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Curious creation

Books | Three books about our amazing world

Issue: "Reassessing the genome," Oct. 6, 2012

In Nature's Compass: The Mystery of Animal Navigation (Princeton, 2012), James L. and Carol Gould describe the marvels of creation and don't try to fit them into particular theories. Astounding: the ability of monarch butterflies to steer, honeybees to use the sun as a compass, turtles to use magnetic information, and much more. Gould notes that 50 years ago "animals were thought of as simpleminded robots," but now more scientists recognize their genius.

The Goulds give advice to future writers: "We need to tell the fascinating story of navigation and migration … communicating the awe and wonder that fuels the research of most serious biologists." It's great that Gould, a 67-year-old Princeton biology professor, is still in awe of animals' "ability to judge time and distance, use vectors and beacons, create cognitive maps, take compass bearings from cues indecipherable to us, or draw on an inborn map sense to position themselves on the planet."

naturescompass.jpgThe Goulds don't praise God from Whom all this wonder flows—readershave to supply the thanksgiving—but they also steer refreshingly clear of trendy politics. They note that the "current furor over global warming merits some degree of initial skepticism," and single out Al Gore as a prime offender: "The situation is not helped by the political overtones and intellectual intolerance the debate has taken on, nor by the relatively uninformed use of often questionable or irrelevant data."

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Turning to God's most amazing creation, man, Science & Human Origins by Ann Gauger, Douglas Axe, and Casey Luskin (Discovery Institute, 2012) gives a succinct—122 pages—update on the theory that humans share a common ancestor with apes. The authors gouge and ax the fossil and genetic evidence on which that theory rests: The bones of the famous "Lucy," found strewn across a hillside, could have come from multiple individuals or even multiple species, and in any case indicate that this purported ancestor of humans was knuckle-walking rather than bipedal.

Science & Human Origins also shows that compelling evidence of human evolution still does not exist: The missing link is still missing, so some commentators are adopting a "big bang theory" of man's appearance. The past decade of research has also exposed the weakness of theistic evolutionist Francis Collins' genetic argument—and let's spend a moment on that, since Collins' genome-charting reputation has led many to assume he knows his evolutionary stuff.

I once listened to Collins winsomely argue that the existence of some similar "junk DNA" in both humans and animals is evidence for common ancestry—for why would God insert into a man, created from the dust, the same unnecessary data that animals have? Science & Human Origins summarizes research suggesting that some "junk" helps to develop higher brain functions in humans, repair DNA, fold and maintain chromosomes, regulate embryological development, and fight disease. Recent research (see "Debunking junk," by Daniel James Devine) shows that Collins' dismissals of "junk" don't stand up.

In reality, much of God's work is still a mystery to us. Here's where a third book, David Barash's Homo Mysterious: Evolutionary Puzzles of Human Nature (Oxford, 2012), gets interesting. Barash, a University of Washington evolutionist, tries to cram everything from breast size to poetry into Darwinian explanations, but he acknowledges that numerous assistant professors of biology want to gain tenure by coming up with new evolutionary insights—and their hypotheses often contradict each other.

Set apart

C.S. Lewis
Associated Press
C.S. Lewis

Some Darwinians have tried to claim C.S. Lewis as one of them. The Magician's Twin (Discovery Institute, 2012) proves that he was not. For decades Lewis criticized Darwinian claims and the arrogance of evolutionists who claimed to have a high and lonely destiny. For decades he was open to discussing details, but unwavering in his belief in the truth of the biblical account of creation. — Carl Wilson

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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