- Part 1: Introduction and the Introduction
- Part 2: Darwin Didn’t Know About Chromosomes!
- Part 3: Darwin 1, Old-Timey Creationists 0
- Part 4: All Your Evidence Are Belong To Us
- Part 5: An Admittedly Weak Chapter
- Part 6: Jeanson’s Fulcrum Fails
- Part 7: A Nuclear Catastrophe
- Part 8: TBA
- Part 9: TBA
- Part 10: TBA
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
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”. 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 also 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 the book, and you’ll have to stick with this review series to see how he reaches this astounding conclusion.
Comments and queries are welcome.