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Science on Trial. The Case for Evolution

review by gert korthof
22 Jan 1998
Science on Trial
Douglas Futuyma: Science on Trial.

.    About the author
Douglas Futuyma is the author of a widely used college textbook on evolution: 'Evolutionary Biology' and has been editor of 'Evolution', the leading international journal of evolutionary research.

.    About the book
This book first appeared in 1982, and the second edition appeared in 1995. This book is for the reader who has little background in biology or in science generally. It is an introduction to creation/evolution controversy from an evolutionist. According to Futuyma, 'Evolution has the status of fact' and 'the attack on evolution is an attack on science in general'.
The case for evolution has two sides: positive evidence –that evolution has occurred; and negative evidence –that the natural world does not conform to our expectation of what an omnipotent Creator would have created.
In the chapter 'Creationist Arguments', the work of Duane Gish and Henry Morris is discussed. The chapter 'The Case for Evolution' reads as a summary of the book. The Appendix contains 'Some Creationist Arguments, and Some Appropriate Responses':
  • Evolution is outside the realm of science because it cannot be observed
  • Evolution cannot be proven
  • Mutations are harmful, and do not give rise to new characteristics
  • There are no intermediate fossils between humans and apes
Futuyma gives short and clear answers to those arguments. It reads as a summary of the book. In the Postscript, P.E. Johnson's Darwin on Trial is mentioned, but not discussed. Denton's Evolution: a theory in crisis (1985) is totally absent. I would have liked to read a discussion of the expert Futuyma of Denton's book, because Denton doesn't use any creationistic arguments (only scientific), so Futuyma only needed to refute Denton's scientific anti-evolution anti-Darwinism arguments. Indeed: a complete point by point refutation of all of Denton's arguments would be the most convincing arguments for evolution for a creationist.

book Science on Trial. The Case for Evolution
by Douglas J. Futuyma
Sinauer Associates, Inc.

Preface to the 1995 Edition
  1. Reason under fire
  2. The growth of evolutionary science
  3. The legacy of the taxonomists
  4. The fossil record
  5. Human evolution
  6. Natural selection and adaptation
  7. Change and mutation
  8. The origin of species
  9. Scientific knowledge
  10. Creationist arguments
  11. The case for evolution
  12. The social role of evolution
Appendix: Some creationist arguments, and some appropriate responses.
Postscript, 1995

Further Reading

  • Douglas J. Futuyma Evolutionary Biology, Third Edition SUNY Stony Brook, Publication Date: December 1998. 751 pages, 634 illustrations (not available anymore)
  • Douglas J. Futuyma (2013) Evolution, third edition. See for a complete list of evolution textbooks the home page or the introduction page of this website.

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Copyright © 1998 G.Korthof . First published: 22 Jan 1998 Last minor update: 1 June 2002