Reviewing “Replacing Darwin” – Part 1: Introduction and the Introduction

Reviewing “Replacing Darwin” – Part 1: Introduction and the Introduction

I managed to get my hands on a copy of the latest book that the creationists at Answers in Genesis (AIG) have churned out. What sets this one apart from most of their content is that it’s written by someone with an impressive qualification in the field – a PhD in Cell and Developmental Biology, from Harvard University, no less. Unfortunately, Nathaniel Jeanson decided to throw away his opportunity for a prestigious career in science. Upon graduation in 2009, he moved from the hallowed halls of Harvard to the somewhat less prestigious “Institute for Creation Research”, before settling at AIG more recently.

With his PhD from Harvard, Jeanson is surely one of the top scientists on the AIG payroll, so it’s no surprise that his new book is being promoted hard by his employers. It certainly has an ambitious goal: to literally replace “On the Origin of Species” and act as the new springboard for the next few centuries of life sciences research. Not only that but it “features the latest creationist research” and “comprehensively rebuts and replaces the evolutionary model for the origin of species”. Promises, promises.

So, given that this book is undoubtedly the pinnacle of what the modern “scientific creationism” movement has to offer – the culmination of decades of “research” by AIG, ICR, etc – I think it’s worth checking out. I’ll try to do a chapter-by-chapter review over the next *unspecified timeframe*. I’m basically writing this post to lock me into doing this, giving me an incentive to actually deliver because otherwise I just won’t get around to it when I have so many more worthwhile things to be getting on with.

Here’s a look at the contents for a preview of what’s to come:

Introduction — Why Now?
Chapter 1 — Inevitable
Part I — A Field Is Born
Chapter 2 — The Secret of Life
Chapter 3 — Cracking the Code
Color Plate Section
Part II — All Things (re)Considered
Chapter 4 — The Riddle of Geography
Chapter 5 — The Riddle of Ancestry
Chapter 6 — A Stitch in Time
Part III — Dawn of a New Era
Chapter 7 — Turning the (time)Tables
Chapter 8 — A Preexisting Answer
Chapter 9 — From DNA to Visible Traits
Chapter 10 — On the Origin of New Species
Afterword
Endnotes
Acknowledgments
Glossary

Since the first chapter is short and basically just fluff, I’ll quickly go through it now.

 

Chapter 1 – Inevitable

This introductory chapter is only 9 pages long (in epub pages, equivalent to about 4 in physical book pages), and relatively inoffensive in terms of content. It summarises some of the basic pre-history of Evolutionary Biology: how Linnaeus began to classify organisms, how species seemed to fit their environments, and how this led to the inference that species were fixed and created specially in such a way to match their environment (i.e Paley’s Watchmaker argument). This is the appropriate time to bring up Darwin, and Jeanson does, but strangely leaves out what was surely his biggest contribution to the thinking at the time.

The text moves straight from species “matching” their environment to saying (paraphrasing) “Darwin came along with some new information and eventually proposed universal common ancestry of all life on earth”. Umm, surely the appropriate thing to mention here is how Darwin’s concept of natural selection explained why organisms seemed to “match” their environments – they had been moulded by their environment through selection, not by the hand of a creator. This wasn’t to say that a creator wasn’t involved, just that the species-specific adaptations were arrived at naturally through variation and selection. Jeanson doesn’t reject this fact since it’s just the process of microevolution, so it’s a curious point to skip over at this point in the historical overview. He does mention it in a later chapter, so it’s not left out of the book, but a sentence about it here seems appropriate.

The chapter introduces the main thesis of the book: that Darwin, living as he did in the 19th Century, had an extremely limited amount of information to work with, and that in the time since then our knowledge has changed. Nothing too controversial in that simple statement, but Jeanson takes it a step further to propose that this new knowledge completely overturns Darwin’s conclusions and, of course, young earth creationism is actually correct instead of evolution. Jeanson doesn’t state that last part in this chapter, but that’s the subject of book, and you’ll have to stick with this review series to see how he reaches this astounding conclusion.

 

Comments and queries are welcome.

-RM

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “Reviewing “Replacing Darwin” – Part 1: Introduction and the Introduction

    1. I was hoping that you would have tackle or comment on the question that this book covers very closely , namely mtDNA , but alas you didn’t … in fact you cover everything but this , why ??

      Like

      1. I do intend to complete the review at a later date – I’m acutely aware that so far I haven’t touched on the final third of the book, which as you say is really the most important part.
        The only reason I’ve had to put it on hold is that it requires much more work on my part to thoroughly address the arguments, and at the moment I’m busy enough with my graduate work that I don’t have the spare time and/or headspace for it. I’d much rather hold off for a few months and give it my full attention to really do it justice rather than churn out a half-assed response quickly.

        Like

    1. Well, reading through it I couldn’t find any faults – I’ve since converted to YECism and now worship at the alter of AIG.

      Just kidding, unfortunately I’ve been really busy with work so I’ve had to put this off for a long while in order to really do it justice when I do finally get around to tackling it. My best guess is that I’ll start to get back into the review process in late July, so look out for the remaining parts around late July/August.

      Like

      1. I’ve resd through these reviews a couple of times now. Huge respect for the work you’re doing. Looking forward to the rest of it 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s