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Science and Earth History: The Evolution/Creation Controversy Hardcover – November 1, 1999
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"...a popular overview of earth history and a scholarly anecdote to the fictions of creationism..." -- Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, December 2001
"A book with a whacking lot of material on both sides of the topic. . . . you will imbibe a dose of rationality designed to dispel misinformation, illogic and muddled thinking. Strongly recommended." -- George W. Earley, The Gate, April, 2000
About the Author
Arthur Strahler was professor and chairman of geomorphology at the Department of Geology of Columbia University.
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My joy soon turned to disappointment, however. Out of 9 sections in the book, 1 had to do with philosophy of science which was too abstract for me.
Suppose you read that section and understood it. Would that help you explain why-are-there-still-monkeys? I doubt it. It would probably go over the Creationist's head, too.
Of the 9 sections, 1 more had to do with astronomy which was too technical for me, and 2 had to do with geology which was also too technical for me. If all this Astronomy 101 information and Geology 101 information carried any proof that God did not create Adam and Eve, I missed it.
Suppose I'm wrong about the irrelevance, that you read those sections, and you found the relevance which I missed. Would that help you explain what-good-is-half-an-eye? I doubt it. An answer to a Creationist has to be short and concise enough not to allow the Creationist's mind to wander.
Furthermore, an answer to a Creationist has to be short and concise enough to be repeated x number of times, where 1/x is the Creationist's listening rate. For example, if a Creationist listens 20% of the time, you need to reserve enough time to repeat the answer 5 times. If the Creationist listens 10% of the time, you need to reserve enough time to repeat the answer 10 times.
The remaining 5 sections were more or less what I expected. Those 5 sections are jam-packed with relevant information.
"The Counter-Creationism Handbook" by Mark Isaak (0520249267) contains short and concise answers, and it prepares you for most of the moles which the Creationists decide to whack. I recommend this book.
I can't tell you what to do, but I can suggest some alternatives:
1. Don't buy Strahler's hefty tome.
2. Buy it but don't read it, but rather put it on your reference shelf.
3. Buy it and read it, but only read those 5 sections which are most directly relevant.
4. Buy it and read all 9 sections, and hope you are a better reader than I am.
Of the infamous 1981 talk at the American Museum of Natural History in New York by Colin Patterson [author of Evolution], where he asked "Can you tell me anything about evolution, any one thing, that is true?" Strahler quotes Patterson: "I put a case for difficulties and problems with evolution, specifically in the field of systematics. I was too naive and foolish to guess what might happen: the talk was taped by a creationist who passed the tape to Luther Sunderland. Sunderland made a transcript, which I refused to edit, since it was pretty garbled, and since I had no exact record of what I did say. Since, in my view, the tape was obtained unethically, I asked Sunderland to stop circulating the transcript, but of course to no effect... I was putting a case for discussion, as I thought off the record, and was speaking only of systematics, a specialized field. I do not support the creationist movement in any way." (Pg. 354)
He recalls, "The Cambrian 'explosion'---what a juicy morsel for the creation scientists! What deeper gloom and doom could there be for evolutionists than great faunal complexity and diversity, preceded by nothing, or almost nothing? I must admit that as a geology student, unreservedly committed to Darwinian evolution, I found the Cambrian explosion to be an enigma that really 'tried one's faith.'" (Pg. 401)
He argues that "The transition from amphibians to repitiles causes some causes some difficulties for the creationists because the fossil record shows all the intermediates one could ask for. Indeed, there is a plethora of transitional forms." (Pg. 411) He admits that "Transition from reptilian scales to bird feathers are indeed lacking in the fossil record, but this transition is suggested by a study of the various kinds of feathers present on the wings of the modern penguin." (Pg. 425)
He also rejects the "directed panspermia" suggestion of Francis Crick ], stating, "One wonders which of the two scenarios is the less probable: (a) spontaneous origin of life from nonlife on our planet, or (b) a rocket journey of enormous distance leading to a precise landing on a mere speck of an earth at a time when that earth had no other life but was in possession of a physical environment favorable to perpetuating new life, I would opt for the first scenario as being less improbable." (Pg. 511)
This book will be of great interest to anyone studying the Creation/Evolution controversy.