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a review by Gert Korthof
12 Mar 2000 ( updated 13 Jul 2014 )
"Though I disagree with the anti-evolution
arguments and conclusions, I sympathize with
their concerns, which we ignore at our peril"
This anti-evolution bibliography contains more than 1800 (!) works from 1859 to 1988. Remarkably Tom McIver read the majority of those books! And he wrote a summary of all those works varying in length from one line up to a whole page. In fact this is a short history of anti-evolution.
McIver's book not only shows that there is a tremendous number of books written by the critics of evolution, but also that criticism of evolution is not a phenomenon of the last decades. There has been a continuous stream of publications criticising, attacking, refuting, shattering, and demolishing evolution since Darwin's Origin of species. It contains an entertaining diversity of alternative theories such as geocentrism, conspiracy theory, Flat Earth Theory, Erich von Däniken, Velikovsky and so on.
precursorsThe bibliography can be read as a compact 'history' of the C/E controversy up to 1988. However McIver did not arrange the books chronologically but alphabetically by author. There is hardly any overlap with books reviewed on the site "Was Darwin Wrong?" because most of those have been published in the last 12 years . To my surprise I discovered many precursors of current evolution critics in McIver's bibliography. The first anti-evolution book I read was Phillip Johnson's Darwin on Trial. I was impressed by his knowledge. After reading Denton's Evolution: a theory in crisis, I discovered that most of Darwin on Trial could be found in Denton. I was disappointed. Johnson is influential but not original. After browsing McIver, I am inclined to believe that every new book on the subject contains a great deal of repetition and only a few original thoughts. Consequently the art of reading and reviewing those books is to identify the original ideas. The most difficult task however is to identify the subgroup of true, useful or interesting original ideas. The enormous number of books on the subject, far from discouraging writers, seem to stimulate writing. Probably to point out mistakes of previous authors. McIver's book could be useful to prevent repeating old mistakes.
neutralAs McIver noted in his introduction, that he aimed at neutral descriptions:
"I make no attempt to refute or oppose the arguments presented in these works".His own position:
"Though I disagree with the anti-evolution arguments and conclusions, I sympathize with their concerns, which we ignore at our peril".McIver succeeded very well in this self imposed task. His opinion interferes on very rare occasions:
"This is a strongly biased creationist account" (about Marvin Lubenow);On the whole McIver gives neutral descriptions, which is quite an achievement for somebody who disagrees with anti-evolution arguments. McIver conducted most of his research at the Institute of Creation Research, which had a noticeable effect on his collection of titles.
completenessMcIver's book does not cover the complete so-called Creation/Evolution controversy, since it only contains anti-evolution and not pro-evolution or anti-creationism books, with the remarkable but inevitable result that authors like Charles Darwin(!), Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, Douglas Futuyma, Michael Ruse, etc. are absent. A number of the most important works before Darwin have been included (Linnaeus, Cuvier). McIver's biggest mistake was to include Hitler. Was he anti-Evolution? McIver's reason seems to be that Hitler talked about "the struggle for life" and creationists often point out that fascism is one of the evil consequences of evolution. I hope McIver is able to correct the mistake in a new edition of the book.
In his preface to the 1992 paperback edition McIver explains that he did not try to update the first edition, but mentions a few important books which appeared between 1988 and 1992. A more recent bibliography is: James Hayward(1998), reviewed at this site. Hayward has 'only' 447 books, but did not include private publications, etc. and has books up to 1996 and has useful subdivisions: theist/nontheist, Theology, Geology, Biology and Astronomy and includes pro-evolution books. The majority of the critics in McIver are theists, but a further subdivision like Hayward's would be useful. The accessibility of Anti-Evolution is strongly enhanced by 3 indexes: a name index (including authors only mentioned although their books were not reviewed), title index (useful when one doesn't know the author and above that it triggers curiosity) and a subject index. There are books published before 1988 missing in McIver, such as Robert G. Reid(1985) Evolutionary Theory. The unfinished Synthesis.
X- and Y-chromosomeAren't 1852 mini-reviews on the same subject boring? On the contrary! A few amusing examples: E.K. Pearce (1969) explains in Who was Adam?: "Adam's 'rib' was an X-chromosome which God removed (then doubled) to create Eve. Jesus was created when God miraculously inserted a Y-chromosome into Mary".
Solar eclipsesJ.C. Whitcomb and D. B. DeYoung (1979) The Moon: Its Creation, Form and Significance claim that God deliberately designed the moon to appear the same size as the sun. Therefore, it is not a coincidence that the sun is 400 times bigger and 400 times farther from the Earth than the Moon. It was designed to cause solar eclipses. There are at least three facts that show that the Sun–Earth–Moon system was not designed to produce a maximum number of total eclipses maximally visible by humans on Earth.
Firstly, only a total eclipse produces complete coverage of the Sun by the Moon. Only 26% of all eclipses visible on Earth are total eclipses. The rest, 74%, are different forms of partial eclipses . Furthermore, total solar eclipses appear in other geographic areas as partial eclipses. The reason is that the distance Moon - Earth is variable. The Moon's distance varies each month between approximately 357,000 kilometers (222,000 mi) and 406,000 km (252,000 mi) due to its elliptical orbit around the Earth. A full moon is up to 14% larger and 30% brighter than one at its farthest point . If the Moon is further away from the Earth it appears smaller and is unable to completely cover the sun. Furthermore, the distance Sun–Earth is on average 150 million kilometers: it varies from 147 million km to 152 million km . In fact on average the sun is 393 in stead of 400 times farther away from the Earth as the moon.
Contrary to the design idea, the Moon is slowly moving away from the Earth and over a billion years the Moon will be too far away to cause solar eclipses. The last total solar eclipse on Earth will occur about six hundred million years from now (wikipedia). If solar eclipses were designed, the Moon would have a fixed distance to the Earth.
Secondly, if solar eclipses were designed to be visible for inhabitants of the Earth, then all eclipses only visible on sea refute the idea (oceans makes up about 71% of the Earth's surface!). And why are all eclipses only visible along such a narrow path on the surface of the Earth (compared with lunar eclipses)?
And why are solar eclipses so short? The shortest is 9 seconds (!) and the longest eclipse theoretically possible for the 3rd millennium is 7 minutes and 32 seconds . Not to mention the fact that very frequently clouds prevent us from viewing the eclipse . That's why one can view a total solar eclipse better and longer from a plane flying at high altitude . What is the purpose of solar eclipses on Jupiter?  (no intelligent life to observe it!).
Thirdly, why is the Sun–Earth–Moon system not designed so that total solar eclipses occur more frequently? If the slight tilt of the Moon's orbit off the plane of the ecliptic did not exist then solar eclipses would be a monthly occurrence . A case of failed fine-tuning for solar eclipses.
Finally, the whole argument has a strong ad hoc character. What about total lunar eclipses? Are they intended as solar eclipses for inhabitants of the moon? Why don't they happen every full moon? And what is the purpose of partial lunar eclipses? And why is the design argument not applied to similar features such as the fact that we always see the same side of the Moon? (caused by the fact that the rotational period of the moon is exactly the same as the orbital period), meteor showers, lightning, Northern Lights or any other feature of nature?
We may supposeWilliam Bell Riley (1926) claimed that the phrase "We may suppose" occurs over 800 times in Darwin's Origin of Species (1859). This is amazing, because Darwin's work counts 400 pages (if the editor's introduction and index is ignored), so the phrase should appear on average twice on every page. It would be time consuming to check the claim in the printed edition, but if the online edition of The Origin of Species is used, it takes 5 minutes. I found no more than 3 occurrences of "We may suppose" in the whole work (in Chapter 10, 11 and 13). Therefore, the claim can be refuted in 5 minutes. Even if it would be true that Darwin used "We may suppose" many times, lack of verification would simply be a property of any new scientific paradigm which necessarily needs to be tested and elaborated after its first publication.
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|Copyright © 2000 G.Korthof .||First published: 12 Mar 2000||update: 20 Jan 2019 Notes: 5 Nov 2015|