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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 solar eclipses maximally visible by humans on Earth. What about lunar eclipses?
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: 13 Oct 2023 Notes: 5 Nov 2015|