Book Review – Creation or Evolution: Do We Have To Choose?

Cover of "Creation or Evolution: Do We Ha...

Cover via Amazon

More than a year ago I was lent this book by the pastor and I have eventually finished it (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Creation-Evolution-Do-Have-Choose/dp/1854247468). The book is held up by some as a refreshing view on the relationship between Christianity and Evolution.

I found the book mixed and ultimately disappointing, but there are some good bits in it.

On first handling the book it is clear that the intent is going to be to show how acceptance of evolution does not have to be at the expense of religious belief, specifically Christianity. This aspect interested me, given my journey, so I started the book specifically looking for how it would answer that specific challenge.

Evolution

Most of the book is devoted to explanations of various bits of evolution. By necessity they have to contain a certain amount of technical language. However, I found on the whole that the passages on evolution are lay friendly and do a good job of explaining why evolution is not only a valid theory, but an accurate description of observed fact as best we know it.

The book explains well how evolution is a naturalised process and our knowledge of it has no pre-requisite of any god. The processes we understand are fully explained and there are no missing bits that require the invocation of the supernatural.

Creationism and ID

Creationism and ID are also dealt with effectively, albeit with far fewer pages. They are accurately shown to be scientifically deficient and their need to have a god directly be involved to ‘push the process along’ is shown to be a limiting factor for which there is nothing to show.

One good point that is made in the book is the argument for beauty. Many creationists will look at the world we see now and argue that the beauty there can only have been put there directly by god. I once made precisely those arguments. The book counters by saying that the processes that made us and all we see around us are no less beautiful and they too came from god. When a creationist views the world and sees beauty and says it must come from god, they are by implication saying that the long processes that made the beauty they see can not be beautiful because they don’t believe god did it that way.

This is a dangerous way of thinking because it creates a closed mind and stops that believer from fully appreciating the glory of their god’s creation.

The book explains well why creationism and ID are not valid.

Tying Evolution and Christianity

So the big question I wanted to book to answer was, given the above, how does the author, who professes his faith at several points throughout the book, demonstrate that belief in god is consistent with evolution and, more specifically, show that there is a logical reason to hold that view. Sadly, the answer just doesn’t come.

No matter how much I wanted to see an argument for god, it just didn’t happen.

Conclusion

The book successfully argues for the science of evolution and against the god of creationism. As a result it has confirmed my position as an atheist and done nothing at all to tempt me back to faith. I suspect the author would be disappointed, but he should not be surprised.

There Should be no Need to Legislate Against Creationism

There is currently a bit of noise going on in the UKabout a move to stop the teaching of creationism in science classes. Currently the guidance from government is that creationism should not be taught, this latest move is an attempt to firm up that guidance and make it enforceable. See http://evolutionnotcreationism.org.uk/position-statement/ for some information.

While I wholeheartedly agree that creationism should not be taught at all, anywhere, not even in religious classes, let alone science classes. Yes it can be referenced as an idea that is proven to be false and an example of the progress of science, it should not be taught anywhere as a fact.

My problem is legislation making the teaching of it mandatory. I have a problem with the micromanagement of every little detail of our lives and education. The science in the classroom should stand on its own, and the science of evolution does indeed stand on its own. It should not, and indeed does not, need specific legislation to put it there.

Where is Creationism Taught in theUK?

This report from 2008 (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/7426) says that there are 40 schools in theUK that teach creationism. I have no idea how accurate that is today. What I am more confident about is that the guilty school will be towards the extreme or fringe end of the religions represented.

I am not certain on the best answer to the problem of stopping extreme religious teachers putting forth creationism as fact and on the face of it, banning them might be the single most effective way. What concerns me is the follow on affects of this. The affected teachers will have further cause to fly the religious persecution flag and the teaching of evolution by them will be disgruntled.

My opinion is that this call is short sighted at best and it targets to specific an issue. Any legislation on the science that is taught is schools should be more general and specify that the science should be supported, this will cover creationism, and anything else that might creep in.

The cynic in me also wonders if there is also a motive to try and flush out staunch creationists. Get them to stick their heads up so that they can be specifically targeted. That is not that way science should be defended, its nefarious and low and not at all necessary.

Science can and should stand on its own evidence, the use of legislation or underhand tactics to prop it up or defend it only serves to distract people away from the message of the evidence.

Wow, just wow. Is he for real or is it a spoof?

I think I must be dreaming because I have just experienced a most surreal exchange with a creationist. I certainly hope that I never came across this angry or foolish during the years that I spent as a creationist.

To see what I am talking about, hop over here and have a read: http://eternian.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/evolution-didnt-survive/

I have to admit, I actually burst out laughing when I read that second response to me. The poster actually accused me of babbling! Given the brevity of my post and the verboseness of his, its hilariously amusing.

My first thought, is wow, what a hate filled monster, is this really the work of a Christian? Would (or could) a Christian, no matter how misguided behave like this on the internet?

Well, sadly yes it is possible but there is something else that bothers me. Its the language used, the pickyness and the set formula in the replies. Something rings my ‘not quite right’ bell on this one.

Its the insistence of picking out the tinniest incidental (like my putting something in parenthesis) and reading far too much into its meaning. Then there is the constant use of you’re instead of your.

I am left wondering if the whole blog is a spoof, the ranting, the overstated nonsense, the (relatively) well written prose, the single grammatical mistake repeated often, the similar breakdown to each of my short posts, the hypocritical irony in each of the accusations sent my way. If this was a genuine site, even from an angry and delusional creationist I’d have expected different.

So I’m going to call this one a spoof, its not real, its from someone imitating an angry delusional creationist for their own amusement; and mine too I guess, since I have already admitted to laughing at what had been written to me.

So take a gander over there and see if you agree with me.

Edit: It looks like the second comment, to which I refer has been removed, along with my original comments. Thankfully I saved a copy so here it is for your amusement.

NB: *** = my name, taken from my email address, which I have edited out.

“Wow. You certainly managed to read a whole lot into my short comment.”
Because you said so, and whatever you say is true is true because you said so. No: you’re wrong.
“Its almost as though you (think you) know more about what I meant than I did myself.”
Why did you put “think you” in brackets? You’re babbling; you’re not refuting anything I said. You’re pride is offended, and that is what is speaking your reply.
“Have you actually studied the theory of evolution from a scientific perspective?”
You could look, and READ the rest of what I’ve written. You know what reading is right? Or are you a lazy bigot who just enjoys resorting to mindless cheap shots? Have you actually noticed that I have by moving your eyes to the right a little? “Duh”? See those links ***? Apparently not Mr. Narrow Vision. You’re studying skills are clearly terrible. You’re so narrow-minded even your vision is narrow, or are you just someone who is stubborn and likes to argue? And was it really that hard to notice the poem? For example, didn’t you notice I pointed out Edward Blyth, who originated the theory of natural selection, and said that Darwin stole it and twisted it, and that it was twisted even further to survive? No: because you’re a quick to judge, arrogant, presumptuous careless person who takes no pleasure in understanding, but in airing his own opinions. You’re a recycler of hot air.
You’ve also committed four logical fallacies with that statement:
1) Bait and switch: because you’re not refuting anything I said, and going off topic by asking whether I do such and such.
2) You’re attacking me without evidence by simply posing a question that implies I’m not analyzing refuted DET scientifically.
3) You’ve committed the fallacy of method: which is that there is only one method to determine truth. That is a big fail right there.
4) Ad hominem: because you’ve made a “back handed” accusation, an implication, WITHOUT EVIDENCE, that I have not been scientific, which is despicable of you. That is the tactic of evil pride-devastated weasels. You might as well have said, “Nanny nanny boo boo, ur not scientific haha.”
“By study I don’t mean read about through the eyes is creationist bias.”
You’ve committed the logical fallacy of vilification with that statement: what is the evidence that the creationist perspective is biased? And again, you’ve committed ad hominem: attacking the person and going off topic by doing so. Aren’t you being a weasel?
Who said creationism wasn’t scientific ***? You’re biased self has and the Mainstream Science cult: http://vainstream.tk.
“I mean actual study of how it works and unbiased viewing of the evidence”
***: If you’re the one committing logical fallacies left and right up and down in front and behind all around with short pot shots, and I’m the one pointing them out clearly and not making any myself, none that you’ve pointed out with evidence, how is it then you’re asking me to not be biased? Have you actually studied creation science, intelligent design theory, the Bible, and Christianity, sincerely, with an evolutionist bias? Obviously not, since you prejudge anything against your feelings as “wrong”. With a biased attitude like that, you’re not going to learn much truth, and even if you do, you’re just rejecting it in hatred.
“and why its true.”
You’ve committed the fallacy of presumption by presuming it’s true. You’re also contradicting yourself by asking me to be unbiased and yet you’re telling me to draw the conclusion that it is true because having studied it. Aren’t you confused?
“The lie actually comes from you when you assert that evolution is a myth.”
That is the fallacy of begging the question: why is it true? You have no evidence for it.
You argue out of ignorance, that is why you’re arguments are full of fallacies, and empty.
That is enough of you, further replies will be marked as spam, since you are impulsive and rant with your replies.
And ***: I’m a Christian, not simply a “creationist”. And I wasn’t born a Christian, and was raised by narcissistic parents who neglected me often, and was put through a dismal Darwinist school system, that barely taught Darwinism. There is an About me page, and my journal is full of evidence against Darwinism, as if the rest of the Internet, bookstores, and libraries of the world. Darwinists are carrying around a propped up corpse, and puppeteer it. You’re not fooling those who can see clearly, if anyone: just the ignorant and gullible.
“Pride comes before a fall.” – God