The second edition of Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction has been expanded from the first edition and includes several new readings, but it has the same goal as the earlier version. My intent is to provide a single reference that examines the creationism and evolution controversy from a broad perspective that includes historical, legal, educational, political, scientific, and religious perspectives. Although more depth in any of these topics can be found in several specialized books, this book presents, as its subtitle implies, an introduction.
I have attempted to write at a level suitable to the abilities of bright high school students and college undergraduates (it's OK if others wish to read the book, too!). At the National Center for Science Education, where I work, we regularly get calls or e-mails from students (and their teachers or professors) looking for information to help in the writing of research papers on the creationism/evolution controversy; this book is a good place to begin (note to students—don't stop with just one source!). Students often flounder while attempting such assignments, lacking enough basic science (and philosophy of science) to understand why creationist critiques of evolution are resisted so strongly by scientists, and similarly lacking the theological background to understand why the claims of creationists are not uniformly accepted by religious people. The first few chapters (on science, evolution, creationism, and religion) are intended to provide the background information necessary to understand the controversy. The second section, on the history of the controversy, puts today's headlines in context; an understanding of history is essential to make sense of the current situation, which did not arise in a vacuum. The second edition includes a new chapter, "Testing Intelligent Design and Evidence against Evolution" (chapter 7) that brings history up to the present, targeting on recent court cases. These include Kitzmiller v. Dover and Selman v. Cobb County. The rise of intelligent design and the so-called evidence-against-evolution (or critical analysis of evolution, or strengths and weaknesses of evolution) approach presents some of the most interesting manifestations of the controversy in the first decade of the twenty-first century. The other new chapter is the final chapter of the book, chapter 14, which looks at media treatments of the creationism and evolution controversy and at public opinion polls.
Evolution vs. Creationism includes excerpts from the creationist literature as well as rebuttals. Much of the creationist literature is not readily available except in sectarian publications and christian bookstores, and public school libraries are properly reluctant to carry such obviously devotional literature. I have made selections from the literature that are representative of the major themes found in the creation-ism/evolution controversy, and I have attempted to let antievolutionists speak in their own voices.
Unfortunately, most proponents of intelligent design (ID) creationism—Stephen Meyer, David DeWolf, Percival Davis, Dean Kenyon, Jonathan Wells, Walter Bradley, Charles Thaxton, and Roger Olsen—refused, en masse, to grant me permission to reproduce their works in the first edition of this book Through their representative at the Seattle-based ID think tank, the Discovery Institute, these authors refused permission to reprint readily available material on the grounds that these excerpts from popular books and articles (e.g., opinion-editorial articles and magazine articles) that I sought to reprint would not do justice to the complexity of ID "theory." This rationale does make one wonder why such apparently inadequate works were published in the first place and continue, in several cases, to be available on or linked to from the Discovery Institute's Web site. The exception was ID proponent Phillip Johnson, who cordially and promptly granted permission for me to use excerpts from his publication. I thank him for this courtesy.
When the current, second edition was being written, I again requested permission from these ID proponents to excerpt their works. My requests—mailed and e-mailed— were ignored. Consequently, as was necessary in the first edition, many of the selections from the ID literature presented in chapters 8, 9, 10, and 12 consist of summaries of the articles I was denied permission to reprint. References to the original articles are provided, and because most of these writings are readily available on the Internet, readers can judge for themselves whether my summaries are accurate. The exception to this second generation of stonewalling was Michael Behe, who in the current edition kindly permitted me to reprint his article from Natural History, for which I thank him.
However, in the years between the first and second editions of this book, a series of trials have produced a volume of witness statements, amicus (friend of the court) briefs, depositions, and other legal documents that, by virtue of being part of a court's record, are in the public domain. I have taken advantage of this to include some new selections from the ID literature in part 3. You thus will be able to read some views of ID supporters in their own words, rather than my summaries.
In contrast to the behavior of the ID supporters, the late Henry M. Morris, John Morris, and other personnel at the Institute for Creation Research treated my requests for permission to reprint materials from ICR authors with professionalism. They were aware that their works would be juxtaposed with the writings of individuals who disagree with them, but they did not consider this sufficient reason to deny an honest presentation of their views. I was pleased that Henry Morris reviewed the first edition of Evolution vs. Creationism, and although he clearly believed that the selections from the creationist literature trumped those from the anticreation side, he said, "I believe that she has conscientiously tried to be objective in discussing this inflammatory subject in her book" (Morris 2004: a). I also thank Don Batten of Answers in Genesis, who worked with me in a professional manner to resolve disagreements over selections from literature published by AIG.
The juxtaposition of articles by creationists and articles by anticreationists requires a caveat, lest students be misled. Students are ill served if in the name of fairness or critical thinking they are misled into believing that there is a controversy in the scientific world over whether evolution occurred. There is none. Although the teaching of evolution is often regarded as controversial at the K—12 level, the subject is taught matter-of-factly in every respected secular and sectarian university or college in this country, including the Baptist institution Baylor, the Mormon flagship university Brigham Young, and, of course, the Catholic Notre Dame. There is scientific controversy concerning the details of mechanisms and patterns of evolution, but not over whether the universe has had a history measured in billions of years, nor over whether living things share a common ancestry. It would be dishonest as well as unfair to students to pretend that a public controversy over the teaching of evolution is also a scientific controversy over whether evolution occurred.
But a public controversy there is, and its complex foundation in history, science, religion, and politics will, I hope, be interesting to readers.
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