On a sunny spring afternoon last year, I received a call from my best friend. “You’ve got to sign up for this anthropology class I’m in,” he said. “The professor essentially spends every day disproving the Bible, it’s great!” Without hesitation I signed up for the class.
On a sunny spring afternoon last year, I received a call from my best friend. “You’ve got to sign up for this anthropology class I’m in,” he said. “The professor essentially spends every day disproving the Bible, it’s great!” Without hesitation I signed up for the class. This was my first introduction to Professor Cameron Smith.
Earlier this year, Cameron Smith, in collaboration with Charles Sullivan, published a book entitled The Top 10 Myths About Evolution explaining the common misconceptions about evolution. But the scientific theory of evolution is not a new one. Charles Darwin published his book The Origin of Species in 1859 presenting his theory. So what is the confusion, why was this book published?
The answer is intelligent design. The phrase “intelligent design” first appeared in 1989 in a book called Of Pandas and People and was popularized by Phillip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial in 1993. The main idea behind intelligent design, according to Top 10 Myths, is that “some organisms–or parts of organisms–are so complex that the slow, cumulative processes of evolution could not have produced them. Instead, [intelligent design advocates] claim to show scientifically that certain complex biological features must have been designed by an intelligent being.”
In late 2005 the Kansas school board members made a groundbreaking decision to redefine science and to allow teachers to teach intelligent design alongside evolution in their science classrooms. The six members who voted for the inclusion of intelligent design were Republicans.
Some, including the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, argue that if intelligent design is faith-based then other faith-based theories must also be taught alongside evolution.
But intelligent design believers, in order to have the opportunity to have their theory taught in public schools, are not specific on which intelligent being they think designed life. Some intelligent design believers, known as Raelians, claim humans were created by extraterrestrials that have mastered genetic engineering.
Yes, it’s laughable. But this is being taught in some of our nation’s classrooms. When you realize that, suddenly it’s not so funny. The Cobb County School District in Georgia has moved to have stickers placed on their biology textbooks that read, “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.” Smith and Sullivan cite this sticker in their book in the chapter entitled “Myth Two: [Evolution] Is Just a Theory.”
If you’ve ever ventured by Pioneer Square on a Friday night you’ve surely seen the folks standing around wearing sandwich boards screaming about the teachings of Jesus. Popularly known as “the crazy Christians” around town, these folks are outspoken opponents of evolution. If you have the gall to debate it with them, you’ll quickly find that their ignorance of the real processes and principles of evolution is quite broad. And if your personal knowledge of the theory is average, you’ll find it hard to answer their wild accusations. Such as, “Why don’t monkeys give birth to a human once in a while anymore?”
But luckily for we evolutionists, Cameron Smith and Charles Sullivan are out there fighting the good fight. In their book they make it clear that belief in evolution isn’t a threat to anyone’s belief of God and that evolution doesn’t require one to be atheistic.
More importantly Top 10 Myths is written not loftily, but in a grounded way that makes it easy for anyone to understand. The book is written in such a way that it could easily be used as a handbook for those of us who wish to answer once and for all the ridiculous questions and accusations posed by intelligent design believers. Smith and Sullivan should be applauded for their work and the gains this book achieves for evolutionists.
Even with books like Top 10 Myths About Evolution out there that are relative slam dunks, we may never be able to convince the believers in intelligent design that they are incorrect. But the most important thing is that there is now a positive counterbalance to the intelligent design movement. It is especially important now for the students who are being unfairly and wrongly subjected to intelligent design teachings.
So do your part for the good fight. Pick up a copy of the book and read it. It can’t hurt. And should you encounter a pack of naysayers, you can have an intelligent and informed debate with them–and win.