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30 of 43 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the best attack against evolution., January 28, 2000
This review is from: Scientific Creationism (Paperback)
Henry M. Morris and the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) present a summary of arguments for what they call "scientific creationism" (in this book, their "scientific creationism" makes no explicit reference to Scripture). Although I do not exactly believe in naturalistic evolution, there have been much more legitimately scientific criticisms of evolution than this book (e.g. "Mere Creation").
Although the book tried to distinguish between "Biblical creationism" (creationism based on the Bible) and "scientific creationism" (creationism based on scientific evidence and making no explicit reference to the Bible) the distinction could have been done much better. At its worst, the book states (p. 188) that the "creation model" would "predict" that the origin of civilization would be located around Mount Ararat (where Noah's Ark is said to be) or near Babylon (where the Tower of Babel allegedly existed). Such "predictions" are clearly based on religion and not on creationism in its less religious form.
On the upside, "Scientific Creationism" does refute the myth that all real scientists are evolutionists. The book presents a list of creation scientists who reviewed the book (pp. i-ii), the vast majority of which hold Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in relevant areas. Even so, anti-evolutionists and even ICR itself have presented significantly better, more legitimately scientific cases for creationism (such as "What is Creation Science?" by Morris and Gary E. Parker) since the book was published.
I do think there are some good, rational, legitimately scientific criticisms of evolution (I am not an adherent of Darwin's theory), but this book does not go far in providing them. The arguments presented in this book are often strained, overgeneralized, and not very scientific. Part of the problem lies in the details. For instance, take the catastrophist argument (from this book) that the fossils were laid down by the flood through the processes of economic zonation, hydrodynamic zonation etc (pp. 118-120). While it does have some explanatory power (trilobites are bottom dwelling sea creatures and are found at the lowest layers) these factors are rather imprecise and tend to explain only the most general features of the geological column. Because of this, the specific details of the data are often missed. For instance, many lines in the fossil record exhibit a progression in the encephalization ratio (a measure of brain size to body size) and both ecological zonation and hydrological sorting are utterly irrelevant here (encephalization ratio does not have anything to do with overall size, shape, streamlining, or anything of the kind). There are no known catastrophic processes that are likely create this sort of order (if we leave out things like ecological zonation, what we have left is simply random-natural processes). This is not to say catastrophism is right or wrong (I make no claim here). However, this book often uses vague theories with vague data (compared to other scientific theories and compared to more sophisticated attacks on evolution) and this is simply not very productive because it does not refute the criticisms (which lie in the details) that could easily be brought forward, like I showed in the example above. Maybe such criticisms can be refuted, but using vague data and theories like this will not solve the problem. You simply need a higher level of sophistication. Although the book may have some collective value, it is certainly not the best of what anti-evolutionists have to offer.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 8, 2010 8:55:39 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 8, 2010 9:00:05 PM PST
Dude, please try to be clear and concise. This review makes me hunger for clarity and brevity! The last paragraph is especially verbose and cumbersome, to the point of confusion and exhaustion. Not sure about all you are trying to say there. But anyway, you could have spared us all that and just said, "I don't think this book is precise and clear enough, other books attack the issue better." And a response, "Maybe this review isn't concise and clear enough, and other reviews do the job better."

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2010 4:10:59 PM PST
To some extent this is an understandable criticism; the last paragraph is on the large side. I wrote this review ten years ago and (I hope) I'm a better writer now than I was then.

Still, even in this review I gave specific examples, e.g. the catastrophist argument. So your remark on "clarity" is a bit puzzling to me. What part of the review did you find unclear?

Posted on Nov 8, 2011 2:01:45 PM PST
It would be nice if you were going to pan a book if you would tell us the better book. Surely you know one. How else could you criticise this one for not explaining things well enough.

I buy and give away a dozen copies or so each year of this particular book. I give them to people who wish to learn about the science behind evolution (there actually is none) and who wish to be able to refute the theory of evolution thenselves. They, as I, have found this book to be sufficient for that purpose. I do not see how someone could read these pages and once they have proven even some of what it says, (You can do that), not be able to say with reasonable certainty that evolution does not have an ancester they can depend on.

I do the same with three simpler things.

1. The second law of thermodynamics (Makes evolution impossible all by itself)
2. The sheer odds of the first life happening by chance. (Try getting even 400 parts to come together to form what is not even a very viable life form. You cannot.)
3. The impossibility of any, much less any random, mutations having the ability to change anything for the better. (They say they can show you one, but when investigated they do not even have one mutation that they can say was favorable; not one.)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 8, 2011 5:23:49 PM PST
"It would be nice if you were going to pan a book if you would tell us the better book." As I recall I did; viz. "What is Creation Science?" by Henry M. Morris and Gary E. Parker. You can find me mentioning that book in the third paragraph of my review.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2011 12:22:40 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 9, 2011 12:23:47 PM PST
Sorry about that. I am a bit of a speed reader and missed that. Thanks for the correction.

I read that book also and still think that for the general public, it is better to read Scientific Creationism as it is a bit easier to see the six day thinking while not getting too buried in things harder to verify for the less scientific.

Thanks fo the correction.

Frank Bland; Crusaders for Christ. christcrusade@gmail.com

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 23, 2012 9:45:12 AM PST
Cal Engime says:
"1. The second law of thermodynamics (Makes evolution impossible all by itself)"

No, it does not. This argument is so ridiculous that all I can tell you is to pick up a physics book and learn what the second law of thermodynamics actually is. We see evolution happening all the time, and it clearly does not violate any physical laws. If you need it explained to you explicitly how the second law of thermodynamics does not contradict evolution, see chapter 6 of Denying Evolution.

"2. The sheer odds of the first life happening by chance. (Try getting even 400 parts to come together to form what is not even a very viable life form. You cannot.)"

Is it really possible to calculate this in any meaningful way?

"3. The impossibility of any, much less any random, mutations having the ability to change anything for the better. (They say they can show you one, but when investigated they do not even have one mutation that they can say was favorable; not one.)"

Mutations that cause antibiotic resistance in pathogens and insecticide resistance in agricultural pests are commonly observed, and are beneficial for those organisms. (http://www.pnas.org/content/94/14/7464.abstract) They can be observed repeatedly in laboratory populations. (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/285/5426/422) An experiment with E. coli found that 1 out of 10 newly arising mutations with functional effect were beneficial. (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/317/5839/813.abstract) There are also documented examples of mutations in humans that confer strong bones (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa013444) and resistance to AIDS (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/273/5283/1856). Plant breeders commonly use mutation breeding to induce mutations and select the beneficial ones.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 23, 2012 1:12:09 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 23, 2012 1:34:00 PM PST
Very nice Cal: You make statements which are simply not true. Your refutations are not, in fact, refutations. If you are saying that the second law of thermodynamics; the law of entropy, does not say that all things reduce to their lowest common denominator and that they do not, in fact, suffer heat death, then it is you who do not understand this law. And, I say again, it is a LAW. Not a theory.

You also try to assume evolution without doing any more that saying that it is all around us; which it is not. All the way to saying there are favorable mutations and attempting to cite some.

There are "adaptations" that are common to all species that allow them to live as their 'species' wherever they must. But adaptation is not mutation and nowhere can you show proof of evolution. or the change from one 'kind' to another kind. You give me stuff to read that has already been disproven as far as evolution is concerned. Next thing you will give me is the peppered moth which just came up in my newspaper again last month. The peppered moth study, if you are aware of it, was proven to be a hoax. But these things do not dissuade folks like you of quoting from these discredited works without noting that the evidence actually is opposed to their/your statements.

Oh; and your statement that it is not possible to calculate the odds on getting the initial components of life together in a meaningful way is predicated on the fact that there can be no meaningful way to calculate what is impossible. I was Leaky Jr. who wrote that "to get a favorable mutation of 1 in a thousand might seem like a lot but it is probably generous, and to get a quantity of a million such favorable mutations is also generous as to creating a change in the organism. Making the odds against such a thing happening as a one followed by 3,000,000 naughts (zeros). It would take three large volumes of 500 pages each just to write that number down. No-one would bet on such a thing happening. But it has happened". So he says.

Please note that e-coli is probably among the best know adaptations. But also note that e-coli is still e-coli. It never becomes anything else, it is e-coli that we must learn anew how to kill as it asapts to try to survive. You say it is mutation instead of adaptation. The use of the word interchageably is just another in the ways that scientists who think, in spite of the evidence, that evolution is true, use such phrasing to further confuse the issue. It is alway more complex, they say, or there are other factors to consider. But in the end they simply do not have the evidence and Scietific Creationism is a good book to prove the negative. Evolution is without evidence. And the positive; we just might be created by God and only about 6000 years old.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 23, 2012 1:23:01 PM PST
Cal Engime says:
The second law of thermodynamics is that no process is possible which has as its sole result the transfer of heat from a body of lower temperature to a body of higher temperature. I bet you can't coherently explain what this has to do with evolution.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 23, 2012 1:51:37 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 23, 2012 1:58:18 PM PST
HUH?

Are you asking what it means to suffer heat death. That is the conclusion and final result of the second law. Heat is constantly being lost until we all (things that have heat) end up at a temperature at which no more work can occur. (Somewhere near absolute zero). You throw in the words "sole result" but that is of no concern. I do not care what the result is projected to be. It does not transfer that way (hotter) on its own, period.

What the second law has to do with evolution (If there were such a thing) is that nothing left to itself, with out outside manipulation, ever becomes more that it is at any stage. It always becomes more random and it always will produce less work than when first observerved. It never goes the other way. Except in the mind of those who say it does, but who have never observed it happening. They have only said that it did. Well you can say anything, bit in science, I would like proof.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2012 10:22:06 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 25, 2012 10:23:39 AM PST
Cal Engime says:
"Are you asking what it means to suffer heat death. That is the conclusion and final result of the second law. Heat is constantly being lost until we all (things that have heat) end up at a temperature at which no more work can occur. (Somewhere near absolute zero)."

No, heat energy is not permanently lost until everything has cooled to absolute zero because energy can be neither created nor destroyed. The second law states that temperatures in a closed system will EQUILIBRATE; they will not all fall, some will fall and others will rise. Energy becomes unusable because it is dissipated as heat.

"What the second law has to do with evolution (If there were such a thing) is that nothing left to itself, with out outside manipulation, ever becomes more that it is at any stage. It always becomes more random and it always will produce less work than when first observed."

But life is not a closed system. Energy is constantly coming in from the Sun. We see entropy decrease all the time (a mature tomato plant has more usable energy than the seed it grew from), and that's possible because it's offset by an increase in entropy somewhere else. Increases in order are possible because the increases are confined to a small part of the universe, and the universe as a whole increases in disorder.

The second law of thermodynamics is not a general metaphysical principle about things "never becoming more than they are" or "becoming more random." We see things in nature become less random all the time, like in the formation of snowflakes, sand dunes, and graded riverbeds. If the second law of thermodynamics predicted these things couldn't happen, it would not be a law.

You reject evolution because it allegedly violates a law of physics, but you exempt yourself from this rule when you appeal to the action of a supernatural creator, whose power defies all laws of physics. You can't have a meaningful debate with such double standards.
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