Creationism Critiqued

Abusing Science : The Case Against Creationism

by Philip Kitcher
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1983. 213 pages.

In the words of Stephen Jay Gould, "a brilliant book by a gifted scholar." Martin Gardner, writing in Discover, raves, "Abusing Science does more than just explode moldy arguments.... As a philosopher concerned with the way science operates, Kitcher is good at showing how creationists distort Karl Popper's views on scientific method, and how they misuse such books as Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions." Well-written and understandable even by those with little or no scientific or philosophical background. The author, a professor of philosophy at Columbia University, is a Supporter of NCSE.

Am I a Monkey? Six Big Questions about Evolution

by Francisco J. Ayala
Baltimore (MD): The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010. 104 pages.

Ayala is eminently qualified to write such a book, reviewer Joel W. Martin observes, especially because of his irenic attitude toward faith. The book is “well-written, accurate, and concise, and it covers the main points of biological evolution likely to be questioned by non-specialists,” although two of the questions Ayala addresses (What is DNA? and How Did Life Begin?) strike Martin as somewhat out of place. The final chapter (Can One Believe in Evolution and God?) is Ayala’s “most important contribution ... and it will be well received by persons of faith” but also draw flak from those “opposed to any such reconciliation.”

But Is It Science?

edited by Michael Ruse
Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1996. 406 pages.

Prompted by his experience testifying for the plaintiff's side in McLean v Arkansas, the eminent philosopher of biology and NCSE Supporter Michael Ruse assembled But Is It Science?. As the reviewer for the Journal of Church and State wrote, "Ruse has performed a great service." Judiciously selected essays and excerpts present information on the nineteenth-century background, the state of evolutionary theory, the nature and source of the creationist challenge, and the philosophical aftermath of the decision in McLean (consisting of exchanges between Ruse and his fellow philosophers Larry Laudan and Philip L. Quinn).

But Is It Science? updated edition

edited by Robert T. Pennock and Michael Ruse
Amherst (NY): Prometheus Books, 2009. 577 pages.

Part of the controversy over the Origin of Species was whether Darwin's theory was properly scientific, and part of the ongoing controversies over creation science and "intelligent design" is whether these views are properly scientific. But Is It Science? thus tackles the philosophical question in the creation/evolution controversy. The editors, NCSE Supporter Michael Ruse and NCSE member Robert T. Pennock, testified on the nature of science in McLean v. Arkansas and Kitzmiller v. Dover, respectively. Not to be missed is Nick Matzke's article, written especially for the volume, detailing the genesis of "intelligent design" in preparation for Edwards v. Aguillard.

Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design

by Barbara Forrest and Paul R. Gross
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. 432 pages.

The definitive exposé of the "intelligent design" movement's so-called Wedge strategy, Creationism's Trojan Horse — in Steven Pinker's words — "documents the disturbing movement to sneak religious dogma back into science education, driven by the vague fear that Americans can't handle the truth. Educators, scientists, and politicians would do well to understand this movement and its tactics, and this book is a superb and timely analysis." The paperback edition contains a new chapter on Kitzmiller v. Dover, in which Forrest, a member of NCSE's board of directors, testified for the plaintiffs, as well as a foreword from Americans United for Separation of Church and State's Barry Lynn.

Darwinism Defeated? The Johnson-Lamoureux Debate on Biological Origins

by Phillip E Johnson & Denis O Lamoureux
Vancouver, BC: Regent College Publishing, 1999. 180 pages.

Phillip Johnson, the law school professor who has written a series of anti-evolution books beginning with Darwin on Trial squares off against Denis Lamoureux, a University of Alberta theologian and biologist who studies dental development and evolution. In this book, Lamoureux brings his scientific knowledge to bear as he challenges Johnson's views on how Christians ought to respond to the theory of evolution. The written exchange between Johnson and Lamoureux is followed by essays from a number of scientists and theologians with varying perspectives, including Michael Behe, Howard Van Till, and Rikki Watts. A vivid reminder that the "evolution controversy" is very much a religious discussion, in which opposition to evolution is far from reigning supreme.

Defending Evolution in the Classroom

by Brian J. Alters and Sandra M. Alters
Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2003. 276 pages.

Defending Evolution in the Classroom is a necessity for anyone concerned with evolution education. The late Ernst Mayr wrote, "This book should be in the hands of every educator dealing with the subject of evolution," and Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of NCSE, agreed: "At last a book for teachers to help them cope with antievolutionism. Clearly written and filled with practical advice about the underlying religious and scientific issues prompting student questions, Defending Evolution should be on every teacher's bookshelf." A member of NCSE's board of directors who testified in Kitzmiller, Brian J. Alters directs the Evolution Education Research Centre at McGill University.

Doubting Darwin? Creationist Designs on Evolution

by Sahotra Sarkar
Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2007. 232 pages.

Sahotra Sarkar, Professor of Integrative Biology and of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, offers a powerfully argued arraignment of the scientific bankruptcy of "intelligent design" creationism. William Wimsatt writes, "Sarkar's scientific expositions and dissections of Dembski's specious arguments and Behe's lack of imagination are clear, surgical, and authoritative. For those who would fear a return to the middle ages, this is the best critique of ID now available." And Jeffrey Shallit comments, "Part history, part science, and part philosophy, Doubting Darwin? is a deft critique of the new creationism. Sahotra Sarkar hits all the main points with economy and the broad knowledge of a scientist–philosopher."

Evolution & the Myth of Creationism

by Tim Berra
Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990. 198 pages.

Praised by Paul R. Ehrlich as "a powerful antidote to those who imagine there is a controversy in the scientific community over evolution", this clear, comprehensive survey describes the theory of evolution and the evidence on which it rests while also answering "arguments against evolution". The closing chapter on "Science, Religion, Politics, Law, and Education" discusses the opposition to evolution and why it must be resisted. Berra, a member of NCSE, is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology at the Ohio State University at Mansfield.

Finding Darwin's God

by Kenneth R. Miller
New York: Harper Perennial, 1999. 338 pages.

Subtitled "A scientist's search for common ground between God and evolution," Finding Darwin's God is a perennial favorite. Francisco J. Ayala writes, "Finding Darwin's God is an artfully constructed argument against both those who deny evolution and those using science to justify a materialist worldview. Yet it is a book for all readers. I know of no other that would surpass it in being mindful of different views, while still forceful. Miller has an uncanny gift for expressing profound ideas in clear and graceful prose." The author, who testified in Kitzmiller v. Dover, is Professor of Biology at Brown University and a Supporter of NCSE.

From Genesis to Genetics: The Case of Evolution and Creationism

by John A. Moore
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002. 231 pages.

Published in 2001, From Genesis to Genetics lucidly defends the importance of evolution in a sound science education. NCSE Executive Director Eugenie C. Scott writes, "There are few scientists as knowledgeable and clear about how science works, and as thoughtful about the creation and evolution controversy as John A. Moore. A product of Moore's wisdom and his over 60 years experience as a brilliant and productive scholar, From Genesis to Genetics will bring understanding to both citizens and scientists who are grappling with the contentious issues of science and religion, evolution and creationism."

God, the Devil, and Darwin

by Niall Shanks
New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. 273 pages.

In God, the Devil, and Darwin, Niall Shanks provides a philosophically acute and politically engaged critique of "intelligent design" which Richard Dawkins describes, in his foreword, as "a shrewd broadside in what will, I fear, be a lengthy campaign." After reviewing and debunking the leading scientific and philosophical claims of "intelligent design," Shanks wryly concludes, "Intelligent design advocates have not merely failed to offer extraordinary evidence but indeed have failed to offer even humdrum evidence to support their case," and describes "intelligent design" as "old medieval theological wine in new biochemical and cosmological bottles." Shanks is Professor of Philosophy at Wichita State University.

Inside the Human Genome: The Case for Non-Intelligent Design

by John C. Avise
New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. 240 pages.

Avise’s book highlights the baroque, redundant, and inefficient features of the human genome: “None of this is easily explained by actions of either a loving and merciful God or of an unnamed but highly competent Designer,” reviewers Arcady Mushegian and Eric Kessler comment. They add, “Avise’s account is concise but rich in historic and medical detail, and the prose is elegant and lucid. The book is a joy to read, and is suitable for anyone who is interested in science and medicine enough to be a casual reader of Scientific American or Discover magazines.”

Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics

edited by Robert T. Pennock
Cambridge, MA: Bradford, 2001. 825 pages.

The publisher writes that Pennock's anthology on intelligent design creationism (IDC) "contains articles previously published in specialized, hard-to-find journals, as well as new contributions. Each section contains introductory background information, articles by influential creationists and their critics, and in some cases responses by the creationists. The discussions cover IDC as a political movement, IDC's philosophical attack on evolution, the theological debate over the apparent conflict between evolution and the Bible, IDC's scientific claims, and philosopher Alvin Plantinga's critique of naturalism and evolution. The book concludes with Pennock's 'Why Creationism Should Not Be Taught in the Public Schools.'"

Living with Darwin

by Philip Kitcher
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. 192 pages.

As NCSE deputy director Glenn Branch wrote in BioScience, "Kitcher discusses the evidence for, and the creationist resistance to, deep time, common ancestry, and natural selection, in vivid and fluent prose, and always with accuracy and insight. Recognizing the historical respectability and the current bankruptcy of intelligent design, he describes it as 'dead science' — although, in light of its shambling tenacity, 'zombie science' is perhaps a preferable label. Kitcher concludes by offering a historically detailed and sociologically acute diagnosis of creationism as a reaction to what is understood — and not unreasonably so, he suggests — as the vanguard of the Enlightenment's critique of supernaturalist and providentialist forms of religion."

Only a Theory

by Kenneth R. Miller
New York: Viking Books, 2008. 244 pages.

From the publisher: "In Only a Theory, Kenneth Miller dissects the claims of the ID movement in the same incisive style that marked his testimony as an expert witness in Pennsylvania's landmark 2005 Dover evolution trial. ... Only a Theory's critique of ID goes far beyond the scientific claims of the movement. To Miller, America's 'soul' — its place as the world's leading scientific nation — is at risk because of this struggle. ... Miller refuses to play the role of pessimist. He sees this as a teachable opportunity, a moment at which public understanding and support for science can be redeemed."

Science and Earth History

by Arthur N. Strahler
Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1999. 575 pages.

In his massive Science and Earth History, the distinguished geologist Arthur N. Strahler systematically demolishes not only the geological claims of young-earth creationism but also its claims about cosmology and astronomy, the fossil record, human evolution, and the origin of life, concluding that "the fundamentalist creationist view of the universe, based on the literalist interpretation of the book of Genesis ... constitutes pseudoscience." First published in 1987 and reprinted in 1999 with a new preface.

Science on Trial: The Case for Evolution

by Douglas J. Futuyma
Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 1995. 287 pages.

Michael Ruse describes NCSE Supporter Douglas Futuyma's Science on Trial as "the book to show someone who is worried about the threat of creationism. ... It can be read for pleasure and profit by people at all levels of biological sophistication." Originally published in 1982, Science on Trial was reissued in 1995 with extensive notes bringing it up to date. Futuyma writes in the 1995 preface that "in an age in which some understanding of science is a virtual necessity for everyone, it is incredible that the single most fundamental principle of biology and one of the most fundamental in modern thought should still be an object of controversy and disbelief."

Scientists Confront Creationism: Intelligent Design and Beyond

edited by Andrew J. Petto and Laurie R. Godfrey
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2007. 463 pages.

A spectacular new anthology featuring essays about creationism — and its latest incarnation, "intelligent design" — by Ronald L. Numbers, NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott, John R. Cole, Victor J. Stenger, Antonio Lazcano, Kevin Padian and Kenneth D. Angielczyk, Robert Dorit, Wesley R. Elsberry, C. Loring Brace, Robert T. Pennock, Norman A. Johnson, J. Michael Plavcan, Alice Beck Kehoe, and the editors, Andrew J. Petto and NCSE Supporter Laurie R. Godfrey; Cole, Padian, and Petto are all members of NCSE's board of directors. Scientists Confront Creationism: Intelligent Design and Beyond is a worthy successor to Godfrey's previous collection, Scientists Confront Creationism, published in 1984.

The Blind Watchmaker

by Richard Dawkins
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1996. 400 pages.

The Counter-Creationism Handbook

by Mark Isaak
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007. 330 pages.

Now in paperback, Mark Isaak's The Counter-Creationism Handbook is the ideal reference for anyone seeking to defend the teaching of evolution in the public schools. Kevin Padian writes, "Mark Isaak's book is thorough, up-to-date, readable, well argued, and clear. It provides citations for every argument or claim that is made about the usually inaccurate claims of anti-evolutionists. Indispensable and fair, it should be welcomed by all interested in these questions."

The Darwin Legend

by James R. Moore
Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 1994. 218 pages.

Did Darwin recant evolution on his deathbed, telling Lady Hope, "How I wish I had not expressed my theory of evolution as I have done"? No — yet the legend continues to circulate among creationists. In his monograph, Moore judiciously assessed the evidence for the story and pondered its significance, arguing that it is important to understand Darwin and his religious development on their own terms. Reviewing the book for RNCSE, Kevin Padian commented, "Moore undertook to write the book largely because he could not get away from questions about [the legend] every time he was interviewed about Darwin," adding, "Moore's book is excellent scholarship."

The Prism and the Rainbow

by Joel W. Martin
Baltimore (MD): The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010. 170 pages.

Apparently taking students in high school or college as his primary audience, Martin is concerned to argue that there is no incompatibility in acceptance of evolution and belief in God. Reviewer Matt Young appreciates the defense of science, although he finds the discussion of science and faith inconsistent and the discussion of “theory” slightly muddled. Martin’s description of evolution scants the evidence for evolution; his description of “intelligent design” conflates it with old-earth creationism, but clearly explains that there is no evidence for “intelligent design”. Martin concludes with chapters on religion, the Bible, and what Christians ought to believe about evolution.

Tower of Babel

by Robert T. Pennock
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000. 451 pages.

The earliest comprehensive treatment of the intelligent design movement, Tower of Babel was praised by Frederick Crews in The New York Review of Books as "... comprehensive and consistently rational ... the best book opposing creationism in all of its guises" and by Evan B. Hazard in Choice as "[e]ssential reading for all social and natural scientists (especially secondary and college teachers), and also concerned pastors, seminarians, and seminary professors." Pennock, a member of NCSE, is Professor of Philosophy at Michigan State University and editor of Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics; he testified for the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller v. Dover.

Trial and Error, third edition

by Edward J. Larson
New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. 288 pages.

Trial and Error is simply the single most useful resource on the complicated legal history of the creationism/evolution controversy available. "God may have created the universe in six days, but this slender volume evolved over two decades," Larson quips in his preface to its third edition, which he brings up to date with the addition of a chapter on "Mandating evolution: The 1990s and beyond." Writing in The New Republic, the historian of science Daniel J. Kevles comments, "Larson ... ably illuminates the legal and constitutional issues ... yet he is admirably aware that what transpires instate houses and law courts usually reflects larger social forces."

Unintelligent Design

by Mark Perakh
Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2003. 459 pages.

In Unintelligent Design, Mark Perakh offers incisive critiques of the work of intelligent design advocates William Dembski, Michael Behe, and Phillip Johnson (whom he describes as a "militant dilettante"), as well as animadversions on "primitive" (or literalist) creationists and thoughts about scientific method. Reviewing Unintelligent Design in RNCSE, Jason Rosenhouse writes, "I have been a consumer of intelligent-design (ID) literature for several years now, but I don't think I fully appreciated the sheer extent of its awfulness before reading Mark Perakh's Unintelligent Design. Perakh dissects the arguments of the leading ID proponents with unusual care and thoroughness."

Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails)

by Matt Young and Paul K. Strode
New Brunswick (NJ): Rutgers University Press, 2009. 224 pages.

Reviewer Mike Klymkowsky writes that this book aimed at clarifying what distinguishes science from non-science succeeds overall, and would be suitable as a textbook for “courses that compare and contrast scientific and non-scientific approaches to biological questions.” Klymkowsky appreciated the broad range of examples of evolution’s explanatory power as well as the writing style, which he describes as “largely jargon-free and accessible,” but noted a few errors of fact and regrets a “relative neglect of molecular-level mechanisms” in the presentation of evolutionary theory. While the book would probably not convince a creationist, it would be compelling to “the open-minded, rational, and intellectually curious.”

Why Intelligent Design Fails

edited by Matt Young and Taner Edis
New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2004. 238 pages.

In Why Intelligent Design Fails, a team of scientists — Taner Edis, Matt Young, Gert Korthof, David Ussery, Ian Musgrave, Alan Gishlick, Niall Shanks, Istvan Karsai, Gary Hurd, Jeffrey Shallit, Wesley Elsberry, Mark Perakh, and Victor Stenger — call on their expertise in physics, biology, computer science, and archaeology to examine "intelligent design". NCSE President Kevin Padian describes Why Intelligent Design Fails as "[a] terrific book that explores, fairly and openly, whether proponents of ID have any scientifically valid gadgets in their toolbox at all. ... Accessibly written throughout and an invaluable aid to teachers and scientists."