Kirkus Reviews QR Code


Dispatches from the Anti-Evolutionist Front Line

by Jason Rosenhouse

Pub Date: April 2nd, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-19-974463-3
Publisher: Oxford Univ.

An evolution proponent writes about his encounters with creationists.

Rosenhouse (Mathematics/James Madison Univ.; The Monty Hall Problem: The Remarkable Story of Math’s Most Contentious Brain Teaser, 2009) has been meeting anti-evolutionists on their turf—at Intelligent Design conferences, Christian universities and Kenneth Ham’s state-of-the-art creationist museum in Kentucky —since he worked on implementing math standards for public schools in Kansas two years after that state banished Darwin and the Big Bang from its science curriculum. A Jewish atheist, Rosenhouse sought to understand the mindset of Christians who not only dismiss the overwhelming evidence of natural selection in favor of a literal interpretation of Genesis, but also use their political influence to try to outlaw any view but their own in public schools. Contrary to the stereotype common among his fellow science defenders, the author discovered opponents who were as intelligent and sincere as they were determined. It isn’t ignorance or stupidity that makes a creationist, Rosenhouse learned; it’s firm and consistent belief in the divine origin of the scriptures and their teachings. While the author has greater respect for creationists as a result of his encounters, he maintains that if evolution by natural selection is true, then creationism and even Christianity as a whole, with its anthropocentric view of the cosmos, cannot be. However, for all their biased selectivity toward the evidence and misuse of science and history, at least creationists (unlike more sophisticated theological evolutionists) recognize what is really at stake. Rosenhouse is an amiable storyteller and a fair-minded reporter. The narrative drags and diffuses a bit as the author wrestles with theology, but that has more to do with theology’s abstruseness than Rosenhouse’s.

A thorough introduction to the controversy with much to teach both sides.