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The Battle of Beginnings: Why Neither Side Is Winning the Creation-Evolution Debate Paperback – February 17, 1996

3.6 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Two sides have squared off and voices keep getting louder - whether in lecture halls or in the spate of books addressing the controversy. But neither side seems to be winning. Neither side has mounted an argument capable of turning the tide and securing a victory. Why? Del Ratzsch examines the history of the debate and takes aim at entrenched positions that he argues impede progress from either side. Dissatisfied with both creationist fallacies and materialist misconstruals, he seeks to lay the groundwork for more fruitful dialogue. In considerable detail he looks at the history and development of Darwin's theory and popular creationist misunderstandings of evolution, moving on to the history and development of creationist theory and popular evolutionist misunderstandings of it. He then discusses the nature of science and common creationist and evolutionist abuses as a prelude to showing why both sides have remained critical of theistic evolution. Above all, he argues that until misconstruals, philosophical confusion, logical missteps and various other snarls have been untangled, little real progress can be made in sorting out detailed analyses of scientific claims and cases.

About the Author

Del Ratzsch earned a Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Massachusetts. He is professor of philosophy at Calvin College and author of The Philosophy of Science (published by InterVarsity Press in the Contours of Christian Philosophy series), as well as several other books. Much of Ratzsch's work over the last seventeen years at Calvin College has sought to relate science and religion (and more recently creation and evolution) in a way that is philosophically informed, scientifically defensible and theologically meaningful. Although Ratzsch is optimistic that design theory can avoid past mistakes in the creation-evolution controversy, he stresses that fundamental clarifying work remains to be done in this area.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (February 17, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830815295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830815296
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #523,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Roberts VINE VOICE on January 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent examination of strawman arguments that are formulated by both sides of this debate. Given the nature of the subject-matter of the book, it is difficult to find any books at all that are truly objective. Darwinists will enter into the subject with presuppositions that their theory is correct and will many times ignore any evidence to the contrary. Creationists will many times believe in a literal reading of the book of Genesis and will reject the ideas of anyone who says otherwise. Both sides accuse the other of being closed minded and practicing bad science. To a degree, perhaps both are right. This book does about as good a job as one could ever (objectively) do to clear up some misunderstandings that both sides have in regards to the other. The reviewer from California has obviously made up his mind which side of the fence he has sat on, and that is fine. However, to merely say that there really is no debate at all & that the Darwinists have already won is, I think, a mistake. Anyone who is as closed minded as that need not read this book, for the whole point of the book is to take a disinterested look at the (many times fallacious)ideas of both sides. And if the argument is so clear cut as the Californian says, why is it that none other than the Harvard paleontologist Stephen J. Gould has written that "the extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record" are the "trade secret of paleontology"? Darwin himself said that if there was even so much as one instance where transitional forms were not found, his theory would prove null and void. The great physicist Richard P. Feynman once said that the "core of science" is this: "When you find an exception to a rule, the rule is wrong.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Del Ratzsch, a philosopher of science in the Reformed tradition of evangelical Christianity, has added to his growing list of helpful and well-written books. The Battle of Beginnings is not his most recent offering, but it is certainly one of his best books. In this book, Ratzsch fairly, charitably and objectively evaluates the arguments of both opponents and proponents of the theory of evolution and scientific creationism. While not everyone will agree with his conclusions, everyone should certainly listen to him and read him. Ratzsch identifies some of the more outrageous logical blunders made by members of both schools and thought. He also shows where proponents and opponents have simply misrepresented or misunderstood the other side's argument. One of the most valuable sections of the book provides a superbly written historical survey of the philosophy of science. Ratzsch also adds his own attempt to describe this thing we call science, even though it is a very slippery thing to do. Finally, Ratzsch also discusses the possibility of theistic evolution as a viable option for Christian believers and identifies some of problems with arguments had against this view, while admitting its weaknesses.
I found this book to be erudite, level-headed and easy to read. It is also easily understood by nonphilosophers and is a book that can be used as a reference book without reading like one. I also found Ratsch's fairness very refreshing in a field where polemics tend to take a front seat to logic.
My only reservations about the book is that he might be a little too accommodating to poor arguments.
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Format: Paperback
First it is addressed to the general reading public, slanted in tone(style, word choice, difficulty of expression) to high school or freshman college level, with a particular desire(on the author's part) to be read by young earth creationists(YEC) within the Christian community. It is a good, notable addition to the discussion and to anyone's library.
Second, the author's motivation is primarily to gently enlighten, by careful philosophic analysis. He is not argumentative, nor brash, so that the book ought not to insult or anger anyone who feels their cherished beliefs under attack. This alone is a unique characteristic of items in the creation-evolution-design debate(CED), and i would welcome the attitude in more literature or discussion in the field. It is not that he doesn't have strong feelings or convictions but rather that he is interested less in persuading people of the righteousness of his ideas, then to explain the problems with the positions taken in the field. There are several places that a strong materialistic anti-creationist darwinian will hit his personal beliefs and recoil, but even these people ought to acknowledge the general evenhandedness of the particulars.
I come to the book as a result of a self-directed study in the topics of CED, while i usually don't read introductory material, i was attracted to this, not only because i appreciate the author's work, but for one quote.
pg. 129 "So our perceptions, theorizing and evaluations of theories all seem to have an inescapable human tinge to them. And given the significant interflow among those various components, human tinges in any one of the areas have at least the potential to seep into the other areas as well.
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