Okay, cheapskates…for those of you who are still wondering if you should shell out twenty bucks for our new book, here’s a way for you to try before you buy.
Professor Amy Lark of Michigan Technological University has offered a review in the pages of American Biology Teacher. You need a subscription to read the whole thing, I’m afraid, but in short, Professor Lark likes it.
As she explains, she reads every new book about evolution and creationism. And yes, Harvey and I do cover some of the same terrain as other authors on the subject. But as Professor Lark notes, we don’t just rehash the same old stories. As she puts it,
One of the most interesting things that I learned from these historical chapters was about the early structure and purpose of our nation’s universities, which initially served to teach young men about religion but, over time, became places where academics could safely pursue their research. Laats and Siegel describe the birth of the ivory tower, and the siloing effect of the separation between academia and the general public. The theory of evolution became mainstream in this protected sphere and simply didn’t reach to those outside its influence. It is easy to imagine how the culture wars emerged from such a segregated environment.
The last few chapters are what set this book apart from most on the subject. Laats and Siegel firmly situate the evolution/creationism debate in the realm of culture, rather than science. Many evolution opponents worry that learning about evolution in school will challenge or insult their children’s faiths. The authors point out that this is not necessarily true. . . .Indeed, they argue, it is not the responsibility of science educators to make sure that students believe that evolution is true, but only to ensure that they understand how the process works. Belief, if it comes at all, will follow on its own. The authors acknowledge the new minority position of evolution opponents and explain that while they value multiculturalism and the protection of cultural minorities, “that doesn’t mean that their culturally specific beliefs should supplant the findings of mainstream science”(p. 95).