Review: Science and CreationismEditorial Review - Kirkus Reviews
In his editor's role, the indefatigable Montagu often arrives late in the course of scientific controversy to contribute his assemblage of intelligences--in the case of creationism vs. evolution, advantageously: the breadth and depth of anti-fundamentalist arguments are further seasoned. There are, inescapably, repetitions of now-familiar facts--such as Kenneth Miller's very complete presentation of the radiometric evidence for the age of the earth. Stephen Jay Gould is represented by two telling essays on evolution as fact and theory, and geology vs. Genesis. Laurie Godfrey writes on the creationists' distortions--their constant harping on legitimate scientific infighting among evolutionists as grounds for throwing Darwin out. Others who add ammunition on matters scientific include L. Beverly Halstead on fossils, Sidney W. Fox on the molecular processes that might have led to life forms, and Roger Cuffey on organic evolution. Several of the contributors write from historical, philosophical, or educational frames-of-reference that especially enrich the reader's perspective. In George Marsden's fascinating essay on the growth of Fundamentalism, we learn that the name derives from a publication, The Fundamentals, and that as recently as 1910-15 subscribers entertained the notion that the earth was older than the Bible said; multiple factors (immigrations, growing secularism, scholarly Biblical criticism) led to a closing of ranks, and today's rigid literalism. Marsden also compellingly relates evangelical Protestantism to Baconian views of science. Sidney Ratner's review of 19th and 20th century churchmen and laymen for or against Darwinism is fine reading as well, and so are a number of pieces reviewing the Scopes trial and education then and now. Some essays, moreover, adopt a fairly conciliatory tone (while still condemning creationism ""science""), and that too is in the book's favor. Its collective strengths, indeed, make it one of the strongest, most enlightened sources for understanding the present dispute and its dangerous portents.