Debating Darwin

In my usual weekly prowl of book review websites, I came across a column in the Dallas Morning News that is worthy of attention. It discusses two new books, Monkey Business: The True Story of the Scopes Trial by Bush advisor Marvin Olasky and John Perry and The Evolution-Creation Struggle by Michael Ruse.

I’ll repeat here what I posted at my Science Shelf web site. Please follow this link if you want to buy either of the books cited through The Science Shelf or to read Science Shelf reviews of other books about Darwin and the theory of evolution.

Debating Darwin

An age-old discussion evolves yet again; two new books take a look

By JEROME WEEKS / The Dallas Morning News

Posted at the Dallas Morning News Website at 11:54 AM CDT on Sunday, September 4, 2005
Note: In an effort not to overstep the bounds of fair use, I have included only a few key sentences of an astute column by Mr. Weeks, the nationally known book critic at the Dallas Morning News. To read the full article at the link noted immediately above, you will have to subscribe (free). It may be moved to the Dallas Morning News paid online archive after mid-September, 2005.

Marvin Olasky and John Perry’s Monkey Business assumes most of us don’t know what really happened at the 1925 “monkey trial” in Dayton, Tenn.

To their credit, Mr. Perry and Dr. Olasky, the Texas journalism professor best known as the Bush adviser behind “compassionate conservatism,” provide an accurate account of the trial, once we discount their efforts at spin.

But the “true story” of Monkey Business is that the monkey trial is mostly a pretext for the book’s advocacy of biblical literalism. Dr. Olasky has promoted “faith-based initiatives,” and this counts as one.

Monkey Business … implies… that evolution has a theological component…

…Dr. Olasky and Mr. Perry approvingly cite Michael Ruse, a philosophy professor who made the “evolution-religion” argument above. What’s more, Dr. Ruse’s new book, The Evolution-Creation Struggle, charges many evolutionists with being their own worst enemies, alienating devout supporters with an acidic atheism.

So the surprise is that The Evolution-Creation Struggle is a rich, thoughtful overview, far wiser than the stacked deck of Monkey Business

Dr. Ruse concludes with a sweeping rejection: “We find no empirical or conceptual reason whatsoever to think of intelligent design theory as genuine science.”

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