Book review: Creation Strikes Back
by Robert Core
If you begin with the Bible as God’s honest truth, and add an appreciative-but-critical respect for evolutionary studies, where does the journey lead you? For Robert Core, it led to a startling conclusion.
Before delving into the review, I should probably make my bias clear up front. Proper science cannot be shackled by religious belief, and thus I do not see a niche for this book outside already-believing Christians with a soft spot for science. My four-star rating reflects an entertaining voyage with an opinionated expert culminating in a bizarre conclusion that I’m certain I won’t forget for a looooong time. This is certainly a new twist on evolution!
In typical dry humor, Core insists—quite seriously, I must add, and with much thought—that the biological relationship between man, ape, and chimpanzee is Biblical. I’ll not elaborate further on the book’s most titillating premise; best to leave it at that as a teaser.
Along the way, Core jumps into the debate about whether the odds are too great for life to ever form randomly on its own. This debate refuses to die because, much as creationists want to make it into an exercise in probability, it’s only half about the numbers. It’s also a philosophical puzzle. Core (a retired biology instructor) calculates the odds of randomly “getting a DNA sequence correct” at .25 to the power of 1 trillion. Pretty slim chance, eh? But of course, there is no particular reason why life has to be designed with a four-nucleotide DNA code, so where do these odds really get us? To see why the debate about the origin of life is as philosophical as it is numerical, consider that as I write this, I am sitting in front of my library, in which nearly 1,000 books are arranged in a particular order. Wow, what are the odds of that order happening by chance? My calculator throws up its hands trying to calculate the factorial of 1,000. Must be astronomical! (It is.) I’m sitting in front of a miracle!
In other words, until it’s proven that there’s something inherently special about this particular recipe for life, its odds are meaningless. Nevertheless, the debate rolls on … not so much about whether it is unlikely for life to happen by chance, but how unlikely, and whether the odds preclude seriously considering happenstance. Several scholars have weighed in on the issue, including Hubert Yockey, Frank Salisbury, and Henry Quastler. Even Carl Sagan has stuck his head in on the debate. For as much as my own unprofessional opinion matters, I side with Core. The most likely answer to the puzzle is that life must have had a little help getting started.
But having reached the conclusion that life probably didn’t start by chance, where do we go from there? Core points us to scripture. He leads us through chapter one of Genesis, falling prey to the temptation to take the Genesis myth and “science it up,” harmonizing the facts of evolution as we know them with Scripture. Because the book is too short for a detailed explanation, it’s best if you already have a basic understanding of evolutionary theory, biology, and cosmology. The book reads a little like one crinkly-eyed old scientist reminiscing to another on a Central Park bench … but that’s what makes it worth reading! It’s also best if you’ve learned how to laugh at yourself, because if you haven’t, somewhere along the way Robert’s sarcastic humor will strike too close to home. And I do hope you aren’t easily offended, because the writing is really funny and Robert does have something to say.
Just be sure you stop reading before day “seven” of the six-day creation, or you will never feel comfortable again visiting the primates section of your local zoo.
(this book is due for publication 1/7/14 by Tate Publishing)