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Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: A Basic Guide to the Facts in the Evolution Debate Paperback – June 1, 1990
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
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'Berra's brilliant exposition offers a refreshing, lucid, and insightful view of one of the most important ideas in the history of science. After readingthis superb book, anyone with prior qualms about the scientific validity of evolution should be convinced that evolution is the explanation for the diversity of life on the planet. This is not an anti-religion book, but a very successful attempt to assist us all in understanding the scientific basis for evolution.' Donald C. Johanson, Institute of Human Origins
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Berra is an unrelenting evolutionist, insisting that from a scientific perspective there is no debate between evolution and creationism, or as it is called in its current incarnation "intelligent design." Evolution, he comments, has the self-correcting underpinning of the scientific method and is accepted by virtually all who seriously study the subject. Creationism is a faith statement not based on any scientific evidence whatsoever and not testable through the scientific method. Berra notes that only a tiny minority of the Americans accept the creationism argument, and that many with deeply-held religious conceptions find no conflict between science and religion. "Creationists, for the most part," he insists, "are fundamentalist Christians whose central premise is a literal interpretation of the Bible and a belief in its inerrancy" (p. viii). In spite of their small numbers creationists are vocal, domineering, and political savvy at getting their belief system into far too many science curricula. They have asserted, although it is a fundamentally flawed belief, that there is a scientific controversy and that both sides should be taught in science classes. Recently, U.S. President George W. Bush made this assertion; never mind that there is no legitimate controversy, a fact that any reader of this book will come to appreciate fully.
I read this book so that I could more readily answer questions about the origins of the universe and life in the universe in my capacity as a curator at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. We have received an increasing number of questions about intelligent design from visitors to the museum, and the scientific arguments for the "Big Bang," the expanding universe, and the possibilities of life beyond Earth have received sustained criticism from those who embrace intelligent design. While there is some information on this subject in "Evolution and the Myth of Creationism" the focus of this book is on natural history, the fossil record, dinosaurs, and human evolution. It is a useful introduction to this material, although a little outdated now, but for questions of cosmology readers will want to review other works such as "The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality" (2004) and "The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory" (2003), both by Brian Greene or "The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design" (2005) by Leonard Susskind.
Throughout the text, Berra points out the fallacies of the creationist arguments, and briefly describes some views which accomodate both science and religion, such as intelligent design. The bulk of his rebuttal of the creationist arguments is in the last chapter, in which he describes the poor state of education in America and court cases in the battle between creationism and science and disproves some creationist claims. While it may seem that he is simply anti-creationist, he fairly explains the basis for an anti-evolution attitude. He also points out that conflicts such as the evolution v. creation debate have happened before--in Galileo's case, for example--and suggests that the conflict will eventually dissipate. All in all, "Evolution" provides the reader with a basic understanding of both evolution and the evolution v. creation issue.
On the first day, he started with an explanation of theory and evolution. Theory does not mean the same in science as it does in the vernacular. Theory in everyday speech means a guess or a hunch. Scientists call this a hypothesis. The hypothesis is tested to see if the results will be fairly constant or reliable. The method of testing will be repeated to see if the results are valid i.e. can they be reproduced. When the results are predictable, and the methodology is proven to be sound, a theory emerges that means the results will occur most of the time, with few exceptions. That constitutes a scientific theory.
On the second day, he created Chapter 2 which was an explanation of the geological time and the fossil record. Berra explained how rocks and fossils could be dated accurately, and proved that earth was much older than 10,000 years that creationists claim. These methods are even more accurate than disciples counting 12 loaves of bread and fishes when 5,000 guests drop in at Christmas time.
On the third, fourth and fifth day, Berra gave us lengthy explanations of the power of evolution, the rise of human beings, and science, religion, politics, law and education in three chapters with many verses and versus. The fifth day was my favorite. Berra crystallizes what creationists hope to achieve, which is to accept things on faith, and conclusions without testing as opposed to science which is skeptical without testing and proof. He smote creationist claims one by one, noting that creationists have no papers published in respected journals. He described the Scopes trial, the Arkansas Balanced Treatment Act, and the Lousiana Creationism Act. He notes that fundamentalists are the only religious group that insist creationism be taught as a science. It is not even considered in European curricula.
On the seventh day he created his appendixes which is a true gift to the reader. It provides further research sources on the discussion of chromosomes, genes and genetic variation, creationism and evolution, and a glossary of terms for the scientifically uninitiated.
Tim Berra is a professor of biology, a two-time Fulbright fellow to Australia and a former editor of a science journal. These add to his credentials that can be verified through rigorous scientific googling. And there is not even a trace of an Aussie accent when you read this book, mate! (Sorry, Jen.)
This creation is almost a violation of the seventh commandment it is so cheap for the value. Once you've read it you can stop worrying if three days and nights of rain might not stop. You no longer have to wonder if it might continue for forty days and forty nights, and your neighbor down the block who owns the boat hasn't invited you on it. You won't have to throw in the towel, and you will finally realize that Adam wasn't Fred Flintstone, and he didn't live amongst the dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden.
It is a well-written and easy to read. You will call this book a miracle.
DVD: "Inherit the Wind" 1960. It stars Spencer Tracy, Frederick March, Gene Kelly, Dick York, and Claude Aikens. It is a powerful recreation of the Scopes Trial.
Coulter, Ann, "Godless." Read her description of Darwinism and evolution. The reader will realize just how little she has, excuse me, evolved, especially about evolution. (Borrow.)
P. S. Thanks for recommending I read this book, Kenneth L. Carlson.