Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Questionable Science: New Book Takes On Evolution

Book review.

Supporters of prohibiting evolution from being questioned in the classroom like to evade the problems with the theory by turning the debate’s focus onto creationism. Author Lisa A. Shiel takes evolutionists to task for this type of evasiveness in her new book The Evolution Conspiracy: Vol. 1 Exposing Life’s Inexplicable Origins & The Cult of Darwin.

Shiel approaches the evolution controversy from a secular viewpoint. She points out that it is not just those trying to promote creationism that have serious doubts about evolution as legitimate science.

In confronting the status quo, Shiel will undoubtedly receive rebuttals that go no deeper than name calling. Some critics will probably point to the subject matter of her previous book Backyard Bigfoot: The True Story of Stick Signs, UFOs, & the Sasquatch as reason to dismiss what she has to say. This book is not for them. Shiel has written for a lay audience that is willing to listen to the facts about the “science” of evolution.

In this book, Shiel delves into the ambiguity surrounding definitions of the scientific terms involved in the study of evolution and other disagreements in the science community. (Topics include punctuated equilibrium and gradualism.) The consensus among scientists is that evolution took place—somehow.

Scientists offer the “explanation” that evolution works by gradual change through mutations and natural selection—somehow this led a single cell over billions of years to produce humans. Try testing that in the laboratory. Shiel says that scientists have skipped over the scientific method in their hast to conclude that evolution is true.

Let’s not forget the fossil record. Darwin even recognized in his day that the absence of numerous links posed the biggest challenge to his idea. Punctuated equilibrium—which Shiel abbreviates to “punk eek”—attempts to sidestep the problem by stating that evolution occurs in occasional spurts that don’t make it into the fossil record. (Would anyone like a miracle with that explanation?)

Paleoanthropologists, for their part, sift through the fossil record looking for any evidence they can find of the missing links. Shiel says that their finds often consist of just a few bones or a partial skeleton reconstructed from bits of bones that were scattered across a wide area. As an example, Shiel points to the famous “Lucy” skeleton. Only 40% of the skeleton was recovered but it is still sometimes referred to as “almost complete.”

The 132 page book cuts through the confusion in the science community and offers readers explanations that get as close as possible to what scientists are thinking. Readers, however, will be left with one big question: Why would anyone think evolution is a fact?

The book, to be released September 1, is available for pre-order at Amazon.com.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recommendation... I will check it out.

Richard Forrest said...

"Supporters of prohibiting evolution from being questioned in the classroom like to evade the problems with the theory by turning the debate’s focus onto creationism."
FALSEHOOD #1
Because creationism offers no testable theory, it is impossible to "turn the debate's focus" onto creationism. "God did it" is not a proposition which can be tested using the tools of science. Creationist arguments are without exception attacks on evolutionary theory - or rather, a distorted version of evolutionary theory invented by creationists in a dishonest attempt to discredit evolutionary science. Nobody wants to prohibit genuine challenges to evolutionary theory., However, there is no reason why religious dogma dishonestly masquerading as science should be given any time in science classes.
"Author Lisa A. Shiel takes evolutionists to task for this type of evasiveness in her new book The Evolution Conspiracy: Vol. 1 Exposing Life’s Inexplicable Origins & The Cult of Darwin."
"Shiel approaches the evolution controversy from a secular viewpoint. She points out that it is not just those trying to promote creationism that have serious doubts about evolution as legitimate science."
FALSEHOOD #2
It is *only* creationists who question the status of evolution as science.
"In confronting the status quo, Shiel will undoubtedly receive rebuttals that go no deeper than name calling"
...and will also receive rebuttals which expose the fundamental dishonesty of her arguments.
"Some critics will probably point to the subject matter of her previous book Backyard Bigfoot: The True Story of Stick Signs, UFOs, & the Sasquatch as reason to dismiss what she has to say. "
Perhaps so, but others will probably point to the fundamental dishonesty of her arguments.
"This book is not for them. Shiel has written for a lay audience that is willing to listen to the facts about the "science" of evolution."
FALSEHOOD #3
A presentation of carefully selected "facts", misrepresentation, distortion and outright falsehoods is no representative of the facts which support evolutionary theory.
"In this book, Shiel delves into the ambiguity surrounding definitions of the scientific terms involved in the study of evolution and other disagreements in the science community"
MISREPRESENTATION #1
There is no ambiguity in evolutionary science about the definitions of the terms used. Scientists are careful to be precise about such definitions, and it is only the creationists who pretend that there is any ambiguity.
"(Topics include punctuated equilibrium and gradualism.) "
...both of which are terms which are clearly defined in science. It is only creationists who claim that they is any ambiguity over their definition.
"The consensus among scientists is that evolution took place...somehow."
FALSEHOOD #4
The consensus among scientists is that the mechanisms for evolution are natural selection acting on genetic variation induced by mutation and genetic drift. Scientists are very clear about this.

Richard Forrest said...

"Scientists offer the "explanation" that evolution works by gradual change through mutations and natural selection - somehow this led a single cell over billions of years to produce humans. "
MISREPRESENTATION #2
..they add that genetic drift plays a role as well. They also point to the genetic and fossil evidence which supports the conclusion that this happened - evidence which creationists studiously ignore, or lie about.
"Try testing that in the laboratory."
MISREPRESENTATION #3
SCientists can and have tested the mechanisms for evolution in the laboratory, and they can account for evidence we find from other sources such as the genetic and fossil record. In fact, evolutionary theory provides the only scientific explanation for the evidence.
"Shiel says that scientists have skipped over the scientific method in their hast to conclude that evolution is true."
FALSEHOOD #5
Shiel is either ignorant or lying in that case.
"Let’s not forget the fossil record. Darwin even recognized in his day that the absence of numerous links posed the biggest challenge to his idea."
MISREPRESENTATION #4
...and since Darwin published "Origin of Species" the fossil record has provided numerous examples of the "links" his theory proposed.
"Punctuated equilibrium - which Shiel abbreviates to "punk eek" - attempts to sidestep the problem by stating that evolution occurs in occasional spurts that don’t make it into the fossil record"
FALSEHOOD #6
No, that is not why Gould and Eldridge proposed punctuated equilibrium, as any reading of the scientific literature on the subject will reveal.
" (Would anyone like a miracle with that explanation?)"
FALSEHOOD #6
NO scientists has ever proposed anything miraculous.
"Paleoanthropologists, for their part, sift through the fossil record looking for any evidence they can find of the missing links. "
FALSEHOOD #7
Palaeanthropologists study human origins, not the fossil record in general. Moreover, they do not look for "missing links" - the term has been meaningless in science for nearly two centuries - but for the fossils of early human ancestors.
" Shiel says that their finds often consist of just a few bones or a partial skeleton reconstructed from bits of bones that were scattered across a wide area. "
MISREPRESENTATION #5
..but, on the other hand, there are many substantially complete skeletons.
"As an example, Shiel points to the famous "Lucy" skeleton. Only 40% of the skeleton was recovered but it is still sometimes referred to as "almost complete.""
MISREPRESENTATION #6
The skeleton of "Lucy" may be only 40% complete, but there are enough elements to allow a reliable reconstruction of her anatomy. Of course, other specimens - such as "Turkana boy" are much more complete.
"The 132 page book cuts through the confusion in the science community "
FALSEHOOD #8
There is no confusion in the science community. Almost all scientists accept evolutionary theory as the only scientific explanation for much of biology as well as the fossil record. The only scientists who reject it do so for religious, not scientific reasons.
"and offers readers explanations that get as close as possible to what scientists are thinking."
FALSEHOOD #9
The evidence of this review shows that she offers little more than standard creationist misrepresentation, distortion and outright falsehoods.
" Readers, however, will be left with one big question: Why would anyone think evolution is a fact?"
Possibly, but that will only be because they have been deceived by the distortions, misrepresentations and outright falsehoods of creationists.

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