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Science and Human Origins Paperback – 16 Aug 2012

3.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 124 pages
  • Publisher: Discovery Institute (16 Aug. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193659904X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936599042
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,065,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Ann Gauger is senior research scientist at Biologic Institute. She received her Ph.D. in developmental biology from the University of Washington and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. Douglas Axe is director of Biologic Institute and received his Ph.D. from Caltech. He previously held postdoctoral and research scientist positions at Cambridge University and the Babraham Institute. Casey Luskin is research coordinator at Discovery Institute s Center for Science and Culture. He earned his M.S. in earth sciences from the University of California, San Diego, and conducted geological research at the Scripps Institution for Oceanography.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
“Science and Human Origins” is a small book published by the Discovery Institute (DI), a conservative and mostly Christian think tank in Seattle which promotes Intelligent Design (ID), often seen as a form of creationism. The book contains contributions by Ann Gauger, Douglas Axe and Casey Luskin. With the exception of Luskin's article “Human Origins and the Fossil Record”, which summarizes the creationist critique of the standard evolutionary interpretation of hominin fossils, the book strikes me as rather bland and boring.

Interestingly, “Science and Human Origins” seems to silently break with the DI's previous “broad tent strategy”. The articles explicitly argue in favor of Adam and Eve being real historical persons and claims that the theistic evolutionists of the BioLogos Foundation aren't good Christians. The book does claim that its arguments are compatible with goal-driven evolution, but this is probably an oblique reference to Michael Behe, a prominent supporter of the DI whose theistic "evolutionism” is very similar to old earth creationism.

The scientific merits, or otherwise, of Gauger-Axe-Luskin have been discussed elsewhere. Here, I will only make a few observations. The authors brush aside the genetic similarities between humans and chimpanzees very rashly. Yet, all studies confirm that humans (biologically speaking) really are “the third chimpanzee”. Humans and chimps are more closely related to each other, than any of them is to the gorilla. This, in turn, is connected to the entire notion of “nested hierarchies” in general, a fact not even mentioned in the book. The authors' claim that the missing link is still missing is also problematic.
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Let's get the criticisms out of the way first. This is a slim volume at 122 pages including endnotes, which is a good thing. It currently costs a smidgeon short of a tenner, which is not so good.

Neo-darwinian texts which deal with the topic of origins, aimed at the public, tend to make big-picture assertions, in order to (a) make the overarching narrative more believable, and (b) gloss over the critically strategic gaps in the science so that the reader doesn't once suspect how flimsy the whole house of cards actually is. Thus we get all those beautifully-illustrated reconstructions of 'Lucy', for example, to help us imagine ourselves related to such putative hominid ancestors. Lucy looks cute, we're told in no uncertain terms how closely we're related, and that's that. The sheer paucity of evidence underpinning those detailed illustrations is left to one side in the hope that the public will simply buy the line they're being sold. A more contemporary trend is for us, the poor ignorant non-specialists, to repose all our faith in individuals like Richard Dawkins, as we simply could not understand it on our own, poor dears, and we just need to trust the experts to interpret reality for us. And, of course, for Dawkins, reality simply isn't what it seems. If things look designed, then that's just plain misleading - and none of us will ever have the confidence again to draw our own informed conclusions. Better simply to trust the high priests of the new materialism.

What Gauger, Axe and Luskin do quite successfully here is take the big-picture themes, and then peel back the layers to expose what lies beneath.
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This is an impressive collection of essays on the failings of modern Darwinian explanations and theories to explain human origins. It tackles the question from a genetic, paleontological and populations perspective. It addresses some of the arguments of well known evolutionists like Collins and Ayala. The only downside of this short book is it seems the authors were a little inconsiderate of their more lay readers and treated taxing concepts quite briefly. It would have perhaps been more helpful to expand a little on the technical issues discussed in laymens terms.
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There aren't enough books that where the authors have the guts to look at what we really do and perhaps more importantly what we don't really know about human origins. All too often popular texts gloss over the major difficulties in piecing together our ancestry. Yes it is fairly obvious where the authors stand on origins but what's wrong with that since those they disagree with seem to have no qualms about running with just so stories.
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