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Editor Godfrey, an anthropologist (U. of Massachusetts, Amherst), has assembled a battery of big guns to pit against the creationists in the ongoing controversy over evolution. They include George Abell on the age of the earth, Russell Doolittle on the origin of life, John Patterson on the second law of thermodynamics (and its total misuse by creationists), Thomas Jukes on the genetic and molecular evidence (gene and protein differences as indicators of the evolutionary times separating species). There's also Stephen Jay Gould with an update of a favorite essay on what natural selection really means; Godfrey herself on gaps in the fossil record; C. Loring Brace on human evolution; David Raup on geology/paleontology; Joel Cracroft on systematics. All these writers are eager to dispatch the notion that there is a creation ""science""--but some are more effective (or less pedantic) than others in getting the message across. Gould stands out in style, and Patterson's little essay on the misuses of probability theory is extremely good. (Fred Hoyle would benefit from its perusal since he, like the creationists, uses exponential figures to show the improbability of spontaneous generation of life on earth--to back up his theory that life on earth was seeded from outer space.) Godfrey, interestingly, has thought to include some essays that examine the historical roots of fundamentalism in America (for one thing, a deep loathing of social Darwinism continues to taint evolution). Included, too, are some essays that pick apart the arguments of creationists: the truncated quotes, misreadings, contradictions, and confabulations that beggar logic and sense. Add this all-round volume, then, to Philip Kitcher's Abusing Science and Doublas Futuyma's Science on Trial (both 1982)--for its diversity, its mix of styles, its roster of authorities.

Pub Date: March 21st, 1983
ISBN: 0393301540
Publisher: Norton