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Evolution, Creationism, and Other Modern Myths: A Critical Inquiry Hardcover – October 1, 2002

2.9 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

American Indian scholar Deloria has an unerring eye for the secret assumptions of American culture. In Red Earth, White Lies (1995) and God Is Red (1973), he unpacked the religious and mythological baggage that burdens Americans. Here he extends that shrewd analysis to acknowledge another kind of myth--science--as he argues that both sides in the evolution-versus-creationism debate are wrong. Far from submitting to a simple, we-are-right-and-they-are-wrong resolution, this intellectual duel finds only mistaken orthodoxies in the field, for creationism has no scientific basis, but evolution is far from proven. Indeed, Deloria argues that scientists routinely bury evidence against evolution in order to remain within the fold of scientific orthodoxy. The situation isn't that different from that of those who argue the ostensibly religious point of view, one that Deloria is quick to point out represents the creation myth of only a minority. What, he suggests, if the many cultures that have focused on emergence rather than creation are correct? What if the earth has been formed by a series of catastrophes, the memory of which is encoded in the many myths of worlds extant before this one? Certain to be controversial, likely to outrage the faithful of both camps, and a stunning good read. Patricia Monaghan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Certain to be controversial, likely to outrage the faithful of both camps, and a stunning good read. -- Patricia Monaghan, Booklist Star Review, Dec 2002
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Fulcrum Publishing (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555911595
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555911591
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,682,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
DeLoria is an author I have always respected, and there is much in this book to praise, but the presentation of some views and his critique of them is clearly biased and designed to promote a postmodern view of science and culture in which fables, stories and legends are equally as valid as results reached through experimentation and testing in science.

His treatment of evolutionist theory and scientists who defend evolution is fraught with ad hominem attacks, sarcasm, nastiness and rhetorical questions. His references to evolutionist theorists such as Stephen Gould characterize them as "self-appointed high priests of evolution" and the like; on the other hand theologians and ID theorists get "the great Swedish theologian...", "the great German theologian...", or "respected theorist Behe..." (a totally scientifically discredited creationist).

Why? Because attacking evolution theory, attacking even Western creationism and religion, paves the way to give equal credit with science to non-Western legends, fables, and oral history. To paraphrase many jurists who say of oral contracts, such "science" is not worth the paper it's printed on.

Now, I have written articles and made presentations arguing DeLoria's point from my own perspective -- I DO believe there is much in Non-Western oral history and culture that presages modern science, and much that can be gained by melding western and non-western views, especially for ecological studies. What I object to is the constant sarcasm and lack of respect for scientists who hold views that DeLoria clearly disagrees with -- skip the snotty attitude and personal attacks (which do not exist even for the western creationist/Christians he also clearly disdains).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Unfortunately much of what Deloria wrote in this book ten years ago has now been updated by science and research. So the book is not "right", and Deloria has passed so he can't update it (I'm sure he would have, he was willing to shift his views in the light of new evidence).

Still, this book is valuable and worth reading today. He makes many accurate critiques of how science does what it does, and just as many of how religion does what it does. The answer to the question of "evolution or creation or something else?" still eludes us. This book marks a milestone along the path to figuring out this huge puzzle.

Deloria's genius wanders. You'd have to take his whole body of writing and cut and paste it into topics that develop slowly enough for most of us to get his train of thought. But here are a couple trains I picked out:

Native understanding is willing to tolerate both a scientific perspective and a religious (mythological) perspective AT THE SAME TIME! One example of this is where Deloria tells about some early reports of natives of different tribes meeting for the first time. The tribes would tell each other their stories including their creation myths. One tribe might say that the world was created by two deities, another tribe might say one. One tribe might say it was created as an accident from something the deities were doing unrelated, another tribe might say it was created deliberately. Hearing views different from their own did not infuriate them. It enriched them. They felt richer by having more perspectives!

The message is, perspectives need not exclude one another. Neither is science "right" and religion "wrong," nor the other way, according to Deloria.

Gems like this make each of Deloria's books worth reading and re-reading.
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Format: Hardcover
Deloria argues that any current understanding of complex science and any form of dogmatic "fundamentalism" are roughly equally flawed and that the middle path with heart is a spiritual intelligent design view. Deloria points out various of what he claims are widespread (yet supposedly hidden) assumptions of Western religion and Western science, and offers his own take on Native American folk wisdom and other traditions rather than natural selection as the universal acid that explains it all. His view is a hybrid of intelligent design creationism and catastrophism, where meaningful interventions and catastrophes reflect a spiritual dimension to nature.
Deloria shares the basic rhetorical strategy of ID, considering as a conceptual unit the biological theory of natural selection and the cultural values widely associated with evolution, such as the Victorian ideal of social progress. This is part of the widespread assumptions that Deloria is criticizing. It is this combined notion of "emergent change" Deloria seems to refer to when he talks about the "myth of evolution," which often makes his view of evolution very different from Darwin's. If this had been a 19th century treatise on cultural assumptions surrounding the acceptance of Darwin's theories, it would have some remarkable insights. However, as a critique of biology and creationism in the 21st century it seems quaint at best.
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