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on 13 May 2013
This book is preaching to followers of creationism so is mostly theological. It was compiled as a counterblast to theistic evolution, the hypothesis that God set up conditions for creation of each species, including humans, by evolution, rather than making them individually. In particular, they have their sights on the book "Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose?" by Denis Alexander. He rejects a literal interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2, and the authors of SCEE? see this as the thin end of the wedge. This is a high risk strategy because it implies that anyone who thinks that the evidence for evolution is convincing cannot be a Christian. This conflict can drive rational people from Christianity, and cause psychological problems for Creationist Christians faced with biological reality.
The first 8 chapters explain that all the bad things in the world arose because Adam ate fruit from the forbidden tree. Creationists theology needs a single created Adam in Eden to support this "fall" from grace. Adam's sin is balanced by the death of Christ, God's son. Without Adam and Eden, there is no basis for their Christianity. They do not analyse the Genesis text. There are two incompatible accounts of creation in Genesis. In chap. 1 Man is made last, in chap. 2 Man is made first, outright contradiction. Only 2 mentions Eden. Textual analysis shows that these two accounts of creation were written at different times by different authors. Search Amazon for Who Wrote the Bible? or The Bible with Sources Revealed by Friedman for info, it isn't my subject. The biblical basis of this book's theology is on flakier ground than evolution. Chap. 5 claims that when Adam sinned the world changed physically, weeds, pain and death began. I notice that none of these things ended, nothing physical changed, when Christ died. Why not?
The attack on evolution mainly displays ignorance of modern biology or genetics, which are my areas of expertise and research over the last 40 years. In chapter 9a, Nevin writes about "homology". He seems to be unaware that the gene Pax6 is associated with eye development every time eyes evolve in bilateral organisms, or that eyes have evolved many time (I recall 20 as a ballpark figure). Octopus eyes are much superior in design to human eyes. He ignores that Hox genes regulate head-tail segmentation and shoulder/hip to finger/toe differentiation in all animals. Mouse genes, very similar to human homologs, work as replacements for the fruit-fly gene. Nevin also has reservations about genes controlling development, citing Gilbert's Developmental Biology textbook from 1994, 20 years out of date. My 2003 edition has whole chapters on genes controlling embryonic development (Chap. 9-Drosophila, 11 Vertebrates, 12 Central nervous system, + several more).
The other chapters are mostly as bad, except Barnard (9c and 10) does a good job on the biology then is choked off by his theology from stating the obvious and looks around for lame excuses. You can guess their claims from my refutations. Chap. 9b: fossils do show gradual change (e.g. trilobites), there are lots of feathered dinosaur fossils, the biggest the size of T. rex, so we are beyond archaeopteryx. Chap 9c Human chromosome 2 is two ape chromosomes joined end to end, just as Bibles have the New Testament following the Old. 9d: given a soup of nucleotides and amino acids in warm/hot water life would inevitably evolve, it only needs two nucleotides to combine into a chain to start life. Walton is also wrong about oxygen, the ancient seas were full of dissolved iron, a catalyst for reactions involving nucleotides and amino acids. The iron precipitated out when excess oxygen was released from the first photosynthetic organisms. It formed banded ironstone formations at the time fossil stromatolites were formed, 2.6 billion years ago. Chap. 10 Junk DNA Alu sequences. We have about 1,100,000 copies of these, derived from a small RNA involved in protein transport. They get inserted around the genome causing mutations. Some are very bad, some cause cancer. A very few cause evolutionarily beneficial mutations, the rest are junk. We have lost activity in 60 genes since our ancestors separated from chimps' ancestors. The genes still work in chimps, we just have the damaged unusable sequences. If we were uniquely designed, why have we got scored out (junked)instructions for making the other apes amondst our genes? I could easily give another 2000 words about their evolutionary examples.
I am sorry for the authors. They are sincere, and their theology is quite orthodox, but it isn't realistic to continue to deny evolution. The world isn't flat, the Earth goes round the Sun, and natural selection happens. It cannot be stopped. As for it just being a theory, the theory of gravity keeps Earth orbiting the Sun, electromagnetic theory keeps the lights on, and atomic theory makes very very big bombs. If you want to see evidence for evolution read Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne. If you can demonstrate why anything intelligent would design the path of the mammalian (including human) left recurrent laryngeal nerve I will be very impressed. It runs from the head, down the neck, under the aorta and back up the neck to the larynx. In giraffes it is 15 feet, about 4m, longer than it needs to be. Its path makes sense in fish, though.
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on 20 January 2011
I had two problems with this book which resulted in my putting it down without finishing it.

Firstly, I had not understood that the bulk of the book was a rebuttal of a book by Denis Alexander, called Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose (which I have not yet read, but have ordered). The book lacks balance and, as other reviewers have said, insists on a literal reading of Genesis. If one can only be a Christian by believing that the world was created in six literal days etc etc, then I think that the answer to the question is "yes - we do have to choose". But I believe that there are other perspectives, and I had hoped to come away from the book with a bit more insight into the various perspectives.

The second problem is that the book is just not accessible to the general reader. I am a regular reader of both "popular science" and Christian books, but this one just left me completely baffled through the unexplained use of various technical vocabularies.

Not recommended. I might come back to it after I've read the Denis Alexander.
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on 11 December 2009
What an amazingly bad book! It is remarkable that so many supposedly educated people should write such nonsense and get a glowing endorsement from an Anglican bishop!

The book is a mixture of bad theology and worse science .

Can anyone explain to me how a geneticist knows enough geology to say that the usual view of the fossil record is wrong. Here Nevin simply displays his ignorance and perverted refusal to accept that the earth just may be older than 10,000 years!
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