attempted compromises that "are, in their simplest form, contradictory."

But, nonpolemical intent notwithstanding, in the end the authors, professors of physics and history respectively at conservative Eastern Nazarene College, betray their bias. This occurs first when they "whimsically" adopt "the perspective of traditional religious believers" by applying to popularizers of science the pejorative label "Council of Despair," which "provides us with little reason to believe that the world might have a purpose and no reason to cling to the old-fashioned idea of hope." Readers will have to imagine for themselves the sensible and cheerful people who have no need of that hypotheses and who, absent tangible evidence of a universal "Who" as author of a universal "Why," see such an idea as old-fashioned anthropomorphism. So, while ID proponent William Dembski is quoted as calling naturalism a "disease," "the intellectual pathology of our age," it is for the reader to decide which viewpoint is pathological.

The second betrayal of bias is in regard to intelligent design, identified as an old argument which "in the late 1980s and early 1990s ...
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Format: Paperback
I wasn't expecting much from this little-heard-of book, but I was pleasantly surprised. It is articulately written, and bubbles with an eagerness about its topic. Whether you know nothing about the origins debate in the United States, or have done much research already, this book will surely be one to hang onto. The conflicting opinions are laid out in a very easy-to-read fashion without leaving off the details, which provides a fresh look into this often murky clash. The authors have also placed at the end of each chapter a swath of resources that allow an interested reader to investigate further.

The only complaint I have about the book is that in the notes at the end of the chapter, the authors often provide paragraphs of useful information. I found myself flipping back and forth between the notes and various spots in the chapter after I had finished reading it, which got a little tedious. I have no clue why they didn't move the info from the notes into the body of the chapter.
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