23 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Elizabeth A. Root
- Published on Amazon.com
I always find myself in a quandry in reviewing book on a controversial topic on which I have strong views since I think that a good review should consider the book at least partly in its own terms. Also, believing in freedom of speech, I don't want to blast someone simply for disagreeing with me if they present their topic well. I was reading to learn what the other side thinks.
I agree with those scientists who argue that some things are outside of the purview of science, given that they cannot be empirically tested. I am willing to entertain the hypothesis of miraculous or supernatural occurances and elements in the universe, although I admit I find it unlikely. I am still waiting, however, for someone to explain how to empirically examine them. William Dembski claims to be able to demonstrate the need for Intelligent Design on the basis of empirically measuring "complex specificity", but he remains rather vague as to how this would actually be done.
Comparing this to other books on the topic, it is less scientific but in some ways more honest. Unlike William Dembski, Denyse O'Leary and the inexcusable Philip Johnson, Rhodes doesn't pretend to be concerned with the integrity of science or to be conducting an impartial investigation. His religious agenda is quite frank. He does not include what I call the Classic Clashing Cliches, i.e. that scientists are simultaneously a monolithic juggernaut crushing all dissent AND deserting the idea of evolution in droves.
Have a Bible handy - the book frequently gives citations without quotations. Obviously, if one believes that the Bible is the absolute, most reliable source, before which all other arguments must fail, there is little point in arguing science. The two systems of thought have different standards of truth and aren't comparable. I don't agree with Lewontin that science is the only begettor of truth; I do fault mislabeling nonscience as scientific. I have provided a list of authors at the end of the review who can discuss the science better than I. In this review, I have focussed more on things like internal logic and consistency.
The most interesting and novel part of the book is "Christians have diverse views" the discussion of the beliefs of various creationists, including both their arguments for their conclusions and criticisms from other creationists. Rhodes doesn't declare his own allegiance, but I am guessing that he is a Young-Earth Creationist (YEC). Rhodes hails the arguments from Intelligent Design, but some of these thinkers contradict his views about the ability of evolution to generate new species.
On the other hand, Rhodes is quite insulting about the moral capacities of non-Christians, including atheists like me. He also makes numerous accusations against Darwin for creating social injustices such as racism and sexism. Some of these, like the three-fifths clause in the constitution are absurd, since they predate Darwin, sometimes by thousands of years. I might add, Christianity has come in for considerable criticism on the same subjects and has a history of violence against non-Christians and different forms of Christianity. One might argue that everyone has a history of violence against everyone else, but there is no logical reason for singling out Darwinism for blame.
A lot of Rhodes' "science" seems to be drawn from tertiary sources; e.g., the "proof" that "many scholars" believe that Peking Man is actually a monkey or baboon comes from Willmington's Guide to the Bible and Hanegraaff's The Face That Demonstrates The Farce Of Evolution. Evidence from paleontologists or primatologists would be a lot more convincing. He doesn't seem to understand the idea of "transitional forms." According to the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis, these species are transitional in retrospect, not in prospect, since evolution doesn't have goals. For example, an Archeopteryx is not seen as an attempt to evolve birds, it is a species in its own right and is of course fully functional and fully formed. It becomes "transitional" only if its descendents later evolve novel forms.
On the matter of fossils, Rhodes makes two conflicting arguments. One is that the geologic column of species was formed during a short period of time, during a world-wide flood. In that case, a lack of transitional forms would be moot, since there was no transitional period. The arguments from gaps in the fossil record would then be meaningless. Rhodes sets Creation in the Cambrian period, but there would be no geologic periods if most fossils were laid down at one time.
By the same token, the fossils do not support Creationist theories either. One has to explain how numerous, no longer extant species are found in remnants of the flood, if Noah took all species on board. If one does look at the fossils independent of the flood hypothesis, then one would expect to find fossils of dogs, cats, people, giraffes, etc., in the Cambrian layers.
I am not certain if Rhodes believes in the hypothesis of "kinds", where, for example, one original canid evolved into dogs, wolves, jackals, foxes, etc., or if he is merely recounting it as the belief of other Christians. It would contradict his argument that microevolution can only occur within a species.
While many cultures have tales of massive floods, they do not all consider Noah's family to be the regenerator of the human race as Rhodes states. Various cultures credit the families of Fuhi, Utnapishtim, Manu, Xisuthrus, Tapi, Decaulion & Pyrrha, etc. Their various arks, boats, chests and so forth came to rest in different places.
The book has numerous footnotes and a bibliography, but unfortunately, no index. I like that the running title that appears at the top of the pages of the text also appears as a heading for the notes, so that one does not need to keep flipping back to find chapter numbers. On the other hand, he gives incomplete citations, which would be fine if all his sources were in his bibliography, but they are not. Also, if Rhodes is going to quote an author who is quoting a third person, I believe he should make it a double quote. As an example, he cites an introduction to Darwin's work as quoted by Gish. I think he should have given a citation for the particular edition of Darwin, followed by, "as cited in Gish ... ."
I have not attempted to discuss most of Rhodes' claims about science; this has been done far better than I could do by authors such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Mark Perakh, Robert T. Pennock, Philip Kitcher, Mark Ridley, and various other writers.