Evolution and Christianity
"Nothing in Biology Makes Sense
To the User: This web site is intended to help my students succeed in my course. I have included the syllabus and tentative schedule. Please inform me of errors via e-mail!
Recent Books: As an extremely active area of debate in the "culture wars," particularly in the U.S., evolution vs. fundamentalist Christianity has resulted in a variety of books. I am listing some of the latest of which I have personal knowledge below.
- National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and Institute of Medicine (IOM), Science, Evolution, and Creationism, National Academies Press Washington D.C. (2008). This short book can be ordered online or read online: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11876#toc
- Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Houghton Mifflin Co., New York (2006). Dawkins is one of the most famous and widely thought to be one of the greatest populizers of biology, particularly evolution. In this highly reviewed book he attempts to completely dismiss religion as a legitimate human endeavor, proselytizing for atheism. I find myself in disagreement with the reviewers I've read in the quality of his arguments - Dawkins is simply too evangelical in his arguments for atheism in this book. His logic is often flawed and he frequently uses the same logic he has dismissed when used by religious thinkers to bolster his own case. None-the-less, an important book if you want to follow the debate and understand the strong anti-religion position.
- John Brockman (ed.), Intelligent Thought, Vintage Books, New York (2006). I've just dabbled in my copy of this highly reviewed collection of essays. I recommend the four sections below, which I read first as recommended by a reviewer. Others by authors such as Pinker, Dennett, and Dawkins promise to be equally enjoyable.
- The first essay, by Jerry Coyne, gives a nice overview of why evolution is science and ID, at least in its currrent manifestation is not.
- I strongly recommend Tim White's essay on human evolution. He is a delightful writer, and gives a first-hand view of the current rather impressive evidence for human evolution.
- Frank Sulloway's essay on Darwin's conversion from Creationism and ID to evolution is quite compelling in its picture of how science is done, how theory often drives research, and how research can compel the development of new theories.
- A particularly nice feature is the excerpt from the court decision regarding the teaching of intelligent design (ID) in Dover PA. The judge does a wonderful job of distinguishing science vs. religion, saying exactly why ID cannot be taught as science, while acknowledging that it could represent the "Truth" about the origins of organisms etc.
Web Resources: There are a vast number of sites on the web representing discussing evolution. I have linked a couple of resource sites which may be useful to understand what the modern theory of evolution is about.
- Understanding Evolution (A major site created by the UC Berkeley Museum of Paleontology with support from the National Science Foundation and Howard Hughes Medical Institute. A major resource for K-12 teachers. A good place to check out what the scientific community thinks should be taught etc.)
- PBS has an extensive web site (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/index.html) built around their evolution series. Lots of short videos etc. are on-line with special section for students and teachers (mostly addressed to high school level). The more recent (2007) Nova episode Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial is also linked on this site.
- Dover PA Intelligent Design (ID) decision summary. The summary of this case, along with links pro- and con on ID can be found on this Beliefnet page (http://www.beliefnet.com/story/181/story_18151_1.html)
Video: The HSU library has both the PBS series, evolution: a journey into where we're from and where we're going and the Nova episode Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial, available in DVD format.
© R A Paselk
Last modified 9 March 2008