A book that offers an effective argument against the pseudoscience of intelligent design from an unusual point of view.

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Creation and Sustaining of the Universe and All Life on Earth

A CURRENT EVIDENCE-BASED ESSAY

A primer on biblical and scientific theories of the creation of the universe.

Robinson has a unique vantage point on the controversy regarding the origin of life: he once taught science at a school in Norris, Tennessee, just 70 miles from where another teacher, John Scopes, was fined by a court in 1925 for teaching the theory of evolution. When students asked Robinson about the topic, he had to avoid saying anything that might violate Tennessee’s anti-evolution law, which was enacted in 1925 and only repealed in 1967. In that state, the controversy is still very much alive—a newer law, for example, allows teachers to debate creationism and evolution side by side in a science classroom. In this extended essay, Robinson provides a useful overview of the “current evidence pertaining to both ways that could have been used in Creation” so that members of the current generation of American youth “might decide for themselves.” He presents the biblical evidence for creationism—the first chapter of Genesis, he says, “should be appropriately recognized for...providing answers that have satisfied the concerns of millions of people”—alongside the science of natural laws that underlies evolution. He notes that the Big Bang theory, which postulates that the universe originated with a cosmic explosion of extremely compact matter, “fails to address the fundamental question: Where did all of the compact matter come from?” Overall, the author should be commended for the clarity of his explanations. However, he says little to advance the debate in any particular way. Readers may find his included “background of essay,” “The Evolution of Anti-Evolution in Public School Science Classes,” more enlightening. In 2005, a federal judge ruled that the theory of intelligent design was a religious belief, similar to creationism, so it couldn’t be taught in public schools as being science-based. Robinson engagingly argues that intelligent-design advocates have attempted to undermine that ruling by invoking academic freedom. The “crusade to ‘protect’ teachers from reprisal for expressing their opinion or engaging in the study, debate or discussion of Intelligent Design in public school classes,” he writes, “is a contrived fallacy.”

A book that offers an effective argument against the pseudoscience of intelligent design from an unusual point of view.

Pub Date: March 20, 2013

ISBN: 978-0578118611

Page Count: 110

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2015

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...

A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING

Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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