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The Creationism-Evolution Debate:
Who and Why?

"It is educationally irresponsible to pretend that an idea that is scientifically worthless deserves scientific discussion."

-- Philip Kitcher, ABUSING SCIENCE, p.174

From the day that Charles Darwin first proposed his theory of evolution, there have been those who opposed it. Some opposed it for religious reasons. Others opposed it for good and sound scientific reasons, and some of their objections were valid at the time. But one by one, those valid-at-the-time objections have fallen to the march of discovery. Today, there is no valid scientific reason to not accept evolutionary theory. There is only religion -- or rather, the peculiar religion-based point of view called creationism.

I first became interested in creationism in 1994, when I started participating on CompuServe's Dinosaurs Forum. There was a creationist there who was so determined, so energetic, so confident in his opposition to evolutionary theory, that I decided to explore his claims and see if they had any substance. Almost twenty years later, I'm still looking for any creationist claims that stand up to scrutiny. My search has led me to accumulate many books about all sides of the creationism-vs-evolution debate.

Overview of the debate

In recent years, a number of people have tried to take a dispassionate, objective look at the creation-evolution debate. These writers aren't trying to figure out who's right. They're trying to understand the history of the issue, why the debate has raged as long as it has, and what kind of people take up each side of the debate. These books probably won't help you figure out who's right, but they may help you understand the debate itself.

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Books that defend evolutionary theory

The only way to really fight creationism is to use science to demonstrate why it's wrong. A lot of different authors have tried their hand at this over the last thirty years or so. I have a number of books that defend evolutionary theory or dismantle creationism. Here are a few of them:

  • EVOLUTION AND THE MYTH OF CREATIONISM
    Author: Berra, Tim M.
    Copyright:1990
    Publisher: Stanford Univ. Press
    ISBN: 0-8047-1770-2
    A basic, nontechnical defense of evolutionary theory against creationist attacks, plus a look at the reasons behind the 'creation-science' movement.
  • EVOLUTION-CREATION CONTROVERSY, THE
    Author: Walker, Kenneth R. (ed.)
    Copyright:1984
    Publisher: Paleo Society
    ISBN: 0-931377-00-5
    A collection of articles on creationism and evolutionary theory, by members of the Paleontological Society.
  • IN THE BEGINNING . . . A Scientist Shows Why the Creationists are Wrong
    Author: McGowan, Chris
    Copyright:1984
    Publisher: Prometheus Books
    ISBN: 0-87975-240-8
    Well-written and well-reasoned defense of evolutionary theory and critique of creation-'science'.
  • MONKEY BUSINESS, THE
    Author: Eldredge, Niles
    Copyright:1982
    Publisher: Pocket Books
    ISBN: 0-671-53141-7
    A devastating attack by evolutionary biologist and palaeontologist Niles Eldredge against creationism and creationists.
  • PONY FISH'S GLOW, THE
    Author: Williams, George C.
    Copyright:1997
    Publisher: BasicBooks
    ISBN: 0-465-07281-X
    An exploration of the evidence for and against intelligent design in nature.
  • SCIENCE ON TRIAL (Revised Edition)
    Author: Futuyma, Douglas
    Copyright:1995
    Publisher: Pantheon Books
    ISBN: 0-87893-184-8
    Eloquent, powerful defense of evolutionary science and critique of creationism. Contains some excellent illustrations including sketches of a series of titanothere skulls that demonstrate allometry and evolutionary change.
  • SCIENTISTS CONFRONT CREATIONISM
    Author: Godfrey, Laurie (Editor)
    Copyright:1983
    Publisher: W. W. Norton
    ISBN: 0-393-30154-0
    Collection of essays by various scientists criticizing 'creation-science' and defending conventional science.

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Books that advocate creationism

Know the enemy and know yourself, and you will always be victorious. -- Sun-tzu, The Art of War

Following Sun-tzu's dictum, I've accumulated some books that advocate creationism to go along with my many books on evolution. You might note my capsule descriptions of these books are sometimes not very kind. If you had seen how often many creationist writers distort the facts, you might not be very kind to them either.

While I have a large number of books listed here, the sad fact is that many of them plow over the same ground again and again, ad nauseam. While books that defend evolutionary theory always have new data and discoveries to draw on, the basic arguments used by creationists haven't changed much in the past century. Most of them rely on the same handful of claims, anomalies, distorted data, and carefully edited quotes. Originality seems as alien a concept to most creationists as honesty is.

  • APE-MEN: FACT OR FALLACY?
    Author: Bowden, M.
    Copyright:1977
    Publisher: Sovereign Publications
    ISBN: 0-9506042-0-8
    An all-out attack on paleoanthropology, heavily criticizing all aspects of the evidence for human evolution. Mostly obsolete since so many new finds and reinterpretations have been made in paleoanthro since the book was written in 1977.
  • BIBLICAL FLOOD, THE
    Author: Young, Davis A.
    Copyright:1995
    Publisher: Eerdmans Publishing
    ISBN: 0-8028-0719-8
    Davis Young is a presbyterian Old-Earth Creationist. This is his attack on young-Earth, Flood geology and his attempt to build and defend his old-Earth model.
  • CASE AGAINST EVOLUTION, THE
    Author: O'Toole, George Barry
    Copyright:1929
    Publisher: MacMillan Company
    ISBN:

  • COLLAPSE OF EVOLUTION, THE
    Author: Huse, Scott M.
    Copyright:1983
    Publisher: Baker Book House
    ISBN: 0-8010-4310-7
    A poorly written, scientifically illiterate attack on evolutionary theory. Misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and outright lies run rampant. The best example yet found in print of the Creationist Jokebook.
  • CREATOR AND THE COSMOS, THE
    Author: Ross, Hugh
    Copyright:1993
    Publisher: NavPress
    ISBN: 0-89109-700-7
    Creationist view of cosmology and astronomy
  • DARWIN ON TRIAL
    Author: Johnson, Phillip E.
    Copyright:1993
    Publisher: InterVarsity Press
    ISBN: 0-8308-1324-1
    An attack on Darwin's theory of evolution by lawyer Phillip Johnson, who claims to be a neutral third party but in reality understands neither science in general nor the theory he is attacking. Contains numerous flaws and errors, all told in an irritatingly pompous, patronizing style.
  • DARWIN'S BLACK BOX: THE BIOCHEMICAL CHALLENGE TO EVOLUTION
    Author: Behe, Michael J.
    Copyright:1996
    Publisher: Free Press
    ISBN: 0-684-82754-9

  • DARWINISM AND THE AMERICAN INTELLECTUAL
    Author: Wilson, R. J.
    Copyright:1967
    Publisher: Dorsey Press
    ISBN:
    A collection of articles and essays by American scientists about Darwin and evolutionary theory, all published between 1861 and 1900.
  • DELUGE STORY IN STONE, THE
    Author: Nelson, Byron C.
    Copyright:1968
    Publisher: Bethany Fellowship, Inc.
    ISBN:

  • EVOLUTION AND THE MODERN CHRISTIAN
    Author: Morris, Henry M.
    Copyright:1967
    Publisher: P&R Publishing
    ISBN: 0-87552-337-4
    Another small book giving Morris's ideas on evolution and creationism. No more accurate than any other creationist work.
  • EVOLUTION: A THEORY IN CRISIS
    Author: Denton, Michael
    Copyright:1986
    Publisher: Adler & Adler
    ISBN: 0-917561-05-8
    Denton's book attacking evolution based on biochemical and genetic arguments. Clumsy, ill-informed, and simply wrong on several points.
  • EVOLUTION: BY CHANCE OR BY DESIGN
    Author: Burk, Frank Dixon
    Copyright:1994
    Publisher: Naturegraph
    ISBN: 0-87961-237-1

  • EVOLUTION: THE CHALLENGE OF THE FOSSIL RECORD
    Author: Gish, Duane
    Copyright:1985
    Publisher: Creation-Life Publishers
    ISBN:
    The third and (as far as I can tell) last version of Gish's attack on the fossil record as support for evolution. Full of lies, misquotes, mistakes, and various other forms of deception.
  • EVOLUTION: THE FOSSILS SAY NO!
    Author: Gish, Duane
    Copyright:1978
    Publisher: Creation-Life Publishers
    ISBN: 0-89051-046-6
    Mark 1 of Gish's attempts to destroy the idea that the fossil record supports evolution. Short, clumsy, long on polemics and short on details. Shows little evidence that Gish really understands the nuances of the topics he is attacking.
  • EVOLUTION: THE FOSSILS STILL SAY NO!
    Author: Gish, Duane T.
    Copyright:1995
    Publisher: ICR
    ISBN: 0-89051-112-8
    The third and (as far as I can tell) last version of Gish's attack on the fossil record as support for evolution. Full of lies, misquotes, mistakes, and various other forms of deception.
  • FLAWS IN THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION
    Author: Shute, Evan
    Copyright:1961
    Publisher: Craig Press
    ISBN:

  • GENESIS FLOOD, THE
    Author: Whitcomb & Morris
    Copyright:1961
    Publisher: Baker Book House
    ISBN: 0-8010-9501-8
    This is the book that launched the modern creationist movement. Henry Morris and John Whitcomb dusted off George McCready Price's "flood geology" from 1890s and updated it to take advantage of fifty years of new discoveries in geology. Unfortunately, they did not think that truth or accuracy should be essential parts of their new creationism, and so this book is riddled with mistakes.
  • HOW LIFE BEGAN: CREATION VERSUS EVOLUTION
    Author: Gallant, Ron A.
    Copyright:1975
    Publisher: Four Winds Press
    ISBN: 0-590-17363-4

  • NECK OF THE GIRAFFE, THE
    Author: Hitching, Francis
    Copyright:1982
    Publisher: Mentor Books
    ISBN: 0-451-62232-4
    Francis Hitching's rather clumsy attempt to 'disprove' Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection and argue for its replacement with a new theory. A mix of errors, uninformed or underinformed speculation, and a number of passages lifted straightout of classic creationist texts.
  • SCIENCE AND THE BIBLE
    Author: Morris, Henry M.
    Copyright:1986
    Publisher: Moody Press
    ISBN: 0-8024-0656-4
    Another in a series of books from different publishers giving Morris's ideas on creationism and evolution.
  • SCIENTIFIC CASE FOR CREATION, THE
    Author: Morris, Henry M.
    Copyright:1977
    Publisher: Master Books
    ISBN: 0-89051-037-7
    Small booklet giving a general outline of Morris's version of 'scientific creationism' and his criticisms of evolution. Typical creationist work: short on science, long in illogic and a few outright lies.
  • SCOPES II: THE GREAT DEBATE
    Author: Keith, Bill
    Copyright:1982
    Publisher: Huntington House
    ISBN: 0-910311-01-3
    Vitriolic attack on evolutionary theory by Louisiana State Senator Bill Keith. No science worth talking about; primarily noteworthy for the unmatched level of hatred Keith shows for evolutionary theory.
  • WISDOM OF EVOLUTION, THE
    Author: Nogar, Raymond J.
    Copyright:1963
    Publisher: New American Library
    ISBN:

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The C-E debate in the courts

Creationists are fond of claiming that in a truly objective contest, on a level playing field, their side would win. Well, modern creationism has been tested twice on just such a field: the 1981 case of McLean v. Arkansas, and the 2005 case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School Board. These books discuss those two cases, along with other aspects of creationism and the law.

  • 40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS
    Author: Matthew Chapman
    Copyright:2007
    Publisher: HarperCollins
    ISBN: 0061179450
    Reporter Matthew Chapman covered the "Dover Panda Trial," Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School Board, in 2005. This book is his account of what he saw in Dover. It's given a unique twist by the fact that Chapman's great-great-grandfather was Charles Darwin.
  • BUT IS IT SCIENCE?
    Author: Ruse, Michael
    Copyright:1988
    Publisher: Prometheus Books
    ISBN: 0-87975-439-7
    A collection of articles and essays inspired by the 1981 Arkansas C/E trial, including writings from both sides, focusing on whether or not creationism is good science.
  • SUMMER FOR THE GODS
    Author: Larson, Edward J.
    Copyright:1997
    Publisher: BasicBooks
    ISBN: 0-465-07509-6
    A new look at the Scopes 'monkey trial' of 1925, in which John Scopes of Dayton, Tennessee was prosecuted for teaching the theory of evolution in his school biology class..
  • THE DEVIL IN DOVER
    Author: Lauri Lebo
    Copyright:2008
    Publisher: Caravan
    ISBN: 978-1-59558-451-9
    Local reporter Lauri Lebo covered Kitzmiller v. Dover for the local newspaper the York Daily Record. This book is her account of the trial and her reactions to it -- reactions made much powerful by the fact that her father was a fundamentalist Christian and believed strongly in creationism, while she struggled to reconcile her own faith with what she was seeing and hearing in the courtroom. Her agony at being torn between love for her father and devotion to the truth comes through loud and clear.

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